Why the Big Island Is A Terrible Place To Live


When my family and I decided to move here in 2005, we thought we would only live here for one year. However, due to the fact that we loved living in Kailua Kona, we found deep friendships and made business contacts so we could enjoy meaningful employment, we decided to stay. So, you ask, why the title of this post? I’m mixing it up!

(This post was published on Huffington Post in the fall of 2013..more pics if you want to see it there!)

The Big Island is a terrible place to live because:

1. You send pictures of what you did on the weekend to your friends on the mainland and they write things like, “I used to like you”, “Stop, you’re killing me!” “Can’t you please keep it down?”

2. Once you stay here for any length of time, you feel the energy of the land and the people. When you leave the island, you can’t shake the feeling that you are missing a part of yourself.

3. You can’t imagine going back to a major city center. I used to love going to big, fancy shopping areas, watching movies in big theaters with hundreds of fellow movie goers, and watching people wearing the latest fashions. Now, I can’t imagine dealing with the traffic anymore. I can now show up 5 minutes late to a first run movie and get a good seat. Fashion does not own me anymore. I used to work to afford expensive shoes, the latest seasonal dress, and new suits. I wear sandals and flip flops, shorts, tank tops and on occasion a sun dress. I don’t spend much on clothes anymore, and with the extra time I have not working to afford it, I sit on a beach with my kids.

4. You have to drive slow. And let people in. You actually have to relax on the highway, because since many residents practice the Aloha Spirit while driving, there is very little, if any honking. Most people who ride people’s bumpers, are from California on their way back to the airport.

5. You can’t rest when it’s a blue day. Since you always feel like you are on vacation, its VERY difficult to look outside from your computer and not have the feeling that you should be out swimming. Or running. Or surfing. You feel the same way about laying around in your house with a book. You feel guilty that you are not out enjoying another day in paradise.

6. You can’t get anything done when people come to visit. If someone came to visit us in the Bay Area, they usually had other family members or friends to visit. Or they would come for dinner and go about their trip. Here, they live next door to us for a week. And since we are the consummate lovers of adventure and travel on this island, we can’t say no to taking friends and family to the best snorkeling spots, dining with a sunset view and sharing umbrella drinks, coffee farm tours or 4 Wheeling to remote beaches. Nope, your days are shot.

7. You meet people who make you re-evaluate your diet. There are MANY organic farmers on the Big Island. They talk about pesticides, genetically modified seeds, and commercial farming and livestock handling and how that affects your health and your spirit. You don’t realize it all at once, but you find yourself touring local farmers markets and giving tropical foods a try. You purchase island grass fed beef, no GMO dairy products from island dairy farmers, and you think about planting a garden yourself and growing vegetables. You find yourself blessing your food and really understanding where it came from. Isn’t that crazy?

8. Sunscreen? Hats? Swim shirts? You better have plenty because you find yourself walking on sunny trails, strolling through bright outdoor markets, swimming in tide pools, reading on a beach, driving in a convertible, exploring a Volcano or heaven forbid, hiking down into a sacred valley.

9. You can’t wear big, fat, heavy coats. Or thick scarves. Or shovel snow out of your driveway. Or have your car skid on black ice. (caveat..unless you go up to Mauna Kea above the 9,000 foot visitors center. Then all bets are off on the above complaint)

10. You can NOT commiserate with your friends on Facebook or Twitter when they say things like, “It’s going to be 114 degrees today in Scottsdale” and another says, “It’s 112 here in Tucson” and then finally from Phoenix, “My car thermometer says it’s 120. Please, kill me now”. Nope, you can not jump in there with a knowing statement. Conversely, you can only offer condolences when your friends send pictures of the four foot snow drifts left by a recent blizzard.

Photo Credit: CaylinJPhotography.com

11. And the last thing I have to say about why this island is a terrible place to live…you see people standing on the walk way outside of the hotels and resorts with their bags packed waiting to go home. And you feel sorry for them.

(Updated 2020: If you find yourself moving to West Hawaii, we have an amazing team of people who can help you AND a few groups such as our “365Kona’s I’m Moving to the Big Island And Buying A Home” group and my Kona Newbies group to help people find community and get questions answered about life here. Check out more of what we offer at www.MoveToHawaii365.com or email me at [email protected]


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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Tara says:

    I lived in Kailua in Oahu before and miss living in Hawaii every day. I currently live in San Diego and am a FT student psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. My husband recently retired from the military. I am hoping to get a job in Hawaii when I graduate. We have extended our final military move due to schooling so would only have to pay to ship 1 car or we could just buy a second car when we get there. The military will move everything else at no cost. I am wondering how hard it is to get a job there as a PMHNP. We love the big island but are afraid it would be hard for someone not local to get an in. I didn’t get a RN job in Hawaii until we had already moved there. Once I had a Hawaii address, it was easy to work. I do have connections on Oahu so it would not be hard to get a position there. I just love the natural beauty, different climates and higher elevations, of the big island. My husband and I would prefer to live at a higher elevation that would be cool at night, not requiring A/C. We were also looking at Maui for that reason.

    • Tara-you can always apply at the hospitals and clinics. There always seems to be a shortage of good health care professionals here. BUT, the rental housing market is SUPER tight, especially right now due to high season. Just letting you know that will be one of your biggest hurdles. YOu almost need to find a job and housing simulatneously. Perhaps renting a VRBO for a few months may be an option. Good luck!