The Price of Paradise

We have a saying in the islands called the price of Paradise. This can mean different things to different people. Basically what it means is that you should be prepared for some trade-offs when living in Hawaii. It is these trade-offs that are often referred to as “price of Paradise”.

It is true, when living in the islands for a long period of time, there is a tendency to take things for granted. With time, the mindset becomes a sort of rationale of “that’s how it is”. If you are new to the island, you quickly realize that island life can be quite different than what you might have expected. Some folks get quite frustrated. Our slower pace is part of our island life which is ingrained in the over all appeal to island living.

Some facts: We live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We are reliant on the importation of most of the goods that we have become accustomed to. Items which we need to enjoy our daily lives. You must get used to the idea that merchandise will cost you more on Maui because almost everything is imported. Bulky items like building materials, used in home construction, are expensive to import. Labor costs for construction are relatively high. The average construction costs, for modest building, can range from $200 a square foot and up! It is important to remember except for labor, almost everything used in construction and building is imported. The fact that we are located at such a great distance from the continental United States can limit what’s available to people living here. Higher transportation costs add to the cost and expense of daily living.

In the past, we were restricted to a more limited selection of goods and services. However, over the last decade or so, we have seen the introduction of many big box stores such as Kmart, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Macy’s. If you can’t find what you need from these stores you can search the Web or the Internet to find what you’re looking for. Just be aware of the shipping charges.

So high material costs influence the size of our homes on Maui. However houses in Hawaii also tend to be smaller, because we spend a good deal of our time out doors enjoying our tropical climate. With limited time spent indoors, you really don’t need a big house. In fact, many a winter’s days are spent at the beach, when we enjoy the large North swells. Our annual seasonal changes are modest at best. I would say, temperature wise, anything more than a 10° deviation is quite noticeable by residents.

A second factor contributing to the high cost of housing on Maui is due to high land prices. It’s true, land prices on Maui are higher than what most people are used to. Fact is that we live on an island and there’s only so much usable land available. Since the real estate market is driven by supply and demand limited supply, high demand drives land prices up. However, it’s all relative, and depending on where you’re coming from some of our property prices may seem pretty good. This is why I always asked new clients, where they are from so I have an idea what their price expectations might be. For instance, if a guy is coming from the Midwest, the price for a modest single-family dwelling could be more than the family farm back home. When I see the glazed look come over their eyes I’ll try to explain to them that that’s part of the price of Paradise, the trade off for our island life style. On the other hand, if the client is from Northern California, boy have we got some deals for you.

Before concluding there is one thing I want to reemphasize, which is that things tend to move at a slower pace in Hawaii (even slower on Maui). That is part of the overall appeal to island life so you need to be prepared slowdown. People prefer to move at a more casual pace. Don’t expect things to get done too quickly. Allow enough driving time and enjoy all the natural beauty which Maui has to offer. After all, we live in one of the most special places on earth. So slow down, enjoy the colors and take in the whole scenic environment.

In conclusion, expensive land, expensive labor and high shipping costs are all contributing factors which are a part of the phrase the price of Paradise. Having said all of this, I can’t think of a better place that I’d rather live than right here on Maui. The price of Paradise is a modest concession for the lifestyle I’ve come to appreciate. I think you will agree if you give it a chance.