One Hawaiian couple's advice to anyone moving to the islands


Shayla Marie Ma-e is a lifelong Hawaii resident. But to anyone dreaming of escaping to the islands for a brand new life — particularly throughout the pandemic — she strongly encourages considering once more.

“I would not recommend moving to Hawaii,” Ma-e, 28, tells CNBC Make It, citing the state’s excessive value of residing, tourism-dependent job market and exodus of younger residents who transfer away for school and work. “It’s really hard to live here.”

Ma-e is grateful to have household close by in Hilo, Hawaii, as she and her fiance, Matthew Piianaia-Ishii, 33, elevate their 3-year-old twin daughters. But they know that so as to get forward financially, together with saving up to purchase a house and for his or her ladies’ future educations, they’re going to doubtless have to go away Hawaii.

For now, the family of four lives paycheck to paycheck on Piianaia-Ishii’s $50,000 earnings as a concrete foreman and Ma-e’s $33,000 wage as a child-care program advisor.

“We make enough to cover our bills and essentials, but we don’t make enough to move forward and [get] ahead in life,” Ma-e says. “It’s hard, the way we live, because we make too much for government assistance, and we don’t make enough to move ahead. We’re like most families here, stuck in the middle.”

Their No. 1 piece of advice to Hawaii newcomers

Hawaii is amongst the high states the place more people move out than are available in, however a wider adoption of distant work throughout the pandemic has sparked headlines about people relocating to the state.

To anyone considering of taking up this new life-style, Piianaia-Ishii stresses that they need to be ready financially for the excessive value of residing.

The value of residing in Honolulu, the most populated metropolis in Hawaii on Oahu island, is 88% larger than the nationwide common, in accordance to knowledge evaluation from Payscale. The median lease in the metropolis is $3,279 a month, and the median dwelling value is $1.05 million.

Living in Hilo on Hawaii Island is cheaper, however Ma-e and Piianaia-Ishii say there are fewer job alternatives. Plus, costs for some fundamental items like meals are nonetheless sky-high as a result of they should be shipped in.

Here’s a take a look at how a lot Ma-e and Piianaia-Ishii sometimes spend in a month:

Ma-e and Piianaia-Ishii’s month-to-month spending in January 2021.

Elham Ataeiazar | CNBC Make It

Piianaia-Ishii additionally recommends folks transfer with a job already lined up, whether or not it is a suggestion on the islands or the capability to proceed working for his or her present employer remotely.

“The biggest challenge to living in Hawaii is finding work,” he says. “You have to either know somebody or be really good at what you do” so as to safe employment in the native financial system.

The Hawaii job market

Carl Bonham, a number one economist and govt director at the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, agrees that anyone relocating to Hawaii will fare higher in the event that they have already got a job lined up. Some industries, like development and IT, are hiring, particularly in cyber safety and knowledge science.

But “now would absolutely be the worst time to move” for those who’re hoping to choose up work in hospitality, leisure or every other high-contact job, Bonham says.

The coronavirus pandemic devastated Hawaii’s $18 billion tourism industry, the largest supply of personal capital for the state’s financial system, and Hawaii’s unemployment fee is amongst the highest in the country. But economists are optimistic that recovery is in sight.

Recently, a gaggle of native nonprofits, alumni associations, enterprise leaders and politicians launched the Movers & Shakas non permanent residency program, which invited 50 working professionals from round the U.S. to transfer to and work remotely from Hawaii, contribute to the native financial system and become involved in community-building efforts.

Organizers consider a brand new class of distant employees will help Hawaii set up industries, like tech and power, that will not be reliant on entry to the mainland. Bonham says one of these mannequin might assist enhance the financial system, however he additionally says new residents ought to be ready for the state’s high income taxes.

Leaders additionally hope the program encourages individuals who had been initially raised in Hawaii and moved away for college or work to return to their dwelling state.

For their half, Ma-e and Piianaia-Ishii spent 2020 residing off of 1 earnings when Ma-e misplaced work due to child-care wants. Now that she began a brand new job as of February, the couple hopes their new dual-income standing will assist them repay debt and save extra money, particularly to present a brighter future and extra alternatives for his or her daughters.

As Ma-e places it: “Everything that we do is for them.”

Check out: The budget breakdown of a teacher earning $58,000 a year who paid off her student loans and bought a house in Dallas

Don’t miss: Use this calculator to see exactly how much your third coronavirus stimulus check could be worth

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