Living in Rural Hawaii
Written by Shannon Underwood in 2005

What It's Really Like to Live Out in the Boonies in Hawaii

Ahhh, peace and quiet, no neighbors right on top of you, no airplanes making a noisy racket flying over your head, no traffic, no sirens, no street lights to dull the stars, just the sun, the sea, the nightime stars, the fresh air and you and your beloved family. Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Well, for the most part it really is. However, it's certainly not for everyone.

Here's the other side of living out in the boonies:

No neighbors - it can get lonely out here with no one around. If you run out of sugar and need to borrow from your neighbor, guess what? You're hopping in your car or doing without. And what if something happened to you while you are all alone out here? No one would hear your calls for help. 911 DOES work in the boonies, but the ambulance will take longer to arrive.

No airplanes, no traffic, no sirens - I can't think of a down side to that. The peace and quiet is awesome.

No street lights - Ditto. Can't really think of a down side except that it can get extremely dark at night time. If you lose power, you'll want to have a lot of candles and flashlights around.

Oh yeah, and here are some other things I forgot to mention.

No county water!! - What?? No county water? How do people get water to their homes? What do they drink? Hawaii's answer to that question is rainwater catchment systems. Basically, this means that you have a large cistern on your property to catch the rainwater which comes off of your roof. The water is then pumped into your house and can be filtered using a variety of methods. For more information please see the Guidelines on Rainwater Catchment Systems provided by the State of Hawaii.

Not many stores near by. When we first moved to Hawaii we lived in a very small town, but we were lucky enough to have a small grocery store, gas stations, a vet, a hair salon, a video store and several little restaurants. Not everyone is as lucky as we were. To get to a "real" grocery store or Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot or CostCo or the doctor for that matter, we had to drive for at least an hour both directions. Oh yeah, also no fast food! If we got a Big Mac Attack, it was about a 45 minute drive to the nearest Mc Donald's. This is probably a good thing. I definitely cooked a lot more.

Longer commutes to work- Unless you are fortunate enough to have work that you can do from home, or are retired, chances are that you will be commuting a lot further to your job than you are used to. Some people hate this (like me), and some people really don't mind it at all. Those that fall into the latter category claim that the drive is a relaxing way to unwind after their day at work. At least commuting here is pretty! You're driving through the gorgeous scenery with the ocean to look at instead of on the jam packed freeways of the mainland. Gas prices are higher in Hawaii than on the mainland, so that can be an issue.

Well, to summarize, only you will know if rural living is right for you or not. For this ex city girl, it was a wonderful change of pace. To me it seems like the way it should be. In my former life, I lived in the city or the suberbs, and would every so often have a burning need to get out and see some rocks and trees. Now, the scenario is reversed. I now live amongst the rocks and the trees, and every so often I have to be bothered to go into the city to take care of necessary business. Works for me!

Update 2012 - Well, after five years of living in rural Hawaii, my husband and I decided that we had had enough of the commute into town whenever we needed anything that wasn't available at our local grocery stores, or if we wanted to go to the movies, or out to dinner, or to pick up our friends and family from the airport. We sold our house in the boonies and bought a house in the heart of Kailua Kona and haven't looked back.

Truth be told, even Kailua Kona is a small town, and it is the second largest on our island, but at least now we are just about five to ten minutes away from everything that we could possibly need; stores, restaurants, doctors offices, beaches, golf courses and movie theaters. Life is a bit easier living "in town", I must say and we really do love it! PLUS, we are saving about $700 a month on gas!!!



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