9 Best Benefits of Living on the Big Island of Hawaii
Living in Hawaii continues to be a joyful adventure for many of the people who live there.
Here is a celebratory list of some of the most favorite aspects people report about living along the Puna coast on the big island of Hawaii.
1. Astoundingly Clean Air
I believe, personally, that clean air is among the most important variables that contribute to good health, and yet it is the most difficult variable to control.
People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, and indoor air quality is typically 5 times to 100 times worse than outdoors. Even if you don’t smoke, don’t use synthetic household cleaners, don’t live in a city, and do have a excellent in-home air filtration system, your lung tissue is still mostly vulnerable to the quality and whims of your local air.
Air quality is rated on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being best. Any area rated within the 90s has excellent air.
The closest small city to one of my favorite Hawaii areas – Opihikao – is Hilo, which has a 93 on the air quality index. The closest small inland town nearest Opihikao is Pahoa, which has 93.3 on the air quality index (I'm guessing that Opihikao is close to 100).
Air quality on the big island of Hawaii is a bit counterintuitive.
You’d think with our smoking volcanoes on the east side of the island, that the air quality would be poor here. And, yes, once in a while when the trade winds are absent (or when winds blow from the south) much of the “vog” will remain on the eastern side of the island near and around the volcano.
However, that is the exception.
Typically, the trade winds carry the smoke over to the southwest side of the island – so the gasses tend to accumulate leeward along the coast of Kona. Vog often becomes trapped there by daytime (onshore) and night-time (offshore) breezes. What this means, in essence, is that the air in Kona is sometimes poor (foul haze, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter) and the air in Puna is often stellar.
Most of the time the trade winds on the big island of Hawaii are blowing from an easterly/northeasterly direction. If you’re in the Puna district of Hawaii, that means when you look out at sea into that sweet Pacific breeze, the next land mass is Mexico. Between here and there, The air has over 3,000 miles to purify.
2. Pure Water
We have a small, off-the-grid hobby farm and vacation home near the ocean that sits within a favorable microclimate. The days are mostly pleasant and it rains most nights – for at least a little while – while we’re sleeping.
We have roof pipes and a catchment tank to store all of the fresh rain water that falls from the sky.
Even the tap water on the Big Island seems to look, smell and taste better than in most other areas of the US. That might be because our water gets naturally filtered by the lava rock as it passes into underground aquifers (and it might also be because the Big Island is not overpopulated with people and polluting industries).
3. Starry, Starry Nights
There is less light pollution on the Big Island. If you live in a city or suburb, you may have forgotten what “blanket of stars” means. Most nights on the Big Island provide a magnificent view of the night sky.
Few things in life make you feel more right-sized and peaceful than looking up at the limitless universe on an evening with a warm tropical breeze and coqui frogs singing in the background. Now that I live over 1,000 miles closer to the equator the night sky just looks different. The moon seems bigger and brighter. I didn’t realize how much I had missed star-gazing until I could do it once again.
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4. Wild Jungle in Hawaii
There are at least 20 forest reserves on the Big Island, comprising over 473,000 acres of pristine, practically untouched rain forest.
Additionally, half of the Big Island (approximately) is zoned for agriculture, much of which is undeveloped even though it is owned.
This means that the Big Island will always have a prominent wild side, yet without the vipers that other tropical states and countries must contend with.
5. Plantation Architecture
Honoring an era before air conditioning was invented, the tropical plantation post-and-pier architectural style emphasizes relaxed country charm – with grand lanais and roof cupolas to admit diffused sunlight and ocean breezes.
I love this style of architecture, it somehow combines casual comfort with open elegance, and many homes on the Big Island – both old and new – are designed in this style.
6. Outdoor Runs
Scenic Red Road has got to be one of the best places in the world to run along. It is spectacularly beautiful. While running, you can see old-growth rain forest, enjoy the shade that the jungle tree canopy provides, and feel the mist on your face from the crashing ocean waves.
7. Tents and Yurts
A yurt is a circular tent on a collapsable framework. I typically take yoga classes several times a week in a yurt near the ocean. Many Hawaiians love to pitch tents on the beach and spend the weekend fishing and “talking story.” There is enough fresh air here for everyone to enjoy.
8. Fertile, Lush Land
Lava from volcanos can provide, over time, the richest agricultural lands on earth.
On the east side of the Big Island, there is plenty of sun and rain (the ratio of sun and rain depends on which microclimate you live in – it varies from neighborhood to neighborhood) which makes for excellent crops and gardens.
Papayas, avocados, coconuts, limes, bananas… food grows abundantly on the Big Island. It’s not unusual for breakfast to come from one’s own yard.
Among the things growing in our backyard at any given time are:
- brazil cherry
- cola nut
- curry tree
- key lime
- miracle berry
- mulberry star fruit
- passion fruit
- red dragonfruit
and many other vegetables, superfoods, and edible greens.
Gratitude feels good.
When my feelings of gratitude are authentic and playful, I feel an actual physical sensation in my body that is pleasant. I can best describe it as a light heart and expansive chest.
I’ve also noticed that the more consistently I feel gratitude, the more strength and confidence I seem to develop as a person.
When we invested in Hawaii, I quickly found that there were so many things throughout the day for which to feel grateful. So I went with that – channeling my energy into smiling and saying to myself, “this is fun; thank you for this!”
As you might imagine, this created a momentum of positive experiences.
This mindset is shared by many other island residents and manifests as a friendly, welcoming demeanor. Most people here move at a slower pace and stop to smell the flowers. Hawaiian residents seem more willing to accept – even embrace – diversity.
Who is Moving to Hawaii and Why Are They Choosing the Big Island?
Warm-weather climates seem to inspire healthier day-to-day living, and this might be a key incentive for people who are moving to Hawaii.
Have you ever been intrigued by the idea of moving to Hawaii?
In a fair-weather community, people just seem to get outdoors more and are more active. The food seems fresher. The people seem happier. The quality of daily life is simply better.
Many people moving to Hawaii are over the age of 45. Their doctors have advised them that it’s time to take their self-care protocols more seriously and, indeed, many have decided to stop postponing those new healthy habits and are finally eager to take their health to the next level.
Statistics about Moving to Hawaii
The US Census Bureau reveals that the majority of people moving to Hawaii are relocating from the state of California.
The big island of Hawaii also has a larger percentage of its population over the age of 65, compared to the national average. However, all generations are moving to Hawaii – boomers, generation X, and millennials.
Boomers Seek Lifestyle Equity in their Relocation
People from the baby-boomer generation are not fond of the words retire and seniors:
- they don’t identify themselves as retirement-age seniors
- they see themselves as more creative and active then their own parents were at the same age.
For many boomers with this mindset, moving to Hawaii seems strategic and in alignment with their values.
Whether or not one is officially retired or officially a “senior,” it still might be an ideal time to consider buying a home that fits the lifestyle imagined for retirement years, because home prices in many popular paradise Meccas have decreased sharply – and interest rates are at the lowest levels seen in decades.
An increasing number of people over the age of 50 are asking “where should I live?”
As the youngest child enters college or leaves home, couples are realizing that they can live anywhere – especially today when technology makes it easier for entrepreneurs to work remotely.
Some couples are purchasing a second house, thinking of it as a future retirement home. The intention is to first use the house as a vacation home until they’re actually ready to retire.
On the other hand, many boomers plan on working at their new “retirement” locations (though perhaps at a less frantic pace). Moving to Hawaii can make sense in all of these scenarios.
Millennials and Gen-X are Refusing a Role in the Rat Race
What is attracting younger people to smaller cities and towns in Hawaii?
It seems to be quality of life – finding the perfect combination of local amenities to match the lifestyle they choose to live. Many are imagining a home where nature and amenities are plentiful, such as:
- be in/near a small town with a good sense of community
- have room for organic gardening
- easy access to organic fruits and vegetables and fresh water
- have a moderate climate
- be on/near a body of water
- in an area with a reasonable cost of living
- year-round sunshine
- relaxed way of living
- cultural offerings
They are moving to Hawaii –the big island of Hawaii, in particular – because it offers a selection of affordable lifestyle apartments or estates with outdoor living features.
Rent Prices in the city of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii are 53.12% lower than in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Restaurant Prices in Hilo are 22.56% lower than in Honolulu. Grocery prices in Hilo are at least 7.47% lower, and can be lower than that if you eat fresh food (the Big Island is mostly an agricultural island, so fresh produce and eggs can be very affordable if you know where to shop).
The average listing price for a four-bedroom in urban Honolulu is over $1.1 million, but the average home price in Keaau – a stunningly beautiful and peaceful community on the Big Island – hovers around $280,000. In other words, a million dollars will get you a nice house on a standard lot on Oahu, but for the same price you can have a stunning multi-acre luxury lifestyle estate on the Big Island with your own crops and ocean view.
Technology has made possible today what would have been unthinkable just ten years ago.
It is no longer an imperative to be strapped to a desk and sequestered behind a cubicle the entire day. 45 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time telework: that’s 50 million U.S. employees who hold jobs that are telework compatible.
The New York Times reports that, though unclearly undefined, telecommuting is fast on the rise. The average telecommuting worker is a 49 year-old college graduate who belongs to a company with 100 or more employees, though telecommuting is robust in a variety of jobs and being accomplished by all types of people.
More People Working in Outdoor Offices
Lanai is a Hawaiian word that means, essentially: tropical veranda. It’s like a patio, only better.
It really can change the outlook of your whole day when you’re able to work outside for a little while. One of the amazing benefits of moving to Hawaii, is that you will likely have daily access to a lanai, balcony, backyard – even a carport – that can become a second office or living room area to be enjoyed year-round.
Due to indoor air and EMF pollution, and a host of other factors — it’s almost always healthier for you outside than indoors.
Ideally, everybody should be able to work and socialize outdoors for at least a part of the day during a part of the year. Sometimes it feels good just to take your laptop, leave your desk, and go sit under an umbrella patio table to finish a project – fresh air is good for the body. In Hawaii, this is possible year-round.
Of course, many of the outdoor living spaces portrayed today’s magazines are a bit foolish. Outdoor furniture can become dusty quickly, and even if you’re fortunate enough to have a professional cleaner for your home, it still isn’t practical to have overly ornate design in an outdoor space. Even something as simple as a vase or candle is not going to stay as pristine as it would indoors.
You can, of course, include decorative items in the design of your outdoor space, but it might be wise to keep them to a minimum. An outdoor living space should be, above all, functional. If you believe you will genuinely get good use from your outdoor space, then a few extra features in your design might be especially appropriate.
Items that often prove helpful in outdoor workspaces include:
- comfortable chairs and recliners with fabrics specifically created for the outdoors
- one large table that is very easy and fast to clean
- a collapsible awning or umbrella for shade (very important if you don’t have a lanai).
That’s all you need. No portable firepit or gold lamé throw-pillows required. Truth be told, all you really need is a comfortable place to sit and some WiFi.
What is a Hawaiian Retreat?
Often, before moving to Hawaii full time, people will first “test out” the tropical lifestyle by doing an extended stay at a Hawaiian retreat.
A retreat is a place people go for an extended stay of relaxation and self-improvement.
Often the location of a retreat is more quiet and secluded than what one normally experiences in everyday life and it also offers a more realistic glimpse of full-time tropical living than the touristy experience at a standard hotel.
The idea behind a retreat is that, by being in a removed location, one is less likely to be distracted by the responsibilities and chores of everyday living. Additionally, retreats often occur in natural settings where participants can reap the healing, restorative effects that nature provides.
Retreats can be for any extended period of time – some take place over a weekend, while others last for three months.
Retreats conducted on the Hawaiian Islands are particularly popular because they offer opportunities for enrichment in one of the most beautiful and remote places on planet earth – a perfect place to contemplate and research whether moving to Hawaii is an appropriate choice for you.
Retreats often have an educational or spiritual theme. Imagine any topic and there is probably a popular retreat designed around it. Whether it’s obtaining continuing-education credits for a license (the practice of medicine or psychological counseling, for example), or learning a craft or skill such as painting, weaving, surfing, marriage, fishing, yoga, cooking or midwifery, there is probably already a retreat designed around your particular interest – no matter how specific.
An example of one popular retreat destination is Kalani on the big island of Hawaii. Located in the rain forests along the shores of the North Pacific ocean, this ecologically minded tropical retreat offers nutritious cuisine and rustic-yet-comfortable yurts on a stunning 120 acres.
Is moving to Hawaii the right choice for you?
Here are some questions to consider:
- what are your list of priorities for the town you relocate to?
- how would you design your ideal outdoor living space?
- what do you want the next 30 years of your life to look like?
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“Hawaii quick facts ~ US Census” http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/15000.html
“NT Times: telecommuting on the rise” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/your-money/when-working-in-your-pajamas-is-more-productive.html?_r=1
“Telecommuting trends” https://www.naiop.org/en/Magazine/2013/Spring-2013/Business-Trends/The-Entrepreneur-Telecommuting-Trends.aspx
“Global workplace analytics” http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics
“why you should work outside” http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-work-outside/#axzz2wbpLKLBP
“city cost of living comparisons” https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/