In this month’s customer spotlight, prior Kona Container/Car Guy customers Andy and Kathy offer advice and tips to others looking to make the move, as residents for the past 2 1/2 years. Mahalo Andy and Kathy for sharing your experience with us!
ANDY & KATHY MCKERRAL
Move date- July 2015
SAN JOSE, CA. to HILO, HI. (Hawaiian Paradise Park)
Why did you decide to move to Hawaii, and what excited you most about moving here?
My wife and her mother brought me here 20 years ago for my first time visit and I fell instantly in love with the islands, the people, the culture and especially the music. At the time, moving here permanently was only an impossible dream, but we decided to come here anyway, “come hell or high water” as my wife put it. It took two attempts and 17 years, but we finally did it. B: We were excited most about moving to a place where people actually smile and generally treat others with respect in a warm, clean climate that has actual weather; away from the 1:30 AM gun fights between rival gangs in the nearby park, the constant drone of police helicopters overhead, the jammed freeways even at 1:00 in the afternoon, the constant increases in utility rates, the 5 year-long drought while media honeys barked about the “ fake news” of climate change, the filthy air, the widening dichotomy between the wealthy elitist techies and the middle class just barely hanging on – we were very eager to leave the Bay Area, and if we were going to make such a big move, Hawaii was the only destination for us – and definitely NOT to O’ahu… we wanted a rural setting that would not mirror what we left.
What was your biggest worry prior to moving?
Actually we had only 4: the ongoing cost of fuel, food and insurance, and whether the locals would accept our coming to live here. We solved the fuel issue by going solar with the addition of Tesla Powerwalls and purchasing a Tesla Model S; the food issue was modified by sticking to local farmers market produce and avoiding the mainland national chain restaurants like Burger King, McDonalds, Jack In The Box and the like (Want to find good eats around here? Drive around during lunch hour and look for overweight Kanakas lined up outside a local restaurant: chances are the food is great and the prices are cheap!). Insurance was a good deal less than we had imagined – but we purchased our home in Lava Zone 3 so the risk of volcanic incidents is somewhat mitigated, and we have no Albizio trees near our home that could come down during high winds. As for the locals, we do occasionally do get the rare “stink eye” from older Kanakas while we’re out and about in Hilo Town and Kea’au, but by an overwhelmingly large margin, people here are very friendly, accepting and accommodating.
What was the most difficult part about your move and how did you navigate it? Was it moving pets? Finding housing?
By the time we had finished loading up the Matson container in San Jose we had nearly a year’s worth of on-line research on almost every aspect of the move, from the real estate market, local government taxation, the DMV and almost all of the operational logistics of the move complete with CPM schedule of the processes. We had previously taken a week to go to the Big Island before our California home went on the market to shop for our new island home and drove our real estate agent to distraction looking at 15 pre-selected homes on 3 days all over the island, then deciding on the one we currently own. By far the most difficult part was getting rid of all the things we’d accumulated over the decades that made no sense to take with us, and preparing our old home for sale before the move. That was back-breaking work.
What was the easiest part of your move?
Pretty much everything having to do with the services of Container Cargo Guy. You were a delight to work with – very knowledgeable and informative; the car drop off at the Port of Oakland was “no brainer” easy; the empty Matson container showed up at our home in San Jose on time and as promised and then picked up after we had loaded it (my wife cried as the truck took it away); our car arrived at the Port of Hilo without a scratch, and once our new home was funded and the paperwork was done, our container not only arrived in great shape, the crew unloaded it and helped move our things into our new home. We could not have been more pleased or ask for anything better than the service we received.
What do you think others would want to know, or could benefit from your experience?
A few things: first, if possible, take a week to visit here BEFORE you move here to set up a local bank account that will be your destination for the transfer of funds from the sale of your home on the mainland. Mainland banks have some really convoluted rules that make sudden transfers of large sums of money to this place without a pre-arranged account at a local known financial institution a huge pain in the backsides, and will have the net effect of delaying the close of escrow on your new home unless the money is right here, right now. Second, check your road rage nonsense and use of cell phones while driving at the airport when you get off the plane and leave it there – more accidents happen here from hot-headed expatriate Californians barking and texting on their phones than from any other group, especially by those in the 20-35 age bracket. SLOW DOWN, FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD AND BE CONSIDERATE. Third, a smile, direct eye contact and a gentle voice will get you more respect here than fancy clothes, a rock star attitude or a wad of Benjamins. People here are generally about substance and not style; to be sure, there are groups of people who have it the other way ‘round, usually in the heavy tourist areas – but the locals who are either kama’aina or long-time transplants have an entirely different outlook on the kind of first impressions they see. Finally: KNOW YOUR LAVA ZONES WHEN SHOPPING FOR REAL ESTATE! Where you decide to put down roots will significantly impact the cost of homeowner’s insurance; and if you want to use your V.A. benefits to buy a home they will NOT fund a home in Lava Zones 1 or 2 because of the proximity to potential active lava incursions as determined by the USGS. You have been warned.
Hindsight being 20/20, is there something about your move that you’d do differently, if you had the opportunity to do it again?
1 – Spend more time dumping off mainland stuff on eBay before the move instead of giving it away- the extra cash would have been nice but not really necessary, although back then we were really pressed for time;
2 – Leave the #!&!!?! air conditioner off in the new home! That first month HELCO bill nearly gave me a confounded heart attack! Face it: this is a tropical environment with humid, rainy days… get used to it. You’ll acclimate soon enough.
3 – Shop around and do your homework when you decide to go solar – and you WILL go solar after you see six month’s worth of your HELCO bills. At well over $0.30 per kilowatt, just watching TV or opening a garage door is making someone in Honolulu very wealthy. HELCO “ claims” that they actively support home solar installations to help the environment, but the permitting process is Byzantine on GOOD days and local solar companies have a better shot at getting the installation completed sooner that a YEAR than the big mainland outfits. Also be aware that if you lease your solar installation the solar company gets the tax credit- not you. You’ll have to carefully and objectively weigh the benefits vs. the disadvantages and decide what’s right for you and your family.