Before Brett officially retired in 2013, we decided we had a great opportunity to relocate to a warmer, sunnier climate. We wanted to escape the dreary, damp winters and head for someplace with a warmer, sunnier climate. But where should we go?
We started our search by determining the things that would be important to us in a new location and eventually came up with eight criteria we would use to evaluate different places:
- Good year-round weather
- Cost of living
- Proximity to the ocean and/or mountains
- Nearby military facilities
- Proximity to Japan,
- Tax benefits for retirees
- A strong, vibrant Asian community
After determining these criteria, we then came up with places that we thought might include those things or at least some of them. Hawaii was added to our list as a joke because we knew we would never be able to live in Hawaii but it sounded fun. The next step was ranking the criteria, figuring out the things that were most important to us. We came up with the order above. Finally, we began researching different locations, taking notes and checking off which areas met which criteria. Some places were eliminated more quickly than others.
We were very, very surprised to discover that Hawaii met eight of our nine criteria. The only problematic one was the state’s high cost of living, but we eventually decided if everything else fit we could somehow figure out how to live within our means there. We talked about changes we could make (i.e. renting versus buying), ready everything we could find about living on a budget, how to shop, etc. and made it work for us. We’ve never regretted our decision to come here.
However, with the cost of living on Kaua’i rising rapidly these days we are thinking about whether it would make more sense to relocate back to the mainland. The cost of housing on Kaua’i is rising to a level that will make it close to unaffordable for us to stay. Most of our children have ended up settling back east on the mainland. Flights to Japan from Honolulu take as long as they did from Portland, and fares are often higher from here to there. Now is the time to consider whether we should leave or stay.
It’s time for us to come up with a new spreadsheet once again, and evaluate our choices. Brett and I sat down together week before last and came up with a new list of what’s important to us. We haven’t ranked this list yet, but think it’s a good basic one that covers our needs and wants at this stage of our lives. In no particular order, these are the eight things we want/need to consider:
- Proximity to family: As we age, and our daughters get closer to having their own families, we would like to live closer to them. Our children would like to have us closer to them as well.
- Cost of living: Will the cost of food, transportation, and everything else in a new location fit into our budget and leave something left over for other things we want to do (i.e. travel)?
- Cost of housing: Is there quality housing in the area that fits within our budget?
- Tax benefits for retirees: Is Social Security taxed? Would Brett’s military retirement be taxed?
- Weather: Is the area prone to big weather events like hurricanes, flooding? After living in Hawaii can we deal with dreary weather once again, or things like snow and other effect of brutal winter weather? Do we want to?
- Proximity to the ocean and mountains: Is it possible to find this combination again?
- Travel & cultural opportunities: Are there things for us to see and explore in the area? Is there a major airport nearby for overseas travel?
- Healthcare availability: Is there a nearby hospital and otherwise good medical availability in the area?
- Nearby military facilities: Is there a military base nearby, mainly for things like ID card renewal and possible commissary/exchange shopping?
While we now have a list, we still need to come up with areas that might work with these criteria. We know that no place needs to be a perfect fit, but it should meet at least half of what’s on our list. Before coming up with a list of locations, we still need to rank the criteria, add others to the list, if necessary, and then begin researching and seeing what might be a good fit.
We already know that Kaua’i is barely going to meet half of these criteria, but it carries something that no place else does: our hearts. No matter how great another location turns out to be, no matter how many criteria it matches, going up against our love for this island will not be an easy task. But, getting started now on a possible move is something that needs to be done, so it’s time once again to create a new spreadsheet so we have time to get it figured out to make the best choice for all the right reasons.