Last year I wrote an article about Moving to Maui and why you shouldn’t be afraid to do the same. Exactly one year later, here’s my advice about moving, living and loving life on The Valley Isle.
Moving to Maui
Where to Live
The hardest part of moving to Maui is finding a place to live. There are very few places on the island that you can walk up to and ask to fill out a rental application. Almost every condo/ohana/apartment/townhome/whatever is privately owned, meaning there’s no management staff to keep you posted on when the next place will open up. Check Craigslist daily, book a budget hotel the first week you arrive so you can meet the agent and see the place in person (no one will take you seriously until you’re actually on-island), and be okay with not having everything you want right away.
We lived in a furnished room in a shared house for the first six months before finding our own apartment in South Kihei. It’s a lot of work, but it can be done. Also, what area of Maui you live in matters. Choose an area based on your preferences for activities, climate and proximity.
What to Bring
Don’t bring a lot of stuff with you. You don’t need it, I promise. Most of what I use in a day consists of swimwear, shorts and a tank top, sandals, sunglasses, leave-in conditioner, a backpack, notepad, computer and a water bottle. My advice is to sell your belongings and use the money to buy whatever you’re missing when you get here.
We packed 3 suitcases each and even that, in my opinion, was probably too much stuff. We bought a cheap car and scooter on Maui and furnished our entire 2 bedroom apartment for around $700. There are tons of people constantly moving on and off the island, so whatever you need, someone’s probably selling it. And if they don’t, oh well. You don’t need it anyway.
Cost of Living
It’s expensive. Duh. Gas is $4.50 a gallon and milk is about the same. Unless you’re buying 20 gallons of gas or milk a day, however, it really isn’t that noticeable on a day-to-day basis. Don’t freak out about everything being more expensive than you’re used to. Buy less and learn to do more with it. There are still plenty of places that offer amazing meals for $5 – $12. Learn how to make your own cocktails. Eat lunch at Costco. Get a second job at a Maui restaurant. Make it work.
In my opinion, and maybe it’s just because I’m from Texas, where “yes ma’ams” and “darlins” and “hey, y’alls” were the norm, but Maui is a fairly difficult place to meet people and make friends. We live in South Kihei, where we make week-long friends on vacation, but beyond that, geography is a large factor of friendship here. It’s difficult to get together with friends who live in other areas of Maui. I don’t make it to West Maui more than once a month, for example, simply because I live in South Kihei and work in Paia and Wailuku and it’s totally out of my way.
If you’re a person that craves a lot of human interaction, my suggestion is to join something… gardening group, dance lessons, canoe club, etc., or start your own. I still want to start a Float Club – meet in the ocean with your float (and optional adult beverage in an ocean-safe cup) and simply float for 30 minutes a couple times a week. This idea is totally a rip-off of my friend’s grandmother’s group in California, by the way, but props to grandma, ’cause it’s an awesome one. If you move to Maui and you’re in, let me know. I’ll most likely be floating in the ocean trying to make new friends.
I do miss things about big city life, but the positives outweigh the negatives. I miss having the option to go out after 9pm, which pretty much does not exist here, but I’ve learned to be more active while the sun is out. There are so many amazing things to do outdoors here, from swimming in waterfalls to lounging on Big Beach to hiking through Iao Valley and so much more.
My idea of getting up early used to be 10:00am, and I can’t even tell you the last time I slept that late. I regularly get up at 8:00am nowadays because my body has learned that as soon as the sun goes down, your chances of being active go way down. It’s a slower, more relaxed way of life, and I dig it.
Listen, Learn, & Go with the Flow
Like I said last year, everything is what you make of it, and I still believe that. We made our move to Maui a success in many ways, and it’s all about having an open mind, being kind to people and accepting that having less is living more. Get involved in the way of life and learn as much as possible about the people, culture, history and island, and you’ll have a much higher respect and more meaningful experience.
And when you’re standing on a golden Maui beach, enjoying afternoon Float Club glory in turquoise waves and giving a shaka to a breaching baby whale underneath a rainbow, thank me later.