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SaucerBoy
May 10th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Hello everyone,

I found this site by following a link in a newsgroup. I'm glad I stumbled upon it. It looks like you have a nice place here and I'm happy to be a part of it.

I'm a transplanted mainlander (from Massachusetts via Utah) who is currently living in Hilo on the big island. My girlfriend and I moved out here this past January because, well, why wouldn't one want to move to Hawaii (so we reasoned)?

My girlfriend's cousin and cousin's boyfriend were attending UH Hilo and we've been sharing a house outside of town with them. They've decided to return to California (fools ;) ) but we're excited to stay here a while longer.

This brings us to why I was scouring the internet in search of information about living on Oahu. The lease in our current home ends shortly and, while we like the big island in general and Hilo in particular, we're interested in seeing what the other islands are like.

So, after flipping a few coins we rather arbitrarily decided to move to Oahu. If there is a real reason it is mainly in the hopes that my girlfriend will have an easier time finding steady work on Oahu.

I don't want to be an annoying newbie who starts a flurry of threads asking the same questions that have already been answered dozens of time by you patient people so I'll happily search the older threads as much as possible.

However, if anyone wants to offer advise on our situation that would be wonderful too. The circumstances are:

As said, we've lived in Hilo since January but have not travelled to any of the other islands.

I'm fortunate enough to have a full time job as a software developer that allows me to telecommute. Unfortunately, that means I'm a computer geek but one benefit is that I can work from anywhere I have a broadband internet connection.

My girlfriend has some minor income from her own telecommuting work but will be looking for more steady (hopefully full time) employment.

We initially decided to move to Oahu figuring she would find work more easily there than anywhere else. While she is well educated (MS in Physics) she is also a recent graduate and doesn't have much real world experience so most jobs she would apply for would probably be entry level. She is willing to work most any reasonably enjoyable job (it doesn't have to be related to Physics or anything).

On the other hand the tales of traffic, crime, heavy crowds, and insane rental prices have made us wonder if we might be better off on Maui.

Although I know it would be best we probably won't have the opportunity to visit before moving so I'm hoping you all can help steer us in the right direction.

So, would someone like to make an argument for why we should choose Oahu or Maui (or anyplace else)?

Is it reasonable to think my girlfriend will be able to find work in either place fairly quickly? In the $700 - $1200 range, is there a big difference in housing quality between the two islands (we don't need a lot of space -- a studio is fine -- but we don't want to live in a loud, sketchy, dangerous neighborhood if possible -- we're also willing to share a place with other people).

If you've read this far, believe me, I am both impressed and appreciative. I apologize for being so verbose. Thanks a lot and any advise will be very helpful.

Glen Miyashiro
May 10th, 2005, 11:19 PM
Howzit SB! Welcome to the islands and to HawaiiThreads.

You moved directly to Hilo without hitting Honolulu first? Eep.

It would help to understand where you're coming from (literally) if you described what places you've lived before, and what you're looking for. Exactly where in Utah and Massachusetts did you live? Small towns? Big cities?

SaucerBoy
May 10th, 2005, 11:43 PM
Hi Glen,

Thanks a lot for responding. I'll try to give you some more useful information :)

I've generally lived in smaller, primarily suburban, cities (Springfield, MA, Burlington, VT, Salt Lake City, UT, Greensburg, PA, and others). That's not to say that I am opposed to living in a more densely populated area but there is probably a good reason why I've wound up in cities like this.

I like the balance of convenient access to some stores and restaurants while also having easy access to outdoor activities. In Salt Lake City, I lived a twenty minute drive from world class skiing and I could ride my bike to mountain bike trails. In Burlington, I could be swimming in Lake Champlain after a ten minute bike ride and skiing in just over a half hour.

At the same time, it was an easy drive or bus ride to catch a movie and eat dinner. Living near Hilo (Kurtistown) is similar in that it's about 15 minutes to both the beach and town although it's quieter and less populated at my house.

A similar situation on Oahu or Maui that allowed my girlfriend a chance to find work would be perfect. Are there locations you would suggest based on this description? Is there other information I can give you to help out?

Thanks again!

Glen Miyashiro
May 10th, 2005, 11:52 PM
I've generally lived in smaller, primarily suburban, cities (Springfield, MA, Burlington, VT, Salt Lake City, UT, Greensburg, PA, and others). That's not to say that I am opposed to living in a more densely populated area but there is probably a good reason why I've wound up in cities like this.Those are small towns. Honolulu, by comparison, has about 500,000 in the urban core; a million if you include the rest of the island of O'ahu. If you don't like larger cities, then you don't want to come to Honolulu. Me, I would have a hard time living in a city any smaller. :p


I like the balance of convenient access to some stores and restaurants while also having easy access to outdoor activities. In Salt Lake City, I lived a twenty minute drive from world class skiing and I could ride my bike to mountain bike trails. In Burlington, I could be swimming in Lake Champlain after a ten minute bike ride and skiing in just over a half hour.

At the same time, it was an easy drive or bus ride to catch a movie and eat dinner. Living near Hilo (Kurtistown) is similar in that it's about 15 minutes to both the beach and town although it's quieter and less populated at my house.

A similar situation on Oahu or Maui that allowed my girlfriend a chance to find work would be perfect. Are there locations you would suggest based on this description? Is there other information I can give you to help out?If you want O'ahu, you might try some of the outlying towns like on the North Shore or the Windward side. Your telecommuting makes it easy, but if your girlfriend needs a job where she has to be physically present, then your commute will be hell.

SaucerBoy
May 11th, 2005, 12:19 AM
If you want O'ahu, you might try some of the outlying towns like on the North Shore or the Windward side. Your telecommuting makes it easy, but if your girlfriend needs a job where she has to be physically present, then your commute will be hell.
Should I take this to mean that what work is to be had is only to be had in Honolulu? In that case, she'd probably prefer to avoid the hellish commute.

My thoughts probably aren't as organized as I'd like. I realize that Honolulu is a real city and I'm actually fine with that -- looking forward to the change even. Since it will probably be a relatively short stay (no more than a year most likely) I think I would enjoy it.

I'm also still assuming that my girlfriend will have the best change of finding work there than anywhere else on any of the islands (if I'm wrong, or job availability other places is better than I'm assuming please let me know).

Mostly, I suppose, we just don't have a particularly compelling reason to choose one place or another so I'm searching out information to help make a decision.

Thanks again, I really do appreciate your time.

jdub
May 11th, 2005, 01:29 AM
i'll jump in here and suggest that you read like someone who has the where-with-all to carve out a decent slice of life here in paradise, whatever fertile spire of lava you choose to settle on...but as for O'ahu: as a telecommuter, you have advantages well beyond most of the folks that live here, and as an MS, so does your lady...if she is indeed willing to work out of her field for a while to make ends meet, surely something that interests her will pop up...there is a whole lot of research and application going on around here...

rental opportunities are dwindling and prices are soaring, but any akamai landlord will surely smile on a stable, educated couple with steady income, decent credit and an immediate security deposit (i am speculating, though, having snuck into a sweet deal myself without the academic pedigree--i only had the deposit)...if you know anyone on O'ahu, it might be resources well spent to fly over for a weekend and check out some neighborhoods...the commute into honolulu proper is hell for 9-to-5ers, to be sure, but it's not the only way to pay the bills...

as an aside, i've seen a bunch of folks come and go from the mainland in the past couple of years, and, to a person, each was stymied by a perceived "lack of opportunity"...nonsense, i say...geev 'um, bra!

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 05:56 AM
Hui Saucerboy:
Here is my 2 cents: the housing situation on Maui is even more atrocious than Oahu, and you'll pay more for less. Traffic is just as obnoxious as Honolulu because the infrastructure hasn't kept up with the population growth.

On the other hand, since she has a technical degree, she might be able to find a job at the Maui High Performance Computer Center (http://www.mhpcc.edu/) in Kihei (they have Crays and do work for the feds). It would be a shame for her to waste her education on a job selling tacky souvenirs to tourists. There might be some science jobs on top of Haleakala too, because there's a big astronomical observatory up there. I think the UH is the local group that would be hiring for jobs up there, if any are available.

If I were you, I'd stay in Hilo if you like smaller towns.

Malama pono,
Miulang

pzarquon
May 11th, 2005, 06:43 AM
I love Hilo, and would live there myself, if I could find a decent-paying tech job there. (Apart from UH Hilo and the telescopes, I can't think of where such jobs might be clustered on the Big Island.) But I'm a born-and-raised Honolulu guy, so my family and I are doing fine on Oahu. I would say that you have a pretty good sense of what key concerns you should keep in mind, and I would echo those above that say your best chances of landing on two feet will probably be found in Honolulu.

There's just a wider variety of both career options and housing options here. You bet it's tight in the rental market, but if you're reading the papers, you know that's true on Maui, too. (I know it isn't a crisis in Hilo, but when I found out that an apartment we rented in 1994 for $550 was now renting at $950, I couldn't believe it.) IMHO, "nice places" might go for well over $1,200/mo. here, but there's still an array of decent walk-ups, tiny studios, rooms to share, and of course total crapholes to even out the base. :p

Your wife's physics degree might be tricky to apply outside of academics... but while I'd say you'd be dreaming if you think you could walk into a job at Haleakala or the MHPCC, I can tell you that with several UH campuses (including community colleges) as well as private colleges and of course schools and even private labs, her chances are better here anyway. Even if she can't get a physics or science job, it isn't just "selling tacky souvenirs to tourists." We might have more service-industry jobs than any other island, after all, but we also have more white-collar and professional jobs, too. Banks, insurance companies, law offices, and even a few tech companies.

Commuting might be a pain, but we also have a pretty damn good bus system. And while you might have to live way-the-hell-out-there to rent a whole house, again there are huge clusters of decent apartments right in town in Makiki. That's a ten minute drive on a bad day, or a quick bus ride. And you'd be right in the middle of everything, from shopping to attractions to (admittedly often crowded) beaches.

In any case, good luck in your research, and don't hesitate to ask more questions. In the best case, you'll get everything from "go for it!" to "what the hell are you thinking?" Take it all in, then go with your gut.

SaucerBoy
May 11th, 2005, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone. It's very useful information. Our plan, if moving to Oahu is what we do, is initially do a short term rental in one of the studios we've seen advertised and conduct a more thorough search once we're there and can actually visit the neighborhoods.

A lot of the short term rentals we've found are in Manoa. I assume it's students looking to sublet their place for a portion of the summer. It sounds, from my reading, like Manoa is a nice area. Close to town but a little quieter. Is that true?

She looked into the MHPCC and from what she read it sounded like jobs were difficult to come by there. We certainly wouldn't move to Maui with the idea that she would get a job there.

While we like Hilo, we definitely want to move somewhere else for awhile. Partly because our circumstance allow us a great deal of freedom and we want to take advantage of it. Partly because we'd like a place that is a little bigger (or a lot in Honolulu's case), has easier access to bigger yellow sand beaches, more jobs, The Bus, and so on. Maybe we'll wish we never left, but we could always move back if that's the case.

I have a related question about job hunting. As pzarquon mentioned there isn't much for tech jobs on the big island. I've submitted resumes to a number of Honolulu based jobs I found on Monster.com (I don't need a job but there are reasons I'd be willing to switch). I have an MS in my field and good experience. On the mainland, it's not rare for employers to seek me out offering work.

However, I've have received zero responses to my applications despite being very well qualified. Have I just been unlucky, or Is my resume just not as strong as I think? Is it because I don't live on Oahu? Not to be accusatory, but could my haole status be part of it?

Thanks again. You're a bunch of froods who really know where your towel's are (http://hhgproject.org/entries/sasshoopyfrood.html) :D

pzarquon
May 11th, 2005, 10:49 AM
It sounds, from my reading, like Manoa is a nice area. Close to town but a little quieter. Is that true?Manoa is a wonderful neighborhood, getting more expensive and exclusive the higher up into the valley you go. At the UH end, you have a fair mix of famous Manoa quiet and noisy student mopeds. If you can indeed settle there temporarily as you search elsewhere, then you're off to a good start.

However, I've have received zero responses to my applications despite being very well qualified. Have I just been unlucky, or Is my resume just not as strong as I think? Is it because I don't live on Oahu? Not to be accusatory, but could my haole status be part of it?No, it's not because you're haole. Hell, I can just as easily imagine there being an improper preference for haole candidates in some fields.

I think it's more a result of (1.) getting 200 resumes for any and every position posted -- and maybe double that for Monster.com listings since they snare Mainland jobhunters with dreams of Hawaii living, and (2.) your not having a Honolulu address yet. If you already have a flood of applicants from O`ahu, why waste a neighbor islander's time (or a Mainlander's time) with an interview?

Don't get me wrong, there are more tech jobs in Honolulu than anywhere else in Hawaii. But there are a lot of out-of-work tech people, too. It's an employer's market, sadly. But IMHO, it also doesn't take much in this town to stand out from the crowd... Just be professional, prompt, and open minded. You might have to fight to get to the interview stage, but that's where you can win them over.

Thanks again. You're a bunch of froods who really know where your towel's are (http://hhgproject.org/entries/sasshoopyfrood.html)Don't panic!

SaucerBoy
May 11th, 2005, 12:39 PM
I think it's more a result of (1.) getting 200 resumes for any and every position posted -- and maybe double that for Monster.com listings since they snare Mainland jobhunters with dreams of Hawaii living, and (2.) your not having a Honolulu address yet. If you already have a flood of applicants from O`ahu, why waste a neighbor islander's time (or a Mainlander's time) with an interview?
That makes sense. It'll be interesting to see how things go once I live there.

You mentioned that it doesn't take much to stand out. With respect to the IT industry, is having a graduate degree something that would help me stand out in this environment or is that already common enough?

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 01:44 PM
That makes sense. It'll be interesting to see how things go once I live there.

You mentioned that it doesn't take much to stand out. With respect to the IT industry, is having a graduate degree something that would help me stand out in this environment or is that already common enough?
It's not necessarily the advanced degree that will get you the job. You need to have the skills and experience that a company needs. One hot field right now is Infosec. If you have experience in that and/or have the certification, you stand a better chance in IT than just about anyone else. Programmers are a dime a dozen, and can be found offshore. Project management and infosec are the hot jobs.

Miulang

Palolo Joe
May 11th, 2005, 02:29 PM
Keep in mind that last post is coming from someone in Seattle. Prophet Zarquon is probably the best informed on HawaiiThreads in regard to the state of the local industry.

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 02:32 PM
Keep in mind that last post is coming from someone in Seattle. Prophet Zarquon is probably the best informed on HawaiiThreads in regard to the state of the local industry.
Yeah, someone from Seattle, who goes to Maui (raised there) twice a year, reads the Advertiser, StarBulletin, Maui News, Garden Isle News, and the Hawaii Channel every day. Yup, I'm really out of touch.

Miulang

Palolo Joe
May 11th, 2005, 02:49 PM
Compared to someone who lives on Oahu year-round, probably watches/reads just as much of the local media as you (if not more), and works in the local tech industry.

I'm not saying that you're out of touch - I'm saying that in this case, PZ is inherently more qualified than you are to recommend to SB what it would take to get a tech job in Honolulu. You're an ex-resident who vacations on Maui.

Thanks for coming back though. Our economy appreciates your mainland dollars being spent here.

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 02:57 PM
Compared to someone who lives on Oahu year-round, probably watches/reads just as much of the local media as you (if not more), and works in the local tech industry.

I'm not saying that you're out of touch - I'm saying that in this case, PZ is inherently more qualified than you are to recommend to SB what it would take to get a tech job in Honolulu. You're an ex-resident who vacations on Maui.

Thanks for coming back though. Our economy appreciates your mainland dollars being spent here.
I'm in high tech, and I'm just saying that the national trend in the US (and I assume Hawai'i is still part of the US) in high tech is that it ain't the MS that's going to get you a job, but the hot computer jobs right now are in Infosec and Project Mgmt. I also happen to know more about Mau'i than Ryan does.

Miulang

pzarquon
May 11th, 2005, 02:59 PM
You mentioned that it doesn't take much to stand out. With respect to the IT industry, is having a graduate degree something that would help me stand out in this environment or is that already common enough?What is your tech degree in? I'm really not sure how far they'll go in helping you... I know when I was coordinating hiring for a tech position at my last job, we cared less about all the acronyms and more about the work experience and primarily about how the interview went. (By the way, we also threw out more than two-thirds of our applicants because of horribly bad cover letters and resumes... make sure you get those right!) I used to joke that half the people serving coffee at Starbucks were MSCE certified... :p

For better or worse, credentials are only a tiny part of the equation. That old axiom about "who you know, not what you know" applies quite a bit. But don't despair! It also means that the personal connection in general counts the most. You might have the most spectacular resume, but if you even give off a hint of a bad vibe in that first phone call, you're out.

I'm in high tech, and I'm just saying that the national trend in the US (and I assume Hawai'i is still part of the US) in high tech is that it ain't the MS that's going to get you a job, but the hot computer jobs right now are in Infosec and Project Mgmt. I also happen to know more about Mau'i than Ryan does.Okay, look, I think SaucerBoy would benefit from all perspectives, regardless of where someone lives or what their background is. Sure, he can weigh various points based on our "qualifications" (search for any post by any of us to see, for example, how we generally characterize opportunities and conditions in Hawaii - I'm certainly not as pessimistic as some), but basically, the more datapoints the better.

And yes, Miulang, you know more about Maui than I do. But I know that Maui doesn't have an `okina in it. :p

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 03:02 PM
SaucerBoy: Try going to this link (http://www.hitechhawaii.com/) for more hi tech info.

Miulang

pzarquon
May 11th, 2005, 03:10 PM
Er, but also keep in mind that the HTDC is a state agency, with a lot of entrenched and sometimes conflicting interests, and that it's probably a given that their characterization of high technology in Hawaii will be... er, generous.

As with all things in life, and particularly on the web, take it (and us!) with a grain of salt. Depending on who you talk to, we're either a tech wasteland or the next Silicon Valley.

Miulang
May 11th, 2005, 03:24 PM
One thing I DO know about Maui County and the Maui High Performance Computing Center is they know they can't find local talent, so they're trying to entice expats with experience back to Maui.

Miulang

SaucerBoy
May 11th, 2005, 07:41 PM
I'll obviously stay out of any debate about the status of the IT industry in this state and leave that those who know better :)

As for me in particular, I have a BA in Mathematics, probably a semester or shy of another BA in CS, and an MS in Computational Science (this degree is geared more towards computational modeling rather than software development per se).

I have five years professional experience (much of part time while in school). The company I've worked for (currently still work for) is not a software company so our IT department is fairly small. That means that at some point I've had a solid hand in everything we've done including development, system and network administration of both Linux and Windows servers, firewall construction (and dealing with security in general), database administration, as well as swapping out the occasional printer.

Primarily my time has been split between the development and Linux administration. Lately, it's just development. My main motivation for seeking a different job is that I'm starting to get bored and there is really nothing else for me to do at this company.

Anyway, I don't mean to post my resume, just giving you guys an idea of my background.

I really appreciate the different perspectives and I'll check out the links provided.

I've been part of the hiring process for our department in the past (conducting interviews and evaluating candidates) and I agree that the interview and how we felt about the person was the most important part of the search so I'm prepared for that. I guess I was curious what, in particular, might make someone stand out in this state. I think you've given me a good idea so far.

Thanks again everyone.

GregLee
May 12th, 2005, 04:42 AM
If you want O'ahu, you might try some of the outlying towns like on the North Shore or the Windward side. Your telecommuting makes it easy, but if your girlfriend needs a job where she has to be physically present, then your commute will be hell.
There are various visions of hell. I live in Waimanalo and it takes me 30 minutes each way to commute to UH Manoa by car, twice that by express bus, three times that by regular city bus. A little less to downtown Honolulu. When I complain about this to acquaintances from Tokyo or LA, I just get snickers. That doesn't seem bad at all to them.

SaucerBoy
May 13th, 2005, 12:19 PM
Greg,

That's not a bad commute. The "hellish" commutes I imagine are more on the order of a > 1 hr each way through stop and go traffic that can get worse if it's a bad traffic day.

Would you say that the commute times you listed are pretty consistent or do you often have days where it is much worse?

From what I read Waimanalo is reasonably affordable (by Honolulu standards). Is that true? Could you tell me a little about the town?

Just an update on my situation for anyone interested: my girlfriend's current employer is in discussion with her about a business opportunity. The upshot is that we're going to get some rent free living in Waimea on the big island which is pretty fantastic.

That will give us about six weeks before we need to find a new place so we are hoping to actually visit Oahu first before moving. If all goes well with the business talk it could mean pretty steady work for my girlfriend.

GregLee
May 15th, 2005, 05:17 AM
Would you say that the commute times you listed are pretty consistent or do you often have days where it is much worse?
Consistent. But I don't drive in during rush hour.


From what I read Waimanalo is reasonably affordable (by Honolulu standards). Is that true? Could you tell me a little about the town?
I think it's still reasonable, but I haven't watched prices for the 10 years since I came here. My impression of it is sleepy, friendly, relaxed. My wife and I walk our dogs on the beach off leash every morning, which is illegal, but no one cares. Back in the valley are horse ranches and nurseries.