THE BLOG

What Living On Maui Has Taught Me About Life

06/23/2015 03:42 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2016

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After 30 years of dealing with unbearable Wisconsin winters, I moved my family to Maui, Hawaii. We made the move on April 8th of 2014. 14 months later, I can tell you we still love Maui life and think this is one of the best decisions our family has made. We thought this would be a great place to live, but it has exceeded our expectations.

The move to Maui was a four-year journey that included many highs and lows. After vacationing here in 2010, we got on a flight back to Wisconsin promising to make Maui home someday. The death of my father in 2012 was the catalyst to turn the talk into action.

As you can imagine, people didn't get it. They didn't understand why we wanted to move to one of the "most remote places on earth." Just like any big change in life, even those closest to you have a hard time understanding. The move and living here has taught me some valuable life lessons.

Life Is Short

Our initial conversations about a move to Maui were centered on retirement. We thought when our kids left home, and we were settled, we would retire on Maui. The death of my father made the idea of death seem real. We realized death doesn't come when you think or hope it does, none of us is guaranteed a moment past right now.

I hope everyone who reads this lives a long and happy life, but things rarely work out as planned. Life is short and how we live each day is important. Your dreams are important, and they're in your mind and heart for a reason. Your dream may not be to move to Hawaii, and that's OK. Whatever your dream is, life is too short not to try.

Too often we live our life the way other people think we should live it. It may be parents, friends, or what society thinks is "normal", but we're afraid to step beyond what we understand. It's scary making big changes in life, but being comfortable should scare us even more. Life has too much to offer.

Life Is What You Make It

Living on Maui, and in Hawaii, in general, is expensive. It can be the little things like groceries or household items or the bigger things. Recently, we had the fun experience of looking for a new vehicle. When we moved here, we took the bus everywhere for the first 45 days. Then we got a "Maui cruiser" for the next ten months.

After being settled and my business growing by leaps and bounds, we had enough for a decent used car. We were shocked at the prices. We ended up buying a 2015 Sion XB because the used car prospects weren't great. Since we don't believe in debt, we paid cash for the car and got a great deal. From the little stuff to the bigger of parts of life, the price of paradise is not for everyone. Some people see this as a negative.

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The prices of everything in our country are higher. The cost of living keeps increasing while wages decrease. This can depress and keep you stuck, or you can use it as motivation to escape to a better life--no matter where that life is. You have a choice to make, and you decide what you believe is possible in your life.

Life Is Better With Experiences. Not Stuff

We sold everything and moved to Maui with nothing but 15 checked bags. A year later, we still live a simple life. We let go of living life for "stuff" and have chosen to embrace the ocean, the mountains, great friends, and the beauty of life's experiences. This is simple and free.

While there's nothing wrong with having nice things, stuff can keep you from living each moment fully present. At the end of our lives we won't remember all the stuff we had, we'll remember our experiences. Living in Hawaii is expensive but it forces you to abandon the pursuit of things and embrace what truly living means. It's not just a Hawaii thing, no matter where you live, choose experience instead of stuff.

If you take anything away from this article, let it be that you only get one life to live and how you spend each day matters. Maui and Hawaii, in general, aren't for everyone, and that's OK. Whatever your dream is, do what you can to make it your reality.

Are you living or existing?

All photos are the authors.