So you think you want to move to Hawaii?
Yes it's paradise. With its shockingly good looks and tantalizing charm, most people conjure up scenarios of selling all their belongings, quitting soul sucking jobs and grabbing a one-way ticket to trade in your suit for slippers (flip flops).
But slow down there, grasshopper. You need to know some things before you go.
I had this same dream and decided to test it out. You know, the try before you buy approach. Which is a good thing because I got to peel back the layers and see the pulse of paradise.
I've spent the past three months exploring each island. I found once you look under the blanket of laid back haze and the tourist traps, you are faced with the same issues, annoyances and gripes as anywhere else in the world.
Although people who live here tend to be happier, healthier and more balanced than many other places, you need to know a few things before you move here. Coming to Hawaii is not always a happily ever after. You still have to work hard. Stress and life challenges still come flying at you.
1. Flying Cockroaches
Yes, the bugs are big and plentiful. They land in your hair, on your shoulders and even on your plate of food. If you move to Hawaii, you may as well make peace with the little guys and accept them as your new roommates.
2. Out of Stock
Your favorite creamer, toothpaste or even your go-to wine might be out of stock. Since almost everything is shipped from the mainland, when stores run out of your favorite products, it could be days, weeks or even months before you see them again. Not only that, the prices are much higher because of the shipping.
3. Turnover Friends
Most people come to the islands with the same goal: to live happily ever after. But reality bites when they can't find work and have to move back to the mainland. This makes it a social circus -- a circulation of new faces returning to old places.
4. Soul Sucking Traffic
The average Honolulu resident will sit in traffic jams for 58 hours annually. But Oahu isn't the only island where you will wilt away on the concrete jungle. Kauai has Kapaa, and Lahaina in Maui. Being on a small landmass in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes for tight quarters with nowhere to go but grow old in traffic.
5. Random Power Outages
I've been in Hawaii for three months and experienced five power outages. One in Maui, three in Kauai and one in Waikiki. Maybe the electric company employees are out surfing. And getting a consistent internet connection? Forget about it.
6. Outrageous Allergies
Itchy throat, runny nose and scratchy eyes are all common occurrences on the islands. Vog, a real allergy, is wicked on the islands. Vog blows over from the big island and hits the sinus for mega-sneezing and wheezing.
7. Sleepless in the Sun
Staying inside, over-sleeping or taking a midday power nap creates an internal conflict. The sunny days and beautiful landscape beg you to go out and play with the world. But for the days you just need a good couch session, the sun guilt sets in.
8. Indifference to Current Events
Besides being slower to adopt new trends, living on the islands makes you apathetic to most current events. By the time we hear about it on the islands, it is already old news on the mainland.
9. Tsunami Warnings, Shark Attacks and Flash Floods Are Real
Many fears can be irrational. But in Hawaii, the fear of shark attacks or natural disasters are a constant back of the mind mental chatter.
10. Pets Not Pampered in Paradise
Hawaii is a rabies-free state, which means vigorous medical tests and aggressive quarantine for animals arriving on the islands. Bringing your pet over from the mainland is stressful. Once they your pet passes and can enter state borders, it is super hard to find a place that will rent to pet owners.
Aside from all of these minor annoyances, Hawaii is an amazing place that can certainly teach us a lot about living a balanced life.
Follow Shannon Kaiser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/shannonLKaiser