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“I am Native Hawaiian, born and raised on Oahu. Being stuck at an 8-to-5 desk job for two years with no room to move up the corporate ladder, high-cost living expenses, living paycheck to paycheck and seeing people I loved being dragged down were the reasons I moved to Tacoma, Washington.

“All of my family lives in Hawaii, except my sister, who also moved to Tacoma after I established residency here. A majority of my husband’s family still lives in Hawaii.

“I enjoy visiting Hawaii once a year, but I am only able to do that because my husband works for an airline that provides free flight benefits. I would not be able to buy tickets to Hawaii and afford our stay there. When we visit, we spend about $700 for a week’s stay, not including car rental, and that’s us budgeting to the dollar.

“Here I purchased a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a garage, large yard and street parking for $280,000. It is six houses away from a great elementary school. My grocery bill is about $120 a week; it provides three full meals, snacks and extras daily. I have extra money and can help support my sister’s kids.

“In order for me to consider moving back to Hawaii, I would need to be able to purchase a house that is more than 10 feet from my neighbor’s house. Grocery costs would need to go down significantly, and a better transportation and freeway system would need to be implemented.

“I wish we could go back. I miss the beach, the food, the sun, the people … but realistically, what I see for myself and my family I no longer see in Hawaii.”

Chelsea Wright
Tacoma, Washington
Former resident of Kalihi