Having been born and raised in Hawaii to a local family that has been in the islands for several generations, the decision to leave the islands for Nevada while my parents were still alive and aging in Hawaii was difficult.
It was made all the more difficult by the fact that nearly half of my cousins had already left, so there were that many fewer of us who could help care for my aging parents.
But having recently had a child of my own whose mother had custody and left for the mainland with her mother, the costs associated with traveling regularly to see my daughter, the costs of living in Hawaii and the lack of job prospects for someone without a degree, it felt like the decision was already made for me.
And to make matters worse, the job prospects for somebody from outside of the mainland with no college degree, and only professional experience to work on, was a nonstarter here too. So I ended up deciding to get my commercial driver’s license and become an over-the-road truck driver.
Being closer to my daughter was the main driving factor for the move, and the choice of career helps with costs of travel associated with visiting her, but the completely imbalanced compensation to the cost of living in Hawai’i would have made the move inevitable even without the impetus of seeing my daughter.
Rent is far too high, even if splitting the costs with a friend.
Food is far too expensive, and if you’re working the two-job grind like so many people I know back home, forget making your own food because it’s change clothes and go to job No. 2, not dinner time.
The taxation rate leaves you with barely half your paycheck, and city services fail to make up for the lost income. And so many jobs fail to provide adequate benefits to make up for the poor pay.
At least up here there is no state income tax, everything is about half the price, and I’m making nearly double what I did back home before taxes — and I get to keep more of it because of the nonexistent state income tax in Nevada.
On top of all that, the benefits are decent; being a trucker allows me to take away the costs of travel to visit my daughter, and I have a half decent benefits package.
Unfortunately, there is no place like home — the weather, the people, the food. Everything up here is way too fast paced. Even the small towns seem like everybody is in a rush. The friendlier parts of the country don’t seem anywhere near as friendly. And worst of all, people seem to treat me like an immigrant in my own home country — or at best treat me like a curious zoo exhibit when they find out I’m from Hawai’i.
It is unfortunate that even with the negatives of living on the mainland, I don’t forsee myself being able to move back to Hawai’i any time soon because of the costs associated with returning home. Having to take pay cuts and increase my expenditures just to come home do not make any sense for my future or that of my daughter’s future.
One day, I do wish to return. But until the economic possibilities make it appealing enough, there is little to incentivize anything other than a few return trips.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Former resident of Wahiawa, Oahu