Why Jennifer Smith left Hawaii

I will miss Hawaii’s great year-round lovely weather, beautiful blue waters and amazing flora and fauna, but there are so many reasons why my husband and I left. Here are the three main ones: 

>> Lack of opportunities. My husband and I moved to Hawaii in August 2016 because he took a job there. From a condominium apartment in Aiea, I starting looking for jobs because I knew it was expensive to live there and we would not be able to survive on one income.

I secured an entry-level position at the state Department of Health. Given that I have a doctoral degree, I thought I would take the job and find something else once I got on-island. However, after setting up monthly meetings with other Ph.D.-level scientists on Oahu, I soon realized that the only places to work would be DOH or teaching. So, I was in a position where I was grossly underpaid and undervalued. 

>> Corruption at every level. I experienced the corruption firsthand when the coronavirus pandemic struck and I questioned the DOH leadership. Hawaii had received over $2 billion in federal funds to respond to the pandemic, but did not hire a single person in Oahu to assist with the disease investigations and contact tracing. To this day, I still wonder where the $58 million that was earmarked for testing and tracing went or whose pockets it lined.

>> Living under the scarcity principle. The stress of living in a place where the cost of everything always increasing was intense. It made it near impossible to get ahead. For example, in the six months before we left, our electric bill went from $286 in May to $369 in September — and I had not changed a thing. 

As for groceries, one week I went to the grocery store and there were no eggs, no pasta and no cheese on the shelves. Also, a single pepper cost over $7! Unfortunately, living there was no longer sustainable. 

We have since relocated to Texas and were shocked at how much cheaper things cost here  — from gas to groceries — and where shelves are fully stocked. We also have a nice piece of land on which we can have a nice garden and be more self sustaining. 

As much as I miss the beaches and warm weather, moving back to Hawaii is not an option for us.

Jennifer Smith
New Braunfels, Texas
Former resident of Aiea

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