After visiting Maui last month for my boyfriend’s brother’s wedding, we pretty much knew we were going to be back, and we pretty much knew it was going to be soon. It doesn’t take much to see why once you’re here (and even before that), but, in a nutshell, everything kind of rocks.
Moving to Maui
White sand, turquoise water, food that is not beans and rice (sorry, Costa Rica), friendly and attractive Hawaiian people, sea turtles, street names and cities I can’t pronounce, winding roads of rainforests and waterfalls, and best of all, legal working status. That’s right, y’all. We can work here, which is important if you like to buy things.
Nobody was even surprised when we told them we were moving to Maui because, I mean, look at this place.
We researched prices for studio apartments and room rentals before we moved and found multiple options in the $650 to $850 range, most of which were furnished and included bills. This ended up being kind of a nightmare once we arrived, but I’ll get back to that. We also knew we would need some kind of vehicle, but we found lots of cheap, drive-able, hideous, “rusty but trusty” cars in the $1,000 – $2,000 range.
For now, we are glad to be back in a place where we can make a living (that’s where marketing, bartending and scuba diving come in handy), eat some amazing food, meet people our age, work on our surfing/hip hop dancing/spearfishing skills, and even go to Starbucks or buy a $7 gallon of vanilla almond milk if we choose. Score! And yes, it is outrageously expensive here, but if you’re planning on working in the tourism industry in any sense, your salary and tips will reflect that.
Considerations for Moving to Maui
Apartment & Room Rentals:
Know that 90% of the rental ads you reply to on Craigslist won’t even respond. It turns out renting a room in a shared apartment/condo/house here is insane. Renters want you, understandably, to already be on the island (so they can meet you), have a job on the island (so you can afford to live there for more than two weeks), not do hardcore drugs (because those are gross), and pay a deposit equal to a month’s rent (in case you break stuff). However, renters also, not so understandably, do not want you to have overnight guests or be a couple, have any pets, or drink alcohol (say what?).
Our recommendation is to make friends before you come here, because although there are twenty or so Craigslist room ads posted every day, each of those people are getting between 20 and 80 emails about it, and if you don’t already live here, you’re written off until you do. We tried really, really, really hard to find an inexpensive, furnished room to rent and ended up settling for a more expensive room through a friend of a friend simply because we were exhausted of looking and were convinced that some rooms were semi furnished, previously functioning meth labs that cost $750 + electricity and some unknown disease. No thanks.
And one last note, residents here, especially native Hawaiians who have seen this island change and grow dramatically in the last thirty years, aren’t particularly happy about the way people are renting out their places on the island. Since there is so much demand and desperation for rentals, people can and are charging above normal prices for below par spaces. You’ll see a lot of resentment from locals and a demand for more “aloha,” which is refreshing and also disheartening at the same time.
It is definitely possible to live here without a car. Maui public transportation is pretty decent and will get you most places on the island for $2/ride or $45 for an unlimited monthly pass. Considering gas prices are around $4.39 right now, that may be your best bet. You may also want to consider a scooter, moped, or a bike. If you can find a job close to where you live, there’s really no reason you have to get a car. Since there are two of us and we’re not sure that our jobs will be in the same area during similar times of the day, and also because we want to be able to easily explore areas of the island where buses don’t go (the Road to Hana, for example) without paying for expensive guided tours, we are buying a cheap car. There are lots here to choose from.
I’ll touch back on this when we’re actually fully employed and receiving our paychecks, but from everything I can tell, it’s not super hard to find jobs in Maui, especially if you work in the hospitality or tourism industry. Drive a tour van, serve drinks at a hotel bar, work on a boat as a snorkel guide, be a cashier at the fresh food market, tutor at an elementary school, take honeymoon photos, learn how to sell timeshares, whatever. If you rate yourself somewhere between a 3 and a 10 on the social skills scale, you’ll be alright.
In short, we’re learning how to live here, one step at a time. Yes, we’re paying more than we want to for rent. Yes, pita chips are seriously $7 per bag. Yes, you’re stuck on a large rock smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but if you value beauty and adventure and are willing to work for it, it’s a solid option. Welcome to Maui. Read more specifics about the island here.