Guess what? I've moved to Hawaii!

It's crazy how fast life can change. Just two months ago I had no plans to move or change up anything. Then the seed was planted, events conspired, and now here I am in Hawaii!


It started with a desire to take a break from Seattle and go on a working vacation. I love tropical climates and in recent years I've gone to Cancun several times and on a Caribbean cruise last year. But with COVID-19 I couldn't really do either of those things. My sister Hannah vacationed in Hawaii earlier this year and loved it, so she instantly recommended it and my interest was piqued. I investigated further.

Turns out Hawaii has a mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine for all incoming travelers including both tourists and residents. However, it was announced that starting on August 1, 2020 (at least that was the plan), travelers could get a COVID-19 test just before coming and skip the quarantine. That fact that the plan was announced right as I began looking at Hawaii seemed like a sign. I went ahead and bought a 1-way ticket for August 1, deciding to leave my return date open.

Around the same time as I bought the ticket, the company I work for, AppOnboard, announced they were getting rid of the small Seattle satellite office (which makes sense all things considered) and we Seattleites would be working from home indefinitely. I had the thought that I could work from home indefinitely in Hawaii just as easily as I could work from home indefinitely in Seattle.

I thought about my return date again. I realized that, all things considered, I was living in Seattle out of habit more than any particular need to. On the one hand I would miss eating at my restaurant and seeing my friends in Seattle. On the other hand I had three great years of eating there already, I hadn't put down any real roots in Seattle, I was working from home indefinitely, I was living in a very expensive, tiny apartment, and I didn't really care for the weather. Hawaii sounded really interesting so I decided to proceed with my working vacation there, see how I liked it, find a house if I did like it, come back to Seattle eventually, get my stuff loaded up with movers, and then return to Hawaii again.

That plan was formulated at the beginning of July. The only thing that sucked was that I was gonna have to wait around for a whole month before I could go.

I started thinking again: instead of me waiting impatiently for a month, then ideally going, finding a house, coming back to move, and going back again, what if I just got ready to move before my trip? That sounded perfect! That was the final piece of the puzzle and everything fell into place and felt right.

I rented some U-Haul U-Box containers and hired some movers at the end of July to bring the containers from U-Haul, load them, and deliver them back to U-Haul for medium-to-long-term storage. I stayed my last couple of nights in a hotel since I didn't have a bed anymore, and flew out on August 1 as planned!

The only fly in the ointment is that halfway through July Hawaii postponed its plans for the pre-flight COVID-19 test until September 1, so I'm in quarantine now after all! At least you're able to quarantine in your place of residence. I'm staying in the ohana of a friend-of-a-friend until my quarantine is over - ohana is the Hawaiian word for "friends and family guest house", a concept which is quite prevalent out here.

The Lei of the Land

I'm staying on "The Big Island", AKA the actual island of Hawaii. It's the biggest in land area but not in population or significance - that honor goes to the island of Oahu and its major city of Honolulu. I believe the only other major islands are Maui - it's not labeled below, but it's the island immediately northwest of Hawaii with the town of Lahaina - and, to a lesser extent, Kauai to the west.

The reason you never hear the Beach Boys singing about surfing in Moloka'i is because it seems mostly uninhabitable - it's basically a chunk of rock that a few villages scrabble out an existence on. Ditto with the other smaller islands near it.

There used to be direct flights from the mainland into the other islands, but ever since COVID-19 hit, Hawaii has rerouted all traffic through Honolulu to act as a more controlled gateway. Here's me flying into Honolulu:

Pearl Harbor

One cool thing is that when flying from Honolulu to Hawaii - a 160 mile trip - you can pretty much see all the islands at once. Three or four at least and probably all of them if you had a full 360ยบ view out of the plane. Sit on the left side for that trip!

My ohana is in the town of Kailua-Kona. It was originally just called Kailua, but there's another town on Oahu also called Kailua so they added in the name of the district it's situated in to disambiguate. The airport here is just called Kona (KOA).

The airport at Honolulu is medium-sized - big enough for some restaurants. It also has some open air doorways and some adventurous birds:

The Kona airport is built on exposed lava rock, which makes it look more like you're flying into Mordor than Hawaii:

It's a small airport. We had open-air disembarkation on a ramp and all the baggage claims were open air as well:

Here's the interior of the ohana I'm staying at, taken on the night of my arrival:

And here's the outside!

I'm on Day 2 of 14 - Day 1 is the day after you arrive. They are pretty serious about the quarantine. I have to check in each day on their website, they've called me once and I hear they will call me a few more times, and they may even stop by to check on me. I can't leave the house. They've arrested something like 150 people who have broken quarantine. It's fine. I agreed to it so I'll just ride it out.

First Impressions and After-Action Review

Hawaii is hot & humid right now. I've got a little A/C I can use but I've chosen not to so far - I just fiddle with windows, curtains, and a portable fan in different arrangements.

I love the sound of birdsong in the morning and the clear blue sky. The last two nights it's rained after getting dark and I enjoy listening to that too. Lots of little critters running around. There's a bright green lizard that lives around here, just casually perched on various smooth vertical surfaces. There were a ton of gnats inside on the first night - I think my use of the long-dormant sink drain may have summoned them forth. On the second night there was a brown spider at the edge of my sink. I let her be and perhaps not-coincidentally there have been very few gnats since then. She was gone again in the morning.

I came with a single suitcase and a backpack. I'm planning to leave all the rest of my stuff in storage for a few months at least. I wish I had brought my other suitcase as well - I didn't need it but I realize now that I'll probably collect enough stuff during my initial stay to have made a second suitcase really handy whenever I move on.

I mailed myself a few things from Seattle that I didn't want to live without. It was insanely expensive. Computer monitor: $300. Vitamix blender: $200. Still cheaper to ship them than to buy them again.

I was prepared to have shipping take longer from places like Amazon. I was prepared for it to cost more. What I wasn't prepared for was for many things to be flat-out unavailable. Lots of things on Amazon will just say "cannot be delivered to the selected address". That's my one big gripe so far.

I was able to order two weeks worth of shelf-stable food - Tasty Bite food pouches and Amy's canned soups. I wish I'd thought to order a filtered water dispenser as well as the tap tastes a bit swampy. My friend hooked me up with a big jug of filtered water and that should tide me over until my filter that I finally ordered gets here.

I put in a regular day of working from home today. It went fine but I really miss my home office chair which was very comfy to sit in all day long. The furnished chairs here are normal chairs but they don't have the right kind of back support for me. I can survive for 2 weeks but then the very next thing on my list is going to be going to Office Max and buying a chair.

Hawaii is currently 3 hours behind PST (7am Hawaii is 10am Seattle), but it also doesn't time change so in the winter it will be 2 hours behind PST. Luckily I'm an early bird and the other engineers in my company are late birds, so we sync up just fine.

All right that's all for now. I will miss Seattle and all the wonderful people there, but I'm also excited to try out Hawaii! Aloha!