Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Renting in Hawaii

I thought I would do a post about our rentals here in Hawaii, including how we found our current rental, to give you a bit of an idea about the rental situation here.

Sorry for the long and boring post.  Thought it might be a bit informative for anybody who cared.

When we first were coming to Hawaii, our belongings were going to arrive much later than we were.  This left us with three choices: get a furnished rental; get an unfurnished rental and get a few basic belongings; or stay in a hotel.  Staying in a hotel for at least a month was way out of the budget and would have cost us thousands of dollars a week.  We didn't want to live on the bare minimum for more than a month so we went ahead and started looking for a furnished rental.  While many places come furnished, it is difficult to find a temporary furnished rental that isn't a vacation rental and again, out of budget.  This was super stressful for us but the hubby thankfully found a very nice condo with an owner who was willing to negotiate a couple hundred dollar higher rent for a shorter rental period so we thankfully managed to find a place to stay before arriving in Hawaii.

We arrived super late after a very long flight and at first sight were very unsure of what we had gotten ourselves into to.  The place was hard to find.  The garage was very hard, if not impossible, to park the car in.  The place didn't seem that clean.  Everything just seemed so foreign and off.  But we went to bed and with a good nights rest and fresh perspective the next morning, our rental didn't seem so bad and we actually fell in love with it.

We liked the condo, and its location, enough to continue to rent it but we really wanted our stuff and with it being furnished, there was no place for our belongings and the small amount of furniture we owned.  In fact, when moving to Hawaii, many people just put their stuff in storage on the mainland or sell all of their belongings because furnished rentals here are so easy to find and not really any more expensive than an unfurnished rental.  I don't believe in owning things, unless they are heirlooms, just to keep them in storage.   So I either wanted to sell or bring our stuff, with me leaning on the bringing end because I personally like most of my things (minus most of our living room furniture).

Anyways, we began to look about a month out from when we were to leave our temporary rental and about 2 months out from when the baby was scheduled too arrive.  Everybody mentioned Craigslist as the place to go, so between that website and a few government and military websites, we would find adds, call, hope to get a showing, visit the place, and make a decision whether we wanted it.  It was hard because we wanted to make the right decision but rentals can go so quickly here.  You don't always see the add in time to get a showing nor is it ever easy to get in touch with the right person, and there are so many people seeing the same place the same day you are, you have to act interested and get the application in ASAP.  Not only that but they usually want you to move in soon there after, so if you can't move right away, that makes it hard as well.  Overall, a super stressful and trying experience.

Here is a rough rundown of what we did and didn't like about our condo, the places we saw, and the place we ultimately chose:

Wailua Condo We Stayed In:
Pros- Good deal for the price; right across from the beach; two large bedrooms with good size closets; lots of storage in bathroom; updated kitchen; nice washer and dryer; a one car garage with plenty of storage space; bathroom on each floor; 2 floors
Cons- Got super hot during the day; no air condition in living room; kitchen would heat up like crazy (no fun while pregnant); cockroaches; crazy barking dogs right nearby; some parts of the house never seemed to look clean because of the materials they used to build; lots of steep stairs and stone floors (not kid friendly); far away from the main shopping areas so not many grocery store choices unless you drive for a half hour

First Mililani Rental We Saw:
Pros - three bedrooms so the potential for a room for an office for the hubby; big guest bathroom; okay size living/dining area; nice community; two bathrooms; washer and dryer; not far from a variety of stores
Cons - far from beach; small bedrooms; small kitchen; microwave so low I wasn't sure I could use a huge pasta pot on the stove; no closet doors

Second Mililani Rental:
Pros: three bedrooms so the potential for a room for an office for the hubby; two and a half bathrooms; 2 floors; huge garage; washer and dryer; a yard that we didn't have to take care of; nice area; not far from a variety of stores
Cons: far from beach; small bedrooms; old appliances; sort of small living room/dining area; the price and the fact that a large part of the price was because of the garage (which is fine sometimes but might not be worth it when the budget is already being stretched)

Rental Down Road From Condo:
Pros - location; big bedrooms; price; washer and dryer
Cons - smells like a hotel; small kitchen; could barely open the dishwasher because of the location of the washer and dryer; only one bathroom; small living/dining area; potentially no room for the hubbies desk

Rental Near Library and Farmers Market in Wialua:
Pros - location; big bedrooms; price
Cons - felt like I was at girls camp; way nasty outdated shower; horrible not carpet and not matching wood floors; needed major painting;  super old and small stove and fridge;  tons of junk in yard;  didn't feel kid friendly;  potentially no room for the hubby's desk; no washer and dryer though there were hookups outside

Mililani Location Near Ross: 
Pros - price; two floors; washer and dryer; bathroom on each floor; updated kitchen; good size bedrooms; tons of storage; a loft that hubby could use as a recording studio/office; lovely master bedroom; owners had plans to update closets; across from Ross (girls dream come true) and grocery store
Cons - run down area of Mililani; small living room/dining room; small kitchen; no guest bathroom; balcony area looked really old and dirty; not near beach

Current Rental: 
Pros - Two good size bedrooms; two full bathrooms; not a teeny tiny kitchen like some of the above rentals; big, open and airy; much cooler temperature wise than our temporary rental; ability to have air conditioning in all the main rooms; nice tub in master bedroom; good amount of storage (though still not enough for us); carpeted which the hubby likes; much closer to a variety of stores (and the hospital); has pool across street;  nice walking paths by community; lots of storage in the kitchen; washer and dryer; huge covered balcony so we can eat outside everyday
Cons - The price; not near the beach; ants; didn't have time to paint it before we moved in (This will hopefully be taken care of though next time we are on vacation. It really needs it.); old carpets though we did agree to that because having a baby on brand new carpets sounds stressful; old appliances; hard to efficiently use the space because of the location of all the doors and other misc. things you don't want to block; no way to really have a dining area (though that was a common thing with all the rentals we saw); a dog below us; the traffic noise seems loud which we blame on the fact that we live in a valley;  not a big open kitchen so it's hard having multiple people in it; family above us; having the "office" in the living room

Overall, our rental isn't perfect.  But when I first saw this place, it excited me and I do think we could really come to like it, especially if and when improvements are made.

A few random notes:

If you want your own furniture, bring it with you.  Furniture shopping isn't fun here on the island.  Limited choices, price ranges, and styles.

Don't come with your typical American expectations for lots of living space, huge bedrooms, multiple baths, and updated kitchens.  These things come with a huge price tag here.  Space is money because its so limited, just like in the city.

Everybody has their biases about which area is the best to live in.  Listen to their reasons but visit each place and decide on your own.  And then also be open to living somewhere else.

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