We finally did it. We have a home in Maui as of February 1. It's an adorable studio unit with a loft in the North Shore area in a community called Haiku. We don't know if this will be long or short term, that all depends on where we find employment.
We've spent the last few weeks reaching out to all sorts of people on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. From realtors to property managers to fellow German Shepherd owners, they all said the same thing - if you want to be taken seriously for housing or jobs, you have to be on the island. We found this to be true in TCI as well. So, we adjusted our expectations and things really started to happen.
Within days, we had two reasonable offers for short-term accommodations on the Big Island and one month-to-month on Maui. While Maui is certainly the more expensive of the two islands, we chose that that option because it was our first choice from the start. And increased job prospects. And beaches. There are wonderful beaches on both, but there is no denying the lure of the Maui beaches. We also found a training facility in North Shore that I hope will be a good fit for our shepherd.
In our quest, one of the best round of messages I sent went in bulk to fellow shepherd owners on the islands. I thought since Miss Monster has been our biggest hurdle, why not talk to the people who may have also experienced the same? I scoured the Google and Facebook for groups affiliated with the noble breed and voilà! I was getting more responses than ever before and even found a reputable shipper that can help us with the dogs when we arrive. In her first response, she attached all the paperwork we would need to reduce the 120 day quarantine to 5 days and offered to facilitate the Oahu to Maui transition after their short stay in Honolulu. Five days is a lot more palatable than the idea of being separated from them for four months. Since we FAVN tested a few months ago, the only other requirement was to get Luna a rabies booster. A`ole pilikia.
Wouldn't you know it the same kind woman had a friend on Maui that has a place for rent beginning in February? Like I said in my earlier post, the island has yielded nothing but kind and helpful responses. After the introduction and a week or so of exchanged emails, texts, and phone calls, we have our first Maui home.
Next up - booking flights. Since we're pushed up to February, I'm hoping to secure a good option out of Chicago to avoid connections for the pups, but much will depend on weather. When we looked at our options earlier, we were restricted based on average air temperatures, but with this mild winter maybe we'll catch a break. We've considered driving the farther west to avoid a connection flight, reduce the in-air time, and avoid the temperature issues, but that puts them in a car for a very long time. Our westie would be fine - he loves car rides and sleeps most of the time anyway. The shepherd, not so much. This will be our next hurdle, but one not nearly as difficult as the housing one.
We will also focus on getting the house on the market pronto. We've made a lot of progress emptying rooms, but still aren't quite there yet. Our plan is to get all things we're keeping to the storage unit as quickly as possible - this weekend, in fact. Next will be emptying the house and moving to a temporary location. This is where our organizer comes in. Helping us arrange an oh-so-difficult winter garage sale. I've tried selling things off little-by-little via Facebook markets, ebay, etc. but have not had a ton of luck. Our best bet is some form of garage sale. Let's hope the weather stays unseasonably warm and in our favor for this. Then enters our real estate agent extraordinaire. She's worked miracles in the past and I'm hoping for one more. If anyone can do it, she certainly can.
This definitive-ish date is also making it hard to keep my trap shut about our plans. While the supervisors that report to me are aware of my plans and have been for some time, my managers and staff are not. I don't want to create any additional anxiety for the group, so I don't plan to announce until the end of the first quarter. I also want to give my managers more than the standard two weeks notice, but am not convinced several months notice would be in my own best interest. We'll see what happens with the house. I'm thinking it may be better to wait until the flights are booked and see how the house does when it goes on the market. As we found with TCI, the unexpected can change plans. I'd rather give notice when there is less of a possibility of major change occurring.
Our first real step is behind us! Of course, there is an argument to be made that the decision and saving money is the first step, sure. But after determining this is something you want to do and that you can financially do it, housing is critical. For those who may be looking at traveling a similar path, here's a few things we've learned so far.
First Major Step Lessons Learned:
1. There are always people willing to help. You just have to find the right people to ask. Finding a place to stay that will accept dogs over 30lbs, or dogs at all, proved to be an enormous and unexpected obstacle. Reaching out to other people on the island that have German Shepherds was the best idea we had and is what ultimately led to finding our new home.
2. Homeaway, Airbnb, and VRBO are some great resources used by expats or those making a long-distance move to make the initial jump. Focus on getting there and worry about how to stay there when you arrive. You'll be taken more seriously when you are actually located in your destination of choice. We were very lucky to find accommodations for longer than a few months stint, especially with the dogs.
3. For us, finding housing was the most important step, aside from the savings required to make the move. Should we decide to do this again in the future, that will be where we focus all of our initial efforts. This is, again, because of the dogs. If it was just Husband and me, we would have booked a hotel and conducted our search from the island. The pups prevented this. After you tackle the biggest hurdle, things move quickly.
4. Be sure to add exploratory trip expenses into your move budget. Even if you've been to your destination countless times, the ability to hop a quick flight to explore housing options and/or job possibilities is very beneficial.
5. Don't get flustered or discouraged by obstacles. Put on your problem-solving hat and get creative. Be flexible and have a plan B. And C. And D. And so on. To do this, you have to really want it and be willing to work hard to get it.