Monday, April 27, 2015

eXodus – Why do People Move From Maui?

Note: This is my gimmicky X post for the A to Z Challenge – I can’t think of a good X word that fits my particular theme, which is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide.

In the ten years that I’ve lived here, many of my friends have moved. It happens over and over again. I can probably think of dozens of people who have moved away. Interestingly enough, a few people moved to Maui, then moved away for whatever reasons, and moved back here again. A couple of them are still here and a few moved away again. It makes me a little dizzy thinking about it.

The reasons that people to move to Maui are obvious:
·        Good weather
·        Beautiful location
·        A more relaxed and accepting lifestyle, at least on the surface
·        Possibly work, but usually as an afterthought

The reasons why people leave Maui or Hawaii are less obvious:
·        Want to buy a house, but can’t afford one.
·        Better work on the mainland, that pays more money.
·        It’s too expensive to live here.
·        Illness, like a particular cancer, that is better treated on the mainland.
·        Parents died and you’ve inherited property somewhere else.
·        Divorce.
·        Love – falling in love with someone who lives elsewhere
·        Desire to be closer to family, who live on the mainland.
·        Parents are ill and you have to go back to take care of them.
·        Feeling isolated here, miss friends back home and haven’t found your social niche here.
·        Public school system isn’t great and private school is too pricey.
·        It doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with your life – you still have the same two or three jobs and are driving the same beat up car, and “you’re not really making it here.”
·        Education – what you want to study isn’t offered here.
·        Job troubles – getting fired or not getting along at work, and not finding something better.
·        Better opportunities for your children – one couple moved to the mainland because the son showed promising talent as a race car driver of all things, and there is no way to really develop that skill here.
·        Travel – wanting to see the world. (Gasp! Could there be other places to see besides Maui?)

There are probably many more reasons, but these are the first ones that come to mind. 

During the first few months of living here, it’s a honeymoon period. Everything is wonderful. Then reality settles in and there are things that can be really bothersome, like local bureaucracy or the slow way of doing things, getting tweaked with vog or cane burning, or one can’t find work because no one wants to hire a new person, or missing family and friends… A lot of people move away during the first year. If someone lives here for at least a year, they’ve reached the “one year hump” and have a chance of staying here longer.

When people on Maui talk about who stays or leaves Maui, often someone will remark, “Mother Maui decides who can stay” or “The island decides.” One friend who lived here for four years was told, “Not everyone can make it on Maui, so don’t feel bad about leaving” and “Mother Maui doesn’t let everyone stay,” implying that the “spirit of the island rejected her.”

This kind of talk irritates me. Who is this Mother Maui character anyhow? I think Mother Maui is a made up haole new age boogie woman that lets people who have moved to Maui feel innately superior to the rest of the common folk around them. Usually those people have deep pockets.

In Hawaiian mythology Maui is a Hawaiian trickster god who lassoed the sun, so this new age Mother Maui rankles me. Uh oh, maybe I’m on her SH*T list! When I grew up on Oahu, there was no talk of Mother Oahu rejecting people or kicking them off her island. 

Here on Maui, if you move, people often feel sorry for you, especially the more spiritual types.  Your moving implies that some divine law of nature has been invoked and you were found “lacking.” If Mother Maui was all so spiritual, wouldn’t we say to friends leaving the island, “Mother Maui supports your move" or "You're on the right path"? I would think Mother Maui would be upset about all the changes taking place on her island, but she hasn't kicked out any corporations yet. 

My ideal Mother Maui would be like the slogan of the Hard Rock Cafe, "Loves all, serves all." Amen. Namaste. Om Shanti Shanti. Aloha. 

Tomorrow's post will be a little more upbeat!
(By the way, while I have your attention, three friends are running interesting projects:

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt. 


  1. Not upbeat is fine - 26 letters is a tough ask for constant positivity. I enjoyed this one, anyway.

    Hello from a fellow AtoZ-er!

    Almost there... x

  2. I could write a similar post about why young Hungarians my age are leaving our country in the thousands... And yeah, I knew Maui as a trickster, not a mother :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  3. Thank you! Glad you stopped by. I'm trying to balance the tougher stories and the lighter ones. Also, I don't always like writing the tougher stories, because they're emotional.

  4. In Hawaii, we also call it "brain drain" - young people who are good at school leave to seek better opportunities. I never intended to move back to Hawaii after going to school on the mainland, but life isn't a straight line, and I felt pulled back to return. For some people the pulling back must be like a yo-yo, since they move away, move back, and move away again.

  5. Many similar posts about why expats leave Ecuador and many similar reasons. Most expats here are retirees but in the last two years we've seen a large number of younger families making the move. Great post!

    DB McNicol, author
    April A-Z Participant

  6. Those are all good reasons to move, it must still be difficult to leave such a lovely place.

    off the Page

  7. Personally, I like the idea of living on an island on a beach if I could afford it - but I most likely will never be able to afford it! -

  8. Having never lived on an island before, I think I might feel land bound after awhile. I'd miss the long road trips here in the states. I like visiting Maui though :)

  9. I remember one driving instructor I had on Oahu who said he loved to fly to CA so he could drive for hours! Yes, rock fever is definitely real.

  10. Thanks DB! Without knowing a lot about Ecuador, I'm presume you are also saying that housing and costs of living are expensive there? Or is it more the other reasons - school, work, and distance?

  11. Moving anywhere is always difficult I think. It means going through one's stuff, and saying goodbye to people, but yes, it may be especially hard here, because you may not see the people again any time soon.

  12. Ok, I'm totally rambling here... I have friends who left Maui and they are worried about the collapse of civilization, the zombie apocalypse, and think Maui would be the WORST place to live if our system collapsed. No shipping of food, no supplies. Small island, people may be fighting each other. I don't know. I'm not sure if any place would be safe!

  13. Well, think positive! I sometimes get depressed thinking I won't ever be able to afford a home, but depressed thinking doesn't do any good to get out of bed in the morning. Having my own place would be really nice but in the meantime I will try to make the best of the place we have now and take care of it and enjoy what it has to offer instead of the negatives. I can imagine you at your tiki bar near the beach, making scorpion bowls.

  14. Elizabeth MuellerApril 28, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Mother Maui is their way of covering up the rejected hurt they are feeling, right?

    You're so insightful over the place you live in. I can't even fathom that over the place I live and I've been here for a while already. I feel I need to sit back and do more observing and appreciating as you. Thank you for your valuable insight. I'd love to come back when I write a book on Hawaii! xD

    Elizabeth Mueller

    AtoZ 2015

    My Little Pony

  15. I think I would agree with you that if Mother Maui existed then she would give her blessings on her children and know that if you love them then you let them go!! Confession time now - I have just google-earthed Maui and didn't realise how far you actually are from the U.S.A !!!!! You look like you could be nearer to Tonga! All a little bit scary :) Special
    Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

  16. Actually, those are both low, thus the large number of retirees. But the constant weather (60-70 during the day and 40-50 at night) gets too cool for some. Family issues is probably the biggest issue, either ill parents or missing grandkids.

  17. I love it when you get pissed, Courtney. Don't mind me that I'm laughing at your disgust at certain things. I'd be the same way. :-)


Comments are important to me, so mahalo for adding a comment! I will try to follow up when I receive one.