In transition back to the East Coast, I’ve been reflecting on some of the small but noticeable differences in Hawaii living vs. Mainland living. This light-hearted list is based entirely on my personal experience having moved from Ohio to Oahu. What would you add?
- Trick-Or-Treat: For my first Halloween on Oahu, I stocked up on about 6 bags of candy. Yet the doorbell only rang a handful of times. The following two years, and in more of a residential neighborhood, the trick or treating picked up a little bit, but not by much. Whenever I’ve asked around about this, I’ve been told that kids either take to the malls for halloween or they trick-or-treat in specific neighborhoods, not necessarily their own. But check this out, Honolulu ranked third best city to trick-or-treat in 2012 according to Zillow, yet we fell completely off their most recent charts.
- Drive fast: It’s not that you won’t see the occasional car zipping through traffic, but in general people don’t drive fast here. What used to be an easy 70 mph cruise to get where you needed to be on the Mainland would be blatantly speeding here. Also, you won’t hear honking over slow traffic, which is quite a peaceful change.
- Lounge around: Some weather just naturally calls for lazy days, but Hawaii’s year-round warmth makes this awkward. Still, many Hawaii transplants like myself will fake it, making hot cocoa in December while wearing oversized socks as if we’re freezing. Meanwhile, keiki on the beach are building snowmen out of sand, and it’s totally adorable. The guilt follows you around until you get to the beach yourself. It can be emotionally draining when there’s never good reason to lock yourself inside!
- Keep your shoes on: It’s more socially acceptable to let guests keep shoes on if they’re just stopping by. However small of a gesture, this is a pretty big way to stick out like a true Mainlander in Hawaii. When visiting anyone on island, just leave your shoes outside – don’t you see the mound of slippahs on the lanai? That’s where they belong.
- Dorm Life: “Wait you lived in the dorms? What was that like?” I would often get asked this when sharing about my four years attending Ohio University, where living on campus was the thing to do. While dorm life is an option for Hawaii college students, it doesn’t seem to be as popular of a choice as commuting. Hawaii Pacific University for example, made this recent list of national universities with the most commuters at 98% of its student body. Granted, plenty of Mainland universities also made the list of commuters, so this is more of a personal encounter than a trend.
- Pass time in your own home as opposed to your neighborhood: My husband and I always admire all the runners, bikers, strollers, and dog walkers that swarm the sidewalks daily in our neighborhood. Most everyone is outside rather than behind closed doors. When we visit the Mainland, we joke that there must be a tornado watch keeping everyone inside as neighborhoods suddenly feel more empty. Hawaii’s outdoor lifestyle is surely behind this, and while it’s not surprising that you’d experience this, it is a difference that totally changes the neighborhood vibe. I’ve found the sense of community to ring stronger in Hawaii because of this lifestyle.
It’s actually one of the small differences I will miss most when we soon settle back on the East Coast. That, and the surfboard mailboxes! They’re too darn cool.