When I left my childhood home to go to college, I never looked back. My life, and a home of my own, were just over the horizon. Within 5 years I had graduated from UT Austin, married my high school sweetheart, completed my first year as a French and Spanish teacher, and bought my first home. Even though my parents and siblings all lived in the same city, we each had our own homes, yards, and mortgages. We could afford it, but was it really the best choice?
In Hawaii, many families choose to live together, ohana style, with multi-generations all living under the same roof, but with their own separate living areas. For some it’s a cultural choice, it’s how they’ve always lived, but for others, it’s an economic choice.
For most families relocating from the mainland, ohana living isn’t an option, or is it? In the new sharing economy, apps like AirBNB and VRBO make it easy for homeowners in Hawaii to rent out a spare room, mother-in-law suite, or other unused space. When my husband and I relocated from Dallas, we specifically looked for a larger home that would provide an opportunity to offset our new, higher by 30%+, cost of living by renting out our extra space.
We ultimately selected a 3 bedroom fixer-upper centrally located in Upper Pearl City. After a bit of remodeling, our tenants have a separate entrance, share a full bathroom and cooking area, and their own private bedrooms. For my husband and I, privacy was key, but we also got covered parking, avocado and mango trees, and space for his tools and projects. In a little more than a year, my husband and I are now saving money, building equity, and living our new Hawaii life.