Monday, January 3, 2011

More Wild Hairs

So... This past New Years' Weekend I was suffering from a severe case of "Cabin Fever!" It was rainy, dreary, miserable and COLD outside! I did work - a bit - on "Creative Projects" (finished up a "mixed-media" art-piece which was supposed to be Kathie's Christmas Present, and started a mini-painting). But I also spent a fair amount of time on Google.

See, last November, Rog and I vacationed on Maui. He had Frequent Flier Miles to burn, and I found an "outrageously reasonable" rate for a condo in Kihei (@ ~$100/night). So off we went!

Now I hadn't been to Maui since the early 70's (Dad worked for UAL so we actually vacationed - a LOT - in Hawaii, but only made it to Maui once). My impression of Hawaii, in general, is that it's "outrageously expensive" and also Mega-Miserably-Humid. But after spending a week in a Kihei-condo, I have modified my opinion of the place!

Kihei is actually (relatively) reasonable - price-wise (of course, I'm coming from a California mindset - where "outrageous" is The Rule!). Yeah, fuel-prices are ridiculous (I think we paid close to $4.00/gal for gas - but at the time CA gas-prices weren't much cheaper than that). Groceries were *a bit* higher but - again - not completely out-of-the-ballpark (Plus we found Wal-Mart! Not bad at all. AND they've got Costco!). The fact that we were in a condo, and preparing meals "at home" made it quite a bit more bearable to be honest...

Anyway, we covered a lot of ground while we were in Maui. We basically traversed the entire island (including the infamous "Road-To-Hana" which is definitely an *experience!*) (and drove back via the southern route AFTER DARK [dodging free-range cows no less!] - again - an *experience!*). The variety of Micro-Climates on Maui is *incredible* (rivals that of NoCal - to be honest). If you're too hot/cold/whatever, just drive 10 minutes and you'll be in a completely different climate!

Annnd.... The fact of the matter is: Maui is still very-much "under-developed" and feels almost "Third World" in a lot of ways. Yet, it still offers "Modern Conveniences."

Bottom Line: I actually fell in love with Maui while we were there and I have determined that - without question - I *could* live there! Possibly in retirement????

...And I have "planted the seed" in DH's mind (ooooWEEEEEEooooooooWEEEEEoooooo!!!). Thus far, it seems to have taken root! ;-)

Soooo... While we were there (with dueling laptops!), I started Googling real-estate prices and I determined that they definitely have been *hit* by the Bubble-Burst (lots of REO's and short-sales). There are definitely properties there that fall under the "affordable" category (at least by *my* definition of "affordable"). And - with the fact that mom's house is worth a fair chunk of change - I think I might actually be in a position to buy an "Investment Property" on Maui.

Nothing super-duper fancy-schmantzy. I'm envisioning an unimproved "lot" - maybe about a 1/4 acre (like we're living on now - sans house, right?). I figure it can just sit there over the next 10-15-20 yrs and - hopefully - appreciate in value. If we decide *not* to move there, then I can (hopefully) sell it and bank a modest profit. Or, if we *do* decide to retire there, we can sell our San Jose abode and apply the proceeds toward building a modest (but nice) retirement home there.

Nothing upscale. Just a simple 3-4 BR 2 BA home - say, appx 1800-2000 SF. I can't afford anything super-nice (No "expansive ocean views" or PGA Golf Course setting). But if we were "walking distance" to the beach and/or shops - that'd be find with me! The main thing is The Weather! Temps were *very* agreeable to us! Mid-70's at night. Mid-80's during the day. Not oppressively humid (Yay!). Light sea-breezes to keep things bearable. Ohhhh yeah! I could live like that!

If I *were* to pursue this Dream, I think I would want to build a small, detached "ohana" on it. Like a small studio apartment. We could use it as a vacation house for ourselves - in the meantime. Just fly on over, hang out for a week or so, then fly back. After we retire, we could use the ohana as a vacation rental and ppl could pay us to stay there!

I'm kinda liking that dream!

There are definite "down-sides" to the dream though. Building costs are pretty high there (along the lines of $200-400/SF). Food and fuel costs are definitely higher (since pretty-much everything needs to be "shipped in"). Docking is next-to-impossible to find (for Das Boot) - but the sailing conditions are spectacular. As are the motorcycle roads (road to Haleakala was *very* similar to many of my favorite South-Bay California roads).

*I* had really (seriously) entertained the idea of retiring in Mexico - after my College Bud, D'Le, and her husband retired there. But Rog ix-nayed the idea when he heard we'd have to give up the Harleys and Corvette (Mexico roads: Not so nice - and the "appearance" of being "affluent" is *never* a good idea down there).

Anyhoooo... Maui is looking better and better!

In my Googling, I have found a Real Estate Agent (who put-up a nice blog-post about retiring in Maui here). I like her perspective, since she's from Santa Cruz and understands where we're coming from - so we've started a bit of a correspondence.

Of course, FIRST we've got to get Mom's house sold (which is a source of another rant - which I may, or may not post here!).

Anyhoooo.... That's my Wild Hair Du Jour! Maybe I'll buy a retirement "lot" in Kihei, Maybe not. In the meantime, I do plan to continue with my short-term Wild Hair Plan of building a ceramic studio in the backyard...

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