Title: Affordable Paradise
Subtitle: The Secrets of an Affordable Life in Hawaii
Publish date: September, 2009
Author: H. Skip Thomsen
What inspired this book was the constant stream of questions we received from our vacation-rental guests, friends, family and visitors, about life in Hawaii. They had questions about cost of housing, day-to-day expenses, bringing pets, quality and availability of medical care, the schools, politics, culture and racism issues, and more. After a few years of this, my Lovely Bride said one day, “You are a writer. Write a book!”
What makes the book special to me is that I love Hawaii, and it makes me happy to see others who also love Hawaii be able to come here and live their dream. It hurts to see people base their dream of “paradise” on myths and assumptions, spend a fortune on the complicated move to Hawaii and then discover in a month or a year that Hawaii is indeed not paradise to everyone. Affordable Paradise places a lot of focus on the reality of living here and offers the tools for self-assessment of one’s “island-life compatibility.”
This is a book that anyone contemplating a move to Hawaii must read! The topics include such essentials as a thorough exploration of the dream and realities of life in a new place that is more like a foreign country than moving from one state to another. Readers will learn how to find their own special place on an island that is more diverse in climates, cultures and lifestyles than most places on this planet. They will come away with a solid understanding of process of actually moving across an ocean; how to ship their belongings; what to ship and maybe more importantly, what not to ship. They’ll learn the secrets of budget shopping here, which are way different from mainland shopping techniques. Exposed are the many differences between mainland and island real estate issues, how to find the bargains, what to look out for, and current trends and values in the market. There are chapters on retirement opportunities, finding meaningful work, health-care issues, kids and schools, charter schools, and maybe the most important part, the reasons why one might need to rethink the whole idea of moving to Hawaii in the first place.
I should add here that the focus of this book is on the Big Island of Hawaii, and not the entire state. I’ve been called on this, being asked, “How come you don’t include Maui or even Honolulu?” Well, for the same reason that a book on affordable living in California would not include Beverly Hills or San Francisco as venues for affordability. The Big Island is the most diverse of all the islands, is an awesome place to live, and is the only island that is still affordable. This is also why there are many former Oahu residents living here now.
What sparked my creativity as author of this book was, and still is now with the new Fourth Edition, my passion for helping people find answers to the many questions they have about Hawaii. Most people who move here don’t even come up with the questions until after they’ve been here for a while. For many, that’s too late. A move to Hawaii is a Big Deal, not like a move across the U.S. mainland at all. This is a very different culture, and just the fact that Hawaii is the most remote landmass on the planet dictates that many things are done differently here. I have seen too many instances of people being drawn to “paradise” by the intense feelings they experienced while here on vacation and then making the giant leap of moving here based on those feelings. My passion is to offer everyone a reality check before they invest so much of themselves in so big a move. My passion is also to bring newcomers into touch with the essential need to learn the art of “living aloha” if they are going to call Hawaii their home.
This is my fourth book, and it is the Fourth Edition of this one. As most writers get to experience, there are lots of bumps along the road to getting a book from concept to print. I had no mentor, other than the help I could glean from the usual “how to write a book” books, all of which sit in my shelves somewhere. I got started back in the ‘70s, and at that time we didn’t have all the terrific online help we do today. It seemed to me that I had to re-invent the wheel every step along the way with my first books, and it didn’t get much easier with the next few. What I would recommend to any new author is to utilize all the help that’s out there now on the Internet. Forums, blogs, books, and of course, if you are lucky enough, a mentor.
My titles have all had a niche target audience, so marketing was pretty easy. I could advertise in magazines or other publications that were dedicated to that audience. Back in the “old days,” that advertising was very expensive, but now I can get far more exposure for far less money with Internet ads. Affordable Paradise is my first book that has a much broader audience, and for that, the Internet is a dynamite tool since I can target my exposure with keywords and links. My ad budget is minimal, but I do spend a lot of time generating links and other Internet exposure.
What originally motivated me to get into writing turned out to be the same motivation for every book and article since then: I love to share information. The first adventure into publishing was in 1979. I had been living on a wilderness homestead that we created on 108 acres of forest on the NE slope of Mt. Hood, Oregon. I had designed and built an electrical system that ran our home, office and my fully equipped auto-body shop in which I earned our keep. Over our ten years there, we had many people ask how it was that we had this fully electric home and shop when there was “no electricity” within miles of us. After explaining that it was quite possible to make one’s own electricity and that it wasn’t necessary to buy it from some utility, several people suggested I write a how-to manual on building a proven system just like mine. That was the seed of my first book, “More Power to You!” And from that day, self-publishing has been an interesting and exciting learning experience. I’ve never made even a small fortune from any book, but certainly enough to make it all worthwhile. If I was adept at marketing, which I am clearly not, I could be doing much better at sales.
What makes me a good person to be writing the continuing editions of Affordable Paradise is that I’ve lived in Hawaii for 16 years now, and I’m deeply interested in all of the topics covered in the book. My Lovely Bride and I have taken affordable living here to an art form and are always seeking even better ways in this ever-changing arena. We buy, remodel and sell homes here and are intimately involved with every aspect of this business. We try to live our lives consciously on all levels, allowing us to be in a non-stop learning process. We love to share what we have learned so that others can move forward without having to repeat all the mistakes of walk into unpleasant situations.
Affordable Paradise is a continuing work, so it is important to have the newest edition. Everything is in a constant state of change here in the islands, dictated by the growing population the changing demographics, and of course, the world’s now-somewhat-dramatic economic situation. All of these factors change how we need to function if we are to keep our cost of living to a minimum. It IS still possible to live an affordable life in Hawaii!
The Affordable Hawaii Living Web (for the book): http://affordablehawaiiliving.com/
To keep people up to speed between editions of the book, and for general discussions about anything having to do with moving to or living in Hawaii, I have the Affordable Hawaii Living Blog: http://affordablehawaiiliving.blogspot.com/
There is also an “Updates” page on the Affordable Hawaii Living Web site, where I post any changes, additions and other new and relevant info: http://affordablehawaiiliving.com/update.html