Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Joy of Hawaii Residency

Voting in Hilo, Hawaii

Living in Hawaii we have learned that being a legal resident of the state has a lot of benefits both financial and non financial. As Hawaii residents, “kama’aina”,  we get special prices at hotels, restaurants, and for many services on Hawaii Island and in Honolulu. The savings have added up over the years and allowed us to stay in resorts we could not have even considered if we were vacationing from the mainland. As residents we have been able to volunteer at some extraordinary places and participate in organizations that require a Hawaii drivers license.  

Most important to us is that as residents we get to vote and participate in the politics on the island. We have met and spoken with more elected officials in Hawaii County than any place we have lived before. Perhaps this is due to the small number of Hawaii County voters or the Island’s “talk-story” culture. The dialogs with elected officials and public meetings we have attended have given us a deeper understanding of the unique and complex issues Hawaii County faces. Of course the best part of residing in Hawaii is that year round we get to enjoy the warm climate, laid-back life style and delicious foods, and we want to keep Hawaii wonderful by fully participating as residents.

We know many people who live year round in Hawaii yet maintain residency in another state just to avoid paying Hawaii state income taxes. This is a strange phenomena that we have never run into before; most newcomers are eager to get their drivers license and join the community fully. For us, our taxes in Hawaii are much lower than they were in California and we feel we get much more in public services and infrastructure for our money.  Though they choose not to participate, for some reason these “non-resident” residents seem to complain the most about all the “crazy things” the local government is doing in the community. Their contempt for local law makers keeps them in a constant state of frustration and less able to fully enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer.  We cannot help but wonder how much maintaining a residency in another state really saves compared to what is being lost by not participating in county and state governance and fully being in Hawaii. 


Kanani said...

I love your perspective about "non-resident" residents, and fully concur. Governance and leadership is complex when straddling the history/heritage of Hawaii, the current issues, and the pressures of futuristic projections from prospective eyes on the prize. Best practices in leadership here reveal a deep sense of appreciation, tolerance, and above all, sensitivity to the varigated levels of meaning aloha retains. It continues to unfold in a myriad of ways across the colorful, fragrant reality this island community conveys everyday. aloha.

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