We often write about issues with housing in Hawaii like dealing with climate changes over the year and housing design features to maximize cool breezes to deal with summer heat. Recently, we have met numerous couples who are buying a house or condo to live in only during the winter months of the year. Most of them do not plan renting their part-time residences when they are not living in them. They are motivated to buy because of the high cost of renting a hotel or condo and a car for three months of the year.
We have noticed that the short-term Hawaii residents have some different housing issues and expenses than full time residents:
- Security – theft is a major problem in Hawaii so houses and condos that are unattended for long periods of time require a security company that monitors the house or a location inside a secure, gated community;
- Vehicle storage – vehicles left behind need a secure parking stall or storage area; some people have friends or pay someone to start up their cars during the year;
- Community information – being off the island for most of the year can make it difficult to learn about and respond to issues that come up with the building, home owner’s association, security, or other changes in the community;
- Island contacts –part time residents need to have someone on the island to call when something goes wrong that requires a person to investigate or fix;
- Grounds maintenance – Hawaii’s climate requires a gardener year-round to tend to mowing, cutting, bug spraying and herbicide spraying either managed by a home owners association or by the owner.
When returning to the island, winter residents usually have a week or more of tasks requiring cleaning, recharging, or fixing appliances and vehicles from non-use. Bugs, geckos, and rodents may need to be eradicated and their mess on lanais or in the house cleaned up.
Recently, we had a conversation with a part-time resident who us told a horror story about the condo units in his building which are all unoccupied for most of the year. A resident returned after a long absence to a large rat infestation in his condo living on his stored food. He set out poison and the rats ate the poison and crawled up into the building's air vents where their corpses attracted vermin and bugs. When the other owners returned and turned on the central AC, their condos were filled with swarming bugs and the stench of decaying rats.