Sunday, September 8, 2013

Finding ideal college student housing in Honolulu

Fall term just started in Hawaii and we were once again on the hunt for affordable and safe housing for our college kid.  Honolulu is renowned for being one of the most expensive places in the world to live and housing for college students is no exception.  On the positive side, there are really a lot of housing choices including vacation rentals, apartments, rooms in a house, student suites, and college dorms. But most come with big price tags or have lots of downsides like year-long leases, having to set up electric and internet services, remote locations far from a bus line, or difficult conditions with old or bug infested buildings and appliances.

We waited until the last minute to find housing this time in hopes of having more choices based on the demographics which point to college age students in sharp decline and  the cuts in federal spending which we assumed would mean less military employees to compete with rentals on Oahu.   There were more choices than last year, but when we arrived we were surprised to find Honolulu in a phase of explosive growth. 

Though it has only been four months since we were in Honolulu, every direction we saw spectacular new high rise buildings and the skyline noticeably changed.    We wonder who will live in the thousands of new condos built and under construction and how will Oahu be able to provide the infrastructure for all the new people moving in.  We saw  a large number of Japanese and Chinese families who seemed to be assessing Honolulu as a place to live.  Perhaps the earthquakes, pollution, and Fukushima related health concerns are causing people in Asia to consider relocating to Hawaii.

Honolulu’s freeway gridlock is always a shock to us coming from our unpopulated island community on the Big Island.  During Honolulu’s evening rush hour, it took us 20 minutes to go a mile on the main roads. The roads surfaces were extremely rough with frequent potholes. Honolulu’s traffic and crowds reminds us more of central Tokyo than the Honolulu we remember.  Since we watch the local (Honolulu) TV news we know the homeless problems are growing and driving around Honolulu it appeared the number of homeless had doubled since May.  Sadly, they seem more desperate and in much worse health.

We were able to find a great college housing solution with all the must-haves: cost, security, electricity included, internet access, short term lease, close to a bus line, close to food, and nearby shopping.  And as usual, we had a great time in Honolulu people-watching, shopping, and eating out.  Now back on the Big Island, the quiet and slow pace are a very welcome change and we can feel our blood pressure going back to normal.  We can only wonder what Honolulu will look like next time we visit.

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