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Old 08-02-2012, 03:00 PM
Location: Volcano
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Originally Posted by msherline View Post
We're a 70 yr old couple from Arizona, about to make an offer on a house in Discovery Harbor. We'd appreciate any information on the area, what can we expect in things like homeowners' insurance (volcano zone 6), cable, internet, phone, electric, water bills? What medical facilities are nearby?
Aloha. Folks here will be helpful, I'm sure, but if you want some quicker answers, use the Advanced Search feature here to check this forum for previous answers to your general questions.

Lava zone 6 is quite safe and insurance isn't bad, but utilities are all higher than the mainland, especially electricity, which is 2-3X as high as most mainland areas. Obviously it depends on your usage, but Helco reports their average residential bill is nearly $300/mo. Do you have county water on the property, or rainwater catchment, or a cistern for haulage? If the latter it's about $200 per 4,000 gallon delivery.

There's a medical clinic in Na'alehu, and a small hospital 12 miles away in Pahala. For something more serious you're going to Hilo, 55 miles and about an hour and a half distant. If Hilo can't handle it, you fly to Oahu. And if Oahu can't handle it you go to the mainland. It's not a great place to be if you are maintaining any kind of chronic illness, as physicians are in short supply in Hawai'i.

Originally Posted by msherline View Post
Are the Na'alehu area grocery and drug stores' prices a lot higher than those in Kona or Hilo? How about crime? Some people have told us it's pretty bad nearby in Ocean View, others say it's not. We have spent hours driving around the area and never saw a police car.
Yes, prices are higher in Na'alehu than in Hilo or Kona, and prices are already high in Kona and Hilo. There are lots of threads on this topic. Everything is more expensive in Hawai'i because of the very, very long distance it all has to come from the mainland.

And no, you won't see police cars often. The public safety agencies are run by the county, and budgets have been cut, and with 450 square miles to cover, their coverage is thin where the population is low, like at the south end of the island. There's a small station in Na'alehu.

Originally Posted by msherline View Post
The house we're trying to buy has a lap pool with solar heating. Would it be practical to convert that to heat water for the house? I mean instead of the pool, not in addition to it.
I'm no expert, but it seems possible, although it doesn't seem to me it would be all that practical or advantageous to do that. A solar water heater for a house is much like a conventional water heater, but with a solar collector panel added on the roof. Hot water circulates down from the collector through the tank, with the auxiliary heat source (electric or propane) kicking in when the solar can't keep up with demand. In a lot of small pools there is only a collector and a pump circulating water through the pool, and re-purposing that equipment might be more expensive than installing new. But you should check with a professional.

It may seem strange, but I would suggest keeping the pool intact, even if you don't plan to use it. If you decide after a couple of years that you want to leave Hawai'i (sorry, but it does happen to quite a few people) I would think having the pool still be operational would add to the resale value.

Originally Posted by msherline View Post
Does anyone know anything about shipping? The only company we've heard of is Matson, but I've seen ads for a couple of others on this site. Would it be better to ship a paid for, gently used '06 compact car with very low mileage or try to replace it here?
There are three shipping companies serving Hawai'i, Matson, Horizon and Pasha. Everybody else is a broker. Cars are covered by tariff, and currently will cost you $1,074 from the West Coast, plus another maybe $300 - 500 to get it to the coast from Arizona. You can get an instant quote on the Pasha website.

Originally Posted by msherline View Post
My wife wants to sell most of our furniture, refrigerator, washer and dryer and replace them here; the way prices look here, I'm thinking it would probably be less expensive to include them in the shipment.
Your wife has the right idea. Ever notice that new appliances are very well packed internally? That's to keep the moving parts from banging around and getting damaged. But there's no such protection when they are used and moved, and when you move long distances there's more chances of damage. Also, you definitely want EnergyStar highly rated appliances, less than 7 years old, because older ones are much more expensive to run.

There are so many people who ship furniture to Hawai'i and then go back home without it that furnishing your place at garage sales is very practical. A lot of people just rent a truck and make a run to Costco for some basics, then fill it out from garage sales. In general, I advise people to bring the absolute minimum you can stand to bring with you. And chances are good you won't use a lot of that. life in Hawai'i is very, very different.

Good luck!
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