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Big Island The Island of Hawaii
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Old 03-30-2018, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by hotzcatz View Post
Depending on how you define a 'decent sized town' we may not have any of them on this island. Visit first before deciding where to buy, preferably live here for six months to a year before buying a house. You may find out that you prefer to live directly in town since town isn't much of a town. Or you may want to be off in the back of beyond, it's hard to tell. It'd be bummers if you bought a place in HPP and then found out later it was the Volcano area that you would have preferred.

^^^ I agree. And BTW the snorkeling is pretty good at Richardson's Beach, Hilo side.
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Old 03-30-2018, 02:37 PM
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Good points, Hotzcatz, thanks!

Before living near Dallas, which is SO not our cup of tea, we moved from California's Central Coast to a Wyoming town with 3800 people. The nearest "decent-sized town" had 17,000 people and was 35 miles north on a highway within absolutely nothing in between except ranches. And we loved it! Of course, selection at the grocery store, clothing store, etc. was far less, and prices were higher. Amazon Prime delivery and FedEx "overnight" delivery both took 4-5 days minimum, too. Those were some of the tradeoffs for living in a beautiful, remote area with a slower pace of life and fantastic neighbors. More than worth it for us.

So, a town the size of Hilo within 30-40 minutes will be fine for us. We do want a bit of acreage outside of Hilo town, but we won't know till we visit a few times which town or subdivision would suit us the best. We do plan to take a couple trips and stay in different neighborhoods. AirBnB is great since we get to experience real life in a real neighborhood, not the resort life that people think they will live just because they moved to Hawaii (or where ever their dream place may be).

As adventurous as we are, we are also realists and know that daily life goes on no matter where we choose to live: work, laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, cleaning house, mowing the lawn, etc. For us, it comes down to finding the best fit, not the perfect one, since there is no such thing in our experience. Going in with that attitude has always helped us wring the most joy possible out of wherever we find ourselves - even here in hot, humid, traffick-y north Dallas. We are beyond thankful that this is a short-term stop for family reasons! Yet we still find enjoyable things for which we can be grateful. The people here, for instance, are super friendly, helpful, and kind (except while driving on the freeways, but let's not even go there, ahahahah!).

Anyway, all of your comments and observations sure come in handy and help us fill in those pro-con lists for each area. That in turn gives us some ideas about where to start looking. Sure appreciate everyone's input and happy to hear anything else you think might be useful!
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Old 03-30-2018, 06:47 PM
Location: Puna, Hawaii
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We previously owned property in Fern Forest and had lived in Hawaiian Acres.

Just my opinion- but Orchidland straddles the sweet spot between upper and lower Puna. It is a very large subdivision and weather and a lot of other factors will vary depending on where exactly you are but "generally" it's about 5 degrees cooler than sea level. There are some crops that only fruit well in the tropics close to sea level, and likewise there are some that only do well at higher altitudes and lower temps. Orchidland is the sweet spot where you can grow them both. It is also the only large Puna subdivision with a shopping center (low-end restaurant, gas, propane, convenience store, hardware, groceries, liquor, deli, etc) so you don't have to go far if you just need a couple of things to tide you over until your next Hilo trip. Prices have been holding steady at about $30k for 3 acres, but it's getting built out faster than most of the other subdivisions I've seen. It's lava zone 3 so standard mortgage and insurance rules and availability apply.
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Old 03-30-2018, 06:55 PM
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Great info - thanks much! I love the idea of slightly cooler and able to grow a wide variety of crops. I'll check that out now
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Old 06-23-2019, 01:58 PM
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what do people grow in Volcano village?
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Old 06-23-2019, 02:55 PM
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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Volcano Village is higher elevation and mostly lava rock with leaf litter on top for 'soil'. Some pockets will be slightly deeper than others, but it's not solid soil where you can dig anywhere you want without running into a base of lava. Which means most things are grown in holes dug in the lava or an area where soil has been brought in such as a raised bed garden.

'Permaculture' is good since planting things once and then continuing to harvest from them is good.

Volcano Village is higher elevation, so the tropicals such as coconuts, bananas & papayas may grow, but if they do grow they probably won't set fruit. Coffee and tea should grow well, not sure about chocolate. Lettuces, sweet potatoes, kale, beans and such should grow. Select varieties of apples, peaches and pears, but you have to be real selective about which variety you plant.

Bay Laurel Nurseries in California will tell you how many 'chilling hours' each tree requires to set fruit. Up in Volcano, I'd expect it to be less than 300 chilling hours and with a 300 chill hour tree you'd probably get some fruit from the tree.

Here's their link on 'what are chill hours": https://baylaurelnursery.com/what-are-chill-hours.html

For non-food: ferns, azaleas, gladiolus and such.

What do you want to grow?
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:18 PM
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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Drop by the Farmer’s Market at the Cooper Center on a Saturday (or is it Sunday?) morning. Talk to the vendors there and see (1) what they are selling and (2) how they are growing it. Most of them are usually happy to share info with their neighbors.
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Old 06-23-2019, 06:25 PM
Location: Puna, Hawaii
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Although it's in the tropics because of it's elevation Volcano is considered a "subtropical highland climate". There are tropical things that can fruit in a subtropical place like Florida that won't fruit in Volcano. We had a lot at the very end of Fern Forest near Volcano at 2,800 feet (behind the Orchid place) and although we could grow bananas, they took over 3 years to produce small, spindly fruit. I talked to somebody who lived on the golf course side of Volcano and she was complaining that she had to scrape frost off her windshield for the 2nd time in 7 years. So while you won't need to invest a lot in air conditioning up there, you'll need some form of heat in the winter. A lot of the homes up there have fireplaces. All that stuff actually appealed to us when we lived in Alaska, but when we found out the limitations on stuff we could grow it became less appealing. It also rains a lot on the windward side. The Ka'u side is a lot drier. The town literally straddles the rain shadow divide like Waimea. The rain can be pouring on one side and it's completely dry a few miles away. All year long.

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Old 06-24-2019, 09:11 AM
Location: Juneau, AK + Puna, HI
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Originally Posted by Aventi View Post
what do people grow in Volcano village?
Tree ferns and hydrangeas, mostly. At least, that's what I've noticed.

For fruit trees, I don't know but would think citrus is a possibility. Unfortunately most tropicals, if not all, wouldn't do well. It's just about 4,000 ft there.
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