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  #1  
Old 05/01/10, 11:49 AM
 
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Hawaii Homesteads

Hello everyone!
I've been narrowing down states to buy land in for a small homestead. Hawaii is one of them.
Anyone here have a homestead there? Which island?
How does non-native food grow?
What problems can be expected from the different soil (or rock) types?
Any books you would recommend?

There are a dozen questions not asked, so please feel free to chip in info

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  #2  
Old 05/01/10, 12:18 PM
 
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I have seen land advertised fairly reasonably in the state. Probably pretty isolated and don't know what island but the price was right. I would think you could save tremendously on housing as the climate is basically the same as southeast asia where you don't have to really build for cold or for heat. That is if you can handle some sweating anyway. Make sure you canproduce all your own food which is easy there. The stores are expensive. Had relatives there before. The natives are not real welcoming of light skined outsiders but have adjusted to the fact. Big bonus, you can have a bountiful garden with fresh produce year round. You don't have a need to can, dry or freeze.

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  #3  
Old 05/01/10, 01:43 PM
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I live in Hawaii and I can tell you it is NOT cheap

Land - 3 acres ~25,000$ - 100,000$ or so is on a lava field
5 acres in lush Hamakua coast ~300,000 - 800,000$ give or take. Property and homesteads around the Volcano ( that is spewing tons of sulphur dioxide every day, is cheap but you cant live there to long unless you have iron lungs (sic))

Volcano picture taken in January


3 acres @ 24,000$


3 acres simple house - (real simple) 399,000$



There is cheaper but less than 250,000 for 3 acres livable is going to be tough to find. This is on the Big Island, Hawaii. Any other island, forget it. 1/8th acre with house is 750,000$ or so on Oahu.

PS. The highest price we found on Oahu for a gallon of whole milk was $8.99 on sale for $7.49 if you have a value card.
The cheapest was Costco for $4.99 per gallon.

Here is a link to the local Foodland - grocery store. There is a costco on most Islands
Foodland

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  #4  
Old 05/01/10, 11:19 PM
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For homesteading-type activities, the Big Island seems to be the best place. There is more 'rural' land far away from the high-dollar beaches and views that is more affordable.

I recently saw this, for example: http://anchorage.craigslist.org/reo/1708161410.html Not cheap, but good for HI.

I would recommend you spend a year WWOOFing. There are tons of member farms to choose from and you would learn the ins and outs of farming in the environment and be able to make some contacts and learn the local ways. You could even do some island hopping and find out which one you prefer since they all have very different "feels". At worse, you get a REALLY cheap working vacation and walk away with some great stories, even if you decide the island life is not for you.

One thing to be wary of is that especially in some of the more rural areas the locals are NOT welcoming to outsiders, sometimes to the point of it being a dangerous situation, so it would be very worthwhile to have friends there and learn to fit in before embarking on your own. I really can not emphasize that enough. So many people I know have had their property vandalized, stolen, and worse.

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Last edited by PulpFaction; 05/01/10 at 11:22 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #5  
Old 05/02/10, 09:21 AM
 
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Thanks

Wwoof is one of the things I want to try out over there (2011) when we visit for a month.

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  #6  
Old 05/02/10, 09:23 AM
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My BIL farms on the main island and just received a grant to help establish organic practices. The farmers markets are really, really tough from what he tells us. The farmer has only a few hours at the market to sell whatever he can, then he has to race to another to do the same thing all over again.

From what I understand in Hawaii, it is hard to buy land, but you can receive a 50 year lease of it. Make sure you are actually receiving a title to real estate.

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  #7  
Old 05/02/10, 01:23 PM
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I do believe, that out of the 50 states, Hawaii would be the absolute worst state for any kind of homesteading activity... unless you marry a native that owns lots of land. Find one with land and money, and you're golden. No cheap land, and pretty much everything has to be shipped in (which adds to expenses).

Reckon if you have a big sack full of money, it'd be alright.

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  #8  
Old 05/02/10, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by texican View Post
I do believe, that out of the 50 states, Hawaii would be the absolute worst state for any kind of homesteading activity... unless you marry a native that owns lots of land. Find one with land and money, and you're golden. No cheap land, and pretty much everything has to be shipped in (which adds to expenses).

Reckon if you have a big sack full of money, it'd be alright.
Well a true homesteader if they could afford a chunk of quality land (some of western part of big island is rather dry) might not need to buy all this stuff. Isnt that the idea of homesteading, to be more self reliant and consume less thus having to generate less income to live?

REal problem with Hawaii for homesteading other than initial very high land prices is that it like California and other high population states tends to over regulate individual lives and over tax in order to do that. Burocracy never comes cheap.
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  #9  
Old 05/02/10, 05:31 PM
 
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Lived in Hawaii 8 years. One 5 year stint and then 3 more years ending in 2005.

Not a good place to Homestead. No way.

Lived on Oahu but have spent much quality time on all the other islands except Niihau and some of the little islets to the north.

Land is super expensive if it is usable. If you want a lava field, then you might find something. And I have seen people build out there, but they live in an old lava field. It is hot and there is no soil at all of any kind.

No matter where you are in Hawaii, understand that the islands are over capacity in all cases including the Big Island. Even though it seems like the big isle is rural, the cities have quite a population and much land isn't at all arable since volcanic rock takes time to break down. Even after it is broken down enough to grow scrubby grass, it is very special type of grass that gets a lot of nutrients from the rain and air. You can't just dig it up and plant tomatoes.

Heavy, heavy import reliance. Milk and beef are actually grown on the big island and kauai but not enough by any means. When the tsunami interrupted shipping food was gone super fast. Spam and rice, baby!

Costs are ridiculous for basics. She isn't exaggerating on the prices. Shocking.

I paid an extra 100k for 400 square feet of yard in a condo. Yep. 100K.

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  #10  
Old 05/03/10, 01:03 AM
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The folks I know who moved to Hawaii didn't stay there longer than 2 years. Basically they were not used to living on an island and as time passed not being able to get off the island made it "claustrophobic" for them. Yes, there are other islands, but airfare to get to another island isn't cheap and going back to the mainland isn't cheap either.

Shipping is expensive or slow. Either you pay for 2nd day air or you wait a couple of weeks for something to come by ship.

deb
in wi

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  #11  
Old 05/03/10, 01:11 AM
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Shipping is expensive or slow. Either you pay for 2nd day air or you wait a couple of weeks for something to come by ship.
Ha, suddenly this thread could double for a "Homesteading in Alaska" thread.

Actually, most of the downsides that have been mentioned for Hawaii really could be applied to AK.
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  #12  
Old 05/04/10, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by PulpFaction View Post
Ha, suddenly this thread could double for a "Homesteading in Alaska" thread.

Actually, most of the downsides that have been mentioned for Hawaii really could be applied to AK.
I dearly love Alaska, spent ten wonderful soul enriching (bone and tendon crunching) years there. I came to the conclusion very early on that homesteading there would be very difficult, if not impossible... unless one like to trap for furs, or unless one could find a nice little spot next to a salmon stream, where you could put up a years worth of fish in a few weeks.

After my first year, I was shocked by the lack of game... I was raised on the vision of thousands upon thousands of caribou everywhere... moose were lounging on every salmon choked stream... the reality that caribou might be seen a few days a year, if you were in the right place, that a moose every couple of square miles, and salmon just a few weeks out of the year, widened my eyes.

Still love the state, but never got into the dogsledding spirit (have some good friends that did, and do, have guide services)... they spent all summer making money to buy dog food for the year.
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  #13  
Old 05/05/10, 03:44 AM
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Well, it's possible to homestead in Hawaii, but the challenges may not be what you expect.

There isn't a lot of infrastructure for farming. No grange, no group of farmers you can ask questions of, etc. The lack of other farmers means there isn't anyone there to borrow tractor implements from, help with harvesting, etc. There is a growing movement of folks growing things, though, so it has improved over the past ten years.

Overall, about the only island you could afford land on would be the Island of Hawaii aka "the Big Island" and perhaps Molokai, although I've not checked for land prices on Molokai. And the only affordable part of the Big Island isn't known for deep soil. It's mostly known for lava rock, some of which is fresher than others. Some of it which is still flowing, for that matter. Still, things do grow in lava rock, but you are growing things that don't have to be plowed, that's for sure! Folks dig holes in the lava, fill them with cinder/soil and plant trees in the holes for an orchard.

The volcano is also pumping out vog or "volcanic fog". High in sulpher content and kills off some plants and makes breathing difficult for some folks. Vog is new over the past several years however it is intermittent so we go from nice clear days to days that are dismal indeed.

Some of the other challenges are fruit flies. You can grow a really nice tomato and then when you cut it open it is full of fruit fly larvae. Folks usually grow the small fruited tomatoes or the paste/roma types with thicker skin.

We don't have any winter chill. There are a LOT of things that won't set fruit unless they go dormant over winter time. By being extremely selective about which cultivar some varieties of mainland fruits can be grown.

We have huge differences in climate zones. And it can change within several miles of each zone. Some parts of the island get over twelve feet of rain per year, other parts get less than ten inches of rain a year.

I'm farming a very small farmsite about seven miles away from the house. It is just under three acres and it is being put mostly into orchard with a big vegetable patch alongside. The land is leased on a 35 year lease at a very reasonable rate, however, you can't build a house and live there. The water supply is also iffy which is why the majority of it is in orchard instead of vegetables. It's been about a year now and about an acre has been cleared of guinea grass and planted with trees. Guinea grass can get up to about ten feet tall and it grows extremely fast and is very invasive. It's great if you have a grazing critter to eat it, but the farm lease also says no critters, just plants. As far as the farm being profitable, it is more about providing household vegetables. If I can provide most of the vegetables from the farm we will actually save more than the farm costs. If I can pull off a pumpkin crop in time for Halloween, then it might even be profitable. There is a huge learning curve, though.

Here's a link to some folks more or less homesteading over by Volcano: Sensible Simplicity They are having a demonstration of how to make bio-char this weekend and they generally get together about once a month for some reason or another.

Once you get things figured out, homesteading can be done here.

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  #14  
Old 05/05/10, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by HermitJohn View Post
Well a true homesteader if they could afford a chunk of quality land (some of western part of big island is rather dry) might not need to buy all this stuff. Isnt that the idea of homesteading, to be more self reliant and consume less thus having to generate less income to live?

REal problem with Hawaii for homesteading other than initial very high land prices is that it like California and other high population states tends to over regulate individual lives and over tax in order to do that. Burocracy never comes cheap.
Totally agree HJ... it's just the cost of the raw land that'd bite real hard. Unless a person lived in HI already, they'd have to spend a couple thousand just moving themselves there, and then spending, what, over a 100K an acre, if will actually grow something? compared to buying in the states. Some land less than 20 miles away from here was being offered a few weeks ago at 750$/acre (and not in a swamp). I would have jumped on it myself, but I was representing a client, and figured there'd be some sort of 'evil/immorality' involved with me jumping his claim. He called back yesterday saying the fella was balking at selling. If he does drop out, I'll contact and offer 1k an acre.

HI is a closed ecosystem... I wonder how much scroungable material is available... how much timber is there for harvesting (free around here, with some dickering over details), is there building stone available, can you find free or nearly free livestock from people getting out of the business. I'm thinking the situation would be the same as in AK... a lot of homesteaders, and a small pool of resources (material, livestock, etc.) to 'fight' over. Where I'm at now, if someone else wants the same thing I do, if I have a stockpile of that material already, I let them have it, without conditions.

For me, if I had a sack of cash,and had no land, the cost of the land would be an initial deciding factor...
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  #15  
Old 05/05/10, 02:39 PM
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Large livestock up here is VERY expensive. Horses are unbelievably high, even for old nags on their last legs! Quality land that is a) accessible, b) solid and c) has access to good, fresh water is at a premium. There's a lot of land out there, but not enough that fits those requirements for the number of folks that want it.

But anyway, this is about Hawaii and all I was going to say about that is that the only two islands I've been on are Molokai and Maui. Lived on Molokai for a short stint, and it is not the kind of place you want to homestead. Particularly if you're planning on raising children in the school systems, assuming you are not native Hawaiian.

Also, about Molokai: it is formerly both a giant pineapple plantation and a large cattle operation. It is neither now. The vast majority of the island is very dry and prone to drought, the rainy side is inaccessible state lands. Most of Molokai is set aside for native Hawaiians. There is still some cattle grazed out there, there are still a few isolated family farms, plumeria farms, and as far as I know there is still a coffee plantation, but all of them are just barely scraping by.

I know there are a lot of permaculture farms on the East side of Maui that seem to do well. It's very lush and green, plenty of rain, and a ready market to tourists for farm stands along the road to Hana. I'm sure, like everywhere else, the real estate prices are outrageous, though.

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Old 06/02/10, 02:23 AM
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Never been there, but as a friend just told me last month, the locals have a bumper sticker that reads "Thank you for visiting, don't forget to leave!" I think that summed up everything I have ever heard about living in Hawaii.

Or I think the Flinstones cartoon said it nicely, "it's a nice place to visit, but I won't want to live there."

I live on an island here in Florida, and even though we have two bridges that connect us to the mainland, there some of the over crowding, higher cost "just because it's the island" and nosey neighbors / everyone knows everything about everyone. Not that much different from any small town, but at least in rural america you can move miles away from some of those type of people, make someone mad on an island you'll see them on the street, in the store, maybe deal with them through your job, etc. It's not good.

And yes, just getting there is crazy money. I just checked into POD to ship myself from FL to HI about 3 months ago, an 8 foot by 8 foot storage unit would run about $7000. If the economy was in better shape I would think about selling off everything I (anyone thinking about doing this) had, including the vehicle and board the plane with a suitcase and my checkbook.

Seeria, I'm wondering, were you looking at the same eBay land that I have seen? When you say land, reasonable and Hawaii in the same sentence that's the only land I can think of that comes to mind. If so, make sure you read the fine print, I think that cheap land has all kinds of restrictions attached to it.

Here's something to chew on, if you really need / want the island thing, what about the USVI, Puerto Rico, or even Costa Rica. (I know Costa Rica is not an island, but you might feel like it) I know a couple of people from here that are looking at retiring in Costa Rica. My Chinese is better then my Spanish, so that's out, but I did find the USVI's to be (hard, but) a little more open to anyone coming from the mainland.

I move down here in 2003 after giving up the thought of moving to HI, so the way I look at it, save Hawaii for the honeymoons or surfing vacations.

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  #17  
Old 06/02/10, 05:22 AM
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My sister lived on the big island and married a native Hawaiian. He had a 6 acre coffee and macadamia nut plantation. He had it as in it was owned by the Bishop Trust, and he rented it at an exhorbitant rate. Sis thought most of the best land was held by that trust. The Bishop Trust is the largest private land owner in Hawaii. It was labor intensive to pick the coffee beans and macadamia nuts. They both had to work full time at other jobs just to get by.

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  #18  
Old 06/02/10, 11:37 AM
 
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Was told by someone who currently lives there that technically you CAN'T buy land...what you do is lease the land and build on it and you still don't own the land....you just lease it. He works for the school system and likes it because the Bishop Trust basically pays teachers a pay raise every 6 months. He did admit that he didn't think he was paid enough but once you retire from the school system, you're set for life. Said that the Bishop Trust should've been administered by the Native Hawaiians but it's always been the whites (haoles) that did it (they profited big time) so the Trust has LOTS of money in it which makes me wonder why they went to 4 day school weeks.

As for Alaska, it depends on WHERE you want to live. In the Mat-Su valley , it's where most of Alaska's farming is at due to the good land and temperatures. Ideally, Alaska is good for people who like to hunt/fish and live off the land. It may not be easy but it's do-able if you know what you're doing. I honestly don't know what I'm doing if I moved there! I would have to start from ground zero.

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  #19  
Old 06/02/10, 01:13 PM
 
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Thing is that HI is tropical meaning much more can be grown then in the 48 and can be grown year round. As far as self sufficiency a person could probably feed a small family well with a seven to eight hundred square foot garden and an individual could probably do good with 150 sq feet.

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Old 06/02/10, 04:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by brreitsma View Post
Thing is that HI is tropical meaning much more can be grown then in the 48 and can be grown year round. As far as self sufficiency a person could probably feed a small family well with a seven to eight hundred square foot garden and an individual could probably do good with 150 sq feet.
Absolutely not true. I lived and gardened there for 8 years. I'm good at it and I found it challenging.

The tropical environment does mean heat and humidity all year, but it also means rains leaching nutrients from soil, acid soils, pests galore and the inability of many plants to tell the seasons.

you can grow tropical things well if they are "wild friendly" like pineapple, breadfruit, avacado and other things in that line.

You can grow tropical origination things with attention to the soil and extreme care with pests like tomatoes, okra and some eggplants.

Other things that actually round out the diet just don't grow there unless you completely alter the environment at great cost in money or labor and then maintain it.

Fungi grow all over...but no mushrooms is the sort of thing I'm talking about.

Tropical environments where there are large mammals, like humans, tend to develop a very small but very robust food chain. Most garden veg don't fall into that normal food chain.
Hotcatz is quite right...not easy in a few hundred square feet, particularly if you are in the city. I had a yard...something very few have...that I could garden in, but even with that it was a time sink of a battle to gain anything and I opened many a tomato filled with bug larvae.
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