Hawaii is most certainly one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Pictures do not do the beaches, oceans, mountains, flowers and sunsets behind towering palm trees justice -- they are more awesome in person. But.
Then there is life here and that isn’t always a paradise.
In the months leading up to our move here I never wanted to tell anyone where we were headed because I knew what they would say. “HAWAII! I’m so jealous!” All I could think was, “Really? You want to be stationed far from family with a deployed spouse? Huh?” Because for me, that’s what I dreaded, among a few other things.
I know, you’re probably thinking “I could handle being away from family in exchange for paradise!”
But it isn’t all paradise. And here’s why.
Five reasons why living Hawaii isn't living the dream:Schools: They aren’t terrible but they certainly aren’t great. Between the curriculum, lack of funding and bullying parents have tough choices to make -- public school? Private school? Homeschool? But sometimes no choice is the perfect choice ... just one you learn to deal with for the few years they are here, trudging through and making the best of it and hoping all is well once they return to the mainland.
Cost of living: I almost had an asthma attack when I checked out at the Commissary the first time. The prices of the produce and dairy will take the wind right out your sails and it’s like that for everything! Yes, we do get COLA but living here is expensive and that COLA isn’t going straight to the bank – it goes towards your everyday living expenses like food.
Deployment: There I said it! Every military spouse dreads it, especially now after so many years of war. Beautiful beaches don’t make living without my spouse for months on end easier. They aren’t helping fold laundry, taxi kids around or deal with whatever Murphy has planned (because we all know it’s something big). Deployment stinks no matter where you are!
Bugs: Lots and lots of bugs! If you hate bugs, I’m warning you now they are everywhere! Bugs are so bad here that having a few roaches in your house on a weekly basis is considered normal. WHAT?? Yes! It’s gross and makes me a little crazy.
Isolation: Or as it more commonly known, “island fever.” It’s the feeling of being trapped or isolated and leaves some people feeling really out of control. Hopping on a flight and going home to family isn’t so easy. It can cost somewhere up to $2,000 to purchase plane tickets for a family of four plus the addition cost for traveling. Many people come and don’t leave during their tour -- and they long for the wide open highways of the mainland. I know I’m looking forward to them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate living in Hawaii. This post is about me complaining or wanting anyone to throw me a pity party. It’s to let anyone who has never been here know that for those stationed here we still live our everyday lives; it’s not vacation.
So, if a friend calls for a shoulder to lean on because they miss their deployed spouse or they are upset because they are broke and can’t go home for their grandmother’s funeral or their child was bullied again because he is a “haole,” don’t answer with, “But, you live in Hawaii!”
Let them shed their much needed tears without the guilt trip because they aren’t happy to just go to beach and forget about their woes. Always remember that military life can be tough no matter what the scenery outside is.
Kate authors the blog Tips From The Homefront where she shares tips and resources on all things related to military life. She and her husband have been married for over 10 years and have two boys. Together they have been to four duty stations and survived multiple deployments and TDYs. Recently she was named the NAS JRB New Orleans Spouse of the Year 2013 for her tireless efforts as their Ombudsman. She continues to serve command families as an Ombudsman as well as being a Chapter Coordinator for Stroller Warriors. Kate's life mission is to ensure that all military families are empowered to live the best life possible while serving in the military through connecting them with the resources and entitlements they need and deserve.