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OUTPRICED: Local Moves to Hawaii (Opinion)



By Natasha Bourlin

Reno has been my home since the late 70s. Born in Las Vegas, I’m one of a small but proud group of native Nevadans. But the time has come to move on; my hometown has now made it nearly impossible for me to live here any longer.

I remember when Reno was known only as Vegas’s quirky northern sibling, our stunning mountainous region a well-kept secret from most of the world. I’ve seen its evolution from just a gaming town in Tahoe’s backyard to one that now invites major corporations from across the globe to set up shop, elevating the Biggest Little City’s stature while flooding the town with workers and transplants.

Decades have been spent riding Reno’s roller coaster economy and housing market, often with extreme downturns and upturns. I’ve watched housing prices skyrocket, then plummet, then skyrocket beyond their previous limits once again.

Hawai’i is more economically feasible for me to live than Reno.

But it’s always been my home. One I adore.

Until some recent, dramatic life changes necessitated my seeking residence on my own after years of sharing expenses. I’m a freelance writer, one who can basically work anywhere when armed with wi-fi and a computer. Nevertheless, it’s not the most lucrative career, and many others here aren’t either.

So, after looking at one- and two-bedroom apartments, studios and even just a room ranging from $1,000-$1,800 and up in the Truckee Meadows, I’ve made the decision to relocate to Hawai’i because it’s now more affordable than the town in which I was raised.

That’s something I never thought I’d say: Hawai’i is more economically feasible for me to live than Reno. It’s an island paradise, one many people only inhabit full time in dreams and fantasy.

By 2020, I’ll be trading pine trees, meandering rivers, hundreds of nearby lakes and the surrounding Sierra for palm trees, year-round beaches, vibrant flowers blooming ceaselessly and different mountains. Those that can explode at times. Different storms, those that can blow through and also devastate structures, as the worst blizzards and windstorms I’ve experienced here also have. Just differently.

The culture and lifestyle are also vastly dissimilar, yet glorious. After a lengthy exploratory housesitting mission there to see if I could be island-bound as my own life evolved, hanging laundry out to dry, taking 10 minutes to check out at the farmers market because the folks in front of me were chatting (welcoming me into their conversation), and the laid-back environment was a far cry from the now-inundated roads transporting people constantly in a hurry, often upset.

If you live like a tourist, it will be expensive. You just don’t need to. I can pick breakfast from my backyard. Items at stores can be more, but I’d rather shop directly from the reasonably priced local producers anyway.

Sure, not all parts of Hawai’i are affordable to live. Many outprice Reno by a long shot. A housing crisis exists there also. It’s a diverse archipelago with many areas and islands to choose from, and much of the housing is exorbitantly priced.

However, I don’t need to live oceanfront. I just need to live.

Faced with the option of renting a one-bedroom apartment sandwiched by neighbors, with views of other apartment complexes here for $1,100, or a two-bedroom single-family home with vistas of the tallest mountain on the planet and some of the most gorgeous, swimmable beaches I’ve ever visited mere minutes away for $1,200…well, what would you choose?

Reno will always remain in my heart and on my itinerary, as some of the friendliest, truest people I’ll ever know live here and are beloved to me, as is my remaining family. But it’s time to start over. I’m island bound.

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