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Before moving to Hawaii, I spent countless hours on the internet googling the topic of moving to Hawaii. It was fun — imagining the possibilities, seeing all of the pictures that would pop up on the screen with their brilliant, lush tropical colors, etc.

There were three separate occasions of this googling before I finally made the move.

The first was in the spring of 2012, when I was in one of those awkward in-between stages (aka hanging in limbo somewhere with no distinct sense of direction or home.)  San Diego had just surprised me with its lack of humidity and perpetually cold ocean, and I was unsure of where in the world to go next. I just knew that it needed to involve a warm ocean and plenty of humidity. So Hawaii seemed like a natural choice, and  I was busy googling potential jobs in Hawaii. But, rather unexpectedly, I found myself returning instead to Charleston, SC, where I had spent a year before my San Diego stint.

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The second was in early 2013 when I was newly single and stoked to have the world as my oyster again. I was living in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and I can remember many long, cold evenings spent at the desk of a little island Bed and Breakfast I was working at. After happy hour was done and cleaned up and the guests were out to enjoy the night, I would huddle up to the computer, doing research as I planned my next move. Again, the Islands were calling. This time, my searches were more along the lines of “What is the best island in the world to move to?” “What is the best island to move to?” “Should I Move to Hawaii or the Virgin Islands?” I ended up staying on Folly Beach for another incredibly wedding season, but nine months later I decided, within the space of a weekend (and a day after signing a 12-month lease), to turn my entire life upside down. After getting the idea that it was time, I spent two days making lists of pros and cons, trying to determine if I was really ready to give up everything I’d spent the previous 3.5 years building and to make a business move that could prove to be disastrous, contemplating the craziness of leaving the only place in the world that had ever really felt like “home,” leaving all of my friends again to move to a place where I knew no one, considering whether I would be able to handle leaving behind my cat and my Smart car… and again, googling. Lots of googling. Since I’d be moving my business, I wanted to stay within the United States. This left me with three options: The US Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys, and the Hawaiian Islands. I ruled out the Keys straightaway because I’d explored that option in the previous few months and wasn’t into it anymore. About nine hours later, I ruled out the Virgins. Why did I choose to move to Hawaii rather than to move to the Virgin Islands… especially since A) it’s cheaper to live in the US Virgin Islands than to live in Hawaii and B) it’s cheaper (and shorter) to fly to the US Virgin Islands than Hawaii?

  1. Hawaii has always held a sort of inexplicable, otherworldly appeal to me. I’d lived on the Big Island for a few months in the past, and ever since wanted a chance to dig my toes a bit deeper into Hawaii life.
  2. Culture and Volcanoes. Need I say more?
  3. I thought it would be better for business. Hawaii is a more expensive destination to visit, so would, perhaps, attract tourists more interested in spending money on a beach portrait session.
  4. Maui. I’d never been, but felt like I belonged there… at least for awhile. The Maui Magic is magnetic — even 5000 miles away.

So, Hawaii it was to be.

And as I scrambled to get out of my lease (and the rest of my life in that location) I was, again, back to googling. Fifteen or so tabs filled my browser screen, showing results from searches such as “Best Hawaiian Island,” “What Hawaiian island should I move to?” etc.  Due to my wedding and portrait photography business and its dependence on tourism, I narrowed it down to either Maui or Oahu, since they have the largest populations and attract the largest number of tourists. I was drawn, obviously, to Maui, and originally planned on going there. I even had all of the changes made on my website ~ Maui Wedding and Portrait Photographer.” But, two weeks before flying out, I decided to move instead to Oahu. A housing situation opened up there, and since I was flying over with all of my camera equipment, having a safe place to stay from the start was ideal, rather than having to try to store all of that equipment in a crowded, dorm-style hostel room while I searched for housing.
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Finally, it was time to move to an eternal summer and embrace life in the Islands. After moving to Hawaii, Oahu was my home for eight beautiful months. Six months and a little island hop in, Maui stole my heart. And two months (and a few more island hops) after that, I moved to Maui. And here I am… at home on Maui.

Dreams come true…
if you
make them. 

It’s been just a little over a year since that fateful weekend when I made the life-altering decision to move to Hawaii, but I feel as though I remember every second of it in vivid detail. I’m curious, had I taken a pause from those fifteen browser tabs of research to imagine what my life would look like — here, a year later, having actually done it — what my imagination would have pictured. I doubt it could have been anywhere near as beautiful or as challenging as the actuality of it. That’s the excitement of stepping into the unknown — all you have are possibilities. 

How did I make the decision to leave everything comfortable and familiar to move to Hawaii… and then to do it all again several months later and move to Maui? I’ve decided that at this point in my life, if there is even a question of going or staying, I should always choose to go. When it is no longer a question, I suppose I’ll know I’m home.