Most people who have never lived in Hawaii do not understand the deep social and infrastructure problems that have long plagued the islands. Just as a few examples, Hawaii has long had the worst public school system in the nation and some of the highest rates of residents living on welfare; homelessness plagues each of the islands. There is an active drug culture that fuels an already standing problem with crime, theft in particular. Obesity and diabetes are rampant throughout the islands, as are shortages of doctors (and teachers). Cost of living is one of the highest in the country, and pay and benefits are some of the lowest. The islands must import 90-percent of their food, despite being ideally suited for agricultural production. Large swaths of Hawaii Island–the Big Island, where we live–lack public utilities and home mail delivery and Internet speeds are (seriously) worse than what we’ve experienced in third-world Asia.
Many people who move to Hawaii without properly researching these issues leave the islands within two years of their arrival out of frustration and disgust (they sometimes draft funny, but sad, letters to the editor of the local papers). Currently, according to recent statistics, there are more residents leaving the islands than moving to the islands. As for us, we came prepared to live in a banana republic and, so far, the islands have not failed to meet those expectations.
In response to queries from our readers, we address the less-well-known facts about the islands in each of our blog posts (just look toward the end).