I know it has been awhile since I posted, we were with family and friends in Seattle for the holidays and it rained….a lot. But we had a great time visiting with everyone. Well that was December. Now on to Maui.
Kelly and I have been coming to Maui for 30 years. We have a timeshare which is a horrible investment from a financial perspective, but it has allowed us to return to Maui almost every year. So when we were looking for a sunny place to spend part of the winter, Maui was an obvious choice. It is also the place that has felt most like home when compared to our other travel destinations over the past year. We combined points from two years and booked part of our time in a basic condo as opposed to the big resort we usually stay at, this strategy allowed us to book the entire month of January in Maui using only our timeshare points. I use our annual maintenance fees as the budget entry for housing which means we are pretty close to our monthly housing budget number, this year’s maintenance fees were $3600. It is a bargain when you compare what rent would be for a month in a Maui oceanfront condo. I say the timeshare is a poor investment because you have to completely disregard the cost you paid to purchase initially and your ownership has no resale value. I suppose I could add up everything we paid initially 20 years ago, all the annual maintenance fees, and then subtract reasonable rental value for all of the weeks we have spent in Maui over the years but that sounds like too much work. Maybe that is a calculation to make someday when I have nothing better to do.
Maui is familiar to us so we don’t have a need to see or do anything which helps on the budget as we are not taking expensive tours or going to fancy restaurants. Maui is expensive so eating in and limiting restaurants to lunch or happy hour keeps costs in the reasonable range. Still, we spent $2,600 on food and drinks for the month. We rented a car the first and last week of our stay which always puts a dent in the budget as rental cars run around $250/week. The rest of the time we relied on buses, uber, and friends with cars (thanks Jim and Amy).
We have considered making Maui our new home base and met with a realtor our first week. While it is always exciting to look and we get caught up in the excitement too easily, we quickly realized that now is not the time to buy in Maui. Prices are high, availability is very limited, and the numbers just don’t work for us. We come to Maui for the ocean so we would want a place with at least an ocean view. Ocean view condos start at over $500,000 and the units we really liked were $800,000-$1,000,000. On top of the purchase price HOA fees run $1000-$1500 a month. In short, you could rent a nice place for two or three months a year for the same amount you would pay annually in HOA fees on a place you owned.
You can generate rental income (if the HOA allows rentals) but that means you would have to rent your home out for large parts of the year. My conclusion was that the numbers really don’t make sense unless you pay cash and have no mortgage. Then you might be able to rent it out April-Sept and recover most of your HOA fees. If you carry a mortgage and want the property to pay for your monthly costs you would need to rent it out 80% to 90% of the year and most likely during high season when you want to use it. Bottom line, buying on Maui is not an option for the foreseeable future.
Maui is one of those places where you have no problem meeting up with friends from Seattle. Everyone in Seattle would like to come to Maui in January. Our friends Jim and Amy joined us for a week.
We had drinks with my college friend Mary Lee and her husband Kelly. We met up with my sister Laurie and her friend Denise for drinks and dinner. On our first week on Maui we were out for our morning walk and ran into Jay and Sabein, friends from Seattle who moved to New Zealand 8 years ago. We had not seen them in 8 years. A “small world” experience and proof that life on the road actually allows you to spend more time with friends than staying home.
You may recall from my earlier post in June our celebration of the graduation of Klara, in Sweden. After 7 months of working and saving Klara and her friend Filipa set out on a global adventure, first stop….Maui. We picked them up at the airport and enjoyed their company for 7 days. They traveled over 35 hours to get here, beginning in Copenhagen then flying to San Francisco-San Diego-Maui.. I think we might have been a little boring for two 19-year-old Swedes, but they enjoyed their stay including snorkeling and a whale watching excursion which was a highlight. They also enjoyed Hula Pie, a Maui tradition.
While staying in our second condo at the Valley Isle resort we went down to the beach for sunset. As we have noted before, congregating for a beautiful sunset is a tradition around the world. We have joined the crowds for sunset in almost every country we have ever visited. Here on the beach we encountered the Conch Club, a group of constantly changing visitors who gather on the beach for sunset whenever they are visiting. Some have been coming since the late 90s. Most bring a beverage and their conch shell. At precisely sunset they all start blowing their conch for as long as their breath holds out. Blowing a Conch at sunset is an Hawaiian tradition usually carried out by a young Hawaiian man in traditional dress. I honestly don’t know if this is a true ancient Hawaiian tradition or something developed for the tourists, but we have experienced it for as long as we have been coming to the islands.
The Conch Club is not made up of young Hawaiians but middle-aged mainlanders. The oldest was Floyd a world war two vet. After stumbling upon the Conch Club early in our stay we made it down to the beach most nights to enjoy their company and meet new people. Our 19-year-old Swedes were quite the hit with the club and the girls were always up for sunset with the Conch Club.
See you in Mexico.