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Seeking greater opportunities, more Hawaii families pack up for the mainland

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 4:55 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More Hawaii residents are leaving the islands for the mainland, and experts predict the situation will only worsen as a result of COVID-19′s economic fallout.

The U.S. Census Bureau says more than 8,600 people left the islands last year alone.

One of those who packed up and left was a familiar face on TV.

Kanoe Gibson now lives in Las Vegas and says her move was an investment in her family.

“This is a really great opportunity. We get to take our kids to see new things, expand their minds and their horizons and still be able to call this home,” said Gibson.

More than 50,000 former Hawaii residents live on the so-called “Ninth Island.” Many moved for a better life and better jobs.

Listen to Gibson’s interview on HNN’s ‘Muthaship’ podcast:

“The biggest thing was state income tax,” said Gibson.

“If you look at a salary say a $47,000 salary in Vegas, it’s going to be equivalent to a $90,000 salary here, so you’re almost about doubling your salary.”

The former host of lifestyle show “HINow” and her husband did plenty of research before making their decision, including comparing the housing market.

The median price for a single family home on Oahu is $1 million while the median price for an Oahu condo is a record high of $467,500. Adding to the competition, 10% of buyers on Oahu are not Hawaii residents.

However, when Gibson and her husband went to Las Vegas, they discovered it can be just as competitive in certain neighborhoods. Right now, Nevada is seeing an influx of new residents and more cash buyers are purchasing homes.

“You’ve got California people who are flocking both here and Vegas and people from New York flocking to Vegas!” she said. “The housing market is insane. When we started looking at homes, we put in an offer and we would be out bid by $100,000 over asking, cash buyer.”

Compared to Hawaii’s 4%, the sales tax in Las Vegas is higher at 6.85%, not including county taxes.

“Where that gets alleviated is there’s no sales tax on food, on groceries. So you’re not only cutting your grocery bill in half, you’re not paying any sales tax on top of your grocery bill,” said Gibson.

Aside from the savings, the life experiences outside of Hawaii are also valuable, Gibson said.

“My son sees videos of snowboarding, kayaking and we can road trip here and there,” said Gibson. “I wanted to provide that for them. I wanted to give them that opportunity and if it doesn’t work, we’re coming back.”

Gibson will also be staying connected with Hawaii viewers. She will produce regular segments for “HINow” about life in Las Vegas.

Listen to more of conversation with Kanoe Gibson on our ‘Muthaship’ podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Sound Cloud, Google Play, our website or wherever you download podcasts.

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