For many Americans, home is where the heart is. However, some people are forced to leave their homes because of rising costs.
“Hawaii is everything. Of course, it’s very beautiful. The weather is beautiful, but that deeper connection to a place that you only get when it’s related to you," said Lehua Kalima, who grew up and raised her kids in Hawaii.
Nearly three years ago, Kalima and her husband left the Hawaiian islands for Clark County, Nevada. The Kalimas represent some of the 7 million Americans who move to a different state every year.
“You know, we were already working really hard to make ends meet, but with three college tuitions now to pay, it was almost impossible,” Kalima said.
United Van Lines has long tracked state-by-state migration, as well as the main reasons people move. In 2018, nearly half of the people surveyed said they moved due to changes in employment. Four years later, a third of respondents said employment was the reason they moved. A rising number said they wanted to be close to family, and 8% claimed a reason that three years earlier wasn’t even on the survey— improved cost of living.
“Dollars and cents wise, it’s a no-brainer. But that part of me that fed my spirit and my soul and had that connection, I put my feet on the sand and I knew that I was home. I knew that I wouldn’t have that for a while,” Kalima said.
Kalima is comforted by the regular reminders of home while living in Nevada.
“They call Las Vegas the Ninth Island because there’s so many of us here,” Kalima said.
The Census says Clark County, Nevada, has roughly 20,000 native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
“We don’t go to the beach and have barbecues. We go to somebody’s backyard and have a barbecue,” Kalima said. “If you have roots in a place, you have a relationship with a place, with a piece of land, only then can you really understand what it’s like to have to go away from it.”
Despite missing her home, Kalima has a positive outlook on life.
“The things that we do in life don’t always necessarily keep us in one place. Sometimes it takes us to all kinds of different places, but it’s necessary because, you know, it’ll take us to where we’re eventually supposed to be,” Kalima said.