Living in Hawaii vs. Sweden

I did a big move in 2012. I left a beautiful spring/early summer Sweden in May and moved to The Big Island of Hawaii. It’s been a challenging journey but I’m happy I did it. There’s so many changes (good and bad) in my way of living since I got here. Might be small changes, but still changes that I need to adapt to and get used to.

1. Water

Not being on city water is totally new to me. I’ve been used to having unlimited water included in my rent where ever I’ve been living in Sweden, but as we moved into a tiny little house in Ocean View, HI, that changed. Catchment water with tank, pump and water heater? What is that even? In a pretty dry area this can cause periods of little to no water and having to plan usage of water. PLUS the electricity bill definitely gets affected by this. As we later on moved to a different part of the island, one with a lot more rain it’s changed. We now have a pretty much full water tank no matter how much water we use. But however, the on-demand heater doesn’t really want to work properly so the showers I take are HOT/cold on and off which creates kind of an interesting shower procedure..


This is one of my favorite “pets” around here. Except for Oscar the cat, of course.

2. Bugs and stuff

Where I lived in Stockholm (a building from 1928) I had beautiful old hard wood floors in fishbone pattern. The only bad thing that came with this was that I occasionally had some silverfish crawling around. I wasn’t stoked about it then but as I live here I can honestly say that a few silverfish every once in a while isn’t even worth getting upset about..

Here we have roaches, fruit flies, spiders, geckos/lizards, mosquitos and.. ANTS just to mention a few of the creatures we’re surrounded by. Where ever I go inside and around the house I seem to see at least one of the above mentioned creatures around me. We don’t have a lot of roaches around (thankful for that) but the ants really seem to be everywhere. As I sit in our bedroom writing this I have seen at least one of them on my computer. When I earlier this morning walked out to get the mail (I had some energy gels sent to me to try out and review) and guess who had totally found their wat into the mail box AND into the envelope?! Yes, the ants. They were all over the energy gels and I can’t say I was stoked about it. Luckily the gel packs weren’t leaking or anything, they are still fine to try out, but somehow those freaking ants seem to smell sweets through thousands of layers.. We have geckos, lizards, frogs, toads and rats around the house to. Geckos and lizards doesn’t bother me at all, they are colorful and knowing that they eat bugs I’m more than happy to have them around. The frogs aren’t bothering me that much either, except for when it’s raining during night time. At that time they are LOUD and will actually keep me awake some nights. (Coqui is a frog who originally came from Puerto Rico and now are to be found in millions on this island. I’m choosing to think that they sing when they’re happy and it makes me being able to deal with the sound..).

We also have rats. I’ve always been terrified by rats (not as much after traveling to India in 2009, but I still can’t seem to be OK with them..). They were definitely around in Stockholm (not close to where I lived though) and I’ve seen some nasty rats in Bangkok and so on. But… In our garden we have lilikoi (passionfruit) trees and they are overflowing with fruits. We can’t eat them all and some days we have a bunch of fallen fruit on the lawn. There fruits gets eaten by rats. Obviously, we try to pick the fruits up so that we’re not feeding the rats but they’re still around. The other night our sweet little 17lbs cat (he’s not tiny no) decided to come inside with the rat he was so proud of catching. I (of course) freaked out while husband had to deal with getting the cat and his still living rat “toy” out of the house. I CAN NOT handle rats. I hated our cat for an hour or so, but quickly got convinced by C that it’s a good thing that the cat is chasing the rats. Well, yes. OK, as long as I don’t have to see them (especially not in MY BEDROOM)!

3. Mold

As we just moved to a rainy, more tropical part of the island we have noticed a few new things to get used to. The humidity in the air is really high and this means there’s a risk of getting mildew and mold in and around the house. This is something I’ve never ever had a problem with earlier and we’re trying to figure out how to fight it. There’s the dehumidifiers which works wonders (and damn, do they fill up fast here?!) and we’re always on the lookout for a good find when it comes to them. One dehumidifier is simply not enough for a three bedroom house in East Hawai’i.

4. Trash

As I’ve been living in a town/city my whole life I’ve never had to deal with taking my trash to the dump. Here we have to take our shit in the car and drive to the Transfer Stations. Totally new for me and to be honest, the first couple of months I was totally disgusted by it. But I’m getting used to it and as the transfer station is on the way into town it’s easy to stop by and dump the garbage when needed.


5. No real seasons

If you would’ve asked me a few years ago I would have said that I’d never miss the Swedish winters. I need sun and warmth, yes, but there is something special about a place with REAL seasons. You get to enjoy skiing, ice skating  and snow shoeing in the winter. You get a beautiful spring filled with hope and with people starting to “come alive” again after the long part of the year with darkness and cold. You get a nice (short) summer, when the streets are full of happy people, outdoor restaurants, parks full of picnic’s and cool nice water to jump into on those beautiful summer days. You get a colorful fall with crisp air perfect for long walks and tons of tea. And so on. What I miss  the most right now is being in my family’s cabin in Norway, enjoying  skiing, playing in the snow and get kind of cold only to go inside and warm up with board games and warm food together with my loved ones. Here in hawaii I don’t have my family around and I most definitely don’t get to ski.

swedish fish

6. Language

I’m half Swedish, half Norwegian. I learned English in school and until I met my husband I never really felt comfortable using the language. Even though I did if I had to (while traveling or so) and I was pretty good at it, it just never came very natural. Since I met C I’ve been forced to use English. A lot. And I’m starting to like it and feel way more comfortable with it. There are people who tell me that I don’t have an accent at all (well thank you, but I know you’re only saying it to be nice), but I do. And to be honest, I hope I always will. I love my two home countries and the languages of them are one of the things I never want to loose. My languages, my history – a part of who I am.

Some days when I wake up I wish that I could just speak Swedish. Some days I hate having to feel stupid when I can’t find the words I’m looking for to describe something. Sometimes I feel stupid when I talk to my family on Skype because I’ve lost a Swedish word. It’s a constant struggle (not a big one I guess), but it’s OK. I won’t forget the Swedish/Norwegian. I’ll only get better with English.

(And also, it makes me so happy to see Swedish or Norwegian related things brought up on blogs/twitter/news.. Fartlek, H&M, IKEA, Ski Queen Cheese at Safeway etc – bring it all on!)

7. Medical system

I’m used to a totally different social system in my old home country. I’ve been going to doctors for minor things without having to pay more than $25, getting prescriptions for free and didn’t have to pay a whole lot for a really good insurance. Since I moved here I haven’t been sick (knock on wood) but my foot injury bothers me. If I was at home (in Stockholm that is) I would’ve gone to the doctor a week after it happened and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the money. At all. Here… I can’t afford to go and check my foot. It’s reality. I just can’t.  And it’s frustrating and makes me upset, but what to do?


As you can see, there’s been some serious adjusting going on and still is (I’m pretty sure I could’ve made this list a lot longer if I gave it some time), but at the end of the day (even the days when I’m jumping up in bed screaming because of that rat) I’m happy to be here. There’s sun, a nice warm temperature and most important of all – the home I have together with my love. It’s worth.. If not all, so at least A LOT.