Not long ago, like most recent college graduates I lived at home with my parents in an effort to save some money by not paying rent as I began my career. Unfortunately for me, at the time my parents lived in the burgeoning ‘Ewa plain and I worked in my first public relations job in downtown Honolulu. I spent every morning and evening in the notorious H1 traffic. Life in the slow lane was the bane of my existence. I’d arrive at work annoyed and agitated only to repeat the process on the slow drive home.

I knew that this daily gauntlet of merges, lane changes and stop and go traffic was impacting my quality of life. I hated my daily ritual so much I would find reasons to linger in town in the evening to avoid the rush hour headache. Eventually, like most people in Honolulu, I began moonlighting to earn a few bucks while avoiding the H1 at prime commute times. And yes, it meant getting home later only to wash up, sleep and repeat the process at 5:30 a.m.

After a few years of repeating the daily grind, a friend offered me a place in his small apartment to defray some of his rental expense. I seized the opportunity and began paying for the convenience of living in town and lifestyle sacrifices of privacy and personal space. In time, I sold my car in order to afford better living accommodations.

After nine years of living in various apartments and houses in the same Punchbowl neighborhood, I consider myself a “townie from the west side,” free from the dreaded freeway commute. Although I still have “apartment-mates”, in my mind it is worth every cent for the proximity and convenience of being in walking distance of work. Also, my rented 19th floor view that encompasses most of urban Honolulu isn’t too bad either!

I spend a lot of time gazing out at my temporary and evolving view of the Honolulu skyline. I welcome the visions for an emerging Kaka‘ako, an urban walkable, live, work and play community.

Our growing city is my home. The improved quality of life of being closer to work (and play) is definitely worth the personal sacrifices.

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