When I decided to leave Hawaii, one of the determining factors in choosing Colorado Springs as my new residence was the cost of living. According to CNN’s cost of living calculator, you’d only have to bring in roughly half of your Honolulu income to make a living in the Springs. To put this in perspective: If you’re raking in $100,000 annually in Hawaii, you’d only have to earn $51,620 in Colorado Springs to maintain the same lifestyle. Housing costs—which are 66 percent less in the Springs—obviously have a huge impact. But, why? What could possibly justify such a disparity? On day three of this adventure I call moving, I believe I’ve found the answer: The cold! The freakish, ridiculous, heart-stopping cold!
I made the discovery this morning. As forecasted, the snow began to fall in the early hours and when I awoke, I looked out the window to see every roof, every driveway and every backyard covered in glorious white. I dressed myself and Koa, then headed out the door. It was time to build a snowman! Or so I thought…
The fun stopped about 30 seconds into it. I wasn’t just cold; I was freezing—and Koa was shivering. I quickly realized I was the only person outside on the entire street. How can this be? I thought. This isn’t like the movies! Where are all the kids running outside, sledding and making snow angels? There wasn’t a single child in sight. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were watching the crazy brown woman from their windows, in the comfort of their heated homes.
I was determined to make a snowman of some sort, albeit a small one. But once I touched the snow with my bare hands (I know… I need gloves), I stopped to reevaluate the situation. I could either (a) continue to attempt the snowman construction and possibly freeze to death or (b) go back into the house like a sane, normal person would. After thinking about how tragically embarrassing being found frozen on the front lawn would be, I retreated back into the house like a sad, defeated child. And now I sit in front of my laptop, typing this story while donning fleece-lined leggings, jeans, fleece-lined socks, Ugg boots, a long-sleeve thermal shirt, a fleece jacket and a hat, while Koa has burrowed himself under the blanket. (We’re hiding in my room so my housemates, who are walking around in T-shirts, can’t see how insane I look.)
So, this is why I suspect homes are so much cheaper here: You’re constantly forced to stay inside of them. There’s no running off to the beach or the mall or the park anytime you feel like it. According to my housemates, it can take three to four hours for the roads to be cleared after heavy snow—on a good day. On a bad day, schools close down and companies tell their employees to work from home. That means you can be stuck in the house for days on end with kids, dogs and work you need to get done. So of course you need a big, (cheap) house. Doing all that in an average Hawaii-sized home would feel even more like imprisonment than it does now. On the bright side, I’m all caught up on my emails.