How a Goethe Couplet Inspired Me to Move to Maui


It’s true.  I moved to Maui in 1997 with Goethe as a driving force. The daily message on my screensaver blinking its inspiration, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” 

It was my mantra through a grey winter in England.  It was the daring beacon of promise to myself that I was already committed and on my way following a 2 week getaway.

It was the autumn of 1996.  With three options to choose from – an Irish retreat in Galway, a family visit to Virginia Beach or a soul-seeking vacation to Maui – you guessed it, I picked Maui.

I remember lying on the beach at Charley Youngs in Kihei reading a motivational book which promised “let go, there is always more!”  

Charley Young Beach Park

Putting aside any question of success or failure, reality or fancy, it was simply a soul-stirring call to action for me to move to Maui.

The promptings of my north star were again reinforced in the stirring thoughts of Mark Twain who wrote,

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.   Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  

Rational or not, this calling from the pages of a holiday read spoke to me in volumes.  I determined on that day at the beach that I was going to upend my life, leave England and move to Maui by the next spring! 

“All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.”  – Samuel Johnson

True to my north star, I walked in to a real estate office where, emblazoned on the wall, as coincidence or confirmation, were the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, 

Few men who come to the islands leave them; they grow grey where they alighted; the palm shades and the trade-wind fans them till they die, perhaps cherishing to the last the fancy of a visit home, which is rarely made, more rarely enjoyed, and yet more rarely repeated.“, 

and ended up buying my first Maui condo at Maui Vista.   Sure enough, within four months, I had landed!  That was 22 years ago!

I am by no means suggesting or recommending this course of action, mine was an extreme reaction to an all encompassing “I-have-to-live-here-full-time” dream.  A complete upheaval is neither common nor is it necessary to own a piece of paradise!  I remember once a Realtor associate pulling my clients aside and saying, “it doesn’t matter if you buy this house or something else, just buy something!”  His passion for Maui was above making the sale.  It was about spreading the word, we have something special here.  His message was to get a foot in the door, on the Maui rung of real estate.

In my real estate career it is not uncommon that I meet with people who have been coming to Maui for years, sharing their regret that they did not buy something 30 years ago!  “If only…” they lament.  We have all been there, dealing in the “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  I can look back on an opportunity to buy a flat in London on Abbey Road that was being sold by a flight attendant for a mere twenty six thousand pounds, mind you, that was 1979, and I was still in school.  However, missing out on owning a flat across from the famed Abbey Road studios and crosswalk still stings just a wee bit.

But let’s gain some perspective from the data itself.

Over the past 48 years, interest rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage have ranged from as high as 18.63% in 1981 to as low as 3.31% in 2012. Mortgage rates today remain at historical lows, with over 60% of mortgage holders paying rates between 3.00% and 4.90% as of 2015…the average rate of interest on a mortgage loan in 1989 was 10.32%…..

The rate of interest today is still a record low in the neighborhood of 4%.  With interest rates just dropping again this past week, lenders are touting this is the time to “buy or re-fi!”.

My point is, don’t miss out on your paradise.  Now is as good a time as any if you have a dream.  Don’t try to time the market.  The real indicator is what stirs your soul to action, what dream lies in your harbor?  No incentive with interest rates, or hope of return, just a pure driving passion that owning a place in Maui can assure you of.  Although low interest rates help with momentum to act, I would, like Goethe, encourage “live your boldness!”  You never know where it will take you!  


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