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This week’s episode of “American Dream Home” had a personal connection to my family.
Back in the 1970s, my aunt Caroline and my cousins moved to the island of Kauai.
So I’ve been visiting there since I was in my 20s — and of all the destinations I’ve been in the world, this Hawaiian island is one of my two favorite spots in the world.
(I’ll save the other destination for a later date!)
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Once again, we took our viewers to Hawaii this week, and we were lucky enough to follow David.
Not only is David looking to settle part-time in Hawaii, but he also lives in a city I called home for years: San Francisco.
David decided to look for a home on Oahu, but not the tourist-trap area known as Waikiki. Instead, David took us to an area of Oahu half an hour northeast of Honolulu.
His story of his work ethic — he’s a successful lawyer in the Bay Area — is also something I connected to. His parents are from Taiwan, they were immigrants, and his mother said they moved to the U.S. because it was their American dream.
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David bought his first home when was rather young, he explained, thanks to his mom’s encouragement. Today, he knew he wanted a place for his family and his friends — but also something very eco-friendly. That is something very Hawaiian!
I caught up with David this week to see how he was enjoying his new home.
“I wanted to create a special place for my family to gather, and we’ve really been able to make that happen.”
Question: What was the experience like filming with our crew during your house hunt?
Answer: I really enjoyed the experience! The crew asked that I just be myself, which put me at ease and made the filming fun. It’s also great to be able to look back on the moments they captured on film.
Q: How has life been since we saw you last? How is life in Hawaii?
A: I have been lucky to spend a lot of time in my new home. I’ve had many visitors already and everyone enjoys their time [here]. I wanted to create a special place for my family to gather, and we’ve really been able to make that happen.
My mother visits frequently, and she loves to do her morning yoga watching the sun rise over the ocean. My nephews are learning to surf and can swim for hours just minutes from the house.
The house is just the right size for us to be together — and we even spent the holidays there.
“Living on an island, people here understand how important it is to take care of each other to stay safe.”
Q: COVID-19 must have been a speed bump at some point. Is the island back to normal?
A: Of course COVID has been a speed bump here and there, but Hawaii has been careful in keeping its residents and visitors safe and healthy. Overall, Oahu appears to be back to normal. It helps that most things can be done outdoors: swimming, hiking, kayaking, even dining.
Living on an island, people here understand how important it is to take care of each other to stay safe.
Q: You’ve had amazing success in business. What qualities or experiences do you think you possess that led to that success?
A: I credit my parents — and what I learned from them — for a lot of my success. My father was raised on a farm in Taiwan. My grandparents did not have much, but my father earned a scholarship to Stanford where he received his PhD.
Later in his short life, he became one of the world’s experts in robotics. From there, he was able to build a better life for us, which included opportunities at schools that my grandparents could not have dreamed of.
“Hard work and giving back are key to my success, and I get that from my parents.”
My parents left their families behind and came to a new country where they faced language barriers, prejudice and a completely different way of life — but they never gave up.
They were determined to achieve the American Dream for their children, and with the help of the Taiwanese-American community, they did.
I’m inspired by their hard work and dedication, and I think it’s helped me become the person I am today. Hard work and giving back are key to my success, and I get that from my parents.
Q: Your parents seemed a big part of crafting you as a person. What lessons did you learn from them that you’ve taken with you as an adult?
A: They taught me so much! I learned from my dad to follow my passions and make my true interests my career, and that’s why I’m an attorney today.
In terms of money, they taught me the value of saving. My mom’s mantra is “save, save, save!” That’s really helped me to take advantage of investment opportunities when they come up.
My parents, like many Asian Americans, focus on real estate when investing. Real estate is a tangible item that can weather price fluctuations, and at the end of the day you always have property to show for it. That’s not the case for paper investments, such as stocks.
My parents always reminded me that I am a member of a community and that giving back to the community is essential. They set an example of helping family, friends, and anyone else who is in need.
They were generous people, and I hope to live up to their contributions in this world.
Q: What has inspired you the most about life in Hawaii? Traditions? Culture? Scenery and the outdoors?
A: The individuals I have met in Hawaii are genuine, kind and welcoming. The history and culture here are so interesting. I appreciate how dedicated Hawaiians are to keeping their traditions alive and the patience they show in sharing them with visitors.
“Hawaii is truly a beautiful place full of culture and community, and I can’t imagine a better spot to spend time with family and friends.”
Despite owning a home here, I am mindful that I am still a visitor of sorts, and I think that people need to keep that in mind when they spend time on the island. Respect is key!
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We mainlanders can learn a lot from the way folks live on the islands — especially about how to slow down and enjoy life. On Oahu, I learned that you don’t need to be in a rush — take your time and enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, water, birds, flowers and gorgeous mountains — and breathe in the fresh ocean air.
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Q: Many viewers dream of buying a home in a place like Hawaii. What would you say to them?
A: Hawaii is a very special place for an American Dream Home. But let’s keep it real —this is an expensive place for a home, and it’s going to take a lot of saving and patience if you want to live here.
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Hawaii is truly a beautiful place full of culture and community, and I can’t imagine a better spot to spend time with family and friends.
To learn more about David’s search for a home in Hawaii, watch the video at the top of this article, or click here to access it.