What To Know Before Moving To Hawaii - Your Quick Tip Guide

Does moving to Hawaii sound like a dream come true? Well I’m here to say it doesn’t have to stay a dream.

View from the ocean of a nearby island with a mountain range and palm trees

With reduced spending and increased wealth throughout 2020 coinciding with mortgage rates being a super low rate, many people are looking to move somewhere relaxed. Whether the focus is on health or family or both, they want to move somewhere where they have everything needed to live a happy life. If that sounds like you - Hawaii might be for you and I’m here to help.

Hawaii is a paradise, where the community is a diverse cultural melting pot that cares about each other - but going in blind can lead to disaster. This article primarily deals with moving to Oahu, as that is the island I service - but is written to be helpful to anyone wanting to move to Hawaii.

I helped build a corporate and consumer relocation program and have significant experience helping hundreds of individuals and families successfully relocate to Oahu, Hawaii. If you work with me, you get access to the years of experience and the network of people I've worked with.

Planning on buying anywhere on Oahu? Set up a free consultation with me for help with all your moving needs.

How Much Planning Does It Take To Move To Hawaii?

This question is a bit nuanced and depends on your previous experience with Hawaii. If you have no experience at all with the islands, first you need to decide where is right for you. If you’re already familiar and know where you want to move - you still need to take the time to properly prepare. I would say don’t rush it - but start preparing as soon as possible.

If you have pets, there are even more preparations to make. The Five Days or Less program can help to minimize that stress for your beloved furry family members.

Finding The Right Fit

Every island is unique in its own way and even the neighborhoods have their own miniature culture and feel. You really need to spend the time getting to know the area and make sure it’s a good fit for you. Due to the diversity of cultures in Hawaii, most people are welcoming and accepting of others - but there will always be nooks and crannies where you will always be an outsider.

I recommend spending several weeks to a month on each island. This lets you get out of tourist mode and really explore, talking to residents and feeling out where is the best match for you. It gets a little simpler if you’ve vacationed and know the area you want to move to.

Even then - take an extra week on your next trip to let yourself get out of tourist mode and examine the area more closely during both night and day.

Related: What Hawaiian Island Is Best?

Moving To Hawaii With Pets

Hawaii is a rabies-free state, and it works hard to maintain that. To that end and to help minimize the chance of invasive species, all pets coming from the mainland are strictly quarantined before they’re allowed in. Snakes aren’t allowed in at all - no matter how much checking you might do.

Beach near sunset or sunrise with man, woman, and dog in middle-distance

Pet quarantine can last for up to 120 days from arrival - which can be stressful for these furry family members. You can minimize that stress by taking advantage of Hawaii’s 5-Days-Or-Less program - allowing you to prepare your pet for the trip. The program’s website has a checklist to make it easier.

I would recommend starting on the checklist at least 5 or 6 months before the moving date - and maybe even a little earlier.

Related: Moving To Hawaii With Pets

Preparing To Move To Hawaii

So - you’re ready to start the move.The first step to making the move would be purging all the things you won’t need.

Space is at a premium in Hawaii. Homes are smaller, with a greater focus on efficiently using your space. Because of this, much of the furniture that is used on the mainland is impractical in Hawaiian homes. You should aim to bring the bare minimum - otherwise you run the risk of needing to rent storage in Hawaii, then selling the items anyways.

The weather in Hawaii is amazingly consistent too, meaning you can leave most cold weather gear behind. I can pull up a weather app almost any day of the week and see a similar temperature range across any seven days. You won’t need many of your winter clothes - just what you would need for visiting the mainland. For me, this meant cutting down to ski clothing and a sweater or two.

Point of view picture; looking down at a pair of feet in flipflops on a beach as the white foamy surf rolls in

Once you’re finished with purging your stuff - setting up your children’s education is the next logical step.

Schools In Hawaii

If you’ve got kids, continuing their schooling in Hawaii is probably one of the first things you need to decide. Whether it’s through homeschooling, private schooling, or the public school system, there are options that fit your family. Deciding which of these is best for you depends entirely on your situation.

Picture of children at a school in Hawaii, with a slow sloping hill covered in greenery in the distance

Some of the best private schools in the country are located right here in urban Honolulu, making them the obvious choice if that’s where you’re moving. Among those, the most prestigious are Punahou, ‘Iolani, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Maryknoll. There’s plenty of competition - which makes sense, given their distinguished status.

Related: Your Guide To Private Schools On Oahu

Hawaii Public Schools can vary in quality depending on the location you’re in. These are often outranked by private schools due to higher funding, but some can still hold their own. If you want to send your children to an alternate public school than the area you’re located, you can apply for a geographic exemption - letting them attend a different school.

And finally, the Hawaii Department of Education recognizes homeschooling as a valid alternative for education. They require that you fill out some information before they recognize it as valid instruction - more can be found about this topic on their website, found here.

Cost Of Moving To Hawaii

The cost of moving to Hawaii can vary depending on the belongings you’re bringing with you and how you make the move. There are two main options when it comes to packing your stuff: The first is door-to-door services, where everything is done for you, while the second is renting a container and packing for yourself.

With door-to-door services they charge by the pound - between $1.63 and $2.54 per pound, with discounted weight tiers. The moving crew will come to your mainland home and provide full wrapping, padding, and packing services including a detailed inventory. The container will then be loaded up and shipped to your new home in Hawaii, where a moving crew will provide a full unpacking - including removal of debris. A rough estimate from some of my recent clients puts the total between $12,000 and $16,000 total.

The other option is renting a PODS moving container and packing it up yourself. This can save you a bit of money - if you don’t mind spending the time. The size container you rent can be adjusted, making sure you don’t spend money on container space you won’t use. You can get an estimate on your storage needs using the storage calculator here.

The next big cost would be shipping your car to Hawaii.

Read More: Cost Of Living - Transportation & Commuting Costs

Shipping Your Car To Hawaii

There are a few important things to know before you ship your car to Hawaii. You’ll either have to drive the car to the port yourself or pay extra to get it there, for one. And for another - you can’t have anything at all in your car when you ship it, and the gas tank has to be nearly empty.

A shipping vessel containing many cars at sea during ocean sunset/sunrise

It can cost roughly $1500 per vehicle if you drive the car to the mainland port yourself, while using door-to-port services cost around $3000 per vehicle. Bigger vehicles cost more, which can be the motivating factor for some people to sell their large vehicles when they move. Parking spots in Hawaii tend to be about the same size as compact spots on the mainland, providing another motivating factor.

Before you ship your car, you are required to empty it of gas to no more than ¼ of a tank. This is due to safety regulations about carrier vessels. In addition, both the interior and the exterior of the car should be thoroughly cleaned to allow for a proper inspection before departure and after arrival. The only items that can remain inside are infant car seats, a spare tire, a jack, floor mats, and a set of jumper cables.

The vehicle must be in proper operating condition prior to shipping as well, with the alarm disabled or the keyfob provided to the shippers at the port.

Moving To Hawaii - Planning Is Worth It

Moving to Hawaii is considerably different from moving to any other state. To start, the culture can vary from island to island - and even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

For that reason, I can’t recommend highly enough that you spend time here before you pull the trigger on your move. The more familiar you are with the islands, the better your adjustment will be. This doesn’t just mean vacationing for a week on each island - you have to take the time to get out of vacation mode and take off the rose-tinted glasses. Take the time to visit smaller, out of the way areas that aren’t normally frequented by tourists.

Once you’ve done that and are fully familiar with the islands - contact me, Scott Startsman, at 808-291-5441 or email me at [email protected]! I have years of experience, and I’d love to help find the home right for you!

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