Moving to Hawaii Guide

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I’ve lost count of the sketches, drawings, and oil paintings I’ve made of Hawaii. Those are some of the things that have made me feel closer to the “Paradise on Earth” and experience it in my own way. Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve also seen Disney’s Lilo and Stitch several times. That must count for something, right?

“How awesome it would be to live there!”, “Life would be perfect if I could just move there.” you may be thinking right now. The truth is, Hawaii is not for everyone. Moving there is not the same as moving from New York to San Francisco.

I know that they say if you made it in New York you can make it anywhere. But those who’ve said that probably haven’t lived a day in Hawaii. It takes more work to adjust to the Hawaiian lifestyle than any other US state. Even If you’ve already used to different cultures, languages, and lifestyles. So let’s not sugar coat the idea that moving there would make your life perfect.

Are you ready for moving to Hawaii?

Before taking any serious steps into moving there ask yourself if you’re ready for it. But you cannot do this without first getting as much information as possible. Read books, magazines, articles about Hawaii’s history, culture, language. Read any information you can get your hands on. Or our guide here! It is another thing trying to preserve a bit of mystery about a place when you go there for a short vacation. It is completely different when the exact same place will become your home for a long time.

Prepare yourself … emotionally

Culture shock does not only happen from moving from the US to China, for instance. It can also happen from moving from one state to another. Especially from Mainland to Hawaii. The level of diversity, different cultures, laid back life, food and more will make you want to prepare yourself emotionally. So you can make your adjustment as smooth as possible. That is why reading in advance about the many things Hawaii has to offer, and the many things you might have to face once you move there is very important.

If I were you, the very first thing I would ask myself would be:

Can I live on an island for a long time?

I lived on Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, for two summers in a row and all I can tell you is that no matter how much fun island life can be, the idea of having to spend your life in a small land surrounded by water is kind of terrifying. After some time goes by, you will run out of finding hidden gems and it might get boring sooner than you think. It, of course, depends on the person, but if I can say this for an island like Martha’s Vineyard, which is very close to Boston, and you can very easily get in and out. I don’t want to imagine how it would be to live in Hawaii for years; I think it would compare perfectly.

As the only U.S. state located in Oceania, Hawaii is composed entirely of islands which is a good thing if you need to explore a new island once in a while during your stay there. But the state of Hawaii is very far away from the Mainland and that can, for a lot of people, become a real problem. Distance from California to Hawaii, for example, is 3,976 kilometers which is equal to an air travel distance of 2,471 miles.

At some point, you’ll become homesick, for the Mainland. You will miss your old friends and family and this is just another thing you need to be prepared for emotionally, prior to making your decision to move. I am not being pessimistic here, I am just suggesting that you consider all the “side effects” of moving to Hawaii. After you’ve taken into consideration all the good and the bad, you can go ahead and find more about housing, employment, living costs, shipping costs, and what to do in Hawaii.

Let’s start with the living costs

Depending on which island you will move to, the costs of living may vary, but check here these Honolulu costs of living might give you an idea. As you can see the costs are a bit higher compared to other places in the States, still you can always find a way around it and even get motivated to get a second job to not only make ends meet but also save money while enjoying the paradise.


I spent some time on these two sites: and looking for housing options, and while it was fun pretending I wanted to rent or buy a house in Hawaii, the fact that housing is pretty expensive ruined it all for me. Apparently renting or buying a house in paradise is expensive (sigh). This great article shows how and why the housing in Hawaii has been going up during recent years:

Living Hawaii: New Studies Show The Price Of Paradise Is Still Defeating Us

“Residents’ incomes haven’t kept up with the rising cost of living, especially housing costs, and our credit card and mortgage debts remain among the highest in the country. The result is that Hawaii residents are, economically speaking, among the most vulnerable in the nation when it comes to the share of income we spend on housing. […] A primary sign of slippage is that, while Honolulu residents’ incomes rose 26.6 percent from 2005 to 2015, the cost of living rose 30.4 percent, according to the consumer finance website NerdWallet.”

Of course, it is very important to take into consideration the country you’re moving from, but that does not change the fact that you have to be prepared to pay the same amount (or more) for smaller housing spaces.


hawaii housing

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Though I doubt I would get much work done if I move to Hawaii (for obvious reasons), your case might be completely different. Getting a job there might even be the reason you’re moving to Hawaii. Lucky you! But if you are moving there and have no plan whatsoever about where you’ll work, I have great news for you: Hawaii’s unemployment rate has been relatively low during the recent years.

According to the BLS current population survey (CPS), the unemployment rate for Hawaii as of April 2016 is 3.2%. “The state unemployment rate was 1.8 percentage points lower than the national rate for the month. The unemployment rate in Hawaii peaked in May 2009 at 7.3% and is now 4.1 percentage points lower. From a post peak low of 3.1% in February 2016, the unemployment rate has now grown by 0.1 percentage points.”

Nevertheless, that does not mean that job positions will be thrown at you as soon as you set foot there. You need to have a job seeking strategy. Plan in advance and make a list of the skills you have. Moreover, make a list of the jobs you are willing to do. I would suggest you update your CV. Make several adjustments depending on the job you are applying to. Try to send it to companies before you move there. Just don’t send a CV too early. You might get invited for a face to face interview before your arrival. Which may cause some problems.

Moving and Shipping

Shipping your household, pets, vehicles, and plants to Hawaii is not as easy as shipping them to another state in the Mainland. There are certain rules you need to follow that apply specifically to the state of Hawaii. So make sure you are in the know about everything. Plants, for example, have to be inspected by the Hawaiian customs a few months before you relocate. Keep that in mind and plan accordingly. Check out this guide about shipping your pets to Hawaii. When it comes to moving your household you have to contact a moving company and they will explain and organize it all for you. In most cases, though household movers do not transport vehicles, so you will need to contact a company like Corsia Logistics to manage the shipping of your vehicle. Check our guide on shipping a car to Hawaii and call us with questions.

What to do in Hawaii?

Do I really need to make a list of the things you can do in Hawaii? There is no way you can get bored there even if you do nothing but stare at its breathtaking nature. Plus, the weather in Hawaii is just like you’d imagine the weather in paradise would be: perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, leaving you more space to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, surfing, biking, swimming, sailing, visiting new places, and many more. Who knows, you might even get the chance to practice outdoor activities and sports you’ve never practiced before. Hawaii is full of surprises, and so are its inhabitants. If you want to be one of them, once in a while you have to surprise yourself too!

I know that if a dream you have excites you, and at the same time terrifies you, you must pursue it. If moving to Hawaii is this dream for you then, by all means, go for it. Make it come true and please send us some pictures and share your story! Thank you!

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About the Author:

Juxhina Malaj - a wanderluster and bibliophile who loves photography, nature, documentary films, re-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and drinking green tea.

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