Things to Know Before Moving to Hawaii

So, you’re planning to move to Hawaii, with everything you’ve ever owned. It must be a very big decision for you. And if you have family moving with you, it’s big for them as well! 

Just like moving to any other state, you can’t just “move”. There are phases for elaborate planning, preparation, and execution. That’s why we’ve decided to help you out. 

In this guide, we’ll shed light on everything you need to know before moving to Hawaii. We’ll touch on all possible aspects of living on one of the islands and how they’re going to impact your decisions. 

Why Move to Hawaii?

If Hawaii is just on your mind for the beautiful landscape, you should know that there’s more to life. You must consider a lot of other factors before you can actually make a concrete decision. Let’s see if we can help with that or not. 

From what we can tell, moving to Hawaii offers an array of incredible benefits. Of course, it all starts with the stunning natural beauty. From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to breathtaking volcanoes, Hawaii provides a picturesque backdrop for your everyday life. 

Also, there is Hawaii's diverse culture. The islands are home to so many different cultures, you get to enjoy a unique blend of traditions, food, and festivals. 

For starters, you'll find the Aloha spirit, the iconic welcoming attitude of the locals. If it’s a relaxed and fulfilling lifestyle you’re after, the sense of community goes a long way. 

Also, if you like outdoor activities, the warm climate might just be perfect for you. Whether you love surfing, hiking, snorkeling, or simply lounging on the beach, there’s always something to do. 

On top of everything, the islands' geography means you’re never far from the ocean. If the sound of waves calms your soul like nothing else, Hawaii is where you should be. 

Then there is the job market.  Hawaii offers many opportunities, especially in tourism, education, and healthcare. While it might be different from mainland job markets, Hawaii offers unique professional experiences. The state also has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental conservation for its own good. If you’re interested in a career path that promotes these things, you might just find it amazing. 

Education in Hawaii is another positive aspect. The state offers quality public and private schools, as well as renowned universities. Families moving to Hawaii can be confident in the educational opportunities available for their children.

Best Places to Live in Hawaii

Even if you’ve been to Hawaii before, you may not know about every place as a possible home. Or, if you haven’t yet, you need to understand your options. 

In this section, we’ve outlined the best places to live in Hawaii and what they offer you. 


Honolulu is perhaps the most obvious choice. It’s the capital of Hawaii and is a city known for its beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and economic opportunities. 

If you decide to live in Honolulu, it means you get easy access to the world-famous Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and a variety of restaurants and shopping options. 

Data suggests that the city also has a sustainable job market, especially in tourism, healthcare, and education. While the cost of living is higher, many find the vibrant city life and amenities worth it to move to Honolulu.


Located on the windward coast of Oahu, Kailua offers a more relaxed lifestyle with beautiful beaches like Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach. It has that small-town charm you love so much watching on TV. Interestingly, this area has excellent schools and lots of outdoor activities for the residents. 

You can go kayaking, hiking, and paddleboarding. Kailua's community-focused atmosphere and stunning scenery make it one of the best places to live in Hawaii. The cost to move to Hawaii's Kailua might be higher, but the quality of life is also exceptional​.


Hilo, situated on the Big Island's eastern side, is famous for its lush landscapes and waterfalls. With a more affordable cost of living compared to other Hawaiian cities, Hilo is attractive for those seeking a quieter, small-town feel. 

Home to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, this small town features unique attractions like the Hilo Farmers Market and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Just like the rest of Hawaii, Hilo also boasts a strong sense of community. If you believe you thrive in those situations, Hilo can very well be your home. 


Kapolei is often known as Oahu's "Second City". Over the past few years, it has seen significant growth and development. It's a hub for business as well as residential communities where you get all the modern amenities, such as shopping centers, schools, and parks. 

When compared to Honolulu, the median home price is also more affordable at Kapolei. This makes it a popular choice for families and professionals alike. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the country. 


Waimea, also known as Kamuela, is located on the Big Island and offers a unique blend of rural and modern living. Known for its rolling green pastures and ranching history, Waimea also offers good schools, healthcare facilities, and cultural events. It’s a very welcoming environment even for newcomers. You only need a few days to blend in with the locals.

The town's cooler climate and scenic beauty aso provide a different experience compared to coastal areas.

Planning Your Move to Hawaii

If you’ve already made up your mind about moving to Hawaii, all we can do now is help you plan the move. So, let’s just do that. 

The Cost of Living is Higher

Hawaii has a higher cost of living compared to the mainland. Housing, groceries, and utilities are all more expensive than what you might be used to. It comes down to the fact that everything has to be flown into the islands from the mainland. 

Before you make the move to Hawaii, research the average costs in your chosen location to create a realistic budget. It’s something you can’t take lightly as this will keep affecting your finances for however long you’re planning to stay there. 

Choose the Right Island

Each Hawaiian island offers a different lifestyle and cost of living, as we’ve already covered above. Oahu is bustling and urban, while the Big Island offers more rural, affordable living. Research the best places to live in Hawaii to find an island that suits your needs.

Visit Before Moving

If possible, visit Hawaii before making the move. And no, every time you’ve been there on trips doesn't count. You need to spend time in different neighborhoods to get a feel for the local culture and amenities. You must think like a local during your stay to make sure your decision to move is sustainable. 

Housing and Employment

It’s obvious that you need to decide whether you’ll rent or buy a home in one of the Hawaiian islands. The housing market in Hawaii can be competitive, so start your search early. Thankfully, websites like Zillow, Trulia, and local real estate agents can help you find the right property for your needs. 

Then there is the career aspect. Unless you already have a job in Hawaii, you’ll need to find one. Of course, it’s different if you own a business. Ideally, you should start your job search early. 

If you’re not rigid in your choice, you’d be glad to know that Hawaii's job market is unique. It offers many opportunities in tourism, education, healthcare, and sustainability sectors. Online job boards and local employment agencies can assist in your search.

Logistics and Moving Services

As Hawaii is an archipelago of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you can’t just hire any moving company and drive behind the trucks. It’s roughly 2500 miles from the mainland so the only way to get there is by boat or plane. 

It means you’ll need help from a specialized moving company. You should create a moving-to-Hawaii checklist to stay organized. Include tasks like securing moving services, packing, and notifying utility companies. 

Now, it’s time to make an important decision. You must decide what you want to take with you and what you want to leave behind. Due to the remote nature of the islands, buying things when you get there is often the wiser move than paying for shipping. 

For example, shipping large items like furniture can be costly. You can always sell bulky items and buy new ones after you move.

Then there is transport shipping. If you have a car and you love it to death, you’ll want to ship it to the islands. While it’s certainly possible, it’s also very costly. 

You need to research companies that offer this service and compare quotes. Sometimes, selling your car and buying a new one locally is more cost-effective.


Hawaii has a unique healthcare system with 5 Managed Care Organizations (MCO) delivering the required services. You get to choose from AlohaCare, HMSA, Kaiser Permanente, 'Ohana Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. 

Study the schemes ahead of time to ensure you get the best plan according to your needs. Also, if you have specific needs from the healthcare system, you must ensure that your chosen island can provide that. 


If you have children, research schools and educational opportunities. Just like the rest of the country, Hawaii offers a range of public, private, and charter schools for the residents. You should spend some time understanding the local education system before you finalize the decision to move to Hawaii. 

Cost of Moving to Hawaii

Moving to Hawaii involves several expenses beyond the typical moving costs, especially due to its distance and logistics. Here’s a rough breakdown of what you can expect.

Shipping Belongings

The cost of shipping household items to Hawaii varies based on the size of your move and distance. For example, moving a small studio apartment from California can cost between $4,000 to $6,000, while a larger home from the East Coast can run between $10,000 to $14,000. 

You should always ask for quotes from multiple companies before deciding to go with one. 

Vehicle Shipping

Shipping a car to Hawaii typically costs between $1,500 and $3,500. Consider whether it's more economical to sell your vehicle on the mainland and purchase a new one in Hawaii due to the added transportation fees and increased costs of vehicles on the islands​.

Temporary Housing

If you need temporary accommodations while finding a permanent home, expect to pay between $100 to $250 per night for an extended-stay hotel, or around $2,000 to $3,500 per month for short-term rentals. 

Airbnb and vacation rentals can also provide temporary housing options. While most of them cost more, you also get more amenities. 

Miscellaneous Costs

Additional costs include utilities setup, which averages $297 per month for basic services in a typical apartment, and internet costs around $67 per month. These are higher than the national average due to Hawaii's isolated location.

Housing and Real Estate

Hawaii's rental market varies by island and location. For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment on Oahu is approximately $2,400 per month, whereas the Big Island offers more affordable options at about $1,800 per month. 

As you’d expect, rental prices are influenced by the proximity to jobs, amenities, and the general demand for housing in each area​.

On the contrary, if you’re planning to buy a home in Hawaii, you have to pay a lot more than the national average. The median home price on Oahu is around $728,000 in April 2024, while the Big Island is more affordable with a median price of $533,000. 

Condos are slightly cheaper, averaging $585,000 across the state. These prices reflect the high demand and limited supply of housing in desirable locations.

Property Taxes and Other Fees

Hawaii's property taxes are relatively low, averaging 0.28% of the home value. However, the overall tax burden is high due to state income tax and general excise tax. There’s also an estate tax. If we put things into numbers, property taxes on a $700,000 home can exceed $2,000 annually! 

Moving to Hawaii Checklist

By now, we’ve covered nearly everything you need to know before moving to Hawaii. Before we move on to the next section, let’s create a quick checklist for your move. 

  • Research and Budget: Understand the cost of living on your chosen island. Visit different areas to decide the best places to live in Hawaii.
  • Secure Housing: Decide whether to rent or buy a home. Start searching early, especially if moving to popular areas like Honolulu or Kailua.
  • Job Search: Begin your job search well before moving. Focus on key industries like tourism, healthcare, and education.
  • Plan Your Move: Create a detailed moving checklist. Hire a reliable moving company experienced with Hawaii relocations.
  • Shipping Belongings: Determine what to bring and what to sell. Consider shipping costs for large items like furniture.
  • Moving a Car: Research car shipping services. Compare costs to decide whether to ship or sell your car.
  • Pets: Start the process early for moving pets to Hawaii. Meet all vaccination and microchipping requirements.
  • Healthcare and Education: Research local healthcare providers and schools. Arrange for necessary medical and educational services.
  • Utilities and Services: Set up electricity, water, and internet before your arrival. Research local utility providers.
  • Community Involvement: Engage with local communities to ease your transition. Attend events and join local clubs to meet new people.


Finally, you know everything there is to know about moving to Hawaii from anywhere else in the US. Once you decide everything, don’t forget to compare the best moving companies on our website to get the best quotes. We have the best long-distance movers aggregated for you.

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