Everything You Should Know Before Moving to Hawaii

People get fascinated about moving to Hawaii since it is known as a paradise. Hawaii represents a perfect location due to its tropical weather all through the year and closeness to a beautiful beach.

But while we have beautiful islands, you must perform your research just as required for any big move. Are you prepared to welcome the spirit of aloha and relocate to Hawaii?

Before packing your bags, you should be familiar with some things about life on the island and living in Hawaii. We welcome you to reading our list of 20 things to know before relocating to Hawaii.

Everything You Should Know Before Moving to Hawaii

In this article

1. Hawaii is Full of Islands

Life on the island means you would find it hard to engage with some of your favorite things, and some things are just not doable. Shipping of almost anything to Hawaii is costly and takes time to arrive by FedEx.

In Hawaii, FedEx overnight usually means two days. And although there are a few stores on Oahu that sell what you want, that doesn’t mean that they always have it available at any time, and in some cases, they will not ship bulky stuff.

Amazon even has some things they don’t ship to Hawaii, especially when the items are heavy. However, there are times when heavy items often ship for free, such as the 40 lbs running boards I purchased for my van. That is an exception but not a rule, so expect some occasional difficulty.

2. Aloha is a Living Style

The interpretation of aloha is hello and goodbye. Aloha, however, means more than greeting and farewell, it is an important lifestyle for Hawaiians. It is a philosophy of empathy, peace, love, and mutual respect that forms the Hawaiian culture. Moving here means you have to expect to learn and adopt the real meaning of aloha.

3. The High Cost of Living

Living in Hawaii comes with a very high cost. That includes housing costs, but it also affects foods being sold at grocery stores. Each item that has to be shipped or flown to Hawaii will be expensive. And prepare to pay high tax in Hawaii, too. The rates of income tax in Hawaii are part of costly nationwide.  Also, expect to pay an estate tax in the state.

4. Things are a Bit Slower in the State

Everything in Hawaii is slower. Talk about the internet and pace of life, you will learn to slow down in Hawaii. Develop interest in walking, living, and talking at a slower pace. Here, there are no more same or next-day deliveries from Amazon. The slow pace is a way of life too: Hawaii cannot accommodate your rushed lifestyle. So, slow down, relax and take things slowly.

5. There is Wildlife Everywhere

Nature lovers will feel right in place in Hawaii. The Aloha State is home to birds, whales, tropical fish, and turtles and you can spend your day out on the water or into the mountains in search of wildlife. However, you might at the comfort of your environment in Hawaii see wildlife around.

Uncommon birds are commonly sighted on trees on many properties in Hawaii, as well as turtles as you find your way to work.

6. Housing is Costly

You will be able to buy a little piece of an old house in Manoa for $900,000 for a huge condominium in Waikiki. The house might be constructed in old single wall, which means the walls don’t contain studs. Your yard might not have more space than you are familiar with, especially in Honolulu, and the color of the dirt might be bright red.

However, it is a small, still island, and there is no room for expansion, so the prices will likely continue to increase nonstop, as more people desire to live in paradise.

If you step out a little to the west side, you can find a nice home for around $650k in Royal Kunia, Ewa, Makakilo, and Kapolei. You can also get a big yard, probably an acre, for about $1.5m on the North Shore. The feel is country there and it is a very rural and peaceful location.

It will possibly and hopefully usually be much farmland and about a few houses, but there is always more land on the North Shore, and you can surf bigger waves.

7. The Need to Learn to Speak Like Real Hawaiian

Speaking like a Hawaiian will take some time to adapt to, and it can be a mix of Hawaiian, English, and Pidgin/Creole. There is much slang in Hawaii due to the surfing boom, with the use of terms like ‘da kine’ and ‘brah’ frequently.

Pay careful attention when being spoken to so that you can clearly understand what is being said to you, but do not attempt to force the dialect.

8. Traffic can be Frustrating

If you think you’ve found an escape from traffic by relocating to Hawaii, you are wrong. Traffic in the Aloha State can be so much congested, both in less crowded parts of the state and busy metro Honolulu.

Double-lanes are common in Hawaii and can become populated with cars quickly. You can take public buses, but most people drive around in their private vehicles.

9. You Don’t Automatically Become Hawaiian by Living in Hawaii

That you are born in Hawaii doesn’t mean you are Hawaiian; it only makes you a local. Native people of Hawaii are an indigenous race, so refrain from calling yourself Hawaiian regardless of the number of years you love there because they see it as disrespect.

Do not expect to be welcomed into the island like a local quickly, too. Adopt the culture, meet new friends, and respect the island and in time, you will be crowned as a local. Expect to be called haole (which means non-native) more often and always in jest.

10. Sudden Rain Here, for 10 Minutes Sometimes

Places like Kailua, the North Shore, Maunawili, Kaneohe, or Manoa experience rain more than Hawaii Kai, Leeward side, and in town. The sun will shine almost within a few minutes and dry the liquid up. So, you don’t need to go about with an umbrella, you will be seen as a tourist.

You can also rely on rain each night in Mililani and on the Windward side, especially Haiku and Ahuimanu at the upper Kaneohe. However, if you want to get a much cooler climate but don’t want the high cost of Kailua and Kaneohe, consider Mililani as your best choice for a cool climate and has nice schools.

11. Surfing is Not as Simple as it appears

Surfing may interest you easily after you move to Hawaii. You need more strength as surfing is harder than appears. Surfing spots in Hawaii can be jealously guarded. If you are a novice, you might get into trouble with some locals if you show up in peak surfing spots and block the way of many expert surfers.

12. Your Life Will Experience a Change due to the Malasadas

It is still surprising how the popularity of malasadas doesn’t extend beyond Hawaii. A malasada is deliciously rich, thoroughly fried dough covered in sugar. It is great that in America it is not found on every menu in each state. However, it is just one of the things that make Hawaii so unique. They’ve got the best malasadas, as well as the best surfing.

13. Nature Gives and Takes

You will enjoy the advantage of a nice setting, rainbows, beautiful sunsets, and hot weather in Hawaii. But you also have to deal with volcanoes that ooze lava, including sharks and biting insects.

You can cope with it all, though, but adopting much respect for Mother Nature after you moved into Hawaii is wise. That includes listening and talking to warnings if there is a safety concern with swimming, and not purchasing your house in a lava path or on an eroding mountain.

14. Some People Move Out of Hawaii after a Few Years and End Up Regretting Their Action

Regardless of the reason, many people who relocate here find themselves leaving after just a few years. And there is this person that tells me each week the amount of regret they have after moving out of Hawaii. The majority of people who sold their real estate in Hawaii would have made more thousands of dollars if they would have kept it.

So don’t come here with the mindset of trying it out. Instead, prepare your mind and be sure that you will make it work regardless. You must convince yourself that you will become a homeowner in Hawaii and make the place your home.

People neglect their dream of residing in Hawaii on daily basis; they quit on the way and exit paradise. For people who make it, it turns to more paradise than we initially thought.

15. It is Hard to Move with Pets

The Hawaiian government carefully guards the state against external threats, such as non-native animals, disease-ridden pets, and invasive plant species. If you are preparing to move to Hawaii with your furry friend, get ready for a prolonged (and possibly expensive) quarantine and screening procedure.

You should check the list of prohibited animals, just in case you are moving with your pet to see if they are prohibited.

16. Volcano Insurance Exists

A move to the Big Island will expose you to properties listed by different Lava zones. Lava Zone 1 indicates the maximum risk of damage as a result of the eruption, and Lava Zones 3 and 4 indicate the slimmer chances of damage.

But don’t be discouraged by this. It’s the same as living closer to the San Andreas Faults in California or closer to the Gulf of Mexico in hurricane season. You can easily manage to live in an area with volcanoes since you are prepared and alert.

17. Community Sense is a Thing

Hawaii residents often know their neighbors and there is an enviable sense of community here. Although the population can be unstable as people move in and out of the island, you can easily make friends. If you are more of a reserved person, you might get cured of it by living in Hawaii.

18. May Day, Lei Day are Big Days

May Day celebration starts from the beginning of the month all through Hawaii at 9:00 a.m., and till the next day. This great yearly event honors the rich culture and the value of leis in Hawaii. Everyone makes less from the assigned flower represents their island and they host a lot of special events.

The Big Island hosts the Hilo Lei Day Festival that features hula, live music, craft showcases, and workshops on how to maintain the native Hawaiian plants.

19. Get a Good GPS to Hawaii

One can easily get confused by the roads in Hawaii and network reception can be epileptic, so it is necessary to buy a good GPS and ensure it is up to date until you are familiar with the roads. Spend much great time to familiarize yourself with your way around since it is one of the highly important things you can safely do to get used to life in Hawaii.

20. A Move to Hawaii is probably the Costliest Move of your Life

We mentioned in this article that living in Hawaii is costly, but you importantly need to know that moving yourself and your items to Hawaii can also be costly. You’ll be responsible for scheduling flights for yourself and your household members.

You also might have to spend extra on moving a pet. And your household goods will have to be transported in a shipping container or air rather than just renting a moving truck as the traditional way.

Read How much does it cost to move to Hawaii?

However, after settling down in Hawaii and you carry a local driver’s license; don’t forget to swipe it for discounts. There are many perks to being a registered Hawaii resident, especially in reduced prices and discounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there cost-effective options for getting some of my possessions to Hawaii within a few days?

If you are traveling to Hawaii by air, you should try packing all your essentials into the suitcases that you take with you onto the plane. Individuals who are only allowed a single bag, and have items left over afterward, may want to consider visiting their local post office.

USPS prepaid boxes are very affordable, allow you to pack in a decent number of items, and arrive at the destination within two or three days. You can get your most needed clothes, accessories and electronics to your new address on a budget.

Is it possible to have my car shipped to Hawaii?

Yes, vehicle shipping is available to Hawaii. Most service providers can get your vehicle to the island within seven to 14 days, depending on the service you choose.

When you choose car shipping, it is important to take a few precautions. Take photographs and video of your car from all angles on the day it is picked up. Then you have documentation of your car’s condition, in case any damage happens during transit.

The cost of car shipping depends on the speed of the service you pick, along with the choice between closed or open freight. If you are shipping an older car with a lower value, open freight is the best choice. Closed freight is ideal if you have a new or valuable car.

Is there an ideal season to move to Hawaii?

One of the advantages of living in a place like Hawaii is the temperature is excellent throughout the year. There are, however, times of the year when more people come to the island.

January through May and September through November are the best months to move to Hawaii, as it is not peak tourist season. It is a lot easier to find a place to live, settle and handle the various aspects of moving when there are fewer people on the island. Prices for travel and short term accommodation are also more affordable.

If I am moving to a smaller place, how do I cut down on my possessions before my move?

Downsizing your living space is a significant step that should not be taken lightly. It is not ideal to pack all your furniture and belongings, and then decide what to do with the items that do not fit.

It is much better to make that decision ahead of time. Assess the square footage of the place where you live, and compare it to the apartments you are thinking about renting in Hawaii.

Then decide on the furniture you could fit into those spaces, and try to sell or give away the other items.

It is also helpful to downsize on your clothes and smaller possessions, such as decoration pieces, electronics and kitchen cutlery. If there are clothes you have not worn for a long time, consider donating them to a charity or giving them away to family members.

Are there any restrictions on items I can ship or take to Hawaii?

Yes, the island does have laws regarding specific items that cannot be shipped or brought without a specific permit. For instance, certain animals and plants are considered invasive species and are not permitted.

If you are traveling from the mainland to Hawaii, you cannot ship or pack certain items in your boxes or bags. These include pineapples, corn on the cob, passion fruit plants and seeds, coconuts, orchid plants, coffee plants, palm plants, and pine plants.


If you are not prepared to begin packing, check our site for further moving and packing tips. You can also check our best national movers to get a free moving quote to add in your estimated relocation costs.

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