Moving To Hawaii

Moving To Hawaii

Here’re some things you should know if you’re thinking about moving to Hawaii. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition the average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,509 per month in the state of Hawaii. – This was true in 2009-2010, now in 2012 I don’t think so. Yes, living the Hawaii life is expensive.

Based on what I read in the local paper about real estate in Hawaii, rents have dropped some. Not a huge amount, but not the gouging that was going on previously around 05 & 06. UDATE: Now in 2016, not only are rents climbing, but finding anything decent to rent is getting hard to find for less than 2k per month for a middle class type 3 bed room house.  Probably about $1300 for a 1 bedroom apt. The rental market is really tight in Kona these days. I’ve been watching it since putting our house up for sale and it makes me want to throw-up. Buying here is better if you can afford it. End Update.

This is an average of the whole state which includes Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, and the island of Hawaii. To be able to afford that much rent you need to be making about $30 per hour or $60K per year.

Which island should you move to?

It depends on which island you might prefer. Each has its own flavor so to speak. Oahu is called the gathering place. They got that right, there’s about 1.2 million of them “gathered” over there. If you like the big city, then you may want to consider moving there if you want the metropolitan Hawaii life.

Oahu kind of reminds me of L.A. with water around it, but it’s a whole lot safer. Besides all the amenities of a big city, Oahu does have some very cool things about it which would make it a nice place to move to, but it is some of most expensive real estate in Hawaii.

Even though the average 2 bedroom rent is $1509 for the whole state you could probably find a pretty cheap apartment down in Waikiki for a lot less than $1500 per month.

Then There Is The Garden Isle

Kauai is small and similar to Kona in some ways, but has some of the best beaches in Hawaii. Back in 2009 when the Vog was really bad, I was looking at possibly moving there.

It’s really pretty. It’s also really expensive. If I was a serious surfer I’d probably live here because of the great surfing. This is living the Hawaii lifestyle at a very laid back pace.


Has some great beaches like Kauai. But it also has too many people for my taste and it helps to be rich as it’s probably the most expensive real estate in Hawaii, of all the islands to live on.

The Island of Hawaii

The big island is more rural compared to the other islands. And more affordable if you’re moving to Hawaii on a budget.

The further away you get from Oahu the further you get from civilization in some ways. It is the major hub of all the islands.

But if you’re looking for a more laid back way of life by moving to Hawaii, then one of the outer islands is probably the way to go. Read this blog post about living the Kona lifestyle. This is where the best bang for the buck is when it comes to real estate in Hawaii.

Below I’ll share tips for moving to Hawaii. How to ship a car to Hawaii. And other tidbits about living on the island that are important to know about. Like:

Moving to Hawaii

Should you ship your vehicles? Or buy them here?

If you have a truck. I’d consider shipping it to Hawaii because trucks sell for a premium here. If you have an average no frills car. I’d sell it and buy one when you get here. Matson, Pasha and Horizon all ship vehicles from the west coast. Just visit my moving resource page for more info. The cost is around a $1000 for the average vehicle.

Pasha only ships vehicles, Matson ships everything. Horizon I’m not sure about.

And while we are talking about vehicles, if you decide to ship yours, it better be something that is popular here on the island. Why? Because let’s say you own a Ranger Rover, all of the sudden you’ve just been limited to about one shop that works on them here. And forget buying parts for it locally.

But let’s say you’re a Toyota, Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Dodge car or truck owner. No problem. Everybody has parts for those and there is a lot of different shops here that repair it for you.

If you just have to bring your yuppy mobile with you, go ahead, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Shipping Household Stuff

If I was moving to Hawaii again, I’d sell all my stuff on the mainland before moving and just show up with clothes and a toothbrush ready to start my new Hawaii life.

Nice used stuff is cheap to buy here from folks moving back to the mainland. Such as cars furniture and other household items.

There are lots of furnished vacation rentals here that rent for almost the same as unfurnished places so you really don’t need to even buy furniture if you don’t want to. Now that I think about it, it’s a great way to move here short term to see if you even like it.

Matson will rent you various sizes of containers to ship your stuff to Hawaii if you just can’t part with it.


In the old days moving a pet to Hawaii required quarantine of the animal for 90 days. And the reason for this is Hawaii is rabies free and the state would like to keep it that way. The state has since removed the requirement for the quarantine if you jump through the hoops correctly. This means if you do the paperwork properly you can bring your pet home with you straight from the airport on arrival.

  •  Here are some of the requirements.
  •  Your dog will require 2 rabies shots 90 days apart and you can’t ship fido here till after 90 days has passed since the last rabies shot.
  • Dogs and cats will require microchips
  • OIE-FAVN rabies blood test.

After the OIE-FAVN blood test you have to wait 120 days before moving your pet to Hawaii if you don’t want to have them in 90 day quarantine after they arrive here. All the rules and forms are available from the state website for complete animal info.

If the paperwork doesn’t scare you that the state requires, you can handle it yourself. But if you would rather turn it over to an expert, you might try this pet relocation service to Hawaii if you don’t want to deal with the paperwork.

Jobs In Hawaii

If you’re thinking about moving to Hawaii and then finding a job. You need to make $50K per year minimum to afford to live here. If you want to eat too that is.

You can live here on less, people do. But when I say 50K, I’m talking living comfortably.

Moving To Hawaii Update Sept. 2012

The job market on the big island seems to have turned the corner in a good kind of way. There are a lot of jobs listed in the local Sunday paper compared to a year ago.

There is a new website with local job listings and more. If I was looking for a job I’d definitely bookmark their site.

I still think starting your own business here is the best strategy if you want to live here long term. Or figure out a way to telecommute to your current job on the mainland. It’s not uncommon for people to hold 2 or 3 jobs here just to make ends meet.

I never said this was easy. As a matter of fact I work harder here than I ever did living on the mainland. The price to stay warm… Above I said you should think about starting your own business, just know that Hawaii requires all employers to provide health insurance for all employees that work over 20 hours per week.


Buying fruit at the local grocery store the first time will be a shocking experience. A bag of grapes, some bananas and a couple of nectarines is almost $20. Shopping for food here is not for the faint of heart.

If you shop at Costco you can save a lot of money on your grocery bills. Another tip is if you shop at Safeway or Sack and Save make sure to join their customer discount programs. You’ll save a lot of money.

If you don’t have your Makai or Safeway card when you go shopping… you’ll pay the tourist rates. Ouch!

The good news is eating out seems to be about the same as most places in California. Go to Costco here and buy their rotisserie chicken. You can’t buy it at the grocery store and cook it yourself for less money.

Housing Costs

You can rent a nice 2 bedroom condo for around $1000 per month give or take $100. Houses rent starting around $1000 and go as high as you care to spend. For something nice you’ll probably pay around $1600 per month. The upside is property taxes are cheap compared to Ca. for example.  Check Craigslist for current rental prices in Hawaii for the current rates. I’m sure they’re higher than the numbers I used when I originally wrote this article in 2009. 


If you have children that you can’t afford to put in private school, you might reconsider moving here. The schools here are severely underfunded and right now have the least teaching days annually than any other state in the country.

Medical Care

A lot of doctors have been run out of Hawaii due to the high cost of liability insurance and the low reimbursement from health insurance companies. It’s pretty much a revolving door of specialists moving to Hawaii for a year or two and then moving back to the mainland. Doctors don’t like being poor. I don’t blame them. I don’t care for it either. If you’re seriously injured here, you need to be able to live long enough to be flown to Honolulu as our local hospital is only equipped to stabilize you enough to move you to another hospital on Oahu that has the equipment and expertise to save your life. Remember hearing about Kelsey Grammer having a heart attack here in Kona in 2009? The Kona Hospital stabilized him and then he was flown to Honolulu.

Living On An Island

You’ve moved to Hawaii, now what? Some people get totally into the Hawaii life style and adjust well and live happily ever after. And… Some folks get “rock fever” after moving here and have to move back to where they came from. I just take a trip to the mainland for a week and that usually fixes me for 6 to 8 months. It’s good to travel right?

For some people the culture shock of moving to the aloha state is just too much for them and they move back to the mainland. For others, it’s like they’ve found the place they’ve been searching for their whole life.

One of the things I’ve noticed living in perpetual summer is that time passes very fast and there are no markers of the seasons to associate events passing in your life.  Actually there is, but they are so subtle that it takes years before you recognize them.

If you’re still reading at this point you’re probably starting to see that living in paradise does have it’s challenges.

As I write this on an early February morning it’s about 72 degrees with a light balmy breeze. I will say that moving to Hawaii was probably the best thing I ever did. I don’t regret it for a minute.  Mark Twain said something to the effect that Hawaii is great for resting your weary bones… I’d happily agree. If you’re thinking about investing in real estate in Hawaii, I don’t think you can go wrong.


Comments are closed due to the fact that there are over 500 of them and the website just can’t handle anymore, it causes it to act weird.


  1. Hey!!

    I’m hoping to move to Maui at the beginning of next year. I have a cat and a dog and was wondering when the best time to start the process of getting them checked out is so that I don’t have to have them quarantined is? I’m also a Registered Nurse so I know I need to get that process started 3-6 months before I move (or so I’ve heard). What can you tell me about life in Paia?


    Hi Joe
    i am planning to move to Oahu with my family, i already have got a job in Honolulu , found a town house in kapolei , it 4 of us in the family (me , wife and 2 daughters /5 & 9) any advise you can give us ?? kids school ? etc ..


    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Roopesh,
      I really can’t advise you about Kapolei, other than I know it’s a nice area. I know the island of Hawaii the best since that is where I live.

  3. Aloha! I’m a student looking to move to Hawaii after law school. Do you know anything about the market for lawyers? The civil kind, real estate/estate/family law. I know there’s only one law school in the state.
    Since law school will be finished in several years, do you have any recommendations on how much should be saved up before moving? I know 2 months rent and change, but do you have any other fees and such I should be prepared for as well?
    Thank you! ~Rey

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Rey,
      People who are really good at what they do are always in demand in Hawaii. So I don’t see a problem coming here and practicing whatever form of law you choose. As long as you’re good at it. As far as how much money to bring with you, as much as you can. Minimum seven grand and that probably won’t be enough now that I think about it. When it comes to Hawaii and money, having more is better.

  4. Hello Joe! Thanks so much so much for all the great information. The one thing I am not finding any answers to anywhere is, is it hard for people who need to take prescription medication to get set up easily with a doctor and do they have a problem having there monthly prescriptions in stock? As well as, what are a couple of the more acceptable health insurance plans? I have looked at a lot of info online and nobody has even touched on this topic and you have already provided so much more as well as are willing to take these questions. Thank you so much!

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Shannon,
      Prescriptions aren’t a problem here. The two major health plans in Hawaii are HMSA and Kaiser Permanente. I’ve had both and currently like Kaiser the best. I have prescriptions that I re-order through the Kaiser website and they get mailed to me within a week. HMSA has no such option that I’m aware of. The other great thing about Kaiser is your medical record is accessible throughout their system. For example, say you have to go to Oahu to see a specialist, he/she pulls up your complete medical history on their computer and takes care of your problem. It’s the best run system I’ve ever seen outside of the military.

  5. Charisse says:

    Hey Joe,
    I’ve heard you need to make a certain amount for the local government to consider allowing you to move to Hawaii, is this true?

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Charisse,
      No. Hawaii is just like any other state, if you have the money, you can move here.

  6. Drew Basister says:

    Hi! I’m Drew from the Philippines. I’ve been thinking of moving and working in Hawaii since I was in grade school. I just graduated in college with a degree in media/communications and currently working in an outsourcing company. Is there a chance I could fulfill this childhood dream? I can’t seem to find a job portal where I can search jobs and if they hire people from outside the island. Thanks! 🙂

  7. I won an all expense paid trip to Hawaii about 10 years ago from winning a MN state fair talent contest. Since then, I planned on moving there! I’ve been saving up and read all your posts…. I am a Supervisot or a Technical Support Specialist Squad at the best pest control outfit in the mid-west. I can slay centipedes and rats! My wife
    Is a nurse. Any advise how to proceed?

    • Google Kona Hospital job department. Google Kona pest control companies and start emailing resumes.

  8. My husband would like to move the family over, we currently live in Utah and he owns his own commercial refrigeration business. Is there a lot of hoops opening up your own business on Hawaii? I’m concerned there isn’t enough work. I telecommunicute so we have half the battle taken care of.

    • Joe Trent says:

      Click Here to search the Hawaii government website for information related to a refrigeration business. I know from running an auto shop here the state doesn’t miss any opportunity to require licenses, permits and fees related to running a small business here.

    • Joe Trent says:

      Click Here to search the Hawaii government website for information related to a refrigeration business. I know from running an auto shop here the state doesn’t miss any opportunity to require licenses, permits, and fees related to running a small business here.

  9. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    hello. I have ten years experience as an interpretive/naturalist tour guide in places like Arizona and Alaska (where isolation also equates to high cost of everything). only reason I’m considering relocating to Big Island is for the fact that “tourism” is reported to be one of the few reliable regional industries. I’ve done a lot of research, made contact with K-K Visitor Bureau and Chamber, made initial contact with at least ten of the K-K tour operators, been in touch with two K-K booking agencies, looked at living costs (which are within range), and I believe I’ve done all the cultural research like VOG, centipedes, isolation (like Juneau), even the cost of inter island transport – which I think is a good deal at $160. RT. Am I overlooking any obvious challenges or pitfalls?? thank you. -Mike. (p.s. – I have a gigantic passion for the marine world and natural history in general).

    • Aloha Mike,
      Since you lived in Alaska, you’ll be fine here. It sounds like you’ve done your homework. I can’t think of anything you’ve missed. Good luck.

  10. Hey Joe, great read, I was stationed on Oahu from 90 to 97, was the best duty station ever had. We plan on retiring in Hawaii, not sure were. I still have roughly 10-15 years before retirement, any long term recommendations? Thanks!

    • Aloha Ricky,

      Subscribe to the Sunday edition of the local paper for the area you want to move to is one thing you could do to get the feel for what is going on in the area. Buying a place now and renting it out until you’re ready to retire is probably something to think about.

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