Moving To Hawaii

Moving To Hawaii

Here’s 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.

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 it’s 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 someways, 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 life style 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 tid bits 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 tooth brush 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 yourstuff to Hawaii if you just can’t part with it.  Listen to the moving to Hawaii podcast episode where I talk more about this. 


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 paper work 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 micro chips
  • 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.


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.


  1. If you can come up with 50K annually between the two of you.

    • Hi Joe,
      My husband and I make 65,000 a year would that be enough to live on the big lsland, we would have a house payment of 1200 and no other bills as we own our car. we only have 2 dogs and no kids, so what do you think?

      • Joe Trent says:

        Aloha Heather, Sounds good to me. Start packing.

        • heather says:

          thank you!
          I do have another question for you. why is the electric so high? when we lived in Honolulu our bill was only 40.00 a month we did not use an air conditioner. so why is it so much now? I thought living on the big island would be much cooler than the other islands so why the big electric bill?

          • Joe Trent says:

            The secret to lower electric bills is to live above 500 feet elevation where it’s cooler. Going solar is the other secret. But if you’re renting, that’s obviously not going to be an option. Fuel to power the generators is imported and the high cost is the reason for the high rates according to the power company.

  2. Jim Freeland says:

    I'm a mental health professional looking at either the Big Island or Kauai for relocation.. Definitely willing to scale back as part of the price of living in paradise. Still weighing out if such a move is realistic. My SO does clerical work. We would both plan on working. Ideally the long term plan would be to own a place and grow some of our own food. Debt free, but not rich either… thoughts?

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Jim,

      Since Kauai is smaller, you’re going to have a smaller pool of potential cliental, more competition and higher housing costs. I think the big island would be much more doable since land costs are cheaper and potential cliental is abundant here. :-)

  3. Rachel Haneline says:

    I have a potential job offer at a hospital in Honolulu right off the interstate. I would make almost 100k a year before taxes. I searched for homes to buy but couldn't find anything I could afford. Are there homes there that are around 300-350k? And if not then what's a good tool to use to look for a rental?

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Rachel,

      I asked a friend of mine who’s more knowledgable about the Oahu housing market about your dilemma. She said the problem over there right now is there isn’t any inventory, so prices are high. I think the average home price over there is about 650K if I remember right. I would post your question about rentals in the Oahu City Data forum.

  4. Christie Williams says:

    Aloha Joe. I would like your feedback on the reality of moving and staying in Hawaii (any of the islands) based on my situation. I forsee myself as being a life long islander but worry about the reality of it. I am 25, single and my family would be able to visit at least once a year. I am a Special Education teacher which Hawaii is in need of. The offered entry salary in the public schools $45,000 with a $6,000 dollar stipend. However at the charter schools and some private, the salary is significantly lower (about $28-40,000). I haven't heard many good things about Hawaii's public schools other than that more money and research is being invested as well as attempts to obtain and retain teachers. Do you know any teachers in Hawaii or could you tell me more about the school systems? I also plan to work in the summer by tutoring which I enjoy which will hopefully add more income. I would not bring a car and would rather use a bike to get around and am willing to live with other females to save money on housing in the beginning. I am not a big city person but don't want to live to remotely either. Is their a particular island or town you recommend based on these preferences? Thank you for your time.

  5. Christie Williams says:

    Aloha Joe. I would like your feedback on the reality of moving and staying in Hawaii (any of the islands) based on my situation. I forsee myself as being a life long islander but worry about the reality of it. I am 25, single and my family would be able to visit at least once a year. I am a Special Education teacher which Hawaii is in need of. The offered entry salary in the public schools $45,000 with a $6,000 dollar stipend. However at the charter schools and some private, the salary is significantly lower (about $28-40,000). I haven't heard many good things about Hawaii's public schools other than that more money and research is being invested as well as attempts to obtain and retain teachers. Do you know any teachers in Hawaii or could you tell me more about the school systems? I also plan to work in the summer by tutoring which I enjoy which will hopefully add more income. I would not bring a car and would rather use a bike to get around and am willing to live with other females to save money on housing in the beginning. Is it feasible based on my financial situation to do this big move? I am not a big city person but don't want to live too remotely either. Is there a particular island or town you recommend based on these preferences? Thank you for your time.

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Christie,

      One of my clients is a special ed teacher. I’ll see if I can’t find her email address and ask her what she thinks. This may take me a day or two to answer further. Stay tuned…

    • Sorry for the late reply, but my friend who’s a Special ED teacher wrote a fantastic reply to your post. It would be better for me to just email it to you, but I don’t have your email address. Please email joe at or use the contact form here and I’ll forward her response.

  6. Joe, your awesome for having this site , it really allows the truth of hawaii living, although it is a hard decision to move there, the HGTV shows it as being so easy and yes thier motto is you dont have to be rich to live in hawaii just want it, they show people buying 800k plus homes and they show no income one guy was starting a photography business which I doubt he makes enough a year to pay for that 898k house he buys, life is different , family is a big part in moving if you have family that is going to stay in the mainland and there are any health problems make sure you have enough money to fly back and forth to the mainland, or if you have significant health problems make sure you pick a island that can accomadate you as some of the islands people moving to cant. great site Ill keep following until our move later this year.

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Maile,

      Telling the truth of living in Hawaii is the goal of this article. When I wrote it, HGTV’s Hawaii Life show didn’t even exist. “You just have to want it”… I’ve been wanting to win the lottery, so far that hasn’t worked out… Their tag line should be “You just have to plan it”

      “You don’t have to be rich”… They’re right about that. But it helps. I won’t re-iterate everything you said, but everything you said above is totally true. Mahalo’z

  7. so true , we are middle class here in North Florida and with the upcoming move we know what the ups and downs are, I was born and raised there although I have no hawaiian blood in me I know the culture and teach it to my daughter everyday life is different,
    now there is another show in destination america called buying hawaii … what a joke they show wrong islands and call places different names and show people buying 1.2 million homes that are in the military,, uhh I dont think so.
    im still playing the lottery until we move….

    mahalo ,

  8. Aloha Joe,

    What are your thoughts on Holualoa? I’ve heard the public schools are pretty good in that area?

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Lillee, Holualoa is nice. Coffee country, cool elevation, coastal views. Yes, lots of people like the elementary school there, but no high school.

  9. steve wiegand says:

    Aloha Joe,
    We’re a retired couple in Northern California, thinking of relocating to the BI, possibly in Waikoloa, or Pahoa, or maybe even up the hill around Captain Cook. I was born on Oahu and we’ve been to the Islands many times over the years. My question concerns the water situation. I know there’s a difference between being on a municipal system (Kona, Hilo, Waikoloa) versus in the country. Do you have any thoughts about how much of a problem/expense it is for folks living those areas that are on catchment systems, and have non-drinkable water coming out of the taps?
    Also, we’re Kaiser members. Do you know how hard it is to find Kaiser docs that are taking on new patients?

    • Aloha Steve,

      My buddy has lived in Ocean View over 30 years and has been on catchment the whole time. He was grumbling about having to buy water a few months ago. But, over all I guess it’s not so bad since he’s put up with it all these years. Me? County water.

      I have Kaiser too. Kaiser is building a new building that’s going to be great, I don’t see a problem for you guys.

      • steve wiegand says:

        Mahalo nui loa for your quick and cogent reply. We will most probably try a month or so a couple of spots to see what fits us best. Your website is po’okela. (Sorry if that’s the wrong word, can’t resist practicing.)
        Malama pono,
        Steve W.

  10. Jen McCarthy says:

    If I was to move to Hawaii as a teacher would I be able to live comfortably..I am interested in The Big Island, but living in a house..

  11. Aloha Jen,
    I doubt it.

  12. Here you are! I lost you! I have the answers to your question from my friend the Special Ed teacher. It's long, instead of posting here, I'll message you with it.

  13. Aloha Joe,
    I am finishing college with a Bachelors in accounting. My wife, me and our two kids are really hoping to make the move to Hawaii from rural New York State. Are the Accounting jobs good enough to support a family of four. This has always been a dream of ours. We have been island hopping for years and love the life.

  14. Aloha Steve, You would be better served checking with the resorts I think. But, people that set up their own bookkeeping businesses here tend to stay busy. Is it enough income for a family of 4? I don't know.

  15. Elayne Gee Worthington says:

    Aloha Joe, My husband and I have been considering the move for a few years. I see that you posted that someone should make 50K to be comfortable. My situation would be my husband and two teenagers. We would buy a house and pay cash so no mortgage payments and no debt. We are looking at the big island.Together we would make 50-60K, with no debt and no mortgage would you say that would be doable for the four of us?

  16. If you can't make it, nobody can! I think you'll be just fine. Shoot, you might even have enough left over to adopt me. LOL.

  17. Elayne Gee Worthington says:

    Thank you Joe! Family here thinks I am nuts! I am going to tell them to talk to you! haha Thanks again!

  18. Hi Joe!
    I am dreaming of moving to Hawaii. Is there room for yet another professional photographer? Weddings… Portraits..

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Heather,


  19. My son and his wife are being transferred with the air force from dc to Hawaii, not by choice but they are looking forward to it. I was looking at different comments and with all the negative and positive things said, the only thing that bothers me is how often i read that native Hawaiians are racist against white people. They can hate all they want its their perrogative but how dangerous does that hate make it for other people there?

    • We’ve lived on Kauai since end of May 2013 and have never run into any problems with racism or even rude / negative behavior from anyone on this island. Our experience has been excellent. Everyone has been kind, welcoming, friendly, warm, etc. Perhaps that has to do with where we do/don’t go, but in our everyday travels and life, it’s only been great!

      I grew up on an indian reservation so I’m used to being the dreaded “white man” – I haven’t seen any of that prejudice that I experienced as a kid here on Kauai. :)

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Lori,

      Yes there is some racist Hawaiians, but they’re fairly harmless. Unlike the KKK in the last century for example. Hawaiian’s that don’t like haoles don’t really drive around looking for white people to beat up. I would walk through a predominantly Hawaiian neighborhood any day of the week before I’d walk through ANY neighborhood in DC.

      • Aloha! Thank you so much. I will pass this along. My husband and I also traveled with the military but for some reason never ended up in Hawaii, our loss. Some people put such a negative spin on everything I just wanted to get the real scoop. Thanks again.

  20. Hi Joe! My husband and I have been considering a move to Kona. I fell in love with Hawaii back in ’89 while there on a school spring break trip, and last year my husband and I went on a cruise to Hawaii and he was sold!!! We’re Canadians and have 4 children…3 would be coming with, possibly the 4th (lol). My husband would like to continue to work in Canada and just fly back and forth. After looking over the US immigration website for 3 hours one night, I finally emailed them asking for info only for them to email me back and tell me to check their website. Do you have any info you could pass along? I would be at home with the kids, while my husband worked. I’m just wondering would we still have to leave the country every 6 months, and if so how long do we have to leave for. I imagine we would have to pay both Canadian and US taxes? Any information you could pass along to me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Sherry,

      I was asking one of my clients about a week ago about this very subject since she’s Canadian and lives here part time.

      I asked her specifically how long a Canadian had to leave Hawaii before returning, she didn’t know since she only lives here during the winter and returns to Canada before the 6 months is up.

      But one thing she did say, it’s just about impossible for the typical Canadian to move to Hawaii permanently. You won’t be paying taxes here unless you can get a green card.

      • Aloha Joe!!!

        So pretty much we’d have to leave every 6 months or less. It is possible if I plan the trips right. My husband would be ok since he’d be flying back and forth a few times a year. What about having a family member sponsor you? I do have family that lives in California, but I’m not sure how that works.

  21. Just found this website this morning. Great info! My husband and I have vacationed and rented houses in the Hanalei/Princeville area of Kauai for the last 30 years. (26 trips). He retired last year and we have been contemplating moving to the island. My only reservation is being away from our two adult children. We have saved quite a bit for retirement and could sell our house for a substantial amount. I would like to rent for awhile, before buying, to make sure it’s a good decision. I believe you mentioned that it’s difficult to find a rental that allows pets. Is that still true? Additionally, I was looking into the 5 day quarantine rules and it seemed like there were a lot of things that could go wrong. I couldn’t possibly leave my dog quarantined for 120 days. Any suggestions? Many thanks, Theresa

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Theresa,

      I’m not sure about Kauai, but on the big island where I live, renting with a dog is super difficult. I’m on the way to work right now, so I don’t have time to look for the link, but if I recall correctly you don’t have to quarantine your dog if you follow the rules as laid out by the state. I know here in Kona we have direct release at the airport.

  22. Aloha

    Can I get by on $60k a year on Kauai? I understand it is very expensive there.

  23. Kristi Kane says:

    Hi Joe,
    I’m a licensed attorney in Washington, but not in Hawaii. Meanwhile I’ve been working as a contracts/procurement agent here in Seattle. Do you have any colleagues that have comments about the job marketing? I’m not tied to practicing law, actually I’d love to do anything instead.
    Thank you!

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Kristi,

      Right now the job market here is heating up again. I base this on the number of ads in the Sunday paper, there’s been a lot of ads in various industries. I have 2 attorney’s I’ve done work for here well over 10 years, one does real estate related law, and the other does criminal defense. They’re not hurting.

      If I had your background and wanted to move here and make real money and not go back to lawyering, I’d go into real estate since the market is heating up and the commissions can be lucrative.

      • Kristi Kane says:

        Thank you for the encouragement Joe!
        Are the attorneys that you know solos or do they work for law firms? I’m trying to get a job before I move. This is pretty difficult, but I’d be willing to take what I could in order to make it work.

        • Joe Trent says:

          One is solo and the other works for large firm based in Honolulu. I just remembered, I know one more lawyer that lives here, but does all his work on the mainland. I don’t know if he works for a firm or not. But he’s been a California lawyer and living here for years.

          Checkout Pacific Business News, they’re always talking about law firms.

  24. Cassandra says:


    I am a young female with a potential job offer in Oahu as a Funeral Director. Iv’e been offered 50k, my question is with that salary where would my best options be when looking for a place to live? Ie. places to avoid, cheap rentals etc…

  25. Hi! Thinking about and researching moving to big island ….we were really excited UNTIL we read about the vog and it’s poor health effects and poor visibility of horizon. As a local, can you share your experiences with the vog? Thanks :)

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Lisa,

      Here’s a typical voggy evening just before sunset. I just took this photo about 10 minutes ago.

      The vog comes and goes. When it’s gone, it’s heaven on earth. When it’s here, I want to move to a different island. People with respiratory problems should not move here. If I had it to do all over again, I’d move to Maui.

  26. Aloha Joe! My wife and I are both retired. Me from state government in Michigan and she is a Filipina RN. Between our social security and pensions we gross about $7000 a month. I understand Hawaii is pretty retiree friendly from a state tax point of view. Do you think we would be ok on that amount of money? Malama pono. Mahalo nui loa, Dave

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Dave R,
      I don’t see a problem with your numbers. I think most folks retire here on a lot less.
      Example: Rent/Mortgage: 1800
      Utilities: 350
      Food 600
      Fun 400
      Car 500
      Total: $3650 per month

  27. Julie Meadows says:

    Hi, Joe. I love your advice. My husband and I are newly retired. We are going to spend a month in Hawaii in January. I have been to Oahu, Maui and Kauai, but hubby hasn’t been to HI at all. I want to get a real feel for what it might be like to live in HI. I think I would really like to live in HI. Hubby, not so sure. Would you recommend one island over the others to get a true flavor of HI or is there no such thing? Thanks, Julie

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Julie,
      Thanks! Glad someone likes my advice…
      As far as which island goes, I’d pick the one most similar to your current comfort level. If you like the city, Oahu and Maui offer similar environments.

      If you like small rural towns, Kauai and the big island are better choices. If you have breathing issues, Kauai is the better choice compared to the big island. That’s how I would try to narrow it down.

      As far as getting the true flavor of living in Hawaii goes, I think it takes a few years before you really get that. Most people are on a pink cloud the first couple of years. You can always move back…

      • Julie Meadows says:

        Thanks, Joe,
        We decided to rent for a month in Kauai as we are looking forward to the rural life. We live in a Chicago suburb so we think it would be great to go somewhere quieter. Again, thanks so much for your opinion. Julie

  28. Is it feasible for a retired couple who only makes about $38,000 a year to live on O’ahu? My husband has medical issues and would need to be close to Dr’s on a monthly basis, the reason why the other islands wouldn’t work for us. We would be renting a 1 bed (rent unknown), no other bills except the usual utilities and some life insurance we pay for. Car is paid for as well and we would take that with us.

  29. Aloha Joe,
    My wife and I were considering moving to the big island (kona) possibly in the next five years. We have a 3 yr old and I have been employed as a supervisor in various shipping and warehouse jobs for the past eight years. My wife recently got a certification in medical coding and is working on getting into that department for experience where she works now ( currently she does insurance billing). What is the job outlook for people with our skills in Kona? Is it a realistic dream in your opinion? Neither of us has completed a college degree but I was considering finishing an associates or bachelors. Thanks for your help!

  30. If it's your dream, do it. If it doesn't work out, check it off your bucket list. And if does? Check it off your bucket list. Life is too short for regrets.

  31. Hi Joe,
    Could a family with grown children, couple grandkids, find a communal house to rent on the Big Island?


    • Joe Trent says:

      Bring enough cash and you can just about find anything you want here. Living on the cheap here is highly unlikely if I interpreted your question correctly.

  32. My husband and I have been thinking about moving to the big island in a year or two. I am a chiropractor and my husband is a corporate pilot. I assume that I would still have to work, be self-employed. I'd love to say that my family could live on 50K but I know differently. We would intend to buy a home outright or rent, live off investment interest and work for expenses. My daughter would be attending either Parker or HPA, again, $$. I'm mostly concerns about employment prospects. I see an awful lot of chiropractors and suspect they have adapted to cash based business earning less. My husband would probably seek employment wherever he could additionally. Any thoughts?

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Doreen, I’m sorry for the late reply, somehow I didn’t get notified of your comment until now.

      Your suspicion about cash and Chiropractors is probably right on. You’re also correct that 50K won’t do it for you with a child going to Parker or HPA. As far as competition goes, I’d look for a part of West Hawaii with the least amount of Chiropractors and hang my own shingle. Forget working for someone else here, you’ll starve. Thats my 2 cents worth.

      • Thanks! I’ve been an independent my entire life and well, why start now working for someone else! We are interested in Kohala, Waimea area, again $$. We’ll have to make it work.

  33. Frank Serpico says:

    Hello, just read your blog, love it. I am a transplant, I livied on Oahu from 1970-78 when my dad was stationed on Hickam. Mom was 1st generation Japanese and we fit in very, very well. I went to Kauai in 1991 and fell in love with the island, it reminded me of Oahu in the 70s before the skyscrapers, freeways and congestion. I am planning on moving when I retire at the age of 50, my monthly income will be almost 7K and I am going to buy in the Wailua Homesteads. Everyday, I dream of going home, living in California, it took nearly 30 years just for the food of Hawaii to become popular here. Now, if I can just convince my wife, that she needs to move with me.

  34. Juana Smith says:

    All of you who want to move here, keep in mind that you must be self employed. If you are not, no one will give you a job even if you have a PhdE for the University of Chicago. The Japanase local "cum" Hawaiian, are deeply racist and although the word Aloha goes around like meth at locals party is not genuine. So do come over, but with money.

    • Hi,
      I recently moved to Hawaii from California about 2 months ago with my fiancé who was born and raised on Oahu and is an airline pilot for local airlines. I have been having such a hard time finding a job here, and I find your comment to be so true about the whole racial discrimination thing. I have applied to several jobs that I am qualified and over qualified for and I am still not given an opportunity for employment. Most of the employers are Japanese and although they claim that they were impressed by me, the still do not hire me. The employers claims to be Equal Opportunity Employers, but yet they are racist especially in the non-profit sector. I have a masters in public administration and a bachelors in Sociology and most of my work experience is in the non-profit sector doing community outreach work. What are ways in which I can build a greater network here and be accepted by the local community? My last resort is to join AmeriCorps but I am not sure if the living allowance is enough to live off of in Hawaii.

  35. Brandy Hynes says:

    Hi Joe! My husband has a job offer for $110,000 in Kona. We currently live in Ohio on $85,000. We have 5 young children that we homeschool (so schools are not an issue). We realize that we will be living in a significantly smaller home and are ok with that. Do you think that income is feasible? Also, we would want to rent instead of buy our home. Craigslist seems to have the most rental information. Is there anywhere else to look? And, finally, we would be coming in mid-October, do you think there will be a vast selection of long term rentals at that time?
    Thank you so much for your time. This is a big decision. :)

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Brandy, Renting first is a good idea for sure. Check for rentals and

      The thing about coming in mid-October is Ironman. The town will be packed! But, I think only vacation rentals will be non-existent. The other thing you have to think about is, October is when the snow birds from Alaska, Canada and other winter wonderlands(sarcasm) start arriving.

      Okay, lets get to the $$$. Your money won’t go as far here as it will in Ohio. Electric and food will be a lot more money. But, you don’t have to winterize the house, car, wardrobe etc. So yes, I think 110 will be OK.

      • Brandy Hynes says:

        Aloha Joe,
        My husband accepted the position and we are due to come September 15th. We have found a rental that we are interested in located in the Keohole View subdivision at 1700 ft elevation. I’m wondering if that subdivision is nice and if that is an ideal elevation? We don’t want to use AC, but are concerned about moisture issues. Thank you so much for your time again!

        • Joe Trent says:

          You definitely don’t need AC at 1700 ft. The highest elevation I’ve ever lived here was about 800 feet, so I can’t really say about the moisture, but I doubt it will be an issue in that particular area.

  36. Hi,

    can someone help me, am thinking of moving to maui, with my 13 yrs old son, is just the 2 of us, we are moving from calabasas ca, i need to know what part of maui, is most expensive place to live, and the best high school.

  37. Brandy Hynes says:

    Thanks Joe!
    Is it a nice subdivision?

  38. Hi! I am a licensed mental health therapist with over 15 years of experience. My husband, daughter and I are considering a move in a few yeas. I could get licensed in Hawaii it appears. What is the job market like for therapists and which island would you recommend? We have been looking at Maui but are open. Thank you!

  39. Joe Trent says:

    Aloha Jamie, If I had it to do all over again, Maui would be my choice. Not too big, not too small. And great beaches. I wish I had an answer to job market for you, but just don't know. Sorry.

  40. Hello Joe,
    I am taking a job for about 76000.00 a year. Is this enough to support a family of 4 on? My job Erik be in kaneohe although I am thinking about living in Mililani because of the school system. Have you heard about schools in kaneohe? Where is the cheapest best neighborhood to live in that would be close to kaneohe (30 to 45 mins). Thank you

    • Joe Trent says:

      Aloha Sharon,

      I live in Kona on the big island, so I don’t know the answers to your questions. But I do know Kaneohe is very nice. I’d check the City-Data forum for folks who live in the area and are more qualified to answer.

      • Thank you. My biggest thing is I got a job offer where I am at which due to cost off living is more money. I am not such on money as long as we can make it. My overall concern is what does a family of four need to make to survive in Hawaii overall? Also just in your personal experience is it worth taking the pay cut to live in Hawaii? These are things we are torn about. The unknown. We want to go just give adventure and very scary and exciting at the same time. We have heard that brick Masonry is a good trade there. Do you know if this is true as well?

        • Joe Trent says:

          There is a huge rail project underway on Oahu right now, so I would think Masonry workers would be in demand. Would I take a pay cut to live in Hawaii? Yes, and I have for the last 17 plus years. Was it worth it? Absolutely. With your income, you should be able to make it, I see people make it here on less with kids.

  41. Hey joe my wife and i want to move to hawaii we have a meat wholesale business that deals with mostly asian stores we would like to move there and get something going there is there very many asian stores and which Island would be beset for that

  42. Hello Joe
    I am planning to come to Hawaii and work in the hotel industry. It is my long term goal. I have read your information regarding Hawaii. I know it is a paradise, very popular place for tourists and boom in tourism industry and that is why I want to try it out to come over there. Just need some advise


  43. Hello,
    My husband and I, with our 3 children, are contemplating, making the move to the big Island. We currently both have jobs in which we can telecommute to begin with, and then we were wanting to open a compute repair/ business services/ retail store.

    We are in the process of selling our home, which will give us a cushion to make the move, and give us a down payment for a home. Our plan was to purchase a home upon arrival. We were looking in the surrounding areas close to Hilo: Kurtistown or Pahoa. Our idea is that since the real estate is less expensive in those areas, yet its commutable to the Hilo area to have the store.

    What are your thoughts on this? Are there any areas that you do not recommend a family to buy a home? We are very serious about making the move, and are thinking it will be time to make the transition around nov/dec. So any addition advice you have would be appreciated.

    • You like rain? Lots of it? There’s a reason it’s cheaper. Besides the murder of the month over there. I wouldn’t live on that side if you paid me. And with kids? Oh hell no… Sorry, I’m in a brutally honest mood tonight. I’m obviously not a Realtor.

      • Brutal honest is what we want to hear. ;) There’s not a whole lot of info online that I have found reliable. What area would you personally recommend?

        • I would think about Ocean View and then commute to south Kona to set up your business. Prices in Ocean View are much less compared to Kona and it’s not near as dangerous as the Puna side. You might even be able to pull off a computer repair business in Ocean View and not have to commute at all.

          The downside to Ocean View is it’s 50 miles from Kona and much more rural with less services available. Some of the land is in lava zones that is uninsurable. Google Robyn Bagalow? She’s been a Realtor in Ocean View for as long as I can remember and see if maybe she has more useful information about the area.

  44. I’ve left comments on this site before and have been noticing some interesting comments and questions and wanted to put my two cents worth to anyone conisdering a move to the Big Island.

    I first went out to the Big Island back in 1983 and lived for a short while, four or so months in 1984 on the Kona side. I’ve also driven around the entire island, was just there in May/June 2014, in Hilo and in Kona.

    We, my wife, children and I were considering moving there, for work, we’re both medical professionals. We were looking all over the Big Island as to locations.

    I strongly encourage, if at all possible, that Anyone considering a relocation move out to the Big Island to please go out and visit, see it, speak with anyone/everyone. Look at the good, the bad, the ugly, there’s plenty of it.

    There are many challenges to living out there including costs of living, housing costs, utilities costs, food costs, even jobs for medical professionals, they’re actually laying off doctors. Jobs are very hard to come by and pay wages are lower than average compared to the mainland, we’re from California. It’s an expensive place to live in general. I’ve lived all over Europe, AsiaPacific, across the USA from NYC to California.

    In general, it’s on a lower economic spectrum. Many people struggle to make ends meet there, most working at least two jobs, sometimes more, just to live there.

    After speaking with many residents throughout the Big Island, from Hilo to Kona, they said to me and my wife, even as a medical professionals, not to move over that they wouldn’t recommend it, emphatically stated. They stated that there are too many issues, too many problems, their words, not mine. I found that there was a lot of apathy out on the Island in Hilo and in Kona in general. Not exactly the tropical paradise one would be expecting. Nice place to visit for a holiday, where you really don’t have to contend with the realities of survival and daily living considerations, but actually living there is another matter for serious consideration, especially for a family. Many people have moved away permanently and continue to do so. It’s very much a transient place.

    After spending two weeks and significant amounts of time doing diligence, we decided Not to make a move over to the Big Island.

    Again, I stongly encourage and urge anyone who is contemplating making a move over to the Big Island, to please check it out beforehand in person, do some investigation in all areas, about all things, subject matters, diligence, go behind the scenes, speak with people, all people and get the real picture of what it’s like, not a fantasy, but a reality check before making a move.

  45. Hello,
    I had no idea that Hawaii was so racist. I am shocked!!
    I just sold my house in FL and was planning on moving to Maui.
    After reading comments, I realize this might be a huge mistake.
    Thank you.

  46. Laura Dudek says:

    Hi we have visted Hawaii now 3 times each time about a month. Saw all 4 major islands. We are Canadians and need to figure out a way to live legally there and raise our 2 young boys. Please help us figure out a way to make our dream come true

  47. There is no way for Canadians to live here legally. Technically there is, but you'd have a better chance at winning the lottery. I've discussed this with links to more info in the above comments. Sorry.

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