3 Factors That Determine the Cost of Shipping a Container to and from Hawaii

Planning a move to Hawaii or the Mainland involves a lot of moving parts. In addition to the big questions about where you’ll live and what kind of job you’ll take, one of the most pressing decisions you’ll have to make is: How am I going to get all of my personal possessions to my new home?

One of the most popular ways to move your items is to pack everything into a shipping container. These containers, usually made of steel and painted with marine grade paint in order to weather harsh sea shipping conditions, come in a variety of sizes. You may not even need a full container to transport your items.

However, to give you an idea of how much a container can hold, we offer these two examples:

  • 20-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 20′) – Generally fits the contents of a 2BR condo
  • 40-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 40′) – Generally fits the contents of a 3BR house

We say “generally” because, in our experience, every move is unique. Some people who live in a 2-bedroom condo have enough possessions to require a 40′ container. We’ve also seen the contents of a house fit into a 20′ container.

That’s where our Certified Moving Consultants come in. When you choose Royal Hawaiian Movers, we’ll send out one of our consultants to personally survey your home and help you put together the right plan for your move, whether it requires a 20′ container, 40′ container or one of our other options.

Even given these standardized container sizes, the rate of shipping a container can still vary. To give you some insight into the process our Certified Moving Consultants go through when giving you a quote, we’ll share the three major factors that we consider:

Factor #1: Location, Location, Location

The exact location of your current home and your final destination make a big difference in quoting the cost to pack, move and unpack a container.

  • For example, what if you live in Huntington Beach, California, just 15 miles from the port of Long Beach? It’s going to be relatively easy to get your container onto a ship bound for the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Now let’s say you live in Redding, California, significantly farther from a port city. Getting your container to the ship will involve a much longer trip via truck. Transit time and fuel costs in transporting your container will add to the shipping cost.
  • Or let’s say you live all the way on the East Coast. Getting your container onto a ship in the Pacific Ocean will likely involve moving it across the country by train or truck, which adds to the cost of your shipment.

The same is true on the other end. The distance from the receiving port to your home will help determine the overall cost of shipping your container.

The simple rule of thumb is this:

The farther you are from a port, the more expensive it will be to ship your container.

There’s also another factor to consider, in addition to the distance: Access issues.

In other words, how difficult is it to get to your current home or your final destination? A simple move involves temporarily placing the container near your current home for packing and then your future home for unpacking.

However, there are some factors that can complicate your move:

  • What if we can’t put the container near your home? Maybe your driveway is too small or your neighborhood association won’t allow containers on your street. In such a case, we’ll have to put the container as close to your house as possible, then move your goods in trucks, vans or with a dolly. This will add to the time and cost of your move.
  • Or maybe we can’t even get close to your home with anything larger than a small truck. We’ve done moves where overhanging trees, small access roads and other obstacles have kept us from getting close to a home. In that case, we’d also have to use smaller vehicles to ferry your goods to the container, resulting in longer moving times and higher costs.
  • Or perhaps you live in a high rise. A move like this often means elevator permits, parking permits, reserving an elevator and moving your items elevator load by elevator load, instead of just, say, walking them a little ways down your driveway. All of this adds time, complexity and cost to your move.

Each one of these scenarios can affect the cost of moving your container. That’s why we feel so strongly about sending a Certified Moving Consultant to your home. Our consultants will assess your situation and provide you with an accurate quote that takes into account all of these factors.

Factor #2: The Weight of Your Move

As a moving company, we can’t help but see your personal possessions a little differently.

When most people are moving, they think about how much stuff they have—the volume of their personal possessions.

However, think about it this way: A 20′ container packed entirely with books would weigh significantly more than a container packed full with pillows. You can imagine how much more fuel and care the container of books would require.

So when our Certified Moving Consultants come to your home to produce a moving estimate, they look not just at the volume of your possessions, but also their weight.

So If you have a library stacked full of books or an extensive collection of heavy tools that you want to take with you, we’ll factor their weight into the cost of moving your shipping container to your new home.

Factor #3: The Type of Goods You’re Shipping

When most people pack a container for a household move, they fill it with common household items, what the shipping industry calls “loose household goods” (HHG).

A container packed with these kinds of items don’t require the special handling that, for example, hazardous materials can require. As a result, it’s cheaper to move a container containing just loose household goods.

However, let’s say you’re thinking about packing your car into your container along with the rest of your household goods. Because your car holds gasoline and oil—as well as a battery—this decision changes the type of shipment you’re sending.

The container is now classified as one containing hazardous materials and requires special handling from door to door to ensure safe transport of your items and the items around yours.

For this reason, a container with hazardous materials costs more than one that simply contains household goods.

The other thing to consider is the special handling of your items before they even get into the container.

For example, what if you have items like the following:

  • An antique grandfather clock or other antique furniture
  • A grand piano
  • A flat-screen television
  • Crystal, glassware or art glass

These items are going to require special packing and handling to make sure they make the journey safely from your old home to your new home. Remember that your container will be moving across the Pacific Ocean and the vessel carrying your Auntie’s piano may encounter rough seas along the way. Our movers will do everything they can to ensure its safe passage by taking the utmost care to pack and secure your special items so they arrive in great condition.

This extra care is going to increase the cost of your moving since we’ll spend significant time and energy keeping your most precious items safe during their voyage.

So, Bottom Line: How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Container to Hawaii?

Our answer? “It depends!” However, we hope we’ve given you some insight into the major factors that affect how we calculate the price for you.

The best way to get an accurate quote that accounts for your unique moving needs is to give us a call. We’ll schedule a consultation with one of our Certified Moving Consultants, who will come to your house and prepare a custom estimate for you.

We’ve been making moves to and from the Hawaiian Islands stress-free for over 35 years. Contact us to request a quote today.