Last Updated: May 9, 2024

Dreaming of a life with warm breezes, friendly neighbors, and beaches right in your backyard? If so, Hawaii might be the place for you!

To help you in your quest to move to Hawaii from the mainland, we’ve created a basic four-step guide full of advice and tips for moving to Hawaii:

Step 1: Figure Out If Moving to Hawaii Is Right for You

Not sure whether the Aloha State is a good fit? We’ll give you an idea of what it’s like to live in Hawaii so you can make your decision with confidence, including how much money you need to move to Hawaii and whether it’s difficult to make the leap.

Step 2: Choose an Island to Move To

Next, we’ll help you decide which of the islands is right for you. Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island each have their own character, atmosphere, and job opportunities. Additionally, the cost of living can vary significantly between islands. Picking an island will help focus your research so you can zero in on what your life might look like in your new home.

Step 3: Plan Your New Life in Hawaii
Then, we’ll walk you through some of the key consideration points of living in Hawaii—including housing, jobs, schools, health insurance, and pets.

Step 4: Pack & Move
Moving to paradise comes with a lot of moving parts. Our four-step process will help you break it down into manageable pieces so you can make a simple and easy move to Hawaii. Let’s start with the first decision you’ll need to make.

Moving to paradise comes with a lot of moving parts. Our four-step process will help you break it down into manageable pieces so you can make a simple and easy move to Hawaii. Let’s start with the first decision you’ll need to make.

Step 1: Figure Out If Moving to Hawaii Is Right for You

Paradise has its perks—and its quirks. Before you go through all the trouble of uprooting yourself from your current spot, let’s talk about what it’s really like to live in Hawaii. By discovering how much it costs, how difficult it is to relocate, what your life might look like, etc., you’ll have a much better sense of whether Hawaii will be a good fit for you.

In 1959, Hawaii officially became the 50th state. As a result, anyone who has the ability to legally live in the United States—including citizens and permanent residents—can move to Hawaii. Legally, it’s just like moving to any other state. 

However, there is one major difference you’ll want to be aware of. If you have a dog or a cat, you’ll need to go through a very specific procedure to bring your pet with you. For all the details, check out our complete guide to moving your dogs, cats, and other pets to Hawaii. 


No matter how you decide to relocate, you’ll need to account for a few costs when you move to Hawaii: 

  • Airfare: Plane tickets and baggage fees for yourself and anyone else you’re traveling with. 
  • Housing: If you don’t have a home waiting for you, you’ll need to secure a short-term solution while you look for a property to buy or rent.  
  • Living Expenses: If you’re moving to Hawaii without a job, it’s a good idea to have a couple of months’ expenses to get yourself through until your first paycheck. (And check out our job-hunting tips below!) 
  • Transportation: Finally, if you’re not shipping your car to Hawaii, make sure you have enough money to secure transportation for yourself. That might mean buying a car when you arrive. 

The cost to move your belongings will vary depending on how you decide to relocate:  

  • On the minimalist side of things, some people do it with a few suitcases and the clothes on their backs.  
  • Cost: Plane ticket + baggage fees.  
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some people will ship a 20′ or 40′ container full of their belongings to Hawaii.  

In other words, a large part of the cost is up to you—and how much stuff you want to bring to Hawaii with you.  

Considering Hawaii lies more than 2,000 miles away from California, it’s safe to say that a move to Hawaii will be more complicated than a move within the continental 48. Everything arrives to Hawaii by plane or boat, so it can feel difficult or complicated to move your belongings here, particularly if you’ve never lived in Hawaii before.  

However, that’s where the help of an experienced moving company can really come in handy. They can walk you through the process every step of the way—and even pack and unpack everything, if you choose a door-to-door option. Read more about the best movers in Hawaii. 

But perhaps you were wondering whether it would be difficult to adjust to life in Hawaii. If that’s the case, check out the next question. 

If you’ve never lived on an island before, it can feel like a big adjustment. For example:  

  • Things tend to move at their own pace here. You’ll adapt more quickly if you simply go with the flow and accept the fact that life moves a little more slowly than you might be used to.  
  • Stores may simply be out of items that feel incredibly common—like ripe bananas or that glass measuring cup you need to bake a cake. And while we do have Amazon Prime here, it can take up to a week for items to arrive. The longer you stay, the more creative you’ll become at making do with what’s available on island. 
  • The cost of living may be steeper than you’re used to. You’ll put a few items on the checkout belt at Foodland, and suddenly you’re forking over $25. It can come as a shock at first, but you’ll soon come up with your own tricks for saving a few dollars here and there. 
  • You may feel like an “outsider” who doesn’t quite understand how things work yet. The culture in Hawaii is different than that of the mainland. However, a little patience, a little humility, and a smile will go a long way. With those three at your disposal, you’ll find a lot of friendly people in Hawaii who are quite willing to help. 
  • You might miss your friends and family back on the mainland, and find it frustrating when the time change makes getting in touch difficult. (Keep reading for some tips on making friends once you arrive!) 
  • You also might chafe against the “small town” feel as you run into the same people over and over again. That’s where the patience, the humility, and the smile come into play. Treat everyone as kindly as you can. You’ll probably see them again soon! 

For most people, life in Hawaii will require some personal recalibration—but that’s a good thing! There’s a lot of joy in discovering a new way of living. No matter how long you stay in Hawaii, it will probably be the experience of a lifetime, one you never forget. 

Your life in paradise is all about priorities. You’ll meet people who choose to live near the beach just so they can surf/paddle/foil/SUP as often as possible (even daily, weather willing). You’ll also meet people who haven’t set foot on a beach in 15 years.  

When you’re new to Hawaii, you’ll likely arrive with a wonder and an appreciation for the beautiful landscapes and natural wonders of these islands. Some people retain that appreciation and continue to get outdoors to enjoy them on a regular basis. Others get wrapped up in other aspects of island life while their surfboards, hiking boots, and swimsuits gather dust. 

Hawaii is what you make of it. When you get here, find your people—whoever’s living out your passion—and make friends. It will make your time in Hawaii that much richer. 

 If you’ve ever told someone you’re considering a move to Hawaii, you’ve probably heard this warning:  “Living in Hawaii isn’t the same as vacationing there.” 

What exactly does that mean? Ask around, and you’ll probably get a wide variety of answers. However, three main points come to mind for us: 

  • You’ll find plenty of friendly people and positive vibes here, but not all the time. Everyone has bad days, even in paradise. You’ll have some of your own. A dip in the ocean, a long walk on the beach, or any other reminder of why you moved here in the first place can lessen the sting. 
  • Island fever is a real thing. An interisland flight for a weekend getaway to another island can help. So can a trip to the mainland. Plan for these regularly.  
  • It can be tough to make friends initially. Hawaii can be a very transient place, so people don’t always welcome new arrivals into their social circles with open arms. If you can find a social club or volunteer with a local organization, both will be a good way to get a foothold in your new home. 

In short, no. In order to be considered Hawaiian, a person must be of Native Hawaiian ancestry. If someone lives in Hawaii but does not have ancestors of Native Hawaiian descent, they are considered Hawaii residents. Even if you’re born in the state of Hawaii, but you have no Native Hawaiian ancestors, the adjective “Hawaiian” still wouldn’t apply to you.  

If you want to understand more about why this distinction is so important, we suggest doing a dive into the history of the island chain. You’ll gain a much deeper understanding for the land and the people around you. A few we recommend: 

  • Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, Queen Liliuokalani 
  • Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure, Julia Flynn Siler 
  • Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii, James L. Haley 

We always recommend arriving with a safety net in place. That includes enough to cover: 

  • Housing: You’ll need to put down first month’s rent, plus a security deposit on an apartment (Craigslist can give you a good sense for the going rates) 
  • Transportation: If you’re not shipping your car, bring enough for a down payment or, if you’re planning on a private sale, enough to cover the cost of the car. (Again, Craigslist will give you a good sense of the used car market on your chosen island) 
  • Everything else: If you’re coming without a job, bring as much as 3-6 month’s worth of savings to make sure you have enough to get you through. 
  • And, just in case: Make sure you have enough left over for a ticket home, if Hawaii isn’t right for you. 

There’s probably only one thing that’s a bargain in Hawaii, and that’s the beach. Visitors pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to fly to Hawaii and enjoy it, and you get to walk on it for free.  

But, in all seriousness, Hawaii is an expensive place to live. It’s often cited as the most expensive U.S. state, and with good reason. The overall cost of living is expensive. Food is expensive. Electricity is expensive. Gas is expensive.  

To give you a few examples:  

  • The average Maui County home value, according to Zillow,  is $1,049,901 
  • For a family of four on Kauai (two adults, two children), the average annual expense for food is $16,820.  
  • The average annual cost for transportation on the Big Island is for one adult is $12,063.  

If you want to learn more, we’ll give you the full rundown on the cost of living in Hawaii in this article.  

In WalletHub’s most recent report, Hawaii has the second-highest tax burden in the U.S., behind New York. Their rankings take into account property taxes, individual income taxes, and state/excise taxes—all of which add up for Hawaii residents. 

If you’re coming from a state with a relatively low tax burden—such as #50 Alaska or #49 New Hampshire—you’ll want to budget carefully for the difference. 

Finally, keep in mind that, while Hawaii’s property tax rate remains relatively low (#25 in the country), property values in Hawaii are high. Percentage-wise, you may come out ahead, but the size of your property tax payment may be significant, due to the valuation of your property. 

Now that you have a sense of what island life is like—and whether moving to Hawaii is right for you—let’s talk about which island you should live on.

Step 2: Choose an Island to Move To

Which island will make the perfect new home for you? While all of Hawaii has beautiful scenery and great weather, some islands might be a better fit for you than others. You’ll find seven inhabited islands in Hawaii: four main islands which most people reside on, two relatively remote islands that are more sparsely populated, and one reserved exclusively for its longtime residents (Niihau).

Map of Hawaii

The Bottom Line: Each of Hawaii’s islands offers a different experience. Figure out which one is right for you so you can start making more concrete plans.


The most populous island, good for those who like city life and entertainment and don't mind some traffic and crowds.


The Valley Isle has a smaller (but still sizable)! population. It's known for its beauty, cultural scene, and artist communities.

The Big Island

The largest in land area, featuring smaller population spread out over diverse landscapes.

 Read more about Hilo or about Kona. 


On the Garden Isle, you'll find gorgeous beaches, lush vegetation, a slower pace of life, and plenty of local character.

Lanai & Molokai

These two islands have many fewer residents and provide a quieter, more remote life.


No visitors are allowed to this private island, which has been preserved for the native Niihuans.

For more on each island check out our guide to the best Hawaiian island to live on, do some research about what life is like on each one, and take a trip if possible to scout them out before you move. (An in-person visit is the best way to figure out which island is right for you!) We’ll also give you a brief run-down on each below.

Moving to Oahu: The Gathering Place

Population: 989,408
Area: 596.7 sq. mi.

Population Density: 1,692 people per square mile

Highest Elevation: 4,003 ft.

Median Household Income: $99,816

Average Home Value: $860,005

Unemployment Rate: 2.7%

Although it’s only the third-largest Hawaiian island, Oahu is home to more than one million residents, according to the 2020 census. It’s also the most developed of all the islands. On the Gathering Place, you will find some of Hawaii’s most popular destinations including the state’s capital, Honolulu, as well as Waikiki and Pearl Harbor. Due to the amount of development, Oahu is certainly the island with the greatest number of job opportunities in industries that include tourism, government, military, healthcare, and construction.

When it comes to where to live on Oahu, the island offers a number of options. We put together a quick overview of each of the different areas of the island, to help you decide which is best for you and your family.

  • Living in Waikiki: Considered the center of Oahu, Waikiki has a lot of tourist activity, and there are several things to do with your time. Great restaurants and nightlife, world-class shopping, and picturesque beaches will keep you busy. Because of all the tourism in Waikiki, prices for everything are typically a bit more inflated than other areas of the island.
  • Living in “Town:” In addition to Waikiki, you’ll find Manoa, Punchbowl, Makiki, Kaimuki, Pali, Diamond Head, and Chinatown in the heart of Honolulu city, an area commonly referred to as “Town.” Town can certainly feel crowded and noisy at times, as one would expect of a large city. However, with that comes all kinds of activities and amenities, all within close proximity to your new home.
  • Living on the Windward Side: Centered around the areas of Kaneohe, Waimanalo, and Kailua, the Windward side is home to lush foliage, crystal clear water, and some of the best beaches in Hawaii.
  • Living in East Oahu: Comprised of the Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Aina Haina, and Diamond Head areas, East Oahu is more of a residential area containing mostly single-family homes with a bit more land. Here, you can escape the commotion of Honolulu.
  • Living West of Pearl Harbor: Including the areas of Ewa (/ɛvə/), Kapolei, and Makakilo, this area delivers more of a local vibe with fewer tourists.
  • Living on the Leeward Side: Made up of the Makaha, Nanakuli, and Waianae areas, the leeward side is home to many local island residents and boasts beautiful beaches and coastal areas.
  • Living in Central Oahu: Comprised of the Wahiawa and Mililani areas, Central Oahu is a great residential area with good schools. It can also typically offer more cost-effective housing options.
  • Living in Pearl City, Pearl Ridge, Aiea, Halawa: With a larger resident population, this area of Oahu sees a dryer climate and contains a lot of older homes from the 1960s and ’70s. The commute from this area to Town is typically about an hour each way during the weekdays.
  • Living on the North Shore: Centered around the areas of Haleiwa, Sunset Beach, Pupukea, and Waimea, the North Shore is full of breathtaking views. It’s also home to some of the best waves in the world. If you find that you’ll need to venture to town often, the North Shore may not be the place for you, as commute times into town are often over an hour (and more during rush hour)!

Moving to Maui: The Valley Isle

Population: 164,183
Area: 727.2 sq. mi.
Population Density: 142 people per square mile
Highest Elevation: 10,023 ft.
Median Household Income: $95,379
Average Home Value: $1,049,091
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%

Maui, the Valley Isle, is the second-largest Hawaiian Island. Named for the large isthmus which separates the two major volcanic masses on the island, Maui is home to a wide range of beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. Typically, the best places on the island for nightlife and other activities are Wailea and Kihei in the south, Kahului in the central region, and Lahaina in the west. As with all the Hawaiian Islands, tourism is the primary source of jobs on Maui, followed by construction and agriculture.

If you’re curious what kind of activities and entertainment you’ll find on the island of Maui, these will offer you a taste of life on the Valley Isle:

  • Hiking and biking at Haleakala National Park.
  • Snorkeling with sea turtles around the lava arches off the small island of Molokini.
  • Spotting migrating humpback whales in the winter months.
  • Sampling local specialties such as coffee, chocolate, pineapple wine, and dragon fruit at the local farms and plantations on the island.
  • Taking a drive on the Road to Hana which is one of the most breathtaking (and heart-stopping!) drives you may ever experience.

Maui’s diverse landscape offers you a number of different environments to enjoy, including lush rainforest settings, sunny beachside communities, and cooler rural areas on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala. A couple of areas to consider:

  • Living in Kihei: Popular with everyone from tourists to residents to retirees, Kihei is one of Maui’s more lively areas. You’ll also have access to beautiful beach after beautiful beach, with hot and sunny weather to match.
  • Living in Wailuku: Centrally located Wailuku offers easy access to much of the island, including Kahului, Maui’s center of commerce. Wailuku sits just minutes from all kinds of conveniences: grocery stores, big box stores, malls, and more. You’ll also find family-friendly housing in the area.
  • Living Upcountry: Towns like Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula all sit at higher elevation. As a result, residents enjoy cooler temperatures and breezes. Although you’ll encounter some tourist traffic passing through the area, you’ll find mostly residents Upcountry, which appeals to many.
  • Living in Haiku: Located on Maui’s North Shore, Haiku offers you the opportunity to live the quiet life in Maui’s rainforest, a lush area that sees plenty of rain.
  • Living in Lahaina: Although some find West Maui isolating, many love Lahaina’s warm, sunny weatherand easy access to its numerous surf breaks. You’ll also find plenty of fun in the historic town’s restaurants and bars.

Moving to the Big Island of Hawaii: The Orchid Isle

Population: 207,615
Area: 4,028 sq. mi.
Population Density: 50 people per square mile
Highest Elevation: 13,803 ft.
Median Household Income: $74,238
Average Home Value: $542,820
Unemployment Rate: 3.0%

The largest Hawaiian Island, which is twice as big as all other Hawaiian Islands combined, contains the most diverse geography of all the islands. On the west side of the island, the Kona Coast is hot and dry. In the east, Hilo is wet and tropical.

While it is the largest in size, the Big Island is home to only one-fifth of the population of Oahu. With the large geographic area and smaller population, the island feels a lot more like Kauai than it does Oahu or Maui, both of which are more densely populated. Tourism is the primary source of jobs on the Big Island, with agriculture and civil-related jobs coming in second and third. Most of the tourism on the island of Hawaii is located on the western side of the island along the Kona Coast. This can create a lot of traffic during commute times as a lot of residents who live in Hilo commute to Kona for work.

In terms of activities and entertainment, the Big Island offers something for everyone. If you lived on the Big Island, you might find yourself…

  • Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Venturing up Mauna Kea, the island’s highest peak at 13,803 ft, which often sports a cap of snow at some point during the winter.
  • Snorkeling with Manta Rays near Kona.
  • Hiking through the rainforest and checking out waterfalls in the Hilo area.
  • Spotting green sea turtles along the Kohala Coast

If you’re thinking about moving to the Big Island, your first big decision will be where to live. The hot, sunny Kona Coast can feel very different from the windward side of the island where Hilo sits.

To get a sense of which area might be right for you, check out these two articles:

Moving to Kauai: The Garden Isle

Population: 73,851
Area: 562.3 sq. mi.
Population Density: 118 people per square mile
Highest Elevation: 5,243 ft.
Median Household Income: $88,869
Average Home Value: $973,920
Unemployment Rate: 2.6%

As the smallest of the four main islands both in size and population, Kauai has a small-town feel. Most residents of the island live on the coast as the interior of the island is largely made up of impassable terrain. In fact, only about 20% of the island is accessible by foot or road. Jobs on Kauai are primarily related to tourism, but there are also civil-related jobs and some military jobs available.

In terms of activities and entertainment on the island of Kauai, you might expect to spend your days doing some of the following:

  • Hiking to some of the amazing lookout points into the Waimea Canyon, a massive gorge that is often called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
  • Visiting the Koke’e State Park where you can overlook the amazing Napali Coast and the Kalalau Valley.
  • Spotting the many forms of wildlife at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the North Shore.
  • Hanging out with the thousands of beautiful feral chickens that roam the island freely.

As you research where to live on Kauai, we’ve got a couple of neighborhoods for you to check out:

  • Living in Kapaa: Kapaa town offers easy access to just about all of Kauai. Plus, there’s plenty to do in the area to keep you busy, including shopping, dining, and Kauai’s scenic bike path.
  • Living in Poipu: If you’re a sun worshipper, Poipu may be the right spot for you. Because the weather is so consistently clear and bright, you’ll find plenty of resorts in the area, which means lots of options for shopping and dining.
  • Living in Kilauea: If you crave a quieter lifestyle, Kilauea might be worth a look. The town’s position on the North Shore of Kauai also means the possibility of both dramatic ocean and mountain views, depending on your location.
  • Living in Lihue: As Kauai’s capital, Lihue is one of Kauai’s busiest areas. However, that also means easy access to plenty of amenities, including restaurants, stores, and the airport.

Living on Molokai, the Friendly Isle, or Lanai, the Pineapple Isle

With around 8,000 and 3,200 residents respectively, Molokai and Lanai offer gorgeous landscapes with very few people on them. Many will find these two islands too remote to call home, but if a life of solitude is one you’re seeking, both islands certainly offer a lot of privacy, as well as a close connection with nature.

Once you’ve decided which island will be your new home, your next step will be to decide what you’d like your Hawaii life to look like. Next, we’ll walk you through a couple of areas to consider.

Step 3: Plan Your New Life in Hawaii

Now that you know a little about what life is like overall in Hawaii—as well as what it might be like on the island you choose—it’s time to get more personal. In other words, it’s time to take a look at what your life might be like in Hawaii. In this section, we’ll talk about the choices you’ll make once you move here that will all contribute to your Hawaii life.

The Bottom Line: Get a clearer picture of what your life in Hawaii will look like with our answers to common questions about moving to Hawaii.

Can I Move to Hawaii Without a Job?

This is a question we hear all the time, and a number of people do just that. However, Hawaii’s high cost of living means you’ll probably need to find a job relatively quickly, unless you’re a retiree or you’re bringing your job with you as a remote worker. Although Hawaii often has a relatively low unemployment rate, it can be difficult to find a job, depending on what industry you’re looking in.

Jobs in Hawaii are most plentiful in hospitality, tourism, retail, healthcare, construction, government, and the military. While Hawaii offers some challenges for entrepreneurs, Honolulu does have an emerging startup scene. You can also search for jobs on Real Jobs Hawaii, Hawaii Jobs on Demand, (search “jobs” from homepage), Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and Craigslist.

Job-Hunting Tips:

  • Many employers want to meet potential hires in person. If you can’t secure a job before you move, don’t get too discouraged. Be ready to hit the ground running on your job search once you arrive.
  • Doing business in Hawaii centers around relationships. Once you’re on island, start making friends and asking around. You’ll likely find it easier to locate work through someone you know or meet, rather than applying blind to jobs you find online.

Should I Buy or Rent in Hawaii?

It’s no secret that homes are expensive in Hawaii. Check out the prices in Step 2 to get a sense of the going cost for a home in the state. As you’ll notice, prices differ considerably from island to island.

To decide if you should rent or buy:

  • Consider which island you’ll be moving to and how long you’re planning to stay. If you’re not sure about your long-term future in Hawaii, it might be better to rent.
  • Know the difference between the leasehold and fee simple properties you’ll see in Hawaii.
  • Evaluate your finances—and whether you have enough for a down payment plus a mortgage payment. (And check out our guide to buying a home in Hawaii before you take the leap!)

To help you make a final decision, try out a buy vs. rent calculator, such as this one from to explore your options.

What Is the Education System Like in Hawaii?

If you’re moving with kids, deciding where to send them to school requires careful consideration. U.S. News and World Reports puts Hawaii in the middle of the pack in educational rankings, giving the Aloha State the #24 spot.

Similarly to the mainland, you’ll have several options to choose from in Hawaii where K-12 schools are concerned:

Where higher education is concerned, Hawaii has options for both two-year and four-year programs. Learn more about attending college in Hawaii.

What About Health Insurance in Hawaii?

When you move to Hawaii, you’ll want to consider the cost of health insurance, as well as the options available in the islands.

Many of the open positions in Hawaii are tourism-related and seasonal in nature, so many employers on the island hire part-time or contract-based workers.

However, the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act mandates employers offer coverage to employees working at least 20 hours per week. You may be eligible for benefits, even as a part-time worker.

In Hawaii, you’ll find some familiar organizations providing health insurance and some companies that are unique to the state. Employer-sponsored health insurance in Hawaii is available through:

  • Hawaii Management Alliance Association (HMAA)
  • Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA; a BlueCross Blue Shield member)
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
  • United Healthcare Insurance Company
  • University Health Alliance (UHA)

Be sure to do your research and budget accordingly to ensure that you and your family are covered once you make the move.

Can I Bring My Pet to Hawaii?

Yes—but did you know that Hawaii is the only rabies-free state? To keep it that way, there are strict rules and regulations for animals entering Hawaii. If you decide to bring your pets with you when you move, make sure you’re aware of everything you’ll need to do in advance.

Check out our Complete Guide to Moving Your Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets to Hawaii to familiarize yourself with the rules so you can start to make plans.

Should I Ship My Car to Hawaii?

It all depends on how many miles you expect to get out of your vehicle before you’ll likely replace it. If it’s coming to the end of its time with you, it’s probably better to sell it. However, if it’s new to you and you plan to get several more years out of it, it’s probably worth it to bring it with you.

That said, it’s a very personal decision. It’s also one that also depends on where you live now. For example, if you live near a port city in California, shipping your car will be relatively simple. If you live in the middle of the country, far from a port city, it’s a little more complicated (and expensive)!

To help you decide, we’ve got two resources for you:

  1. Shipping Your Car to Hawaii: Your Biggest Questions Answered
  1. The Complete Guide to Shipping Your Motorcycle to Hawaii

(And if you do decide to ship a car, truck, motorcycle, or SUV to Hawaii, know that we can help you get it done with minimal hassle!)

I’ve got a few additions to the toggles in this section. I think they can go right underneath what’s there now.

Are There Any Mainland Banks in Hawaii?

You won’t find mainland banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or JP Morgan Chase in Hawaii. Instead, you’ll find a number of local banks, including:

Some Hawaii residents choose to open accounts with online banks like Ally or SoFi and make liberal use of their ATM-reimbursement policies.

However, it pays to have an account with a Hawaii-based bank. First, it’s much easier to get your hands on a significant amount of cash—to buy a used car in a private sale, for example. Second, if you have any problems with your account, you’ll be able to walk into a branch to talk to someone, face to face. In some cases, that can make all the difference.

Can You Fly to Different Islands in Hawaii?

Absolutely! Easy access to affordable interisland flights between islands is one of the major perks of living in Hawaii. Between Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines, you’ll find plenty of economical options for island-hopping.

Hawaiian Airlines frequently offers specials that bring interisland roundtrip fares under $100, and Southwest will fly your surfboard for free. (A major perk for surfers chasing the best waves!) Mokulele’s flights can be equally budget-friendly, and they offer spectacular views since they fly at a lower altitude.

While you’re living in Hawaii, make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to get to know all of the surrounding islands. And keep a lookout for kamaaina hotel rates! These lower prices, set aside for Hawaii residents, can make the cost of vacationing in Hawaii much more manageable for those juggling Hawaii’s high cost of living on a daily basis.

What Time Zone Is Hawaii In?

Hawaii is officially in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone, which is ten hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-10).

Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time, so the time difference between Hawaii and the mainland changes depending on the time of year:

  • During Daylight Saving Time, Hawaii is three hours behind the West Coast and six hours behind the East Coast.
  • During Standard Time, Hawaii is three hours behind the West coast and five hours behind the East Coast.

What Are the People Like in Hawaii?

The aloha spirit is still alive and well in Hawaii. In our experience, you get what you give. Approach others with kindness, humility, and patience, and, you’ll be greeted with the same. (Most of the time! People living in paradise do have bad days, after all . . . )

Curious about the backgrounds and ethnicities of the people you’ll meet in Hawaii? A SmartAsset study ranked Hawaii first in the nation in racial and ethnic diversity. Take a look at the most recent census data comparing Hawaii to the entire United States to get a sense of the state’s diversity—and how it might differ from where you live now:

Hawaii demographics

Once you’ve made the big decisions about where you’ll move and what your life will look like in Hawaii, there’s only one thing left to do: Make the move! Next, we’ll walk you through your moving options so you can transition to Hawaii exactly the way you want to.

Step 4: Pack & Move

Finally, let’s get into the nitty-gritty: how you’re going to get any belongings you want to bring with you to the Aloha State. Below, we’ll walk you through what you need to know to ensure your possessions make a safe and easy transition to Hawaii.

The Bottom Line: Everyone moves to Hawaii differently. Below, we’ll lay out your options so you can decide how to get your belongings to your new home.

Option #1: Do It Yourself

If you’re a minimalist—or you’re not sure how long you’ll stay in Hawaii—this could be the way to go. Check two suitcases, send a few items ahead with those handy USPS fixed-price Priority Mail boxes, and buy everything else when you get here. The DIY option will be your cheapest upfront. However, you’ll be doing all of the heavy liftings, and if you decide to stay, you may end up needing to buy some significant items in Hawaii.

Option #2: Door-to-Door Service

Choose a professional moving company who will come and pack your house for you, move all of those items to your choice of Hawaiian Islands, and unpack everything at your new home. This will likely be your most expensive option, but it delivers a high level of convenience. If you don’t have a lot of time to make your move, this is your best option.

Option #3: A Hybrid of These Two

Find a moving company that will deliver a container or a lift van to your house. (We’ll get into those details in a minute!) You pack it yourself, then the company delivers it to your new home, where you unpack it yourself. It’s less expensive than door-to-door service, but it does require you to do a lot of the work yourself. However, as opposed to the bare-bones approach of option #1, you won’t have to buy as many items once you’re in Hawaii.

To help you decide which way to go, we’ll give you a quick explanation of how everything works when you’re shipping your household goods to Hawaii.

Moving Your Belongings to Hawaii: Containers, Lift Vans, and Ocean Freight in Plain English

If you’re doing more than the “checked suitcases on a plane” route, your belongings will travel to Hawaii by boat via ocean freight. First, though, they’ll be loaded into one of these three for their voyage:

20ft Container



~1,170 cubic feet; fits the contents of a two-bedroom apartment*

40ft Container



~2,390 cubic feet; fits the contents of a three-bedroom house*

Lift Van



~170 cubic feet; fits a king-size mattress, box spring and 12 large moving boxes

Your needs may vary, depending on whether you’re a collector or a minimalist! We’ve had customers in two-bedroom apartments who used 40′ containers and others who fit a whole household into a 20′ container.

Most people are familiar with containers, but we get a lot of questions about lift vans. In short, they’re sturdy wooden crates, kind of like mini-containers, constructed from wood instead of metal. When people don’t have enough to fill a 20′ container, they can instead pack their belongings in a lift van (or two!). Those, in turn, get loaded into a container, which gets put on a ship headed for Hawaii.

So how do you decide which of these three options is right for you? We offered a few capacity recommendations above, but the best way to know for sure is to ask an expert, ideally during an in-home survey. (We’ll talk more about those in a minute!)

However, before you get your heart set on one of these options, there are a few more things to consider:

If you can, we recommend scheduling your move between September and March.  

Why? The summer months (May–August) are generally the busiest for moving to Hawaii. If you choose to move between September and April, you’ll find it easier to book the exact dates you’re looking for. Additionally, prices to move in the off-months can typically be better than those during the height of the summer moving season. 

People often ask us how they can save money when moving to Hawaii. We always give the same answer. (And here’s the great news: It will also streamline your moving process!)  

Downsize before you move. 

Ultimately, your move will be priced by weight (more on that here!), so the more you’re able to get rid of, the less expensive your move will be.  

So, before you start thinking about how you want to move, we recommend going through absolutely everything that’s in your current house. Divide your things into four piles:  

  1. Move to Hawaii  
  1. Donate to a charitable organization  
  1. Sell via Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, yard sale, etc.  
  1. Trash  

As you do this, think carefully about what you’ll really need in your new island home. Wool sweaters? High-heeled shoes? Tailored suits? You might not want those with you in paradise. To help you make some final decisions, here are a few things we’d suggest selling before you move to Hawaii:  

  • Wooden bedroom furniture, like dark-wood headboards, nightstands, and dressers. Not only are they heavy, but they also may not quite fit the type of décor you’ll favor in an island home.  
  • A large library of books. How many of these will you actually re-read? Books add a ton of weight to a shipment, so we suggest paring down to your favorites before moving.  
  • Formal china or other dishware you don’t use. Anything that’s been lurking unused in your kitchen cabinets is ripe for downsizing. Take this chance to lighten your load and find new homes for dishes, small appliances, and older pots and pans that haven’t seen the light of day in quite a while.  

Get more downsizing tips from us to save on your move. 


If you’ve done some research online, you’ve probably seen a few online moving calculators out there. In a world when you can buy a new car online, it might feel a little old-fashioned to have someone survey your items and provide a moving quote. 

That said, in our opinion, a survey is the best way to get a quote you can rely on for your Hawaii move. 

Here’s how it works: Your surveyor will come to your house—or connect with you virtually. They’ll take a look at your current belongings, including the aspects that are difficult to capture in an online quote form, such as: 

  • How much stuff do you have? (To put it bluntly!) Everyone is different. Your 1-bedroom apartment might be filled to the brim with furniture, art, and décor, while your neighbor might live very simply. Because your move will be priced by weight, you and your neighbor would get two very different quotes. 
  • Are your things heavy? Are you taking a library of books you’ve collected over the course of 20 years? How about a solid wood antique dining set? These items will affect the price of your move, and your surveyor will take this into account. 
  • Do you have any fragile items that need special handling? Fine art, pianos, large flat-screen televisions, and other breakable items may need special attention to ensure they arrive safely after their 2,000+ mile ocean journey. 
  • Are there any access challenges? Several flights of stairs, narrow roads, and other physical features may make it more challenging to execute your move. Your surveyor will consider these and include the cost in your quote. 

The result? You’ll get a moving quote you can count on so there are no surprises on Moving Day. Your surveyor will also ask how you want to protect your move. You might think of this as “moving insurance,” although the moving industry has its own terms for this. We’ll walk you through that next. 

Considering your possessions are going to make a transpacific voyage across more than 2,000 miles of open ocean to reach their final destination (and that doesn’t even take into account any road miles!), it makes sense to think about protecting your move. 

By law, every interstate moving company is required to offer you, at minimum, two options: 

  1. Full-Value Protection: In the event that something happens to your possessions during transit, full-value protection covers your items for the cost of full replacement or repair. 
  1. Released Value Protection: Under this option, your moving company is required to reimburse you at up to $0.60 per pound per article for anything that gets damaged or lost. 

Want to see how the math works? We’ll show you how to make the calculations to help you decide which route you want to take. 

If something does happen to your items in transit, the difference between these two levels of protection is significant. Make sure you understand your options well before making a final decision. And if you have any questions, your surveyor can answer them for you. 

How Do I Find the Best Moving Company for Moving to Hawaii?

As you do your research, you’ll find several companies who would be happy to help you move to Hawaii. In fact, with all the options available online, it can get a little overwhelming.

First and foremost, you want to make sure you’re working with a reputable moving company. Unfortunately, scams do happen, but there are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Start by getting quotes from three, independent moving companies. That way, you’ll have a good sense of what the going rate is for a move like yours. Now, if one quote is significantly lower than all the others, you might want to be a little wary—especially if there’s no in-person survey. Sometimes, these lower-priced carriers will tack on a bunch of extra charges on Moving Day. Other, more unscrupulous operators may refuse to release your belongings until you pay some unexpected fees. That’s why it’s important to…
  2. Do your research. Check the company’s Better Business Bureau rating. Scan their social media properties and look for patterns. See if they hold membership in any professional organizations. You’ll likely get a sense of how that company operates fairly quickly. (And if you want to be really thorough, we’ll show you even more ways to research your moving company.)
  3. Understand Your Rights. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees moving companies, and there are laws in place to protect your rights. This FMCSA brochure will lay out exactly what you need to know so you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.

Once you’ve done your planning, preparation, and research, it’s time to make your final decisions. Then, there’s only one thing left to do: Get excited about your upcoming move to Hawaii!

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Organize your move with our handy Moving Checklist. We'll show you how to prepare for your move so you know exactly what to do—and when to do it.
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Paradise, Here You Come!

If you’re headed to Hawaii, we’d love to welcome you to the Aloha State! There’s so much to enjoy about the island lifestyle, and watching newcomers delight in all that Hawaii has to offer ignites our own appreciation for these islands all over again.

If you need assistance with your move, we’d be happy to help! We have crews and warehouses on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and on both sides of the Big Island—Kona and Hilo. We’d love to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable transition to your new home—and greet you with aloha. Just get in touch with us for a complimentary quote to get started.

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