Are you moving to Honolulu? If you’re considering the Crossroads of the Pacific, you must love being near the center of the action. After all, if Hawaii had a “big city,” this would be it.
Honolulu has been the capital of Hawaii since 1850, after King Kamehameha III moved his royal court from Lahaina, Maui. By that point in the island’s history, Honolulu, which means “sheltered bay, had become a bustling hub of activity, with many ships using it as a way station on trips between North America and Asia.
Today, Honolulu is still one of the busiest areas in all of the Hawaiian Islands. In addition to being the main seaport for shipments coming into the state, Honolulu is also the seat of the state’s government, plus a popular place to work, live, and visit.
You’ll find a lot of familiar things in Honolulu—such as shops and restaurants you’d recognize. However, as one of the most isolated population centers in the world, it’s pretty different than the mainland cities you might have lived in before.
In order to help make a smooth transition to the Big Pineapple (as Honolulu used to be called), we’ve put together this list of nine must-knows. With these in hand, you’ll have everything you need to make a simple and easy move.
Must-Know #1: Yes, the Pace Is Slower (Enjoy It!)
Even though Oahu is the most populated and most developed of Hawaii’s islands, the pace of life you’ll find on the Gathering Place runs slower than that of the mainland. Errands may take you longer than they did in your previous hometown. Lines at the grocery store might feel like they’re creeping forward. Cars will stop to let pedestrians cross or allow another car to exit a parking lot. People may pause and chat with each other while doing business. This is even more pronounced on Oahu’s North Shore, which is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu.
Take it from us. The more you can embrace Oahu’s natural pace, the more you’ll enjoy your day-to-day life on the island. Slow down, share a little aloha, and let life unfold on island time.
Must-Know #2: You’ll Be Far from Your Family & Friends
Honolulu lies 2,558 miles from Los Angeles. To give you some perspective, that’s about the equivalent of the distance between Los Angeles and St. Louis, MO. Additionally, Hawaii Standard Time runs two to three hours behind Pacific Time, depending on the time of the year. (Hawaii doesn’t observe Daylight Savings.)
When moving to Honolulu you’ll be far from family and friends, both in terms of physical distance and time zones.
Maybe that sounds like a good thing to you! Or perhaps it doesn’t feel like a big deal. However, when you start to realize the time and money involved in visiting the mainland, the reality of the distance can set in. Additionally, with the time change, it can sometimes be difficult to coordinate those all-important social touch points as you go through your transition. After all, if your family is on the East Coast, even if you wake up at 6:00 am, they’re already digging into their lunch. By the time you finish work, they’re probably fast asleep.
Now, once you make the move, you’ll likely start to form your own local connections. (More on that next!) However, it’s important to note that, once you move to Honolulu, you might have to work a little harder to stay in touch with the folks at home.
Must-Know #3: You’ll Fit in Faster If You Take the Time to Appreciate Hawaiian History
A lot of people are interested in ways to meet new people and make friends in Honolulu. Hitting the history books might not seem like the most savvy social strategy, but hear us out.
Although Hawaii is currently a state, the island chain has some significant history. When Europeans arrived in these islands, it was an independent monarchy, settled by a population who’d arrived from Polynesia many years prior. Hawaii’s journey from independent monarchy to 50th State was a complex one that left some deep scars on the culture and its people. If you take some time to understand these events, your appreciation for history will go a long way toward helping you understand how things in Hawaii work. You’ll also find it easier to understand the social fabric of these islands, which can make it a lot easier to make friends.
Before moving to Honolulu, we’ve got a couple of books to recommend:
- Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani by Queen Liliuokalani
- Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii by James L. Haley
- Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler
Must-Know #4: Yes, the Weather Really Is Perfect
- 3,041 hours of sunshine a year on average. (Chicago only gets 2,611!)
- Year-round weather that hovers in the mid to low 80s (and rarely dips below the high 60s).
- Only 17.1 inches of precipitation per year (Dallas gets 40.93).ii
aroundYes, Honolulu’s tropical weather really is that amazing. So, if you love the warmth of the sun and cool ocean breezes (and you don’t mind a touch of humidity), you’ll love moving to Honolulu.
Gorgeous weather like this year-round also means you can enjoy the outdoors nearly 365 days a year. Whether that means grilling outdoors in December, hitting the beach in February, paddle boarding every month of the year, or ditching your winter coat for good, it’s a novel aspect of Honolulu that you’re sure to enjoy.
Must-Know #5: Paradise Is Beautiful—But Expensive
Along with the postcard-perfect beaches and tropical weather comes one of the realities of living on an island in the middle of the Pacific: nearly everything has to be shipped in. As a result, things are simply more expensive than you may be used to on the mainland. For a more specific breakdown, check out our article on the cost of living for each island in Hawaii.
As you get to know the island, you’ll figure out your own tips and tricks for saving a few dollars here and there.
One thing that can help: Consider a membership at Costco or Sam’s Club. If you have a membership already, keep it when you move to Hawaii. Both stores offer some of the cheapest gas on Oahu. And, with some careful planning, bulk buys at these stores can really pay off in the long run and help keep your grocery bills down.
Must-Know #6: There’s Plenty to Do on the Island—Especially If You Love the Outdoors
How much can there really be to do on a 597-square-mile island? Plenty, especially if you love biking, paddling, hiking, surfing, kiteboarding, running, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, body surfing, and exploring the tropical plants, flowers, and trees around you.
Must-Know #7: Choose Your Commute Carefully
Traffic probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when moving to Honolulu. However, there was a time when the traffic here was ranked worse than that of Los Angeles. (!) However, as of 2020, Honolulu’s traffic ranking has slipped to 81st worst on a list generated by INRIX, a traffic research firm—a notable improvement! Now, even though Honolulu is no longer at the top of the “worst traffic” list, ask a Honolulu resident about their commute and you’ll likely get an earful—either about how bad it is or how great it is compared to everyone else’s.
So as you’re figuring out where you want to live, spend time considering where you’re working and what kind of hours you’ll be keeping. If you’re working an office job in downtown Honolulu and living in Ewa Beach, you’re going to be sitting in traffic going to work in the morning and coming home in the afternoon, along with everyone else. However, if you’re living in Ewa and working at one of the resorts in Ko Olina, you’re going to miss most of the backup.
In other words, a little thoughtfulness around your commute will pay dividends in your day-to-day quality of life on Oahu.
Must-Know #8: There Really Is No Place Like It
Hawaii’s isolated position in the Pacific Ocean has been a perfect incubator for some of the world’s most unique flora and fauna, many of which you won’t find anywhere else. The island has also long been an intersection point for a number of different cultures. Including the island’s original inhabitants there are immigrants from China, Japan, Portugal, the Philippines, Spain, Korea, Puerto Rico, and other Pacific islands.
The result? A chain of islands that’s like nowhere else in the world. And within that, you’ll find a distinct culture on Oahu, which even feels different than its neighboring islands. In other words, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime when moving to Honolulu. And, with these must-knows under your belt, you’ll be prepared and ready for a smooth move to the Gathering Place.
If you need help ensuring that your belongings make a smooth transition, too, we’d love to help! Our safe, easy, and affordable moves to Honolulu all start with a complimentary quote from an expert. Just reach out to get started.
Tell us about your move!