Before You Move To Hawaii, Answer These Questions

Posted Apr 8, 2011 at 9:00am
A golden retriever stands on a beach

Moving to Hawaii with pets can be a challenge.

If living in Hawaii is currently your dream rather than your reality, you’re certainly not alone. And if your dream is anything like mine was, it includes year-round sunshine, going to the beach after work, living in shorts and flip-flops, tropical flowers blooming everywhere, bronze-skinned surfers, a stress-free life…

And while that is a somewhat accurate portrayal of real life in Hawaii (I wouldn’t call life here completely stress-free), there are some other things to consider if you’re seriously thinking about moving here. Otherwise, your dream come true could prove to be more of a nightmare — or at least a costly disappointment.

So before you donate all your winter clothes to the Salvation Army and start looking for that little grass shack on the beach to call home, here are some questions to determine if you’re Hawaii resident material, or better off as a frequent visitor.

Do you have school-age children?

In 2009, average test scores in reading, math, and science for 4th- and 8th-grade students enrolled in Hawaii’s public schools were all below the national average. Not surprisingly, many parents choose to send their children to private schools or homeschool their children. In fact, 17% of Hawaii’s schoolchildren attend private schools (the national average is 11%).

However, the quality of education found in Hawaii’s public schools can vary greatly. An acquaintance of mine who moved to Oahu last year with her husband and two school-aged sons chose the location of their home (Mililani, in central Oahu) based on the reputed quality of that city’s public schools. Her husband has a long commute to work, but they are satisfied that their sons are getting a decent education for free.

If you weren’t satisfied with the public schools in your new neighborhood in Hawaii, would you be willing and able to provide a private-school or home-school education, or supplemental tutoring? Or would you be willing to choose a neighborhood based on the quality of its schools, rather than other factors?

Do you have pets?

Hawaii is a rabies-free state, so all cats, dogs, and “other carnivores” must have prepatory rabies vaccines and a blood test before entering Hawaii, among other requirements. (Animals coming from Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and the British Isles have a shorter list of requirements, since those countries have similar anti-rabies regulations.)

Preparing an animal to meet all the requirements outlined by the Department of Agriculture takes months. After an animal tests negative for rabies, it must wait 120 days before entering the state. Owners who bring their pets to Hawaii before those 120 days have elapsed, or without any preparation at all, will have their pet quarantined for up to four months, at the owner’s expense. Are you able to postpone your move to Hawaii until you can prepare your pet for entrance into the state? Or are you willing to leave your pet behind in someone else’s care until it’s eligible to enter Hawaii?

In some parts of Hawaii (like Honolulu, where I live), finding housing that allows pets can be difficult. Before I moved, when I was looking through online ads for a rental home in Honolulu, more than half of the listings stated “no pets.” And even if you plan on buying a home rather than renting, you should be aware that some homeowner associations do not allow pets, or they place restrictions on the number or weight of your pets. If you’re planning to move to an area of Hawaii that lacks pet-friendly housing, are you up for the challenge? Are you willing to sacrifice some of your housing options? Or are you open to broadening the geographic scope of your search for a home?

In densely populated areas of Hawaii like Honolulu, apartments and condos are usually more affordable and readily available than detached houses. And it’s not uncommon for houses to share a lot with at least one other house, leaving little to no space for a yard. If you have a pet that needs to be outdoors a lot, finding a suitable home is going to be extra challenging. Are you prepared to be flexible when it comes to choosing the city you live in, or the amount you spend on housing?

A grandfather nuzzles his toddler grandson.

Moving to Hawaii might mean seeing relatives only once or twice a year.

Who would you be leaving behind?

If you moved to Hawaii, it’s likely you’d be leaving friends and extended family members behind. Do any of these people currently play a big role in your life? How often do you currently see them? If you didn’t see them in person regularly, would your quality of life suffer significantly? Or would phone calls and Skype sessions suffice?

If you have children, would their quality of life suffer significantly without these people in their lives? Are you OK with your kids seeing their relatives only once or twice a year? Do you currently rely on relatives or friends for childcare? If so, have you factored in the cost of hiring another childcare provider in Hawaii? And what about your children’s social life with their peers: Do they make friends easily, or does it take them a long time to develop close friendships? Are they at a critical stage in their lives when it might be best to postpone a move to Hawaii in order to avoid disruption or added stress

It’s easy to plan on making trips to visit your friends and family on a regular basis, but take a minute to think about what each of those trips would entail. How long would it take to travel from your front door in Hawaii to the front door of the person you’re most likely going to want to visit? And how much would that trip cost? Look up airfares online to get a realistic estimate. If you’re limited to traveling during holidays, factor in higher cost and longer security check-in lines.

The fact is, Hawaii isn’t really close to anything — it’s pretty isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The shortest flight time I could find from Honolulu Airport is 3 hours to Kiritimati (Christmas Island), although when you arrive there, you’ll be 24 hours ahead of Hawaii Time due to the time zone difference! The next shortest flight time is 5 hours, which will take you east to San Francisco, or west to the Marshall Islands. Flying anywhere else from Honolulu Airport will take longer. If you’re an anxious air traveler, this is something to take under serious consideration.

Are you willing to do what it takes to afford the cost of living?

At the end of 2010, Hawaii ranked as having the highest cost of living among all 50 U.S. states. Coming from California (another state with a high cost of living) I wasn’t too shocked by the high price of everything when I moved here. In fact, I found the cost of rental housing in Honolulu to be slightly cheaper than that in the San Francisco Bay Area. But everything else is more expensive, especially groceries ($7.99 for a 21-oz. box of Quaker Life cereal!).

When you compare the cost of living in your current city with the one you’re thinking of moving to in Hawaii, you may be pleasantly surprised (Lihue, Kauai is 27% cheaper than San Francisco!) or unpleasantly disheartened (Honolulu is 69% more expensive than Dallas, Texas!). But even if you’re less than thrilled with the calculator’s results, you can still live in Hawaii — if you’re willing to do what it takes. Housing is usually the biggest expense, so “doing what it takes” might mean living in an area of Hawaii where housing is cheaper than other parts of the state. If your heart is set on a living in an expensive area, you might need to live with a roommate, live in a smaller space, switch to a higher-paying line of work, take on a second job, or get rid of other major expenses (like a car).

A spherical cluster of bright red buds on a tropical plant

Hawaii may not have a white Christmas, but it does have tropical plants that grow their own ornaments!

Can you live without four seasons?

Hawaii has only two seasons: The rainy season (roughly November through April), during which there is a slightly greater chance of gray skies and rain lasting longer than a few minutes; and the dry season (May through October), which has more predictably sunny weather and usually only brief showers. Temperatures remain warm throughout the entire year, with little difference between monthly averages. For example, Honolulu reaches an average temperature of 73 degrees (Fahrenheit) in January, and 82 degrees in August. That’s only a 9-degree difference between the coldest and warmest months of year.

Now if you’re a warm-weather person like me, all of this is sounding fabulous. But if you look forward to the leaves changing color in autumn, snow falling at Christmastime, or trees blossoming in the spring, then you might have some misgivings. And if you love to ski or snowboard on a regular basis during the winter, keep in mind that the nearest ski resort is a five-hour plane ride away.

Have I now completely killed your dream of moving to Hawaii?

Now that I’m done playing devil’s advocate, let me say this: Despite all the challenges of living in Hawaii, there’s no place I’d rather be living right now. The sacrifices I’ve had to make have been worth it, and every day I encounter people from all walks of life who seem to feel the same way.

But if you decide, after thinking about these questions, that you’re not ready or willing to make certain sacrifices, that’s OK, too. In fact, I’d congratulate you on facing this truth and avoiding the costly mistake of moving here. Keep in mind that this is a decision you might want to revisit every year or two — a change in your life circumstances may also change the sacrifices you would need to make, perhaps to more agreeable ones.

For more up-to-date, detailed info on moving to Hawaii, check out my e-book: Moving To Hawaii: A Step-By-Step Guide

Comments

  1. Laurie

    Sage advise…Great questions to ask yourself and to answer! I’m sure glad that my husband and I considered these concerns BEFORE we moved to Oahu 18 years ago. We love it and would not live anywhere else. I always say… allow yourself a long runway when you are thinking about ‘landing’ in Hawaii.. it is not for everyone.

    • Michele Meyer

      Laurie: Thanks for leaving the inaugural comment! Before you moved, what did you think was going to be the most difficult thing about living in Hawaii? And did that prove to be the case?

    • Bryan everett

      Hello. I’d like to say that Im in love with Hawaii and the Hawaiian lifestyle. I love and respect the islands. I’ve been to Hawaii(the islands) 8-9 times. So many times I’ve lost track. I just turned 20 and I’ve been saving a little money, but I plan on moving to Oahu. Im hoping on getting about 7k to start. If I share an apartment. But I’d like to take 10-15 if I could get a descent price on a small condo. I’m young, driven and would work any line of business. I haven’t gone to college yet because my parents own a good size air conditioning and heating service company. I thought I was going to take over. But I honestly don’t want the stress my parents have. I have gone to trade scool for (a/c). I could do It there on Oahu. But I was just asking for advice because I love nature. And love the ocean. And I honestly want the Hawaiian lifestyle. Oh and I understand how expensive the groceries and gas are. Especially compared to (Dallas) where I live.

      • Michele Meyer

        Hi, Bryan:

        Sounds like you definitely have a marketable skill (a/c) to at least get you started in Hawaii! And if you love nature and the ocean, there are definitely jobs you can get working in those environments, too. They may not pay the most, but you’re young and single (I’m assuming), so that makes it a lot easier to get by here.

        If you’re looking to make a career change, I highly recommend you sign up to receive my free report “The 100 Highest Paying & Most In-Demand Jobs In Hawaii” — I think that would be really useful info for you. (The sign-up box is in the right sidebar of any page on my site.)

        Good luck with living your dream soon!
        Michele

        • Name (required):

          Michelle,
          Thank you for the candid report. My husband and I live in Santa Barbara county and I’ve been a teacher for the past 18 years. We just finished putting our second child through college and are tired of the cold winter surf and rat race. We have family in kona and are giving SERIOUS thought to moving to the big island. Thoughts on job prospects on the big island?

          Marie

          • Michele Meyer

            Hi, Marie:

            Hawaii’s unemployment rate is highest on the Big Island (7.4%, compared to 4.8% on Oahu, as of Nov. 2012, accord. to the Dept. of Labor). The Big Island also has the lowest average wages of all the islands. However, the average housing cost on the Big Island is significantly cheaper than the other islands.

            I think the best method for weighing your job prospects is to look on Craigslist at the job listings for the Big Island and see what’s available. Since you’re a teacher, you should also check out the Dept. of Education’s webpage on teacher recruitment. The highest-demand areas for teaching in Hawaii on the Big Island are in the Kea’au, Pahoa, and Ka’u geographic areas, and in the subject areas of math and special education.

            Good luck and aloha,
            Michele

  2. Ernest

    Hey, awesome article!!

    • Michele Meyer

      Glad you liked it! So, when are you guys moving out here? ;)

      • Ernest

        Very tempting!!

  3. lorinda childs

    Michelle, how fortuitous to stumble on your new blog tonight! We just returned from our first trip ever to Hawaii-Maui-last week. It is what I invision heaven will be like if I am reeeaaally good!:) You have always been a meticulous, fantastic writer so I have every confidence your site will take off. Thank you for sharing your journey and answering so many of the questions I had after visiting. We too loved it so much that we daydreamed of how we could live there too one day. I was shocked about $7 bottles of small, off-brand syrup at the grocery store, but more intensely blown away that raw beauty like that really exsists somewhere. Now that I have an inside connection, we all had a question about the Hawaiian locals. Even my kids remarked that many of the service employees at rental companies, hotels, restaurants and shops didn’t smile much or seem at all happy. Do you get the impression that tourists-ironically their bread and butter-are somehow offensive or threatening. We just couldn’t figure it out. Aloha my friend and watch put for “yams….on the floor!” ;)

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi Lorinda, I know exactly what you mean about being blown away by the raw beauty. Even though I live here and see Hawaii every day, I’m still pinching myself. These islands are truly special. That’s interesting what you noticed about the local service employees on Maui. I’ve certainly encountered sullen employees in service jobs now and then, just like I have on the mainland. But I haven’t noticed it being more commonplace in Hawaii, at least not on Oahu. I don’t doubt what you say, though. Some locals resent tourists and Caucasians in general because they see them as the cause of the overcommercialization of certain parts of Hawaii and the marring of its natural beauty; the ever-increasing price of housing, land, gas, and food; the loss of traditional Hawaiian culture; increased competition for jobs; and other modern problems in Hawaii. These feelings have deep historical roots: White plantation owners and businessmen basically stole Hawaii away from the native Hawaiian monarchy in the 1890s and declared their own new government so they could profit financially. I suspect some locals still feel oppressed because of their economic dependence on outsiders. I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic — it’s a sensitive issue that tends to not be addressed at all in tourist guides, but that residents are well aware of.

  4. Antonio R amirez

    I plan to move to Hawaii pretty soon…. I just have to finish up school… I’m on my way to being a paramedic and I was wondering how difficult it would be for me to find a job?…

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi Antonio: There are no shortages of jobs in Hawaii — the question is, can you find the job you really want? Being in the health care industry is a good thing. Hawaii has an aging population, so I would think that finding work as a paramedic/EMT won’t be as difficult as finding a job in another industry. I know there are tons of nursing jobs and health aide/orderly jobs here. So even if it takes you a while to find a paramedic job, you can probably easily find work in a related field in the meantime. Good luck!

  5. Anthony A.

    A very good and informative article! I plan on going to college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (I’m still in high school) and plan on staying after college. I’m currently living on Boston, MA and although i love the city, I hate the cold. I was wondering, how many people aproxomately are in their 20-40′s? And if you know by any chance how many people speak Russian? I read the article and now i seriously know i want to move to Hawaii but those are just some lingering questions of mine. Thank you for posting such a great blog!! :D

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi Anthony: Sorry it’s taken me a while to reply. I’m glad you liked the article! If you hate cold weather (like me), then you’ll love Hawaii. Boston also has a high cost of living, so you won’t be as shocked by prices when you move here.

      Here is a table (PDF format) from the 2010 Hawaii Data Book with the breakdown of ages in the state and in the different counties of Hawaii. In the whole state, people ages 20-29 make up one of the largest age brackets. On Oahu (City and County of Honolulu), ages 20-24 is the largest age bracket, and ages 25-29 is the second largest. So yes, there are lots of young, college-age people here in the islands, especially on Oahu. :)

      This PDF table from the 2010 Hawaii Data Book says that there are 2,180 speakers of Slavic languages in Hawaii, and more than half of those people live on Oahu. It doesn’t give a breakdown of the different Slavic languages, though. However, there’s a Hawaii Russian Community page on Facebook, and the Russian community in Hawaii also has its own website.

      Hope that answers some of your lingering questions! You’ll love the University of Manoa. If I were 18 again, that’s where I’d be headed!

      • Anthony A.

        Thank you for replying! :)

  6. Jeff Kanov

    My wife and I are seriously considering moving to Hawaii when I retire from the fire department in 3 years. By then I will be 50 and my wife 57. We are looking at the Big Island and Oahu. Is there any active adult condos on the Big Island? Are there areas that are more geared to retirees versus other areas on either Hawaii or Oahu or for that matter Maui? Thanks

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Jeff: I confess that I need to do more research and write more about retirement in Hawaii. However, I did find a good list of active adult communities in Hawaii. On Oahu, some popular areas for retirees are Ko Olina, Kapolei, Ewa Beach, and Makaha. Those areas are all on the leeward side of the island, where housing is generally cheaper. Commuting to Honolulu from the leeward side is arduous, but when you’re retired, that’s no longer an issue. :)

  7. Dennis C.

    Hi Michelle,

    Id like to give a little background on me as well as pose some questions and contribute some information about some of the personal as well as financial logistics of moving to Hawaii.

    I discovered Lanikai on Oahu about 4 years ago and basically fell in love with that area. Im 44 and from the first time I went to Hawaii in my 20′s, something resonated with me and I have dreamt about living there ever since. Theres a feeling there that can be had no where else for me. Im not going to bother trying to describe it, but those of us who have felt it know what Im talking about. I think that feeling alone is enough to take notice of and seriously evaluate whether the quality of life Hawaii offers is worth the negatives.

    I am lucky enough to own a company in CA and am able to work remotely. I have rented a couple homes in Kailua Oahu, going back and fourth between Hawaii and CA over the last couple years, but not really making the move to make Hawaii my permanent home. I am currently renting a home full time (non vacation rental) in Lanikai which is on the hillside of Lanikai at the end of the loop about 90 steps up from the street nestled in lush palm trees and foliage. I have a panoramic view of those islands in your graphic above as well as the beautiful turquoise ocean. Its a small home, 2 bedroom and I pay $3500 per month. I have finally made my mind up that I am moving there full time. I rented this home completely empty and unfurnished (bad idea) lol. I arrived a couple months ago with a suitcase and a rental car and basically spent a week buying stuff.

    I have weighed all the personal issues: leaving family, friends, “home”. I have weighed all the financial issues: The cost of living; food… everything seems to cost $5 or more, maybe an exaggeration, but there is a marked difference in what it takes to buy food. In fact Ive heard alot of locals say its almost cheaper to eat out. I will be shipping two cars there (~$2500) from CA along with a container. I havent priced out the container yet, anyone done any research on shipping a container to Hawaii? I could use a good referral.

    I’d love to hear some comments from you and others about the family and friends aspects. Its the one main thing Ive struggled with.

    I personally love the ocean, diving, golf, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, hiking, the beaches, etc… Not only is Hawaii a physical paradise, but it can be a playground if these activities are loved by the person moving there.

    My view is live life to its fullest and go for what feels good. For me I have found it.

    • Dennis C.

      Hey, I was just reading your story and saw that youre from San Jose, so am I! Born and raised…. what high school did you go to?

      • Michele Meyer

        Andrew Hill. And despite its reputation, I did NOT get beat up or stabbed, or recruited into a gang. ;) I had a good experience there, actually.

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Dennis: Lanikai is one of my favorite places on Oahu. I can easily understand how you were drawn to live there!

      For me, too, the distance from family & old friends has been the main drawback of living in Hawaii. It helps if you have a big enough home to host houseguests, so you can encourage famiy & friends to come and visit. If I ever become independently wealth (haha), I would gladly pay the airfare to have friends & family fly to Hawaii as often as possible. If I can’t convince them to move here, that’s the next best thing! :) And then, of course, I fly back to the mainland as often as I can afford to (at least once a year).

      Making new friends here helps, too. Because I work from home, I don’t meet new friends at a workplace, so this past year I’ve made a point of volunteering at some events in the community, which has been a good way to meet new people. I’ve also heard from locals that joining an outrigger canoe paddling team is another great way to make friends, especially in an area like Lanikai.

    • jeff from ny

      show off lol i am only playing honestly i wish you the best of luck and those beautiful views you described . one day hopefully i be there good luck try puka hotdogs i heard they are amazing

    • Michael E

      Hi Denis C,

      I am in a similiar work situation, meaning that I manage a company in Texas and can do much of my work remotely;

      I am interested in sharing a rental; alternating occupation with state side visits. Do know of a forum to look for a shared rental?

  8. Dennis

    Hey there..

    Andrew Hill! I went to Andrew Hill my freshmen and sophomore years, then moved to Pioneer and graduated in 85. How about you, when did you graduate? I went to Herman jr high in San Jose. What a small world huh…

    I think its great youve found a way to really relay your love for the islands through this website. Got any other ideas? I’d love to start a business in Hawaii geared toward something along these lines. Maybe like a personalized tour guide setup or something. Anything that lets us enjoy the islands beauty and maybe make some money too… Id be open to talking to you about anything. Why dont you email me directly. I think you can see the email addy Ive added for the blog notifications… :)

    Ive been using the excuse to come there that Im going to open an office for my company there (IT Consulting), which I think is doable but its definitely not like the bay area. Im so burnt out on the IT stuff though that when I go there I usually work remotely and then just enjoy. Lets chat though!

  9. Joe

    Hi Michelle,

    My wife and three kids have seriously thought about moving to Hawaii. My wife was born in Hawaii, and has lived the island life her entire childhood. She grew up in Hawaii,Guam and now we are in Florida which really isn’t an island, but non the less she and I really want our children to experience the life she grew up with.

    We were there in April for our 10 yr anniversary and have been talking about moving there ever since. My question though is a financial one. I am a emergency -trauma Rn. In your opinion do you think we could afford to live in Hawaii with our three kids, ages 10, 9, and 4 yrs old? My wife is a stay at home mother now, but she does have an associates degree and also she is a licensed massage therapist in the state of Florida. I am not sure if that would transfer over to Hawaii, I think she may need a few more hrs and to pay for a Hawaii license. She would love to work in the school system though, so she could have the same schedule as our children. Either way she does plan on working and we understand how expensive it is in Hawaii, but do you think we could survive in Hawaii?

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Joe: I definitely think you could survive financially in Hawaii. I don’t think you’ll have any problem finding a job as an RN in Hawaii, and that is one of the better-paying jobs here (the 2010 median annual wage for RNs in Hawaii is $84,060). Housing will be your biggest expense, so keep an open mind when looking around for a home (I recommend renting, at least at first). The Big Island has significantly cheaper housing than the other islands, particularly near and around Hilo, where it’s very rainy but lush. But if you’d rather live on Oahu (like most people, including myself) or another island, you can certainly make it work. If you end up getting a job in Honolulu, be careful about choosing a home on the leeward (western) side of Oahu, such as in Ewa Beach or Kapolei. Yes, housing is cheaper there, but the commute to/from Honolulu is awful (unless you work swing shift or night shift).

      Another factor to keep in mind when choosing a home is the local public school. To save a lot of money, you may want to send your children to a good public school rather than go the private school route. Some of Hawaii’s public schools are definitely better than others, so you may want to concentrate your search for a home in areas that have reputable public schools.

      I think, with your occupation, you’re in a good financial position for Hawaii. Good luck!

  10. Ryan S

    Hello I am moving my family to Maui in a few weeks I was wondering if there was any shots that need to be taken before the move? Like TB?

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Ryan:

      No shots needed — you’re good to go! The only health worry I’ve heard of in Hawaii is dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes carrying the disease. Last year there were some cases of dengue fever around the Pearl City area on Oahu, and authorities solved the problem by making the public aware that they needed to make sure there was no standing water around their house (besides swimming pools, which are fine because of the chlorine or saltwater in them), which serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There are no shots for dengue fever, but as long as you use common sense to keep mosquitoes from breeding around your home, you’ll be fine.

      Good luck with the move to Maui!

      Aloha,
      Michele

  11. Lilian

    Hi, I am currently living in Japan now but truly hoping to move to Hawaii in the future. My daughter is currently attending Japanese High School and we all hope she might get into a good University in Honolulu. Can you please give me a brief detail as to how I should prepare to move there with a family? I am a nurse so would it be easy for me to find a job there?

    Thanks for the article, it makes so happy to know there is hope for me to move there one day perhaps.

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Lilian:

      I’m assuming you’ve visited Hawaii before and are sure you want to move there. It sounds like you’re interested in moving to Honolulu, so you already know which island you want to move to. I’d say your next step is to figure out what your source(s) of income will be. Nursing is actually a great profession if you want to live in Hawaii. There are many nursing jobs, especially for Japanese-speaking nurses. If you are a registered nurse, the pay is good. According to the Hawaii Dept. of Labor, the average annual salary in 2010 for registered nurses on Oahu was $84,810 (and $95,980 for experienced RNs).

      If you plan to move to Hawaii without a job lined up first, it is recommended that you have 3 months of living expenses saved up to get you started living here while you look for a job. If you are a foreign national, take a look at my article about the different types of visas for legal residence in Hawaii:
      http://www.howtoliveinhawaii.com/1853/foreign-nationals-how-you-can-live-in-hawaii-too/

      If you have pets that you want to bring with you to Hawaii, you need to start getting them ready with vaccinations and a blood test to prove they don’t have rabies. Here is my series of articles on how to do that:
      http://www.howtoliveinhawaii.com/2773/bringing-pets-to-hawaii-step-1-prohibited-animals/

      You can wait until you move here to find a rental home to live in. But you can start looking at rental housing ads on Craigslist to get an idea of the prices and what types of housing are available. And take a look at my housing articles, too, to narrow down which neighborhoods in Honolulu you are most interested in living in.

      Here are some more articles I’ve written about the moving process to Hawaii:
      Shipping Cars To Hawaii
      Registering Cars In Hawaii
      Getting a Hawaii Drivers License or State ID
      Shipping Household Items to Hawaii

      Good luck! I hope you and your family can move here soon!
      Michele

  12. Bujji

    Michele,

    Thanks for this great web-site. Very informative. My wife is a physician (Hospitalist). I am wondering how competitive is this area of the job market? Is there a lot of demand for Doctors generally and Primary Care/Hospital Medicine in particular, if you are aware?

    Thanks.

  13. Gabby Waterman

    Michele,

    I’m only 15 but I’m looking into Hawaii as a future place to live. I live in Michigan now but I love the summer and have always wished I lived in a warmer place. I love clean air and the beach. I want to own my own bar and i was wondering if Hawaii was a good place for a bar? I haven’t made any decisions yet obviously, but I wanted to consider this option too.

    ~Gabby

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Gabby:

      Yes, Hawaii is a great place for a bar, especially if your bar serves all those tropical cocktails (like Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiis) that the tourists love! Just remember that your bar will be competing for business with all the other bars in the area. I’ve heard competition between restaurants is really tough in Honolulu, but maybe it’s not so bad in other areas of Hawaii, and maybe not so bad for bars.

      I do know that it is expensive to run your own business in Hawaii for a couple reasons: 1) Supplies cost more, because everything has to be shipped overseas to Hawaii; and 2) There’s a state law that requires employers to pay for at least half the cost of health insurance for all their employees who work at least 20 hours per week.

      On the bright side, Hawaii has tons of tourists, and tourists are always looking to spend money and have a good time at a bar. And if this is what you really want to do, I think you should go for it. I think it’s awesome that you’re only 15 and already thinking seriously about what kind of lifestyle you want to have in your future. I love the summer, too, which is a big reason why I moved to Hawaii. If you love warm weather and the beach, you’ll definitely find that here!

      Good luck and follow your dream — if it’s what you really want to do, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Just plan carefully, like you already are.

      Aloha,
      Michele

  14. jeff from new york

    i have a question my wife and five children were planning to move to Hawaii. i was wondering if teaching jobs are a big demand and psychologists and nurses aides how much do nurses aides make down there. plus what would be the best island for me the big island or the capital state

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Jeff:

      Certain teaching jobs are in-demand:

      - Those located in the more remote areas of Hawaii (Molokai, Lanai, and certain parts of the Big Island).
      - Those in special education and math.

      According to the Department of Labor, the average annual salary in Hawaii for psychologists is $74,820. For nurses’ aides, it’s $31,020.

      If you want to teach, the Big Island has some job opportunities working in the remote areas. The Big Island also has cheaper housing (on average) than Oahu, especially if you want to live in a single family home (detached house). The population density is also much lower on the BIg Island than on Oahu — it’s less crowded, less developed, and has less traffic. If you have asthma or any chronic respiratory condition, be aware that the vog (volcanic emissions) on the Big Island can trigger your symptoms. Vog affects mostly the Kona (western) side of the island, from Oceanside (in the south) all the way up to Kailua-Kona.

      Oahu (where the state capital of Honolulu is located) offers many more job opportunities in all industries, because most of the state’s population lives on that island. Oahu also pays higher salaries (on average) than the other islands. It’s easiest to find a job on Oahu — that’s where most of the job opportunities are. The price of housing varies greatly on Oahu. In Honolulu, it’s very expensive to rent a single family home. However, apartments and condos are plentiful and more affordable. Housing (including single family homes) is less expensive on the leeward (western) side of the island (like in Ewa Beach, Kapolei, and the Waianae Coast), but you have to take into account the commute to Honolulu (if you work there).

      Hope that helps!
      Michele

      • jeff from ny

        i also heard this is a large crime rate which is that

        • jeff from ny

          also where is Oahu is that on the big island

          • Michele Meyer

            Hi, Jeff:

            Oahu is one of the Hawaiian Islands — it’s west of the Big Island. Although Oahu is much smaller than the Big Island, most of the state’s residents live there. The city of Honolulu (the state capital) is also located on Oahu.

            Aloha,
            Michele

        • Michele Meyer

          Hi again,

          Although Hawaii has a relatively low violent crime rate, its property crime rate (car theft, home burglary) is higher than the national average.

          Hawaii also has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine (“ice”) use in the U.S. Although rates have gone down in the last few years, it’s still a serious problem, particularly among service workers, students, and executives – they use the addictive stimulant to be able to work longer and harder.

          These problems are throughout the entire state and are not particular to one island.

          Hope that helps!
          Michele

  15. jeff from ny

    my other question is except for burglary is their a lot of killing crimes and sex predators because that is one of the reasons i want to leave NY for the safety of my family

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Jeff:

      Hawaii has a lower violent crime rate than the U.S. average. Murders and rapes are not unheard of here, but they are less common than on the U.S. mainland. For example, Honolulu’s violent crime rate is 268.1 (per 100,000 people). New York City’s is 581.7, and Buffalo’s is 1,357.5.

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_rate

      Aloha,
      Michele

  16. jeff from ny

    hey i just made a Hawaiian burger with home home made pineapple relish it was the booooomb also i made Hawaiian bake beans loved them. how do you guys celebrate holidays like Halloween do you carve pumpkins and Christmas do you get Christmas trees. i think its cool to talk to someone from Hawaii. i mean i really don’t have real friends in new york. the pet law what if you bought a dog their would you still have to go with the rabies thing it a shame ferrets are not aloud how come

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Jeff:

      Yes, we celebrate all those holidays in the same ways they do on the mainland. People here are really into decorating their houses for Christmas, including with Christmas trees.

      Pets that are bought or adopted in Hawaii do not need to undergo the rabies quarantine since they’re already on the island. That law applies just to pets coming into the state. I’m not sure why ferrets aren’t allowed in Hawaii. I know that snakes aren’t allowed because if they escape into the wild, they harm the ecosystem (snakes eat bird eggs). In Guam, snakes have destroyed the local bird population, and the Hawaiian government doesn’t want the same thing to happen here. Perhaps ferrets would cause the same harm to Hawaii’s ecosystem? It’s hard to imagine, but maybe so.

      Aloha,
      Michele

  17. jeff from ny

    i have a question from my daughter as well shes 9 and a big fan of Bethany Hamilton she wants to know where she is at at have you seen any surf competitions

    • Michele Meyer

      Bethany is originally from the island of Kauai, and as far as I know she still lives there. But now that she’s turned pro, she travels all over the world on surf tours. Plus she does a lot of speaking engagements, especially since her movie “Soul Surfer” came out last year.

      Yes, I have seen surf competitions — I saw part of the Vans Triple Crown on the North Shore of Oahu. The surf competition season starts in November and continues throughout the winter, when the waves are at their biggest.

  18. jeff from ny

    hey hey happy memorial day from NY. i saw a thing on the web about haunted Manson on Halloween i think it was awesome. hopefully i can see that . so what is it like on Halloween . is it the same as Christmas. im sorry for all theses questions i am just excited that i can talk to someone about Hawaii,oh my dad said that ill never be able to afford it what are good carrer to survive Hawaii like teachers and psychologist

    • Michele Meyer

      Halloween and Christmas are celebrated just like they are on the mainland — kids go trick-or-treating and carve pumpkins for Halloween, and people decorate their houses and Christmas trees and exchange gifts for Christmas. “Merry Christmas” is pronounced “Mele Kalikimaka” in Hawaiian.

      I have a free report on “The 100 Highest Paying & Most In-Demand Jobs In Hawaii” — you can sign up to get it on my homepage (look for the sign-up box on the right-hand side of the page).

  19. jeff from ny

    where we live we have county fairs do you have them sort of things in Hawaii and how is it what are some fun things like fairs, carnivals like example each year we have a big county fair to end the summer. also i had a question of if when we move would Hawaiians look at us as outcast. because in Texas they don’t like northerners living there.

    • Michele Meyer

      There’s a state fair in Honolulu at the Aloha Stadium in May & June, and there’s a county fair in Hilo (on the Big Island) in September. There are also a LOT of festivals all year long on all the islands. On Oahu, the Punahou Carnival and Okinawan Festival are very popular.

      In most parts of Hawaii, locals don’t resent newcomers. They’re used to people coming to Hawaii all the time. In some of the more rural areas, locals might be less than welcoming to newcomers, at least until they get to know their new neighbors and begin to trust them and accept them. But for the most part, locals don’t mind newcomers.

  20. jeff from ny

    do you guys have a lot Italian restaurants my wife if we were to move their she would love to open one

    • Michele Meyer

      I wouldn’t say we have a LOT of Italian restaurants here, but we do have them. There are definitely a lot more Asian restaurants.

  21. madison tomsic

    hey, okay so im 17 soonto be 18 and am looking at moving to a beachy state for college. at first i was gung ho on moving to california as it was always my dream. i have dreads a painted vw bus and a lot of aspiration in painting and making a board company (longboards, surfboards, snowboards, etc…. and also tattooing). but when i told my aunt this and she literaly travels the whole worlds, she could only say that i was making a mistake and that hawaii is the place for me. i honestly think itd be the best place for my bus (haha cant put too many miles on it when your on an island) but she said i would just fit in. are there a lot of teens?? i am honestly not much of a drinker so the whole nightlife isnt the biggest concern for me. but i am 420 friendly and i just want to study hard and paint and explore the scenery. i live in arizona and ive been watching humans destroy the ecosystems of my state every year and i dont think i can handle it anymore and its almost exactly the same in california. thats why when she said hawaii i thought you knpow what that could be my future. i am super friendly even to people who arent to me…. i like to kill people with kindness. ive also noticed that in cali i meet a TON of people but they areNOT lifelong. i am trying to find some people more like me, i know for sure id fit in in san fran…..butttttttt where is the nature?? id have to paint human filth which is not the beauty im searching for. i pint waves everyday and surfers on the regularbasis. do you think id fit in and make friends quickly?
    im also vegan and gluten free so how are the organic and local farmers markets?
    id be moving there cold turkey….no family no friends, but i honestly believe in myself it wouldnt be hard to make friends i do it here in the most borring and hotest states in the us.
    hows the reggae scene? ive heard good things… are there many concerts???
    okay so my aunt is a flight attendant and she has been one of my good friends since i was a little kid. and she was the one who told me cali is a mistake and that hawaii is my kind of place….and she has been to everrrrrywhere in the world… what do you think would i fit in??
    sorry its a mouthful just my time is coming up to decide and now im seriously split
    i almost think its time for me to focus on my inner peace and break away from the flakiness of america and its people and hawaii and the ” ohana” seems to be just a breathtaking lifestyle and id honestly would be down to try and create something there.
    im also VERY into hiking .. good hiking? or better yet any rock climbing? and i mean real rock climbing

    thankyou so much for even reading this “essay” LMAO ;P

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Madison:

      I think you’d fit in really well in Santa Cruz, California or in several places in Hawaii:

      Big Island: Pahoa
      Kauai: Hanalei
      Maui: Paia
      Oahu: Haleiwa (or anywhere near the North Shore)

      Santa Cruz is a lot colder than Hawaii, if that makes any difference to you (surfers wear wetsuits most of the year). But it’s closer to your family in Arizona, and it’s a lot easier and less expensive to move to CA than it is to move overseas to HI. Santa Cruz also has an excellent university (UC Santa Cruz) and a community college (Cabrillo College). But outside of Santa Cruz (and parts of San Francisco), the culture in the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area is pretty materialistic, status-oriented, fast-paced, technology-focused — which is probably not what you’re looking for.

      Hawaii is slower-paced and friendlier, in general, than the SF Bay Area. The University of Hawaii system has universities on Oahu (in Honolulu and Kapolei) and the Big Island (in Hilo), and community colleges on all the islands except Molokai and Lanai. A lot of teens/young adults live in the areas nearby the colleges and universities, especially in Honolulu (on Oahu). Hawaii has awesome farmers markets (as does Santa Cruz). There’s a big push now in Hawaii to “eat/shop local” to support local farmers and businesses, rather than rely so heavily on food/products that are shipped in from overseas.

      The reggae scene thrives in Hawaii, more so than in CA. Most of the concerts are in Honolulu, although you can find lesser-known local performers playing in small venues throughout the islands.

      There is great hiking throughout all of Hawaii. Kauai probably has the most breathtaking scenery, but you won’t find a shortage of trails on any of the islands. I’ve heard of people rock-climbing on the North Shore of Oahu, although I’m sure they probably do it elsewhere in Hawaii, too.

      Since you’re young, college-bound, and into reggae, I’d recommend the island of Oahu. There are plenty of colleges to choose from, lots of young people, lots of concerts, lots of surfing (including big-wave surfing on the North Shore in winter), plenty of farmers markets and natural foods stores. You might not like the urban development and crowdedness of Honolulu, but some parts of Honolulu are better than others, and there are plenty of less crowded and more scenic areas on the windward (eastern) side of the island (in towns like Kailua and Kaneohe) and the North Shore (Haleiwa, Waialua, Kahuku), as long as you’re willing to commute to college.

      Good luck in making your decision!

      Aloha,
      Michele

  22. Mark Thurman

    We bought a house in Kona on the Big Island in 2005. We rent it out year round, and I must say owning other rentals have had the best renters ever in Kona. Our dream was to retire in 2010, but our careers and 2008 have made us keep working a few more years.

    I know we don’t want to do nothing, so my question is, how hard is starting a business on the Big Island? It seems there are always a lot of vacant commercial buildings on the Big Island. Is there any place to go to research what businesses might be needed in the Kona?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Mark:

      Pacific Business News is an excellent resource. They list Hawaii businesses for sale (search in “Hawaii County” to see Kona listings). You might also find their Book Of Lists useful in conducting business research. Although it’s focused on the Honolulu metro area, it does include companies located on the neighbor islands, too. If you don’t want to buy the entire Book Of Lists, you can also buy just the individual lists that you’re most interested in.

      Another great resource for business research is Hawaii Business Magazine. They cover companies and industries on all the islands. Try searching their site for “kona” to bring up lots of Kona-related articles.

      The state government lists Steps To Starting A Business in Hawaii. You can file all the necessary forms online using Hawaii Business Express.

      Hope that helps!
      Michele

  23. Anne

    Hi, thanks for all the great info. I am thinking about moving to Hawaii after living in Oakland, Ca for 27 years. I’m 27, I didn’t go to college and I’m a tattoo apprentice, and I’ve worked in food service/waitressed for 12 years. My question is, how hard is it to get serving jobs on Oahu, what about tattoo work? I’m pretty sick of the cold, and hard living in Oakland. Thanks!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Anne:

      It’s very easy to get serving jobs in Hawaii, especially on Oahu. There are lots of service, hospitality, and retail jobs in Hawaii, because tourism is one of the state’s main sources of income. Just be aware that these jobs don’t usually pay that great (usually no more than $10 an hour), but at least with a serving job you get tips, too. Here’s a listing of food/beverage/hospitality jobs on Oahu:

      http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/fbh/

      I’m not sure how hard it is to get tattoo work, but I do know that tattoos are VERY popular in Hawaii — even more so than in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I’m originally from). Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who lives here who doesn’t have one! ;) Here’s what I found when I did a search for “tattoo” jobs on Oahu:

      http://honolulu.craigslist.org/search/jjj/oah?query=tattoo&srchType=A

      Aloha,
      Michele

  24. Jordan

    Hello! i love your article! I am moving to Hawaii August 7th and could never be more excited. I currently live near Seattle WA and I am coming to Hawaii to study at UH Monoa. I have a few friends also going! We are ecstatic to get out of our hectic city and into your calming one! I was just wondering if there are any tid bits of advice!
    Thank you!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Jordan:

      Congratulations on your upcoming move and studies at UH Manoa! I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love it here.

      My advice would be to think twice about shipping anything large to Hawaii, like furniture. Unless it’s some priceless, irreplaceable heirloom, it’s probably not going to be worth the cost of shipping it overseas. One exception: If you have a decent car and/or bike, I do think that’s worth shipping over here. Everything else can be easily bought here, either at a store or on Craigslist or at a garage sale. People are constantly moving to/from Hawaii, so there’s always lots of used stuff for sale that’s still in good condition.

      Stock up on your favorite Trader Joe’s snacks/products and bring ‘em with you, because there’s no TJ’s here in Hawaii!

      Don’t get rid of ALL your cool-weather clothing (like I did!). You will need some for whenever you fly back to the mainland to visit friends/relatives.

      Consider getting a credit card that allows you to earn frequent-flyer miles whenever you charge expenses on it. For example, I have United’s Mileage Plus card. Hawaiian Airlines also has one. I charge EVERYTHING, and over the years it’s earned me several free trips to/from Hawaii.

      Consider signing up for HMSA’s student health plan. Nearly all doctors and dentists in Hawaii accept HMSA insurance. They’re a reputable health coverage provider. Hawaii also has Kaiser, if you prefer. HSMA and Kaiser are your two main options here.

      Good luck with your move next month!
      Michele

  25. Gigi

    Aloha Michele ~ what an incredibly informative site you have created! Mahalo for sharing your super practical knowledge of the islands! My husband & I originally met & married in Kauai many moons ago & it’s always been a dream to return for good. We travel to Kauai every year & have been making the 5 year plan to move going on 14 years now & this year we decided to call it quits in California & make the big move. We decided on Oahu in order to start our a business (better economy, better income opportunity than Kauai) & hopefully be able to end up in Kauai in a few years. We know Kauai so well but have very little knowledge of Oahu. Do you have recommendations (besides Craigslist) for a good rental listing site? Also, do you know if we need to have a drivers license & permanent address on the island to apply for a business license, etc. or is a PO Box sufficient? We’d like to try & get started right away on setting everything up for the business since it might take us a few weeks to find the right place to live, etc. Thank you again for your kind insight & wealth of information.

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Gigi:

      I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful! Good for you for deciding to finally take the plunge after 14 years!

      Since you have a special interest in Kauai, you should also read John Derrick’s blog. He is also a super-nice and knowledgeable guy, if you have any questions about moving to Kauai, specifically.

      I think starting on Oahu is wise — you will definitely have an easier time getting started with your business.

      Craigslist is the best place to look for rental housing. I also like Hotpads, because it’s map-based. You could also try the Honolulu Board of Realtor’s rental listing and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser classified ads. If you have pets, also try the Hawaiian Humane Society’s Pets In Housing listing.

      I honestly can’t remember if I was required to provide a Hawaii mailing address (other than a PO Box address) when I applied for my Hawaii business license. The best thing for you to do would probably be to go through the Hawaii’s online business registration process, Hawaii Business Express. The online wizard will prompt you for info — see how far along you can get before encountering a stumbling block. You might find you can complete the entire process already. The site has a good FAQ page, too.

      Good luck and best wishes with your upcoming move!
      Michele

  26. lin

    Your website has been so helpful! My friend and I are planning to move to Oahu within a year. We are both currently living and working in San Francisco. How does the cost of living compare? Is Oahu that much more expensive? We will be moving with no jobs lined up…..crazy right? but we both plan to save as much as we can before the big move. we both love hawaii and hope that it will be an attainable goal.

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Lin:

      Glad my site has been helpful to you! I’m from the SF Bay Area, and Honolulu’s cost of living is very similar except for one area: groceries. Groceries cost a lot more here, because most of it has to be shipped overseas. If you don’t already have a Costco membership, you’ll definitely want one in Hawaii! That will help you save. Unfortunately, no Trader Joe’s, though. :(

      I think it’s fine to move to Hawaii without jobs lined up, as long as you have at least 3 months of living expenses saved up. The reality is, it’s much easier to find a job in Hawaii if you already live here. Prospective employers will take you a lot more seriously.

      Good luck with your plans!
      Michele

  27. Gigi

    Thanks Michelle for your prompt response & again, for such helpful information. I checked out John Derrick’s blog & yes, I do know exactly that indescribable feeling that he is talking about in reference to Kauai ~ I had my first epiphany of my lifetime on that island the minute I landed & I feel that same sacred “mana” every time my feet touch the ground there… Things have been a little crazy on our end in the last couple of months trying to get prepared & we’ve had several delays but we are hoping to be on the island by next week sometime. BTW, I’m not sure if anyone of your readers might be interested but we decided on a 20′ container & we can’t fill to capacity so if someone out there is looking for some space to share, we have room & we can negotiate a price. It would be departing Los Angeles to Honolulu. I’m sorry if this is not an appropriate place to place this info Michele ~ you are welcome to remove it if it’s not appropriate. Mahalo again!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Gigi:

      That’s totally fine to post your container-sharing offer here! I suggest also posting your offer on City-Data.com’s forums. I’ve seen similar offers on there.

      Good luck with the move next week! You’re almost here. :)

      Aloha,
      Michele

  28. Gigi

    I forgot to mention that the container to share will depart Los Angeles sometime next week (most likely end of next week – approx. 19th-20th) to Honolulu.

  29. ER

    Re: jeff from ny …PLEASE (PLEASE) DO NOT move to ANY island in Hawai’i. Your questions (above) are a great indicator to either stay put, or try California. … I’m not giving you advice in a negative way.

    Have you been to Hawai’i (more than once)?
    Do you have any friends and/or family residing in Hawai’i?
    Do you live & breath to be in the ocean?
    Is your family ‘hapa’?

    If you answered ‘No’ to ANY of the questions above… You’ve got your answer ;)

    Aloha

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, thanks for adding your two cents to the discussion. I agree with you totally on the first point — you should NEVER move to Hawaii without having visited at least once (unless you’re being forced to move to Hawaii, like if you have military orders). I mostly agree with your second point about having friends/family residing in Hawaii. If you’re not good at or interested in making new friends in Hawaii and you don’t already have friends and family here, you might find yourself feeling very lonely and isolated. If you are a hermit by nature, so be it. Otherwise, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to make new friends. It’s not likely to “just happen” unless you do something about it, like join a paddling team or some kind of hui (club), or volunteer in the community.

      I don’t think you necessarily have to love the ocean or have a hapa (mixed race/ethnicity) family to live in Hawaii, although those two things will certainly help you feel at home here! For example, I have a friend who loves Hawaii and visits every year with her husband, even though they’re not really “beach people,” and that’s because they absolutely love to hike in Hawaii, and discover new hole-in-the-wall places to eat here. ;) As for the hapa thing, there are plenty of people in Hawaii who aren’t hapa. However, if you have a problem with interracial couples or people, then you definitely shouldn’t move to Hawaii!

      Thanks for the food for thought!
      Michele

    • Omk

      Yes, All of the islands are wonderful, as are the people.
      But, they are populated by survivor types, and unless you want live in that type of environment, better to rethink your move.
      Even local born natives who move inter island have to melt in to the new location.
      California born hapa resident of 20 years!

  30. Robin

    Great information! Thank you! My husband is moving to Oahu in a few months and I, unfortunately, am staying on the mainland due to some long term commitments :( Hopefully in another year I’ll be able to go over also. I would like to know if anyone can recommend a nice condo development in honolulu that is clean, reputable and in a good area.. we are trying to stay under 2000.00 a month. Thanks again for all the links and advice.

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Robin:

      Here’s a listing of all the condo buildings on Oahu — Zones 1, 2, and 3 cover all of Honolulu. Click on the name of a building to see a profile and photo.

      Building condition/quality can vary greatly within the same neighborhood, so it’s very difficult to say which neighborhoods you should and shouldn’t look at.

      Below are a few neighborhoods that you might not like, because the residents are predominantly lower-income, there are public housing projects located within them, and/or the buildings tend to be run-down. However, there are exceptions, and because these neighborhoods contain some of the least expensive housing, you can sometimes find a really good deal in these areas. And some of these areas — like Chinatown, Liliha, and Palolo — are being revitalized thanks to community efforts, and are changing (for the better).

      Zone 1: Chinatown, Dillingham, Iwilei, Kalihi, Kam Heights, Kapalama, Kuakini, Liliha, Palama

      Zone 2: Kalihi

      Zone 3: Palolo

      And below are some of the most upscale neighborhoods in Honolulu, where housing is likely to be out of your price range (but then again, there are exceptions!):

      Zone 1: Moanalua Valley, Nuuanu

      Zone 2: Diamond Head, Manoa, Nuuanu, Woodlawn

      Zone 3: Diamond Head, Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Kalama Valley, Kalani Iki, Kuliouou, Paiko Lagoon, Napua Point, Waialae Nui Valley

      If you’d prefer to live in a new (or relatively new) condo building, I recommend looking in Kakaako and west Waikiki (both are in Zone 2). That’s where the latest construction has been happening.

      Hope that helps somewhat!
      Michele

  31. Omk

    I forgot to mention, while I love it here.
    It’s always been tough, most people leave, so you never really get to have close bonds with friends.
    It’s a great place for loners, the local born population will never let any outsider in.
    It’s a very typical small town attitude everywhere, but with the MEME,
    That it’s the best place in the entire world.
    On average, there are milestones.
    Six months, 2 years, 7 years, 15 years, 20, 30
    When transplants leave, and most of the time they do leave.
    Another thing about Hawaii, if you come with a partner, it’s not likely that you will remain together very long.
    The reason I found this website is because I’m leaving also, I’m married now with kids, and I want them to grow up and a choice. Lots of choices.
    What I know about Hawaii as an adult, I would not raise my kids here.
    Even though they were born here, they will never fit in.
    I wouldn’t want them to.

    • Michele Meyer

      Thanks for adding your two cents, especially being a long-time resident. I agree that it can be difficult to break into social circles among the locals here. In Honolulu, I’ve found that it’s not so much that the locals don’t like me — it’s just that I don’t have the life-long history that these people have with each other. For example, social circles are often formed around who you went to high school with. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to be accepted into their circles, but you have to make a diligent effort to stay in touch, and make an effort to host your own social events. You can’t sit around waiting to be invited to things.

      You bring up a good point about coming to Hawaii with a partner (although I wouldn’t go as far to say that it’s not likely you’ll stay together). It’s important that your partner is as committed to the idea of living in Hawaii as much as you are. The stories I’ve heard about people breaking up after moving to Hawaii are because one partner wasn’t as enamored with the idea of living in Hawaii as the other. Some people are instantly captivated by Hawaii, while for others it’s just a pretty place to visit but not necessarily a place they want to live.

      I’m curious why you say that your Hawaii-born kids will never fit in — is it because of their ethnic/racial background? Also, where do you live in Hawaii?

      Aloha,
      Michele

    • ER

      I too am curious why you feel your kids wouldn’t fit in. If you can’t find a decent ‘ohana’ in Hawaii, you’re never going to find it!

  32. Gigi

    Aloha Michele ~ we’ve landed here on Oahu & came across a rental that we love but the landlord does not pay for any of the utilities. I am curious what the average cost of water, electric/gas runs per month in Oahu? My husband & I are are very conscious about our water & electric/gas usage & make every attempt to conserve. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Best,

    Gigi

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Gigi:

      On Oahu, the average cost of residential electricity in 2011 was 32.04 cents per kilowatt-hour. A typical Oahu household uses around 600 kilowatt-hours per month, equaling $192.24 per month. However, rates have been higher than average in 2012. In June, the rate was 35.1 cents ($210.60).

      Not all homes on Oahu use gas (mine doesn’t, for instance). But here’s a list of all the rates for each island.

      And here are Oahu’s water rates. A typical Oahu household uses 13,000 gallons of water each month, equaling a monthly water bill of $46.18. However, to fix Oahu’s aging infrastructure, water rates are set to increase 9.65% each fiscal year through 2016. This means by 2016, the typical household’s monthly water bill will be $66.72.

      Sewer rates have just increased, too: Your monthly sewer bill (based on a water usage of 13,000 gallons per month) will be $112.24 if you live in a single family home or duplex; and $92.48 if you live in a condo or apartment.

      Currently, there is no charge for garbage/recycling pickup on Oahu.

      Hope that helps!
      Michele

  33. Kat

    Hi Michele! Currently I am 18 years old and I have visited Oahu once. I fell in love with it immediately. Also, my heart is set on becoming a registered nurse after college. I have been thinking about moving to Hawaii 2 years after college, just so I can have experience with the nursing field. How would you say I may turn out living on Oahu being single and a registered nurse?
    I have read previous comments and they have been extremely helpful.
    Thanks!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hawaii needs registered nurses! That’s a great career path to choose if you eventually want to live here. Being young and single, I think you’d enjoy living in Honolulu a lot! Some of the more rural areas of Hawaii might not suit you as much, unless you love quiet, country living and aren’t looking to socialize that much.

  34. Phyliss

    Me and my husband are moving from ca to kihei hi and I was just wondering if that’s a good place to live .reason for moving there is I’m a barber and I currently own my own salon and just want to be simple!! so I’m going to try getting a job at supercuts or SOMTHING easy as that .ive been to Hawaii. Many times but to Maui lahaina my husbands a truck driver do u think he will find a good truck driving job there and I’m currently awaiting my barbers exam as we speak I have my temp barber license for Hawaii so this is my thought when I get my exam date I was thinking about looking for a job while I’m there so I don’t have to worry when I get there about work .is it hard to find a job there or should I wait ??

    • Michele Meyer

      Take a look on Craigslist Hawaii to get an idea of what kind of job opportunities are out there for barbering and truck driving on Maui. Kihei is one of the most populated areas on Maui, so if your heart is set on Maui, that’s probably a good choice of town to live/work in.

  35. Guzmán

    Hi MIchele, thanks for help to short the distance between Hawaii and the rest of the world. Actually I’m 35 but always have a kinda attraction for such particular place. I-m form far away, Uruguay. I’d like to listen Hawaiian radio and read hawaiian news (and your page of course) on my vacations from long ago. It`s like a mind travel. I not planning going moving there, but to know it with my girlfriend rather soon (maybe honeymoon). But we don’t want to make a tourist visit, be involved in the catching tourist offers. We`d like to be able to enjoy of the things that somebody living there (a loving nature one) would do in some free days. Any advise would be welcome but some particular questions. We`d stay 15 days. Are there family hostels? Are they recommended? Is it possible and easy (not too expensive) to move between islands or you recommend us dedicate us to know just one? Kauai would be the best option to spend the main time?
    We look forward hearing from you,
    thank you again,
    Guzmán

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Guzmán:

      There *are* several hostels throughout Hawaii, but I don’t know enough about them to recommend them or not. However, if you Google “hostels Hawaii” or “hostels Kauai” you will find some websites that include reviews from travelers. Inter-island flights are not as affordable as they used to be. Expect to pay $100-200 one way, depending on which islands you’re flying between. Since you love nature, Kauai is a good choice for you. It has tons of natural beauty, lots of good hiking trails, and is less touristy than Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island.

      Aloha,
      Michele

  36. Deb

    Hi Michelle, I am a52 yr old single woman who is going into nursing with the goal of moving to hawaii, probably the big island. I lived there 29 years ago and have always dreamt of moving back! I just finished my CNA and am planning on going to a vocational school for LPN then thought I would cross over to a two year rn program- maybe the RN part in hawaii as I am already wanting to be there lol. I have been reading up on transferring a LPN from one state to hawaii and it sounds a bit difficult. But I don’t think I can afford to do the LPN class over there as I live in Oklahoma and can take it at votec for 5,000.00. Sorry to ramble on. I would so much appreciate any suggestions you might have for me.
    If you can email me if possible if only to let me know you have replied I would appreciate it.

    Mahalo

    Deb

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Deb:

      Sorry, I don’t really know anything about nurse certification here. I think your best bet is probably to stay in Oklahoma to complete at least your LPN coursework, since attending nursing school in Hawaii (even at one of the community colleges) will cost more because you won’t have established state residency right away, and will have to pay the higher out-of-state tuition. For more info on the University of Hawaii’s different nursing programs (including the one on the Big Island, at Hawaii Community College), visit:

      http://www.hawaii.edu/academics/degrees/index.php?keyword=nursing

      Good luck!
      Michele

  37. Eleanor

    We are due to retire soon and are looking to move to Hawaii. We love the weather and being that I grew up in a warm weather climate, we are looking forward to the smell of the ocean and bright sunshines.

    However, we are looking for a single family home (3b2ba) in an upper middle class area with low crime rate, well kept, suburban with plenty of amenities nearby (stores, shopping, restaurants). We also plan on bringing our two small 7lb dogs with us, one who is also a service medical alert dog.

    3 questions for you if you please –
    1 – which are the best areas to live that meet these requirements as far as housing?
    2 – what are the tax rates in Hawaii – housing average tax rates
    3 – with a service animal what are the requirements for bringing them in. How can we avoid quarantine of any type? what about a dog that is not service animal? We want to avoid any type of quarantine.

    If you could please reply, that would be terrific. Thanks!

    • Michele Meyer

      Hi, Eleanor:

      Here are my answers to each of your questions:

      1) On Oahu, you’d probably like the Honolulu neighborhoods of Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, and Kahala; and the towns of Kailua, Kaneohe, Mililani, and Kapolei (including Ko Olina resort community). On Maui, try Kihei, Pukalani, Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Napili, and the newer home construction in Wailuku and Kahului. On the Big Island, you might like Kailua-Kona, Kahalu’u-Keauhou, Kealakekua, Waimea (also known as Kamuela), and Waikoloa Village. On Kauai, check out Lihue, Kapa’a, Hanalei, Princeville, and Poipu/Koloa. (By the way, I go into a lot more detail on each of these communities — and many more — in my e-book.)

      2) On Oahu, $80,000 of your home’s value is exempt from property taxes if you’re under age 65; $120,000 if you’re 65 or older; $140,000-$200,000 if you’re low-income and 75 or older. On Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, $300,000 (yes, $300,000!) of your home’s value is exempt from property taxes, no matter what your age. On the Big Island, $40,000 + an additional 20 percent of your home’s value (not to exceed $80,000) is exempt from property taxes if you’re under age 60; $80,000 if you’re 60-69; $100,000 if you’re 70 or older. On Kauai, $48,000 of your home’s value is exempt from property taxes if you’re under age 60; $96,000 if you’re 60-69; $120,000 if you’re 70 or older; and if you earn less than $40,000/year, you get an additional $55,000 exemption.

      3) For info on bringing pets to Hawaii (including service animals) in such a way to avoid quarantine, see my 10-step guide.

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