My husband and I came to the island of Oahu, Hawaii on our honeymoon in 1989 and it changed our life. While on our honeymoon we decided we wanted to move to this beautiful island. It took us 3 years but we made our dream of moving to Hawaii a reality in May 1993 and have never regretted it. The Hawaiian Islands are an amazing place to live if you enjoy experiencing different world cultures, exploring unique ecosystems, enjoying ocean activities, warm weather year round, and being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Although it does cost more than most other places to live in Hawaii, for us the quality of life we are able to enjoy is worth it. There is no other place in the world like the Hawaiian Islands! If you visit Oahu and decide you want to make the move to this island below are my personal views, tips and suggestions based on my move to the island of Oahu from Massachusetts in 1993 and my experiences since. I also provide a resource of links to make your move to Oahu easier.
State of Hawaii – Island of Hawaii – Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii is the name of the state in the USA which is a collection of islands known as the Hawaiian Islands and includes an island named Hawaii. This island Hawaii in the state of Hawaii is commonly referred to as The Big Island because it is the biggest island of all the Hawaiian Islands and is the current hot spot of the active volcano Kilauea which continues to add more land. The island of Hawaii has more land mass than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. The Hawaiian islands are Hawai’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, O’ahu, and Ni’ihau.
Cost of Living
Living in Hawaii can be paradise everyday but there are many things to consider before packing your bags and buying a one way plane ticket. Although it is hard to imagine anyone not wanting to live in Hawaii there are some who move to the islands without visiting first or have no choice in the move (like military) and find that Hawaii is not for them. The hardest part of moving to Hawaii is being so far from friends and family. Homesickness can become unbearable when you are 2,000+ miles from your loved ones! Another major consideration is that the cost of living in Hawaii is very expensive. We have been told it compares with other major cities like San Francisco and New York City.
The island of Oahu is the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands with nearly a million residents. Add in another 100,000 tourists who visit Oahu every day! Oahu is more expensive to rent or buy a house/apartment than the other islands. Outer-island housing is less expensive but there are fewer job opportunities but with many people now able to work remotely living on an island other than Oahu is an affordable option for some. Almost all consumer items are shipped into the islands which adds to the cost because everything is shipped into Honolulu Harbor then on to other islands. Oahu’s grocery stores seem to be less expensive and offer a larger selection of items than the outer island stores we have checked out. There are wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco/Priceclub in the islands which makes food even more affordable if you have the space to store it. It does take a lot of effort to maintain a decent life style in the islands. Tourism is Hawaii’s major industry and a lot of tourism jobs are only part time paying workers minimum wage. Many of these workers rely on tips and work several jobs to make ends meet.
Go to www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/honolulu for more info on what things cost!
OAHU PRICE CHECK – price as of September 2022
Reg. Milk $7.50 half gal
Reg. Gas $4.89 gal
Honolulu Single Family Home Median Sale Price $1,125,500
Honolulu Condominium Median Sale Price $510,000
Some of the things I had to adjust to when moving to Hawaii:
*Figuring out how to pronounce Hawaiian street names.
*The cockroaches in our house no matter how clean it is.
*Cockroaches outside that are larger than a half-dollar and fly! (locals call them B52’s)
*Grocery stores do not always have the freshest of items and often leave rotting fruits and vegetables in with the fresh items. UPDATE: I do not find this happening anymore in the large supermarkets like Safeway, Star Markets, and Foodland. We have only seen it in recent years in small Mom & Pop stores and at road side farmers markets.|
*You can legally drive your car and enter stores/public buildings while barefoot and Men can go shirtless.
*Many locals speak a version of English called Pidgin which is takes a while to get used to and understand.
*National sporting events are usually on in the morning due to the time delay and are then also rebroadcast in the afternoon.
*Being Caucasian and being a minority.
*Learning Hawaiian history to understand what has happened to Hawaiian people and what makes Hawaii so special.
Some of the things that make Hawaii exceptional to live in:
*The Aloha Spirit expressed by many island residents.
*The exposure to interesting people and cultures from around the world.
*Hawaiian traditions like leis and aloha wear incorporated into everyday life.
*Hearing many languages spoken intertwined with English during everyday conversation.
*Low violent crime.
*Lots of options on how to enjoy “free time”.
*Rare plants and animals found only in Hawaii’s unique ecosystems.
*Waterfalls and rainbows.
*Beautiful beaches just a short drive from anywhere on the islands!
|*Beautiful scenery just about everywhere you look.
*Each island offers a different experience so you don’t have to travel far to go on vacation.
Do Locals Hate White People?
This is a horrible rumor that I get inquiries from concerned people who are considering moving to Hawaii. They have heard that the locals hate caucasians. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Since moving to Hawaii in 1993 we have met only two racist locals who had an issue with our being “white” and it wasn’t serious, just mouthing off. It seriously is not a problem here. If you are a good person and treat people with respect, locals do the same for you. There are jerks here as well, but you can’t avoid ignorant jerks no matter where you want to live. We came from the East Coast originally and encountered racist jerks significantly more often, we have found Hawaii to be much different. The people of Hawaii tend to be kind, caring and accepting of different cultures and beliefs. Many people here are displaced from some place else and people develop hanai ohana, adoptive family, where you enjoy holidays and special celebrations with them. Locals will accept you as one of their own if you accept them as they are. If you try to act “high maka maka” (better than someone else) then you may receive a negative reaction. Something people who live in Hawaii hate hearing is “back on the mainland this costs…” “back on the mainland I can do this…” That is when someone may say, “well if it is so great on the mainland why don’t you go back.” But you would be asking for that by insulting Hawaii and how it is here. Typically you get what you give.
You’ve Decided To Move To Hawaii, Now What?
Once you decide to make the move to Hawaii you then will need to decide what to take with you and what to sell or give away. If you have items of value that you intend to keep for several years like reliable car, entertainment system, computer, furniture, bikes and other recreation equipment it will probably cost less to ship them then replace them and would be worth hiring a moving company to relocate those items. Shipping a car or household items generally takes three to four weeks. Cars are shipped in individual containers, but many shipping services will allow partial containers of household goods. A three-bedroom home will typically fill a 24-foot container. Some shipping services will deliver the container to your house for packing then retrieve it for delivery to the docks while others require you to bring your items to their shipping facility. If you do not plan to move with much we recommend arranging for a mail box service in the area of Hawaii you plan to move to and ship whatever you won’t be taking on the plane with you to the mail box in Hawaii. This will also allow you to establish a forwarding address. The USPS, and UPS Store are just a two of the national mail box services available across Hawaii.
The easiest way to move to Hawaii is to plan the move far in advance. Then prior to moving find a job, find living accommodations , and when you are ready ship your belongings to right to your new island home. The reality is most people are not able to make the move this way. Some people may find a job prior to moving to the islands but it is a little more challenging to find living accommodations remotely. What my husband and I did to prepare for our move to Hawaii was save enough money to cover 2 months living expenses including first months and last months rent. Then we purchased an airfare, hotel, and car rental package deal when we made our move. We used the week at the hotel and the rental car to check out the island and find an apartment to move into. You may not find exactly what you are looking for but just get yourself into something clean and affordable with a short lease. Then once you are settled in after a few months you can find something that better meets your needs. This same theory applies to finding a job. You may not be able to find a job prior to arriving or your dream job when you first arrive but there are plenty of jobs available that will help you pay your bills while you continue your search for your ideal job and make contacts. Keep in mind you will be starting a whole new life in Hawaii and your life will not be the same as it was, but if you are willing to do what it takes and have a bit of faith in yourself you can make your dream of moving to Hawaii a reality. We found all the sacrifices we made and the temporary set back in the standard of living we endured was well worth it. We have seen and experience so many amazing life changing things while living in the Hawaiian Islands and do not ever plan on living anywhere else but these beautiful islands.
Suggestions For Becoming Part Of Your New Community In Hawaii
Since Hawaii is very remote the people of Hawaii are considered one big Ohana (family) and it is very community oriented here. Once you arrive in Hawaii if you would like to meet new people I recommend getting involved in some of the following:
* Volunteer at a community program that interests you like hospitals, schools, animal shelters, Zoos, Aquariums, community centers, museums, become a mentor or Big Brother/Big Sister, etc.
* Ethnic community groups are a great way to mingle with folks that share your same ethnic background or an ethnic background that interests you.
* Take dance classes and learn to hula, salsa, swing, or line dance.
* There sports clubs for children and adults like canoe paddling, football, softball, baseball, soccer, roller derby, rugby, running, biking, pickle ball, lightsaber training, etc.
* Take classes to learn more about Hawaiian history, culture, and it’s unique environments or other classes of interest at one of the many community colleges.
* Participate in community clean up and beautification projects.
When I moved to Oahu in 1993 it was before the internet and getting information to help make the move was challenging. I had to subscribe to the local news paper and have it mailed to my home to learn more about what I could expect and see what is going on in the community. Below I provide resources I wish I had before I moved. They are provided for information purposes only. I do NOT personally endorse any of these businesses or have additional information regarding them. I am not affiliated with anyone and make no commissions for providing a listing. If the links no longer work or you have a bad experience with anything listed please let me know.
Costs to Consider When Moving To Hawaii
Calculate the cost of living difference from where you live now to what you would need to make living in Hawaii to maintain the same lifestyle.
View specific item costs in Hawaii for food, clothing, housing, transportation, personal care, entertainment.
Household Items, Autos, and Pet Moving Services
Cosmopolitan Canine Carriers Inc are Household pet relocation specialists that can provide door to door services from anywhere in the world to Hawaii.
Akona Pets are Household pet relocation specialists that makes travel arrangements and prepares the necessary documents to import your pet to Hawaii.
Ship My Vehicle automobile shipping service offering shipment from anywhere in the USA, Guam, and Saipan to Hawaii.
All America Auto Transport automobile shipping service offering shipment from Anywhere in the USA to Hawaii.
Movers with a bad reputation that should be avoided: Express Movers, Guardian Cargo Logistics, Guardian Moving & Storage, Guardian Shipping & Moving, United Aloha Movers, West Point Relocation, Pacific Island Logistics and Storage.
Find A Job In Hawaii
There are many fields in high demand in Hawaii including teachers, nurses, doctors, veterinarians, avian specialists, police officers, and high tech fields.
Hawai Department of Labor And Industrial Relations : Everything you want to know about employment in Hawaii and job opportunities at the DoLIR. (statistics on Hawaii’s labor market from the department’s Research and Statistics Office)
Craigslist – job ads for all islands
State of Hawaii Job Openings listed with Department of Human Resources Development
Islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai State Employment Opportunities
Island of Hawaii Department of Human Resources
Island of Kauai County Employment Opportunities
City and County of Honolulu Job Openings
State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General Employment Opportunities
Openings at Queens Medical Center
Openings at Hawaii Pacific Health Hospitals
Employment Agencies & Recruiters In Hawaii
AccounTemps– Recruiting in the fields of Accounting, Finance, Bookkeeping, Payroll, Credit & Collections. Call 808 531-8056 for more information.
Aloha Nursing & Rehab Care Center – Recruiting for RPN & LPN to for long term care facility. Call 808 247-2220 for more information.
Altres – Recruiting in the fields of IT/Technical, Accounting/Financial, Legal/Admin, General Office Clerk, Warehouse Labor, General Labor, Project Crews, Construction, RN, LPN, CNA, Medial Assistants, Medical Techs, Hospital/Facility Staffing. Call 808 591-3232 for more information.
CareResources Hawaii – Recruiting for registered nurses to provide in home care services. Call 808 534-4202 for more information.
Dunhill – Recruiting in the fields of Financial/Accounting, Manufacturing/Engineering, and Sales/Marketing. Call 808 524-2550 for more information.
Kahu Malama Nurses Inc – RN, LPN, Nurses Assistants, Medial Assistants, Medical Techs, Hospital/Facility Staffing.
Labor Ready – Recruiting for Construction, Manufacturing, Landscaping, Janitorial, Hospitality, Merchandising. Call 800 245-2267 for more information.
LAM Associate Physician Search – Recruiting for Physicians. Call 800 258-4526 for more information.
Management Recruiters of Honolulu – Recruiting for Hi-Tech Engineering Management. Call 808 521-7828 for more information.
OfficeTeam– Recruiting for Executive Secretaries, Administrative Assistants, Receptionists, Data Entry, Word Processors, Customer Service. Call 808 531-0800 for more information.
Olsten Staffing Services – Office Services, Financial Staffing Services, Technical Services, IT Specialists,
Staffing Solutions of Hawaii – Recruiting for General Office Administration, Information Technology. Call 808 949-3669 for more information.
Resources to Find Housing on Oahu
Buying a home, townhome, condo, or apartment can be an overwhelming process. You may know what you want but may not be sure what area to look in, or if schools are important to you where the best school districts are. I do personally recommend Team Lally if you are looking to buy or sell real estate in Hawaii on any island. Team Lally takes excellent care of their clients and puts a high priority on customer service. They take the time to get to know their clients in depth so they can find you homes to consider which meet your needs and you get the most for your money. They go above and beyond expectations for clients which extends far after your home closing. You will want the experts at Team Lally on your side! Listen to their informative radio show each Saturday 11am-12pm on KHVH AM 830 & KIKI AM990. Call Team Lally at 808-212-9181 or visit www.teamlally.com. I do not receive any compensation for posting this, I just experienced and continue to experience exceptional service from Team Lally and believe they are the best in real estate team in Hawaii and they are the only company listed I personally recommend! Tell them you heard about them from Kim Crinella!
Hawaii Real Estate Central is a resource for locating homes, condos, apartments, and lots on ALL ISLANDS for sale or rent. This database lists any property with a MLS # regardless of who it is listed with. It is the largest resource for finding property we have found for the state of Hawaii.
Craigslist has housing for sale, housing for rent, autos for sale, items for free and items for sale for all islands.
Resources to Find Cars and Boats on Oahu
There are many car dealerships available once you arrive on Oahu. My husband and I personally had HORRIBLE service with the Cutter dealership and do not recommend buying a car from them. We were lied to by the sales person who sold us a car, treated horribly by the management, and received terrible service from their service department. We will personally never purchase another vehicle from them again. We also had a bad experience at Windward Dodge on Oahu where the salesperson started yelling at us and said that we “wasted his time” when we decided not to buy the car after the “price negotiation” process did not go to the price we were willing to pay. We have actually had very good luck buying used cars from Craigslist. You tend to get more for your money, just have a mechanic check it out before you buy.
Links to Information On Schools In Hawaii
If you are moving to Hawaii with school aged children you will need to do your homework as to what school to send them to. Many public schools have a bad reputation of not providing a top notch education and your children may find the schools here are behind the schools they came from and get bored. If you have special education children that require special attention some schools may not be up to the task while others excel at it. You really need to investigate the schools before enrolling your children or deciding what area to live in. Many parents choose to send their kids to private school or home school to ensure a quality education.
Organizations on Oahu Who Are Always Seeking Volunteers
The best way to meet people when you move to Hawaii is to be involved in the community. No experience is required to volunteer at any of services below and each offer many different ways to volunteer!
Aloha Animal Sanctuary in Kaneohe is 100% Volunteer Run!
American Cancer Society 808 595-7544
AMVETS Hawaii helping American Vets
Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor
Bishop Museum 808 848-4180
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Hawaii
Family Court Advocates for Abused Children 808 529-5930
Family Literacy Program of Hawaii 808 842-0303
Hanauma Bay 808 397-5840
Hawaii Children Cancer Foundation 808 599-4223
Hawaii Clearinghouse on Missing Children 808 586-1449
Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Parks Department Volunteers
Hawaii Food Bank
Hawaii Humane Society 808 946-2187
Hawaii Legacy Reforestation Initiative Malama Hawaii
Hawaii Marine Animal Response rescues monk seals, sea turtles, sea birds, dolphins, whales
Hawaii Pre-schools 808 247-7962
Hawaii’s Plantation Village
Hawaii Public Schools Volunteers
Honolulu Rose Society
Honolulu Theatre for Youth 808 839-9885
Honolulu Zoo 808 971-7187
Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens
Institute for Human Services 808 537-2724
Iolani Palace 808 522-0821
Japan American Society promotes unity between the people of Japan and Hawaii.
Kamehameha School Volunteer
Legacy of Life organ donor advocates
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
Lyon Arboretum part of University of Hawaii at Manoa 808 988-0469
Malama I Na Honu docent program at Laniakea Beach
Malama Maunalua caretakers of Maunalua Bay
Navy League Honolulu supporting sea services in our community.
Meals on Wheels Hawaii 808 988-6747
Memorial Society of Hawaii 808 589-2884
Mission House Museum 808 531-0481
Paaiau caretakers of the last royal fishpond
Pearl Harbor Memorial has volunteer opportunities for park guides, docents, and maintenance.
Shriners Hospital for Children 808 941-4466
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii organizes beach clean ups.
Travel2Change links Hawaii community and cultural organizations offering free or discounted experiences to volunteer and make a difference.
Waikiki Aquarium 808 923-9741
Waimea Valley caretakers
Wild Side Hawaii Marine Research offers 8 week dolphin and whale research internships
Women’s Crisis Center 808 524-8856
Urban Garden Center 808 453-6054 a cooperative of the University of Hawaii Manoa.
Hawaii Sports Teams & Clubs You Can Join
Joining a sports team or club is a great way to meet people and keep fit for adults and youth.
808 Sports League– Co-Ed dodgeball, kickball, flag football, and volleyball leagues for adults. Teams on Oahu.
Hawaii Harlequins Rugby Football Team– Open to adult Men and Women. The team is on Oahu.
Hawaii Youth Soccer Association– Youth soccer teams on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Adult volunteers are also need.
Honolulu Bulls Soccer Club– Boys and Girls soccer on Oahu.
Maui Croquet Club– Open to men and women with their primary play location in Kihei on Maui.
Lanakila Hockey Club – Youth roller hockey team on Oahu.
Oahu Inline Hockey League– Youth roller hockey league on Oahu.
Maui Inline Hockey Association – Mens and youth inline skate hockey teams on Maui. They also offer their rink open to public skate and have inline skate rentals.
Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Clubs– Men and women Hawaiian outrigger canoe teams on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.
Yacht Sailing Clubs– Sailing clubs for the island of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii
Hawaii Kai Youth Baseball– This is an all volunteer non-profit group dedicated to the promotion of youth baseball and youth baseball opportunities/activities. In addition to seeing youth players they are always seeking adults to umpire, coach and help organize events.
Hawaii Cycling Club– Based on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii this is one of Hawaii’s premier amateur road, mountain and multisport (duathlon/triathlon) cycling and community sports organizations. They have a riding club, mens racing team and womens racing team.
The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club– An Oahu based hiking club which hikes over 80 different trails around the island as well as voluntarily maintains many of the trails. Hikes are open to members and non members.
Sierra Club Hawaii Chapters– The Sierra club offers organized hikes for members and non members and has chaperters on Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.
Mid Pacific Road Runners Club– Oahu running club with over 20 organized races a year.
Valley Isle Road Runners Club– Maui running club with over 20 organized races a year. They have adult and youth running clubs.
Hawaii Masters Track Club– An Oahu running club open to men and women 30+.
Hawaii Swimming Club– Swimming club with chapters on the islands of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii.
Waikiki Surf Club– Promotes amateur canoe paddling and surfing to men, women, and children.
Bringing Pets To Hawaii
If you would like to have a pet when you move to Hawaii please note that there are restrictions on what animals can be brought to Hawaii.
Some birds are prohibited from entering Hawaii, some require quarantine, and some can obtain a health certificate and be quarantined in the home. All snakes, some lizards, some frogs and some other exotic animals that are kept as pets are prohibited from entering Hawaii due to the damage they can inflict on the fragile Hawaiian ecosystem if they escape.
Visit the official State of Hawaii web site for the latest updates on bringing animals into Hawaii, a list of prohibited animals, fee costs and forms for bringing animals into Hawaii.
Adopting Pets In Hawaii
Consider adopting a loving pet from an animal agency once you arrive in Hawaii.
Hawaiian Humane Society on Oahu is a no kill shelter and offers a variety of adorable dogs, cute kittens and cats, as well as rabbits, hamsters, and birds available to take home that day. Their website has photos of animals available for adoption!
Hawaii Dog Foundation is a dog rescue and adoption no kill shelter on Oahu.
Hawaii Cat Foundation is a cat rescue and adoption no kill shelter on Oahu.
Maui Humane Society offers dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, and other animals.
Hugs for Homeless Animals on Oahu takes in injured or neglected dogs, cats, and birds then nurses them back to health and finds them a loving home. They have photos of animals available for adoption on their website!
Rainbow Friends Sanctuary in Hilo takes in injured or neglected animals then nurses them back to health and finds them a loving home.
Boo Boo Zoo East Maui Animal Refuge takes in injured or neglected animals then nurses them back to health and finds them a loving home or cares for them at the zoo.
Leilani Farm Sanctuary on Maui cares for injured or neglected farm animals.
Take A Hike!
Once you arrive on Oahu one of the best ways to explore Oahu’s natural beauty is to go for a hike. Walking or hiking along the shore, in a rainforest, or in a park helps to relax the body and mind, release stress, and is a fun way to get exercise.
Oahu State Beach Parks
Map of All City and State Parks on Oahu
City and County Parks
Na Ala Hele Oahu hiking trails
My favorite hikes are to waterfalls. Below are some of Oahu hikes to waterfalls.
Manoa Falls hike in Manoa Valley Oahu.
ʻAihualama Falls at Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley Oahu.
Likeke Waterfall Hike also known as Old Pali Highway Falls Hike below the Pali Lookout on Oahu.
Lulumahu Falls Hike off Pali Highway on Oahu.
Moanawili Falls Hike Oahu
Judd Trail to Jackass Ginger Falls Nu’uanu area of Oahu
Waimea Falls Hike there is an admission but walking is easy because there is a paved path through Hawaiian cultural sites and beautiful forest and gardens.
Laie Falls Hike on Oahu located near the Polynesian Cultural Center is a moderate 2.5 mile hike to reach the double-sided waterfall.
Kapena Falls on Oahu located near Nu’uanu Memorial Park.
Waimano Falls on Oahu.
Pali Twin Falls aka Waipuilani Falls on Oahu at Pali Lookout.
Hamama Falls in Waihe’e Valley in Kaneohe on Oahu.
Get up close with the marine life around Oahu visiting one of the over 118 beaches on Oahu. Enjoy a dip in the ocean at one of Oahu’s most popular beaches or snorkel at one of the many popular snorkel spots:
Queens Beach & Sans Souci Beach
Ko Olina Lagoons
Kahe Point aka Electric Beach
Makaha Beach Park
Sunset Beach Park
Turtle Bay Resort
Snorkel Bob’s Recommended Snorkel Spots