How to move to Hawaii from the mainland: The ultimate checklist

How to move to Hawaii from the mainland: The ultimate checklist


Do you fantasize about living in Hawaii? When the wind is whipping under your porch, and you’ve not seen a ray of sunshine for several months, Hawaii is bound to look like a very attractive place to live. However, it’s all well and good to dream, but could it actually be a reality? It’s one hell of a decision to make. Are you ready to sell everything and jet off across the Pacific Ocean? 

If you’re sure it’s the right move to make, let’s help you plan it out and show you what you need to keep in mind before you head off to paradise. Keep reading for our moving to Hawaii checklist.

Can anyone move to Hawaii?

As long as you are a US citizen or have a green card, you need no special permissions to move to Hawaii and live there permanently. Hawaii might be separated by 2,400 miles of the Pacific Ocean; the culture might be unique; however, it’s relatively uncomplicated to move across the ocean. 

Relocating to Hawaii is very similar to relocating between states on the mainland. There are, however, two significant differences. These are shipping your vehicle and complying with Hawaii’s animal quarantine laws. We’ll look at both of these issues a little further down the page.  

How much does it cost to move to Hawaii?

Now that you know it’s possible, you’re probably wondering how much it’ll cost. We’ll look at how much it’ll cost to ship a car in a minute. But first, let’s address the issue of moving all your household goods and personal possessions. 

The actual cost will depend on how much stuff you want to move. Where you’re moving from and to is another critical factor. There’s also the possibility that your employer might help you pay for the move, which is going to make a difference. Let’s give you a ballpark figure. If you want to move the contents of a three-bedroom house, you should allow anything between $5,000 and $10,000.

The most common way to move your things is in a shipping container, a service charged by weight. Some people would suggest one of the best ways to move to Hawaii is to leave all your furniture and household items on the mainland. However, selling your possessions and then buying new would be quite an undertaking.  

Is moving to Hawaii a realistic dream?

Have you been dreaming about moving to Hawaii for years, or are your dreams more recent? You can realize your dreams with a little planning. Being financially prepared is also going to work to your advantage. 

Before you make the final preparations, it’s going to be a good idea to visit as much of Hawaii as you can. That way, you’ll get a feel for where you’d like to move. Some areas outside of populated Oahu can be very remote, which isn’t going to suit everyone. 

If you’re planning to rent a home rather than buy one, you’ll also need to be on the island for an in-person meeting with the property manager. Very few of them will rent sights unseen to a new tenant. 

Can you ship a car to Hawaii?

Hawaii car shipping

Of course, you’re going to wonder whether you can take your faithful four wheels with you to Hawaii. You’ll be pleased to hear it is entirely possible and more affordable than you think.

You want to get around the islands, and if you’ve already got a vehicle, why wouldn’t you take it with you? Buying a new car is an option but have you got enough cash? Cars in Hawaii can be expensive, and you also run the risk of buying a lemon if you choose to buy an used vehicle.  

What about renting? Is that a viable option? It is if you’re not planning on staying in Hawaii permanently. Rent a car while you’re looking around the islands, but if you’re staying longer than a couple of weeks, the cost of car rental might break the bank.

You can ship a car to Hawaii from various ports on the mainland, for example:

If you want to ship a car to Hawaii, we offer a door to port service here at SGT Auto Transport. We pick your vehicle up from a location of your choosing on the mainland. We then transport it and deliver it to a port in Hawaii of your choosing. 

With Hawaii car transport, you can arrange the collection of your vehicle from a variety of places. If it’s safe and legal, it could be right outside your home. A parking lot nearby, a wide street in your neighborhood, or where you work are also suitable locations. 

How Hawaii car transport works

Shipping a car to Hawaii is a very straightforward process. There are just three simple steps.

1. Get a quote and book your order

The first step is to get a quote and book your order. Choose us as your shipping partner, and you can get an instant quote online using the quote calculator. You can also speak directly with our shipping advisors by telephone or Live Chat. If you’re happy with the price, make your booking and get your car ready for shipping. 

To prepare your vehicle for shipping, you should:

  • Clean the inside and outside of the vehicle
  • Check the vehicle is operational. The brakes must work. Your vehicle must not leak any fluids. The wheels must move, and the windows must be intact. 
  • Disconnect all alarms
  • Remove all personal items

If you’ve leased or financed your vehicle, you must get permission to ship your vehicle to Hawaii.  

2. The car shipping company picks up your vehicle

The Hawaii car transport company will contact you a few hours before the scheduled pick-up time to confirm the location. You can arrange for a pick-up right outside your home. However, that’s not always an option, if, for example, there are overhanging trees or power lines. If any of these apply, the carrier may ask you to meet at an alternative location such as a parking lot, adjacent street, or outside your workplace. 

When the company arrives, you’ll check over your vehicle and record any scratches, dings, or dents on the Bill of Lading.  

3. The car shipping company delivers your vehicle

The Hawaii car shipping company will deliver your vehicle to a port in Hawaii. You can choose one that is most convenient for you. When your vehicle arrives, you should check its condition and make sure everything is in order. Use a copy of the Bill of Lading for reference. 

If you’re happy that everything is in order, accept your vehicle and drive it away.  

What is it like to live in Hawaii?

Moving to Hawaii dream

Well, there’s one thing for sure, the weather is going to be amazing. If you’re a surfer, the waves are to die for. Romantics among you are bound to love the sunsets, but what is life really like on a day-to-day basis? 

First of all, expect to pay more for everyday things. The cost of food and housing are more than you’d pay on the mainland. Other things to consider:

  • Most houses don’t have built-in heating systems
  • The speed limit is around 45 miles per hour
  • Traveling outside of the state will be at least a five-hour trip

Aside from this, Hawaii will be your piece of paradise. It is the dream world you’ve been longing for, and you get to enjoy it for the rest of your life. 

Choose an island to move to

Which island will make the perfect home for you and your family? All of them have breathtaking scenery, and the weather is fantastic, but some islands might be a better fit than others. 

Six islands make up Hawaii, but two are very remote and sparsely populated. That leaves Oahu, Maui, The Big Island, and Kauai. 

Moving to Oahu

Oahu is the most populous and great for people who are used to and enjoy city life and entertainment. You have to be prepared for lots of traffic and plenty of crowds. 

Some of the state’s most popular destinations are on this island, including its capital, Honolulu. There is a lot of development going on, so it’s undoubtedly the island with the most job opportunities. Popular industries include tourism, government, military, construction, and health care. 

Moving to Maui

Maui is much smaller than Oahu, although it still has a sizeable population. It is best known for its beauty, cultural scene, and artist communities.

Maui is also referred to as the “Valley Isle.” This name was given thanks to the large isthmus that separates the northwestern and southeastern volcanic masses on the island. 

Maui has some beautiful scenery and a wealth of outdoor activities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Biking and hiking at Haleakala National Park
  • Snorkel with sea turtles around the lava arches off the small island of Molokini
  • Spot migrating humpback whales in the winter months
  • ‘Take a drive on the Road to Hana, which is one of the most breathtaking drives you’ll ever experience 

Moving to the Big Island

Big Island is the largest Hawaiian island and is twice as big as all the other islands combined. It also contains the most diverse geography. On the west side of the island, it is hot and dry. In the east, it is wet and tropical. 

Despite its size, the Big Island is home to only one-fifth of the population of Oahu. The primary source of jobs on the island is tourism. Agriculture and civil related jobs come in second and third.  

Moving to Kauai

Kauai is the smallest of the four main islands, both in size and population. It has a very small-town feel, and most residents live on the coast. This is because the interior of the island is mostly made up of impassable terrain. 

Only around 20% of the island is accessible by foot or road. Jobs on Kauai are mostly in tourism, civil related jobs, and some military. 

Plan out your new life

Plan new life in Hawaii

It pays to have a plan in place for when you move to Hawaii. You’ll need a job, somewhere to live, and if you’ve got kids, they’ll need somewhere to go to school. 

Jobs in Hawaii

The cost of living in Hawaii is very high, so you’re probably going to need to find a job. Unless you’re a retiree, able to work remotely, or are moving to Hawaii for a promotion. Hawaii has a relatively low unemployment rate, but it can still be challenging to find a job.

Jobs are mostly available in:

  • Tourism
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Construction
  • Government
  • Military

There is also an emerging startup scene. 

You can search for jobs on LinkedIn, Craiglist, Real Jobs Hawaii, Indeed, Monster, Hawaii Jobs on Demand, and  

Buying or renting a home

Homes are expensive in Hawaii. Zillow, a leading real estate and rental marketplace estimate a median home will set you back $617,500. The median rental price is $2,400. However, we should point out that prices vary dramatically.

In Honolulu, for example, the average home value is $672,900. While in Hilo, it’s a mere $310,200. Whether you should rent or buy depends very much on where you’ll be moving and how long you plan to stay.    

Finding good schools

Where your kids are going to go to school is a vital consideration. The best place to start doing your research is on Hawaii’s statewide public school district website. You should also investigate the options for private schools. Great Schools is another excellent website for information on school ratings. 

Health insurance

Health care insurance is something else you need to consider when you move to Hawaii. A large percentage of work on the islands is tourism-related and, therefore seasonal in nature. This means many employers employ a lot of part-time or contract-based workers. Typically, this type of work does not include the same health insurance benefits as a full-time job.

That being said, the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act mandates employers to offer coverage to employees working at least 20 hours per week. 

Make sure you carefully research your options and budget accordingly. It’s also worth knowing that your health insurance options may be more limited on the islands than the mainland.  

Can you bring your pets?

Bet you didn’t realize that Hawaii is the only rabies-free state. To keep it that way, there are very strict rules and regulations for animals entering Hawaii. 

For your furry friends, there are inspections and a quarantine period for dogs, cats, and all kinds of other animals you might want to import.

Here are some of the rules you’ll have to comply with:

  • Compile records of your pet’s vaccinations
  • Get your pet tested for rabies at least 30 days before your arrival
  • Have your vet sing a certificate of health for your pet
  • Pay Hawaii’s pet entry fee, which varies by breed and mode of transportation
  • Your pet must be examined once you arrive at the airport

If your dog or cat doesn’t pass the airport examination upon arrival or you don’t follow the protocol, your precious fur baby will have to be quarantined for around 120 days.  

Pack and move

With all of that information out of the way, it’s time to start planning your move. May through to August are the busiest for moving, so if you’re worried about the cost of moving, choose to schedule your move between the off months of September and March. During these months, you’re more likely to get a better price than during the height of the summer. 

You need to carefully select a moving company that has experience with overseas moves. Do your research and only work with a reputable moving company that has experience with moves to Hawaii.

A long-distance move requires that you carry out the packing with great care to avoid damage. Keep things as minimalistic as possible. Declutter your home and don’t get overly sentimental about the furniture you need to say goodbye to.  

If you have any questions about our Hawaii car transport service, don’t hesitate to contact us. Speak directly with our shipping advisors on (864) 546-5038, or use our Live Chat option.  

Get a quote banner