Is Moving To Hawai’i Right For You?

Is Moving To Hawai’i Right For You?

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
ship moving to oahu hawaii

Things to consider before moving to Hawai’i.


As I dropped off my vehicle at the port to have it shipped to O’ahu, I asked the clerk a question.  “How many vehicles are dropped off a day?” “Maybe 60-80, and most of them come back” she replied with a laugh.  And there you have it.  Actually, according to US Census Bureau stats, more people are moving out of Hawaii, than moving here.  

Therefore, this article will give you an in-depth analysis of some factors to consider before deciding on moving to Hawai’i.  First . . . 


person counting cash

Most important thing to be aware of –  living in Hawaii is expensive. First is housing. Whether renting or buying, you get a lot less here for your money than most places on the mainland.   Though Amazon delivering here has definitely helped lower some expenses, most things still cost more.  From car wash, to dry cleaner, to milk, plan on paying more for almost everything. The rule of thumb is 20% more. The reason is most items sold here are shipped or flown in. Also be aware, Hawai’i has a high state income tax.


These days, the Hawai’i Government strictly guards the state ecosystem from the invasion of non-native animals, plant species, and pets suspected to be carriers of disease.  Therefore, it’s important you plan accordingly when moving to Hawai’i with your pets.  You can choose either a 120 day quarantine or a 5 day quarantine.  Quarantine is done on O’ahu.  There is a lot to know, so read more about pet quarantine here.  


If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you’ll likely love Hawai’i. Across the islands, you’ll find various species of wildlife, some endemic to only a single island.   Regardless of where you choose to live here, wildlife will be a part of your daily life.  Most common will be a variety of birds and geckos, but depending on your activities you can often see whales, turtles, tropical fishes, mongoose and wild pig.  Here are some favorite species of wildlife.  However, the author missed a special one . . . Wallaby.  Yep, it is estimated there is 40 Wallaby living on O’ahu.  If you move to O’ahu, you might get lucky and catch a rare look at one.  

3b.  Mind The Rooster 

chicken crowing on O'ahu Hawaii

Prior to my 2017 trip to O’ahu, I had always stayed in Waikiki. Thus, I had no idea about the wild chickens. Both hens and roosters can be incredibly beautiful, however, if you move to Hawai’i and want to live in a quiet neighborhood, you definitely need to keep the roosters in mind — as these fellas are noisy. And this is coming from a person who lived on a blueberry farm as a kid and had chickens. Here in Hawai’i, it’s not just the morning call. If you live in an area highly populated with chickens, there’s a good chance of a rooster crowing at any time of day. However, there is an easy solution to a, particularly noisy bird. A local has told me these wild chickens are “mighty tasty” to eat.


If you are moving to Hawai’i from a big city with the hopes of escaping traffic, think again. Traffic is often heavy – especially during commute hours and weekends.  Because of this, a number of people utilize the public bus system.  On O’ahu, there is light rail under construction but not schedule for completion until 2020 for first section.  Because of limited land and difficulty of building new roads, it appears our traffic problem is not going away any time soon.  


After you’ve moved to Hawai’i, sooner or later you might experience, “Island Fever.”  One remedy for this, is to go explore a different island of the Hawaiian archipelago.  Fortunately, Hawaiian and Mukulele airlines makes this very easy (and pretty affordable) to do.  For a getaway, I highly recommend it.  Thus far, I’ve been to O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’i, and Kauai, and each island truly has it’s own unique characteristics.  Seeing each island for its own uniqueness, can make a person grateful for which island he/she lives as well as the speciall beauty of each other island.  Lastly, if you do island hop, be sure to get a window seat.  The views are incredible.  



One of the first things to do after you’ve settled in, is get your Hawaiian driver’s license.  As a holder of the local license, you are entitled to discounts popularly known as Kama’aina discounts.  Therefore, get your new license as quick as possible.  Not all places honor it, but always remember to ask when buying anything at local shops, restaurants and tourists attractions.  It is most often a 10% discount. So what does kama’aina means?  Literally it means, “child of the land.”  


green grasshopper on stick

It’s best you’re prepared for the presence of an abundance amount of insects when you move to Hawai’i. Irrespective of how clean your residence is, there is a high probability you’ll eventually see a cockroach.  A variety of ant species are also common as well are centipedes and millipedes.  

After moving to O’ahu, I quickly learned that most locals just accept insects as a part of life.  Cockroaches are a nuisance and it is not surprising to see them running (sometimes flying) around at night.  And unfortunately, mosquitoes are also very numerous in certain parts of Hawaii.  Be prepared, especially if you enjoy hiking.  And a local tip that I fortunately have yet to use.  Keep small bottles of ammonia in different parts of your residence.  Thus, if you are bitten by a centipede, quickly apply bandage soaked with ammonia.  Supposedly this greatly reduces pain and recovery time.  However, like all things, with a little patience and time, you will get used to dealing with the numerous insects.   Maybe even learn to appreciate the important role they play in the ecosystem.  


A favorite of mine.  Thankfully, due to the climate here, the dress code is mostly casual.  And unless you are in Honolulu, it’s quite rare to see people wearing typical corporate dresses. You may be surprised to see people wearing Hawaiian shirts attend official engagements, business meetings and special events. I’d describe the dress code here as simple and diverse.  So dress for the weather and what you are comfortable in.  And “flip flops” or “thongs” are known as “slippers” here.  



If you are a punctual person like I am, I do not recommend you changing your ways.  However, the chance of you enjoying life here will greatly increase if you understand and accept “island time.”  What is “island time?”  Simply things are often done at a slower pace, and that 12pm casual lunch meeting, may not start until 12:10, 12:15. . . . 12:20.  For me, moving here single, and without a job, my first experience with with “island time” was going on a few dates.  I’d always show up on time or even early, and end up waiting a bit.  “Island time” started to dawn on me then, but really hit home when a woman said “locals are going to find it weird if you show up to their house early.  Best to always be just a little late so they don’t get stressed.”  Now this isn’t a steadfast rule – but when it comes to meeting someone . . . relax and enjoy the beauty of Hawai’i while you wait.     



Due to the high number of people who quickly change their mind about living in Hawaii, many local companies are skeptical about hiring people who just moved here.  Also, and this was a shock to me, a similar job position generally pays less here than mainland.  On O’ahu, where I live, I’ve spoken to numerous transplants who complain about the lower salaries here and have been told it’s worse on other islands. The reality is Hawaiians make less than their mainland counterparts in almost every industry.  Thus, be prepared that you may likely earn less here than you did on the mainland.


rainbow oahu hawaii

Aloha. . . “The Breath Of Life Given Face To Face.”  If you make an effort to embrace the history, culture and locals of Hawai’i, you’ll discover a friendship and love shared by many living here.  The same can be said about Mana – something I’ve experience many times sitting quietly on a surfboard.  I highly recommend you leave all your expectations, and most of your mainland “conditioning” on the mainland.  Move here with an open mind and heart and gratefully accept all that Hawai’i offers to you.

Made the decision to move to Hawai’i? Want to buy a house or condo here? Simply call me directly at 808 354-5772 or click here. I look forward to helping you achieve your real estate goals. I’m here to serve you.

Signup for Bryan’s Monthly Newsletter  

realtor bryan vukelich sign up page



Leave a Replay

About Enjoy Living In O'ahu

I am a full service real estate agent on O’ahu and my goal is to consistently offer you superlative service.  And if you need assistance on another island, please contact me.  I’ve teamed up with some of the best agents on each island.

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get Listings Sent Directly To Your InBox!


Get The Scoop!