The first time I went to live in Hawaii, I was sent to Oahu in the US Air Force. They arranged everything, and it couldn’t have been easier. I brought clothes in a suitcase, and my uniforms and other gear. That was about it besides some photos of friends, and a lot of papers.

Over the years I’ve shipped a lot of furniture, and a handful of vehicles to and from Hawaii. It becomes quite an involved process when you want to move some, or all of your possessions from the mainland (or anywhere) to Hawaii.

There are things you can do to minimize what might amount to “culture shock” when you move to Hawaii. One of them, you’ve already done. Buying this book will help a lot as a resource. Another is using my free website. Another is watching my YouTube videos under “Moving to Hawaii” there are four videos to watch. I review one of my earlier books about moving to Hawaii, and invariably I add some new information to the video than I have put in the book.

There is a list of helpful resources at the end of this book you can use too. Some are friends; some are places I’ve gone frequently. Others are resources that get great reviews from friends but that I haven’t tried yet.

What else can you do to get a good picture of what it will be like living the 50th State?

Talk to other people and get different points of view about moving here. There are over a million people on the islands, and while most of them like it or love it, a great deal there are those that do not. Some of them will be moving away as soon as they can afford to. You should try to find people from both sides and see what they like and don’t like about life in Hawaii.

Talk to as many people as you can find that will chat with you about it.


I recommend you join and get familiar with using is a chat service; I’ll not go through all the details of how to set up an account. It isn’t too difficult.

Using Twitter’s “Search” function you can search the messages of hundreds of millions of members to see who is talking about “living in Hawaii” or “moving to Hawaii”. Once you find some people you can send them a message and ask them if they might share some of their opinions or knowledge on the subject.

This is a very cheap, very efficient, and very common thing to do recently. Twitter has become a major resource online for finding information about anything people are talking about. I strongly recommend you join the service, spend some time figuring it out, and use the search function. I am sure you’ll be able to find helpful people that will let you know their true feelings about living in Hawaii.

Be aware that some Hawaii residents aren’t looking forward to anyone else coming to the islands. Hawaii is getting crowded (some say it has always been) and more people are coming everyday to see what it’s like to live in paradise. People you meet online are not always the type to portray an accurate picture of what it’s really like to live in Hawaii full-time. They might try to dissuade you from giving it a shot.

What is the best way to figure out if you could make it in Hawaii?

I strongly recommend you visit the islands first. When you do, talk to as many locals as you can to help you figure out what the reality of the situation is. I’m writing this book to show you the reality of living in the islands as I see it. I’m very pro-Hawaii, as you might have guessed. Everyone sees things differently. The best thing to do is find many people to talk with all with a variety of opinions, likes, dislikes, needs, agendas, etc.

Do your homework and talk to people, or you won’t have a real good idea what living in Hawaii is like.

Also, when contacting others that reside in Hawaii, remember it has its own Time Zone Hawaiian Standard Time Zone.

Sometimes the state is six hours behind the mainland’s East coast. Sometimes just five hours depending on Daylight Savings Time which Hawaii does not follow. Be considerate of making contact with people in Hawaii according to their time.

Airport Codes

Here is a list of the airports on the main Hawaiian Islands, along with their airport codes you can use when you’re planning airline flights to Hawaii.

Typically it takes nine hours from Chicago to Oahu’s Honolulu International Airport, and five to six hours from California.

Oahu Airports

~ Honolulu International Airport (HNL) Oahu’s largest and most used airport.

~ Dillingham Airfield (HDH) this is a small airport used for light aircraft and is located on the northwestern side of Oahu.

~ Kalaeloa Airport (JRF) another less-used airport located in Kapolei, on the west side of Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii.

Maui Airports

~ Hana Airport (HNM) Hana airport is located on the extreme eastern side of Maui, and is for light aircraft.

~ Kahului Airport (OGG) the main airport for Maui.

~ Kapalua Airport (JHM) this is a small airport on the side of a hill near Kahana on the west side of Maui.

Hawaii Airports

~ Hilo International Airport (ITO) one of the main big island airports.

~ Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) the other main big island airport.

~ Upolu Airport (UPP)

~ Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE)

Kauai Airports

~ Lihue Airport (LIH) the main arrival airport, but it is so small and quaint that you might think you landed in the wrong place. Nope, this is Kauai!

~ Port Allen Airport (PAK)

Molokai Airports

~ Kalaupapa Airport (LUP)

~ Molokai Airport (MKK)

Lanai Airports

~ Lanai Airport (LNY)

Bringing Your Pet to Hawaii

Hawaii has the rare distinction of being a rabies-free state. It just doesn’t exist in the islands. Apparently this is something they want to continue, so they strictly restrict pets coming in.

I remember back in 1985 when I first arrived in Hawaii, there were people I knew that were waiting to have their dogs and cats out of the quarantine station in Hawaii for an entire year!

Today that has changed a bit, but your pet will still stay one hundred twenty days unless you jump through some more hoops. If you’re a good hoop jumper, you just might be able to get your pet into Hawaii and joining you at your home in just thirty days. That’s a big improvement over one year, right? Guess what? There is also a five-day quarantine option that you might be lucky enough to qualify for.

Fees for bringing your pet over to Hawaii range from $175 to $1,100 not including airfare to send your pet from wherever you live currently.

Nor does that include costs to visit your pet, from the other islands. The pet quarantine facility is located on the island of Oahu, in Aiea. If you live on Kauai, you’ll have additional costs that someone on Oahu, won’t have.

Hawaii Animal Quarantine Facility

99-951 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, HI 96701-5602
Phone: 808-483-7151 or 7151, Fax 808-483-7161
Email: or

In addition to restricting the import of cats and dogs to Hawaii there are requirements for bringing other animals, and plants too.

For information about bringing plants to Hawaii, contact:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture – Plant Quarantine

1849 Auiki Street
Honolulu, HI 96 819
Phone: 808-832-0566, Fax: 808-832-0584

Moving Personal Belongings to Hawaii

You might think it’s impossible for someone to move all your stuff from your current house on the east coast of the USA to Hawaii, including your car, truck, and riding lawnmower. But, it is possible! It’s not even that difficult. Sure there are things you’ll have to manage yourself but, all in all it isn’t that big of a deal.

Typical costs for moving the furniture and other belongings of a 5-person family in a 3-bedroom, 2,000 square foot home with two cars will be in the neighborhood of $15K 20K from Florida.

When you can, ask some people living in Hawaii that have moved from the mainland about their shipping experiences. If they lived in the same region as you, maybe you can use the same local moving company to handle your furniture.

Schedule the movers to arrive a day or two before your flight leaves for Hawaii. The good movers will come to your house in the morning by 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., with a giant truck or two, and begin the slow process of wrapping each piece of furniture and box you have with blankets and very strong wrapping plastic so your belongings will survive the trip over the ocean without getting banged up and broken.

Pack all your small things, well padded, into boxes. Then, either put them in bigger boxes, or the movers will do it. Bicycle boxes can be found at the bicycle stores. Some will even wrap the bikes for you in bike boxes for a reasonable fee. I think it is well worth it to have them do it, they can take off the pedals and loosen the stem and handlebars to make the bike fit easily into the box. It’s something less for you to worry about. Let them do it.

Some movers will let you wrap your items yourself. You may save about $1K doing it that way, but really you’ll have enough to worry about. Let them do it, rather than you taking the responsibility for wrapping every box and piece of furniture in your house well enough that it doesn’t get scratched or broken in a boat container that may experience heavy seas.

I’ve only had one problem with shipping items from the mainland to Hawaii my car was scratched up on the door a bit. Matson paid for the damage, so it wasn’t so bad.

I’ve shipped three cars – a Honda Prelude, a Lexus RX300, a Toyota Tercel, and a truck, each for about $1K. This required driving three of the vehicles from Florida to Los Angeles at the “Matson Shipping” office in Long Beach, California. I shipped one car the other way from Hawaii to Florida when I left the Air Force too and had no problem.

Time to arrive in Hawaii from California – once the boat departs?

About three weeks.

Not too bad, right?

What Items to Bring With You To Hawaii?

People usually do it one of two ways

  1. Bring everything they own and that they’ve collected over the decades.
  2. Bring the bare essentials, and buy what is needed on the island.

People that are in Hawaii already also recommend the same plan of attack. Personally, I like the idea of selling everything and arriving with just the clothes on my back and in my suitcase. Oh, and I do always bring a vehicle.

If it sat around your present home gathering dust, you will never need it in Hawaii. The Hawaii experience is so different and it has the power to change the person you are. I no longer watched TV after I arrived in Hawaii. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was completely wasting my valuable time because now there were all these other things to do outside instead.

Good thing I didn’t bring a TV here because it would have been pointless.

And that’s what I mean, bringing things that were part of your life in the mainland USA, probably doesn’t make sense.

Think hard about whether it’s worth it to take things you may never use again. Shipping is expensive. Why not sell all your stuff, pocket that money AND the $10K – $20K and buy what you need when you arrive in Hawaii?

Makes sense to me but up to you of course.

The clothing you need, will depend where you will live, but in general, shorts and loose, light shirts is all you need. You will probably buy new clothes when you arrive, so again, I recommend taking the minimum.

Bring important documents ID, tax papers, business papers, medical records, prescriptions and scripts, diplomas and whatever else is essential.

United Parcel Service serves Hawaii and it only takes five to ten days to receive your items when sent through the mail from the mainland.

Shipping for Autos and Household Goods

Matson Navigation Company
Phone: 800-462-8766 (toll-free)

Horizon Lines (CSX Lines)
Phone: 842-5300 locally or 877-678-7447 (toll-free)

Honolulu Freight Service
Phone: 808-531-0258

Young Brothers Limited (Hawaii interisland moves only)
Phone: 808-543-9311

The cost of shipping a car from California to Hawaii through Matson is about $1K for a standard vehicle. This means within these measurements: 21′ 8″ long x 8′ wide x 7′ high. As you can see there is wide leeway and most vans, trucks, and cars fall within that range.

Moving You to Hawaii

Check whatever airline has a hub in the airports near you. Hawaiian Air also serves some mainland cities and has some great fares at times.

There is a website that specializes in finding really cheap fares from around the USA to Hawaii here:

Checklist Before Going

  1. Sell your house, or figure out what to do with it. Rent it out?
  2. Make a list what can you not live without in Hawaii and what can you sell or give away? I really think you should not bring everything you own there is no point. Buy what you need when you arrive in Hawaii. Your lifestyle may change significantly mine did, every time I moved!
  3. Call your accountant will any portion of the moving expenses be deductible on taxes? Work moves can be written off substantially.
  4. Start researching jobs if you plan on working in Hawaii well before you leave. In fact, this is one of the major determinants of whether you will end up “making it” in Hawaii or not. Your job should pay enough, and be a good match for your personality. There are some awesome jobs in Hawaii I’ve had three. Of course, there are hundreds more; you just have to find them.

Finding a job will be difficult before you arrive but check out the scene. Find a company you want to work for. Find an area you want to live. Find a career field that has frequent job openings. Do your research before you arrive.

  1. Choose an island and an area to live. Saying you’ll live on Oahu or Maui, isn’t enough. The locales differ remarkably from each other. Kapolei versus Hawaii Kai the differences are enormous. Again, research for many hours to find the place you want to live. This, in addition to your job, will be crucial in the outcome of your move.

Use Google Earth to see a satellite view of different areas of the islands. This has helped me a lot over the years!

  1. If you or your family members will be attending school do your research! There are good and bad schools in Hawaii and the good ones charge a high tuition. Punahou on Oahu, where President Obama went, costs way over $1K per month in tuition. Yes, I’m talking about high school!
  2. Have a plan for the day you arrive, and the days after as you transition into a permanent residence. There are condo’s available all over Oahu, but less so on the other islands. There are, of course, hotels everywhere, but they are very expensive to stay during your transition.
  3. Notify all friends and relatives of your move.
  4. Complete change of address at the post office.
  5. Get a bank account in Hawaii. Mainland banks do not exist in Hawaii, so get a local account as fast as you can – on vacation in the islands would be ideal before you arrive.
  6. If you already have a house, condo, or apartment you’re moving into turn on the utilities electric and water a couple days before you leave for Hawaii.
  7. Turn off your utilities at your old home.
  8. Research mobile phone service and Internet if it will be essential when you arrive.

How long will it take you to find a home?

I recommend you spend a lot of time thinking about exactly what you want, and compare that to what is available in Hawaii on the island you want to live. Housing is different on each island. Have a real clear idea what you want to spend, and which area you will likely work, before you go.

It’s quite possible to find a house and move into it within about two months of arriving. Or, it could take you more than six months. You can almost always find an apartment (condo) in a couple of days. You should already be familiar with the island you’re moving to and you should have a list of homes you want to see that you found on the Internet.

You should contact a Realtor before you go if you plan on using one, because they can line up a group of homes to show you that fit all your specifications. Sometimes in housing listed online you won’t have any idea what a neighborhood looks like. A realtor living in Hawaii can tell you what the area is like though they are limited by what all they can tell you.

There are people that move to Hawaii and rent with just $4K in their pocket as they get off the plane in Honolulu.

Others are going to buy a home and will need to spend weeks or months looking. If that is your situation, you should budget about $12K for you (with family) to get through sixty days of living in Hawaii without income.

If you’re going alone budget about $7K to $10K. If you and a spouse, then more like $10K to $20K.

You’ll likely be eating out for all of your meals unless you feel inspired and want to rent a room with a kitchen and create your own meals. With the time you’ll spend on the road you are probably better off just to plan to eat at restaurants during your house-hunting period.

If you require something better than a $100/night room budget accordingly.

The Long Airplane Flight to Hawaii from Mainland USA

Though it’s not anything like a 24-hour flight, like it was for me coming from the USA to Thailand, the flight to Hawaii can still be quite long for those not used to being in the air for five to ten hours at a time. New Jersey’s Newark airport has a direct non-stop flight that takes about ten hours going straight to Honolulu.

Flying for that many hours especially with kids can be traumatic!

I’ve flown about 120 trips on passenger planes, and here is how I get through long flights. Some of these tips come from a time when I’ve had kids, so those tips are in this section as well.

IPhone – If you have an iPhone, or other €˜smartphone’ you’re going to make it with a minimum of boredom. Load your phone up with mp3€²s first. You’ll need about twenty songs per hour at three minutes per song. If you’re flying from New Jersey straight through you’ll need two-hundred songs minimum and that’s if you just want to play them all and not choose from among them. You’ll need four-hundred if you want any sort of choice in the matter.

Grab some videos from YouTube. There are free services that allow you to download whole YouTube videos and play them on your phone when you want, without an Internet connection. Usually you just copy-paste a YouTube website address (URL) into a box on the download site and then choose what quality video you want to download to your computer. If you have a computer with Macintosh software, you’ll have to transfer it to your phone through Apple’s convoluted and ridiculous system. Meaning, upload to iTunes and then download it back to your phone, but hey you bought their products! I did too and love them for most everything but this silly feature of theirs.

If you were smart, you bought an Android phone, and can just transfer files easily from your computer straight to the phone. Saving about five hours of trouble.

Angry Birds is a great way to pass the time. Make sure you have a lot of levels to play over thirty or so. You can buy many different editions to keep you and your kids entertained. You probably won’t pass all the levels by the time you reach Hawaii, so you’ll have something to do for the trip back home. Hopefully you’re so exhausted by your action-packed Hawaii trip that you sleep the entire flight back, but it’s good to have options.

If you have kids teach them how to play Angry Birds and as many other games as you can on your portable device before you leave, that way they’ll be overjoyed when you hand it to them to play for nine hours straight! If you have more than one kid, you might buy the cheap iPod, which can do everything the iPad or iPhone does, except use mobile phone services. You can still make calls using SKYPE or a VOIP service that requires Wi-Fi Internet so, it’s a pretty good deal to buy an iPod for all the kids in the family.

EBooks Smart phones and tablet computers are great ways to read Amazon Kindle eBooks or books purchased from the iBook store at Apple. To read Amazon’s Kindle books on any device, just download the free Kindle software for Amazon and register your device with your account. This way, you can purchase eBooks from your device or anyone’s computer by logging into your account at Amazon. After you purchase your eBook, you can choose which device to send it to. The eBook is automatically sent to your preferred device the next time you’re connected to the Internet. The books you buy are downloaded automatically and it’s all very seamless. Amazon knows how to create a nice experience for buyers.

If there is something else you want to read and article, a TXT file, a PDF, a MS Word file, or something else, you can have Amazon send it to your phone also.

They just came out with new software you can install on your computer which will allow you to send any document from your computer to your Kindle (whether you use the Kindle software or hardware reader) by right clicking the file on your computer and choosing, “Send to Kindle”. The name of the software is also called, “Send to Kindle”. The location for it at present (12/2013) is:

Windows PCs

Mac PCs

Movies – You can rent whole movies from Netflix and view them on your computer. Keep in mind your plane to Hawaii will likely have a couple in-flight movies play for you at your seat. Amazon also has a video download service that will allow you to use your smart phone to view them, or iPad or other tablet computer.

Sleep the Entire Flight – If you are traveling alone, or in a group of adults you can always try the “get a little hammered before you board” trick. For this I only need one or two beers, which I drink fast before I get on the plane. I get very sleepy when I have any alcohol, so it isn’t long before I’m zonked out for at least three to four hours; sometimes I make it the whole way to Honolulu International Airport when I’m lucky!

Flying With Children – Flying to Hawaii from the mainland is a long flight made even longer if you have a kid screaming for even a fraction of the time. If you are bringing one or more kids, I can’t emphasize this trick enough:

Sleep deprive them! Make sure the kids are ready to sleep as the plane climbs to altitude. If it makes you feel any better, you’re not really depriving them of sleep, look at it like you are preparing them for the big time difference, so they can get used to it easier!

Bring With You On the Plane:

Long-sleeved shirt, socks, and some clothes you can bundle up into a pillow. They give out pillows on the plane, but usually it isn’t enough for me and I bundle some shirts around it to make it thick enough. I also have this odd aversion to putting my head on anyone’s pillow other than my own.

Earplugs. If it isn’t your child screaming, it will be someone else’s. One problem is that some children on the flight invariably have a sinus condition, a cold, or allergies, and their sinuses build up pressure and it feels like they will explode. It hurts a LOT. I had it very bad one time, and I thought I would start screaming myself. If your children have a head cold, make sure to give them something to clear up their sinuses good or, don’t take them on the flight the pain can be unbearable.

Lip balm to keep your lips moist, the air is dryer than the Sahara Desert on a long flight. You might also bring some drops to keep your eyes moist.

Anti-bacterial wipes or lotion if you can get it on the plane, but I think that’s been eliminated as a possibility lately. What hasn’t?

Bandana to tie around your eyes, eye-patches, whatever you can use to cover your eyes from the person in front that leaves their window slide open for the 90 degree sun to shine right onto your face, while the rest of the plane is entirely dark.

Deck of cards if you’re traveling with someone, or heck, even if you’re not everyone knows how to play 21 or poker right? Make some friends, but be careful not to lose your money!

Pad of paper. I always write farewell letters to my mom and wife when I fly on a plane. It’s just a good way to pass the time! I also bring some blank sheets that I can draw ideas on. For some reason, sitting on a plane with nothing to do but think for half-a-dozen hours, really brings out some creative ideas.

Diapers, milk, wipes, snacks, toys that don’t make noise, children’s books and their favorite stuffed animal or whatever is necessary to help them sleep.