I have a series of articles about moving to Hawaii so I’m always getting comments from people that are ready to make the jump from the mainland, or even from overseas to Hawaii and want advice on how to best go about moving to the Hawaiian islands. This article will cover some of the essentials about moving to and finding a job so you can work in Hawaii on one of the islands.
Moving to Hawaii requires a reality check on Two Issues that none of us escape…
1. Cost of living in Hawaii is probably much more expensive than where you live now.
2. Good paying jobs are not that plentiful. I’m talking about jobs you want, jobs that you can find maybe in any other state in the nation. Jobs from which you can pick and choose.
The first point I’ll cover in other articles – Hawaii cost of living. It’s atrocious. It’s expected. You’re living in easily the most beautiful place in the USA – so, you’ll pay for it. How could you expect otherwise?
The second reality check involves JOBS. Job availability especially.
Someone wrote me recently and said she and her husband were thinking of moving to Maui. They didn’t have jobs yet. I thought – this deserves a whole post.
Willing to wait for the right job to work in Hawaii?
Finding a job on Oahu might be quite difficult if you’re looking for something specific. When Vern Lovic moved back here in 2002 he knew he wanted a job working in the internet marketing area since that was my specialty. He knew he wanted to make $50K minimum, but hopefully $70K. He was willing to wait a year or so before making it to $70K. The online business world was going very strong at that point and he didn’t have trouble within two weeks of lining up a great position with a up-and-coming dotcom that was actually a front for a massive spam operation. Legal spam that is… permission-based email.
The jobs available in Hawaii are, of course, mostly based on tourism and retail. I think the second biggest area might be for construction and manual labor. At least that’s how I see it. The available jobs are most often in these two areas. If you can work in either of those two industries you probably won’t have any trouble at all finding a job on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
That’s just Oahu. Oahu has over one million residents and there is some variety in the tourism area. You could even start your own unique tour business – but, that’s another post as well. Oahu is not that difficult to find jobs on – and, you’ll probably be fine if that’s where you want to live.
Now, on to the other islands…
Vern Lovic spent a year plus on Maui – working as a Marketing Manager for a resort firm there. Maui is heavenly – it was a perfect match for him. Many people visiting Maui think the same thing. Maui is high on the list of those wanting to move to Hawaii – but few of you will have the resources you need in order to make it there. Jobs are not so available. Housing is not so available. Transportation is not all that great.
In Vern Lovic’s case, he started on Oahu and found what he thought might be the perfect job on Maui. It’s much easier to start on Oahu and transition to another island from there. Much easier because you are now “in Hawaii” and can interview for positions on other islands. As you probably know it’s very difficult to secure a position in Hawaii without first already living in Hawaii. A necessary catch-22 for most businesses looking to hire full-time staff. They want to meet you first. Go figure…
If you’re coming straight to one of the smaller (in population) islands – Big Island, Kauai, Maui, or god forbid Lanai or Molokai you’ll want to have your ducks in order. Ducks meaning duckies. Cash savings. You’ll want to have a lot of reserves because the reality of moving to one of the smaller Hawaiian islands without a job is that you’re going to spend a lot of your cash reserves just on basic living expenses until you find a job.
Finding a job on Maui – if I just arrived there – would be quite difficult. I can do a hundred different jobs related to internet marketing – but, it’s quite possible that when I arrived – nobody is hiring.
If you have job skills in an area that doesn’t relate to tourism or construction or something that relates directly to positions needed in Hawaii – in Maui, or one of the other islands besides Oahu – you might have a REALLY tough time of finding a job.
Kauai would be worse than Maui. Molokai and Lanai would be virtually impossible for most people.
Should you move to Hawaii? Find out and take the quiz.
Work in Hawaii, the Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii is a very tight-knit community, especially the town of Hilo. There are two populations centers and as of 2023 according to the US Census, the population was 200,629 residents in Hawaii County (Big Island). Cost of living is cheaper than Oahu or Maui, but still – the number of job openings must be pretty weak. In the early 90s my wife and I moved to the Puna area of the Big Island and bought a house and land for $75,000. It was only after we actually moved into the house why we realized it was so cheap – no jobs!
So, to wrap it up I would say this about moving to Hawaii and finding a job…
Moving to Hawaii is a great idea. It might be the best idea you ever had. Moving to Hawaii is difficult and the expenses you’ll face, and the difficulty you may have in landing a job, are things you need to take into prolonged consideration. If it were me I would try desperately to find a couple of companies that are hiring for what I do before I moved. That way at least there’s a chance I could have a job quickly and not use all my savings as I ran all over the islands to find a job.
I’d not recommend moving directly to any other island except Oahu unless you have a serious stash of cash and you don’t mind blowing it.
Resources I would use to find jobs in Hawaii while still on the mainland:
- Craigslist Hawaii – and don’t miss our “3 Ways to Use Craigslist” to help you find jobs in Hawaii.
- Twitter – do a search on “hawaii” or “hawaiian” and try to locate and befriend people living in Hawaii.
- FaceBook – again, search people in Hawaii and join groups that are focused on Hawaii
- Honolulu Advertiser
- Maui News
- Hawaii Job Engine
I just created my best article ever about the subject here –
How to Find a Job in Hawaii (click)
Want to Move to Hawaii?
Learn more about Moving to, Living in, and Working in Hawaii: