Honolulu from Punchbowl, Oahu

Honolulu from Punchbowl by Kyle Hasegawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

Many people consider moving to Hawaii, and yet I wonder how many really consider what Oahu is like. There are some amazing places on the island, sure. But, the majority of your experience as a resident of Oahu will be traveling around the city, in traffic, in a place that might be more of a city type atmosphere than where you live in the mainland now. Honolulu is a big city. It is surrounded by beautiful things, sure, but it is a city – don’t forget…

I received the note below from a woman that wants to know what I think about their family moving to Hawaii, probably Oahu, while the main or only earner in the family does not have a job. I’ll comment below.

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Aloha Peter,
Thank you for putting together such a fantastic website for those of us wanting to move to Hawaii! You have collected a lot of really great information and advice. I was hoping that you wouldn’t mind offering advice on our specific situation.
My husband and I have two children and one on the way. We have been wanting to move to Hawaii for some time now, but are unsure what the best order is to do things in. He is gainfully employed here with a company that has an office in Honolulu, but they do not offer a transfer program. He is in the insurance industry, and though he has applied for jobs in Honolulu in the past, the response has always been that they are only considering local hires. So, we feel like he will have to have a local residence before he can be considered for a job. It seems that we would have to sell our current home and move out there to make that happen. With a family it is a bit of a frightening prospect to move so far with no income in a bad economy. Is this the way it’s done? Is there another way? We assumed that Oahu would be the best island for us because of the industry in Honolulu. Are we right?
I greatly appreciate any further advice you can offer. It’s a bit of an overwhelming prospect, but we are willing to take on the challenges an unknown to live our dream.

Thank you

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Hi Marcie,

Thanks for writing. I think there must be hundreds or maybe thousands of people in a similar situation – not quite sure about moving to Hawaii, whether it turns out to be Honolulu on Oahu, or one of the other islands. Job offers are usually not forthcoming while you are living on the mainland. When you arrive on island, you can either have an easy go of it, or a very difficult one. If it’s difficult it really zaps the savings!

You didn’t mention about savings. You’d sell your house and that would likely give you something.

If your husband is in insurance sales – there are probably positions open. Everyone needs sales people. If he does something else in the field, I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to whether he might pick up a job quickly or not.

Here’s another alternative. He takes off a week, two weeks from work and goes to Hawaii without you. He can have a look at job possibilities and interview, talk to people… he’ll get a better feel for whether gambling on moving your entire family will pay off, or not. Otherwise, it seems like too much risk to quit the job and sell the house and move.

Some are surprised by how fast they find a job. Others are horrified when they can’t find one. I had a recent email from a guy on Big Island that looked for 2 months solid, everywhere, and couldn’t even find something entry-level. He may have had some other issues that didn’t help him land a job, but still, it’s a data point that is worth considering.

The economy is in a dreadful state. Unless you have a lot of savings and don’t mind blowing it – I would send hubby over there first to have a good look (on Oahu, yes), and see what he can come up with. If nothing, then you have your answer – don’t take the risk.

Hope that helps… I didn’t touch on bringing children to Hawaii because I’ve pretty well covered it in some of my other posts. If you haven’t read my book on the topic – Moving to Hawaii 2012 – Is Paradise Right for You?, you can find it on this site, or at Amazon, Apple, etc. If you haven’t read the 100+ articles on living in Hawaii – you should have a look here: Hawaii Articles.

Best of luck!


Peter Kay