What Is The Cheapest Way To Move To Hawaii?

Pack your stuff in totes and ship as checked baggage

  • Minimize your must-bring belongings to 4 totes or less.

  • Ship those totes as checked baggage on your flight

  • Bring the most critical items as carry-on

  • Book your one-way ticket!

Why This Is The Best Way To Move On The Cheap

You don’t need to hire a moving company and your stuff arrives the same time you do in Hawaii.  Get rid of all your stuff (that you probably won’t need anyway) down to 4 totes (approx 2’x2’x1’ each) and shipping them on the same flight is the way to do it.  It’s not easy, but if you can, it’s a winner! In case you’re wondering why we picked 4 totes, it’s because that’s about the limit of what you can move around in the airport or pack into the back of a taxi minivan when you arrive.   Read How to reduce the cost to move to Hawaii for more details on getting rid of stuff you won’t need.

Moving Cheaply Details To Consider :

How will you move those totes around the airport?

  • Departure and arrival will be very different

  • Will the totes fit in a minivan or SUV taxicab?

  • How will you move them around the airport after you arrive?

Don’t exceed max size or weight

  • Size is combined length + width + height.

  • Hawaiian Air: Not exceeding 80 inches or 100 pounds

  • United Airlines:  Not exceeding 115 inches or 100 pounds

What will be the additional checked baggage fee?

What Will It Cost To Move to Hawaii In 2024?

About $4,000



One Way Ticket (ORD-HNL)

From Chicago to Honolulu


Four totes at $200 each

If you can fit all your belongings


Airbnb for 30 days

Start looking for a long-term rental once you arrive.

Get a FREE instant estimate on moving costs

If you have more stuff to ship over, use this form to get an instant email estimate. Your cost will range based on your nearest city and the amount of stuff you want to move.

Why You Should Leave Most Of Your Stuff Behind When Moving To Hawaii

What Does It Cost To Ship My Car To Hawaii In 2024?

About $2,000-$4,000 depending on location and type of car

What’s the cheapest way to ship my car to Hawaii?

Easy! Drive it to the west coast and drop it off at the pier. There are really only 2 car shipping lines to Hawaii:  Matson and Pasha.

Should I Ship My Car To Hawaii?

Should you sell your car where you live and buy another one in Hawaii, or just ship your car to Hawaii? Besides cost, you’ll need to consider a few things:

Good Reasons To Ship Your Car To Hawaii:

  • It has relatively low miles

  • Won’t need major servicing soon

  • It’s the right kind of car for island life

  • You can live without a car for about 2 weeks

Don’t Ship Your Car To Hawaii If It Has High Miles Or Will Need Servicing

There’s no point in shipping a car that’s near end-of-life if only because the shipping cost might exceed its value.  Better to sell it for a few bucks and use that money plus what you would spend on shipping to get another car in Hawaii.

If your car will need major servicing soon, sell it now. Making the transition in Hawaii is going to be challenging enough and you don’t need to add “find a good auto repair shop” to your list of headaches, not to mention the unpredictable cost you’ll be facing to fix the car.

What Kind Of Car Is Good For Island Life?

Hawaii is a modern, first-world state. Generally speaking, most cars will work unless you are going to be in a particularly rugged area that requires a specialized vehicle.

If you will be living in an urban-type area like Honolulu, what you have now will likely be OK. However if for example you’re moving to a remote area on the Big Island, you’ll need something like an SUV with higher ground clearance and all-wheel drive.

Don’t Bring Luxury Cars to Hawaii Unless You Have Covered Parking

Ultra luxury vehicles might need reconsideration.  Does your residence in Hawaii include a dedicated covered parking stall? Or will you be hunting for street parking?  Hawaii’s hot sun is brutal to paint finishes so if you’re going to be parking outside you may want to let go of your “baby” now and get something where you won’t be heartbroken while you watch it slowly deteriorate.

High Performance Cars, Generally Speaking, Are A Waste In Hawaii

The speed limit is very low compared to the mainland, there aren’t any high performance roads and there are no racetracks on Oahu. Any money you’ve spent on performance will never get used. Unless you’re content with winding out that high horsepower motor only in first gear, sell it and use the money to buy a car with features you’ll use

The Best Kind of Car Features for Oahu Traffic

Oahu has really bad traffic. Really bad.

A 22 mile route can take almost 2 hours!

If you’re going to be sitting in your car for 2-3 hours a day, you’re going to need it to be as comfortable as possible. Here’s what we recommend if you’re lucky enough to buy a new or late-model car:

Can You Live Without A Car In Hawaii For About 2 Weeks?

Your car will take about 2 weeks to ship if you drop it off at the pier. These are some considerations you’ll need to think about for the period in Hawaii when you won’t have a car:

  • Will you need a rental?

  • How much will that cost?

  • Can you get by without a car for that period?

  • Is public transportation an option?

Watch The Video About Shipping Your Car To Hawaii:

What Remote Workers Need to Know About Moving to Hawaii

  • Electricity is going to cost a lot more

  • Power is less reliable than what you’re used to

  • Internet connection quality can widely vary

  • You might not be able to handle the time zone difference for the long term

On the surface, remote work in Hawaii seems like a dream come true for many: you get all the career benefits of mainland jobs yet you get to enjoy a Hawaiian paradise, right? Leaving the big concerns aside (which, if you haven’t reviewed them, there are 5 key videos that would help you), consider these:

Remote Workers in Hawaii Should Consider:

YouTube: What Should Remote Workers Know About Hawaii?

Hawaii Will Be The Biggest Move You Will Ever Make In Your Life

“This place is very different from almost anywhere else on earth both geographically and culturally. There are many pros and cons about living in Hawaii and you will be challenged in ways you never considered before. ”

Peter Kay

In Hawaii Since 1984

Pros and Cons About Living In Hawaii

Look closely at list list and you’ll see what the big problem is that many of the issues are BOTH pro AND con. This means it really depends on you on whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. This is one big (and highly overlooked) reason why so many people come to Hawaii with big dreams and hopes only to have them dashed against rocks and move back home with “their tail between their legs”.

Hawaii Issue. You Will Be:Hawaii ProHawaii Con
Always warm, never coldx
Continually grateful to live herex
Creating an entirely new network of friendsxx
Dealing with some of the worst traffic jamsx
Economically worse off compared to the mainlandx
Enjoying amazing outdoors for freex
Giving up on a lot of things that on the mainland you thought were importantxx
Isolated from your network of friends and familyxx
Exposed to a new set of cultural values very different from what you’re used toxx
Living in a very different way than what you’re probably used toxx
Leaving your family behindxx
Living a much healthier lifestylex
Living in a single season all year longxx
Living with some of the kindest and thoughtful peoplex
Overwhelmed by natural beautyx
Paying a lot more for virtually everythingx
Starting a new lifexx
Starting all over from scratchxx

Your Cost Of Living Is Going To Be Much Higher In Hawaii

Hawaii is probably the most expensive state in the country.  Compared to almost every major city in the USA, you will find that:

  • Hawaii groceries will cost you about twice as much as you’re paying now.

  • You will pay a lot more for energy – Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the country.

  • Housing is really expensive – unless you come from a handful of big cities that already have very high housing costs, you’ll pay twice as much in Hawaii.

  • Not surprisingly, dining out is very expensive, probably costing twice as much

Instantly Understand If Hawaii is Worth It For YOU

Are You A Spiritualist?

You like immaterial things like nature, outdoors, hiking, watersports, meditation, and the pursuit of the divine.


Hawaii is a bargain for you! These things don’t cost anything and Hawaii has all of them in overwhelming abundance.

Are You A Materialist?

You like material things like homes, cars, jewelry, gadgets, vacations (away from Hawaii).


Hawaii is way overpriced for you. You’ll miss the mainland lifestyle which has these things in abundance compared to Hawaii where they are much more expensive and difficult to possess.

Is Hawaii’s High Cost of Living Overpriced or Undervalued for YOU?

Why Most People Don’t Survive Moving To Hawaii And Come Back Home

Every year, about 50,000 people move to Hawaii and 60,000 leave. Most of them just moved here a little while ago and discovered Hawaii is not right for them. These are some of the most frequently cited reasons why:

  • They financially fall behind and can’t make ends meet

  • They want to be reunited with their family on the mainland

  • They discover Hawaii’s culture is not for them

  • The mainland offers much better career opportunities

  • They miss the social network of family and friends they left behind
  • They realize many things they took for granted on the mainland do not exist in Hawaii and they aren’t ready to give those up

One way to significantly increase your chance of survival in Hawaii:

Join our Islander Ohana! (Read these testimonials)

Hawaii Is Legally But Not Culturally The USA

This is a really big issue for people to wrap their heads around. While there is a lot of cultural diversity in the “Lower 48” states, there also is a significant collection of cultural norms taken for granted and people naturally expect those norms to exist in all states including Hawaii.

That assumption is their fatal mistake .

Examples of Hawaii’s “Not-American” culture

  • Though the day Hawaii was admitted to the USA is a state holiday, there are no celebrations and if anything there are demonstrations against statehood.
  • Hawaii’s government was overthrown in 1893 by Americans and that is an unresolved sore issue to the present day.
  • Though we enjoy the Independence Day holiday, it’s not celebrated per se. There is little recognition of the founding of America and you don’t see a lot of American flags waving around.
  • Hawaii’s culture comes more from Pacific Islander and Asian roots rather than classic American culture which is founded on Western European culture.
  • Hawaii is decidedly anti-military despite the significant economic contributions it makes. The US military has had significant negative environmental impacts including bombing practice and water contamination which among others have been the cause for continued protests.

Is moving to Hawaii for you? Here's one review after living here for 35 years.

Want to Change Your Life? Move to Hawaii

A move to Hawaii will change you in a deep and meaningful way. It’s the most awesome place there is to live, for me. I’ve been here most of my life, since the mid ’80s. Vern Lovic stayed for five years on Oahu and just over a year on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

Hawaii is still part of the United States of America, yet you might question it as your plane touches down and you step out into the airport.  This is one of the few places on earth where all races or ethnicities are a minority! The three major groups are Caucasians (aka Haole – “How-lee”), Asians (Japanese, Filipinos, Korean, Chinese, etc), and Polynesians (Native Hawaiians, Micronesians, etc).  There are people from across the globe living here. I’ve met people from the mainland, Sweden, England, Germany, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, native Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Chinese, and Indonesians living in the Hawaiian islands. The islands are truly a melting pot of culture.

Moving to Hawaii is Awesome for Many Reasons:

  • Temperatures are ideal. It is never too hot – over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, nor is it ever colder than starting your breath to fog.
  • Almost constant “trade winds” that keep fresh air blowing in across the island to disperse whatever pollution might have come from vehicles or power plants.
  • The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by deep blue, powerful ocean. The color is unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere. There is a real power to the ocean here – it’s awesome in it’s power, it’s constant movement.
  • Awesome things to do. Shopping, walking, picnics, sightseeing, visiting attractions like the volcanoes and historical sights like Pearl Harbor.
  • Surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, swimming, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, hobiecatting, windsurfing, parasailing, parasurfing, and kiteboarding (on skateboards) are all fun activities available. If you get bored here, you’ve got a problem!
  • Climbing / hiking. There are over twelve mountain ridge hikes on Oahu alone. Peaks over 4,000 feet high are available on Oahu. On Maui you can climb Haleakala volcano up over 10,000 feet if you were really inspired.
  • Hawaii is so diverse. The people, the food, the things to do, the cultures, the way of life, the whole atmosphere is different from anything you’ve ever experienced.


Should you move to Hawaii? Find out and take the quiz.

I could keep going on of course, but those are a few amazing and awesome things about Hawaii that endear it to me.

Moving to Oahu, Hawaii or one of the other islands IS possible. If you have $15,000 and some needed skills – you can move today. Book a ticket and leave. That simple. It will be a struggle, but it can be done and has been done for many people with drive and ambition to make it happen.

If you have less money saved, say $8,000 you can still do it – but it will take more planning and some serious skimping before you’re up and running but I think that’s really risking it. I moved here with $6,000 saved but that was back in the mid-80s and I still starved and came this close to being out on the street. Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii is like any other big city. There are jobs available if you have the skills.

Hawaii business is focused on a couple things and if you work in one of these areas you can likely move there and find a job quickly:


If you want to do sales, answering phones, or working in the hotel industry and have experience you’ll find a job quickly. If you sell condominiums or time-share and want to make your mark in Maui or one of the other islands -there is ample opportunity to do so.


There are lots of aging people on Oahu and the other islands. They need in-home care, but not necessarily nurses. There are many live-in opportunities for those that want to trade some hours of taking care of a person in need in exchange for a room and sometimes food. There are also plenty of counseling jobs and jobs working with veterans or those that need mental health services. Plenty of jobs have openings throughout the year. That doesn’t mean you’ll find one in three days, but in three months, sure, you should be able to find one.


There are many jobs working with construction firms – and home renovation firms. People are putting a lot of money into rehabbing their homes and need help. Tilers and roofers are always in demand. The construction trades have an ebb and flow so you’ll have to check out the situation. If you’re a card-carrying union member this place will probably be good for you. My best friend here is in the electrical trades and he’s never been unemployed in the 30 years he’s lived here.

Those with skills they can use online to make money can move to Hawaii easily. If you can do web development or writing or have some other valuable skills that enable you to cyber-commute you can build up a couple of jobs (gigs) and move. You’ll have money until the projects run out – and by then you’ll have worked hard enough to get more to replenish them and stay in Hawaii. Much will depend on how much you are tied to your geographic location. The Internet service in Honolulu is pretty good – not the best in the nation but pretty good – and we do have electricity :) so you should be able to setup a workplace here.

“The cost of living when you move to Hawaii is what you make it.”

In 2018 you can easily spend around $1800 or $1900 a month for a one bedroom or studio apartment in downtown Honolulu if you want to be close enough to walk or bike to anything you need to get to. I mean you can EASILY spend that. For food, you can spend $500 per month for one person – or much more, up to you.

Or, you can learn to live with less and get a room in a house for around $800. You could eat on $350 to $400 per month in Hawaii if you’re smart. The Chinese market in the morning on the weekends has lots of fruits and vegetables for reasonable prices. As reasonable as you’re going to find anyway. I noticed after moving to Hawaii that I seemed to eat less than I normally did on the mainland.

For extras you’ll spend another couple hundred… so, you could live in Hawaii for as little as $2000 per month without a car. Honolulu is a densely packed area that is great for walking around in. You could have a room in Honolulu and walk to work and everywhere else you needed to get to most of the time – supermarket and beach.

If you drink a lot or like partaking of the nightlife nightly you’re going to add a lot of costs to your monthly expenses. If you want to move to Hawaii and remain in Hawaii you probably will have to suffer for a little while until you build up your income and make enough connections to help you weather the first few months – or even years.

Vern Lovic has a friend that moved to Oahu with virtually nothing. He took a job cold-calling to sell insurance. He did OK, but then he found another friend that appraised property. He trained under him for two years making very little – now he’s an appraiser – certified, and doing fine for himself. He has more work than he can handle.

If you’re willing to sacrifice for a while – you can move to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or Big Island Hawaii. You CAN.

It’s just a matter of how badly do you want to change your life and move to Hawaii??

Here’s the headline for an ad I just found in Zillow in 2023 for a place to stay:

2 bed 1 bath, 600 sq ft in downtown Honolulu: $2500

You will still need to take The Bus or have your own means of travel to get down to town. But still, it makes it seem doable, doesn’t it?

The Islands all have their unique charm

The Hawaii’s islands are a mosaic of diverse landscapes, cultures, and lifestyles, each offering its own unique vibe and culture. Here’s a closer look at what makes each major island distinct, helping you find the one that resonates with your dream of island living.


Where City Vibes Meet Island Life:

As the pulsating heart of Hawaii, Oahu is a blend of bustling city life and serene island beauty. It’s home to Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor, making it the prime choice for those seeking vibrant job opportunities and a lively urban environment infused with Hawaiian culture. The island’s modern amenities and high-rise landscapes come with a median rent of $2,800 in Honolulu and $2,429 island-wide, offering a dynamic setting for both work and play.


A Serene Escape with Dynamic Growth:

Maui captivates with its vast, tranquil landscapes and a population density that’s just a fraction of Oahu’s. From the agricultural beauty of Upcountry to the tropical splendor of the Hana Highway, Maui’s diverse geography offers a peaceful yet growing community. The island’s rising development is reflected in its living costs, with a median rent of $2,764, showcasing its blend of tranquility and promising opportunities.


A Haven of Natural Beauty:

For those who like a more secluded and intimate connection with Hawaii, “The Garden Island”, Kauai offers a peaceful retreat. Known for its small-town vibe and community of about 75,000, life here unfolds at a gentle pace amidst stunning natural surroundings. The island’s economy thrives on tourism and local jobs, with an average rent of $2,148, making it a serene place to live, closely connected to nature’s rhythms.

The Big Island

A Landscape of Endless Variety:

The Big Island stands as a testament to Hawaii’s vast natural diversity, offering everything from the sunny beaches of the Kona Coast to the lush greenery of Hilo. Its expansive territory and low population density create a unique mix of opportunities in tourism, agriculture, and local industries. With an average rent of $2,476 for a family of four, the Big Island invites exploration and adventure across its wide-open spaces.

Each of Hawaii’s islands offers a distinct lifestyle and ambiance, from Oahu’s urban energy to Maui’s serene beauty, Kauai’s quiet charm, and the Big Island’s adventurous spirit. No matter which island you choose, you’ll find a unique version of paradise to call home.

Read more content about moving to Hawaii:

What is Hawaii Like?

Here is a curated set of articles related to moving to Hawaii. Many people want to make the move from the mainland USA, and around the globe, to live in Hawaii for some amount of time. Most don’t stay all that long – a year average maybe. If you read this collection of articles about moving to Hawaii you will have a very good idea (from my perspective anyway!) about what the move will entail and whether or not you’ll last longer than a year.

Resources for Moving to Hawaii

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