Moving is never easy, even if you’re just headed across town. Moving to a new city or state adds a few more complications. And moving from the mainland to the Hawaiian islands… well, it’s definitely a bit more complex than loading up a moving truck and heading down the street.
Here’s your complete step-by-step guide to Honolulu relocation.
Step 1: Calculate Affordability
Before you move anywhere, it’s a good idea to take a look at the cost of living in that place to see how far your money will stretch. You’ll need to determine things like the cost of homes and food, property and sales tax, and transportation costs.
In Honolulu, you’ll find that homes tend to be a bit more expensive, depending on where you look. Food, again, depends on where you’re shopping. Property taxes and sales tax, however, tend to fall on the lower end of the spectrum.
Step 2: Explore the Area
Next, you’ll want to figure out where to live. If you’ll be working in Honolulu or one of the air bases, you’ll likely want to live in Central or West O’ahu, or in the city itself. You’ve got a lot of options within commuting distance of Honolulu and the bases—you’ve just got to decide what’s important to you, like affordability, amenities, styles of homes, and commute times.
A Brief Neighborhood Rundown
Just to give you an idea of the communities around O’ahu:
Town: This is the “downtown” area, and encompasses a lot of smaller communities within the city. It’s basically the urban business district, including Waikiki, Makiki, the University area, and Manoa. Typically, you’ll find high-rise condos here.
East O’ahu: Kind of more south-east of Honolulu, East O’ahu encompasses the upscale areas of Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Aina Haina, and Diamond Head. It’s a very luxurious, quiet, and mostly residential area… and has some of the highest prices on the island.
Windward O’ahu: Located on the eastern side of the island, this is a laid-back island paradise of small-town charms, lush rainforests, and beautiful white-sand beaches. This is where Kailua and Kaneohe are located, as well as several other small towns.
Central O’ahu: About halfway between Honolulu and the North Shore sit Mililani and Wahiawa, the principal cities of Central O’ahu. Here, you’ll find modern developments and amenities, as well as more affordable prices than closer to Town. There are also a lot of smaller communities scattered around these larger cities. Between these central cities and Town, you’ll find another metro area consisting of Pearl City, Pearlridge, and Aiea.
Ewa: Northwest of Honolulu, you’ll find the newer developments of Ewa, Kapolei, and Makakilo. You’ll find that you get a lot more house for your money in these areas, and there are lots of modern amenities and developments. You might find the morning commute to be a bit less than desirable, however.
Leward O’ahu: North of Ewa along the western coastline, Leeward O’ahu is beautiful, quiet, and pretty affordable. It’s a bit of a trade-off, though, as the houses can be more rundown than elsewhere on the island, and the commute is long.
Step 3: Determine What You’ll Ship
One of the biggest moving hurdles is getting your belongings from the mainland… to an island hundreds of miles off the coast. The more stuff you have, the more you’ll pay for shipping, and prices can definitely climb fast. A lot of people choose to start over once they get here, packing the essentials and purchasing the rest once they’ve moved in.
If you do need to relocate some belongings, try mailing smaller items, as this may be more affordable. For larger items in need of shipping, you may want to call up reputable companies on O’ahu and actually plan your move in reverse. Just beware of shipping scams promising to move you for cheap!
Step 4: Plan for Pets
Another big hurdle is moving with pets. Hawaii is rabies-free, so that means your pet has to be too. You’ve got two basic options here: providing lots of vet history and documentation or subjecting your pet to an extended quarantine. If you’re thinking of moving to Hawaii in the next few months, save your pet a stressful experience and start planning now.
Step 5: Find Your Home
Since you probably won’t be hopping on a plane every other day to go look at houses, you’ve got two basic options when it comes to buying a home on Hawaii. First option, you can relocate to temporary housing on the island and spend your first few weeks looking for a home. Second option is to sign on with an agent who can help you look for homes long-distance. Either way you go, you’ll definitely want to be working with an experienced and hyper-local agent.
Step 6: Start Living the Hawaii Life
Life on the island moves at a different pace than life on the mainland, and you’ll just have to get used to it. We’ve got our own style and culture here, and it’s very different from anywhere else in the US. For some people, the laid-back atmosphere is ideal, but for others used to the rush-and-hurry of city living, it can be a bit of an adjustment.
Ready to Find Your Lifestyle in Honolulu?
If you’re thinking of relocating to or buying a home on O’ahu, then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu. We’re here to help you explore the area, discover its beautiful communities, and find the perfect home for your needs.