7 Things To Do Before Moving to Hawaii

by Brenda Williams

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One day my husband surprised me with a casual,  “Hey, how about we spend 3 months on Maui?”  The bags were packed the next day.  Seriously. The. Next. Day. Our initial three months turned into 2+ years.  And then 5.

Prior to making any decisions about moving from the mainland, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to work here for a short time.  We learned the area.  We met amazing people, locals and transplants.  And we started to understand the uniqueness of island life.

We fell in love with it all!

Also, because we are marginally insane, we moved five times in five years.  Inter-island, island-to-island.  You name it, we did it.  Will we be moving anytime soon?  Um, no.  What did all that moving teach us?  Happy you asked, let me share.

blurb-numbers_1Bold, italicize, underline. Seriously cannot emphasize this enough.  Living spaces in Hawaii are tight.  When we first moved to Maui, we were in a two bedroom apartment that was approximately 750 square feet.  With two kids.  We later moved into a “spacious” 1200 sq ft condo and felt like kings.

Anticipating the minimized space, we had a huge garage sale before leaving California.  Then we gave a ton of stuff away.  We were moving ourselves, and so this was a huge cost savings.  We thought we had eliminated all the fluff with our first move, but continued to toss things out five moves later.  Nothing makes a space feel more cramped than clutter.



Look at the area you are planning to move to and make sure it fits your lifestyle.  Consider things like: cost of living, commute times, schools, demographics, accessibility to hospitals (oddly important when you have 2 of your 3 kids on the islands, just saying.)  It is expensive to make that trip across the Pacific, so be sure to evaluate if the lifestyle will work.

Many people have made the move, only to turn around and move back to the mainland within a year or two.  For us, moving from an area in California that catered to retired folks and early-bird specials to a more family-friendly area of Hawaii was a lifestyle change for the better.  We can’t imagine living anywhere else!

blurb-numbers_3One of the many surprises people find once they move to the islands is how different each island is from another.  Maui was great for us when we first moved here and is the favorite island for many of our friends.  We love Honolulu and Oahu because of the city-feel and abundance of great food and entertainment. And Volcano Village on Big Island is where we will probably retire.

They each have their own personality!  And within each of the islands there are pockets, or neighborhoods, with their own individual styles.  If working with a realtor on your big move, be sure to find an agent who can talk to you about your lifestyle and help you find the best location for you.

blurb-numbers_4Look through old bills, insurance policies, and magazine subscriptions.  Pretty much anything you would get in the mail and not immediately throw away will need an address change.  Start with your stack from the last month and then think back 12 to 18 months. Some important notifications are only sent quarterly, or yearly (like 401k account updates).  Speaking from experience, one of our life insurance policies lapsed during a move, and they didn’t reach out to us as a courtesy. A real shocker.  And lastly, complete an address change with USPS.


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Our furry four legged friends can also move to Hawaii, but there is a process to get them here. The process is a little complicated.  So complicated that there are businesses (and this is all that they do) who assist people in moving their pets to Hawaii.  We are a rabies-free state, so the program is in place to keep us that way.

For more information, check out http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-information-page/

Important reminder that not only are we rabies-free, but Hawaii is also a SNAKE-free state.  So, keep any pet snakes on the mainland.  A few have made it to the islands, but if you see one on a very rare occasion, report it here: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/reporting/

blurb numbers_6 copyIn our first year here, we had over 6 sets of visitors. We loved it, and we still do!  Our closets store several inflatable mattresses and we keep a calendar visible, marking dates and making sure no one overlaps on visits.  We’ve learned not to worry about being cramped with visitors, because home is only used for sleeping when friends and family come to the islands.  The weather is so amazing that staying inside is nearly impossible.  And the sunshine and breezes are way too enticing for visitors to stay away for long.

blurb numbers_7 copyMoving anywhere is a big deal. Moving to Hawaii is a HUGE deal.  Find people who have made the move, and ask a million questions.  Find businesses that assist with relocation, and ask a million more questions.  Call your insurance company, the local barista, your dog walker.  And just ask.   

One of my favorite things is offering assistance to others making the move from the mainland to Hawaii.  Questions about your big Hawaiian move?  Ask away: brenda@okikagroup.com.  – Brenda

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