Moving to Hawaii (Part 1): Frequently Asked Questions

Have you ever dreamed of “someday” moving to Hawaii? More and more people are turning their dreams into reality right now by relocating to the tropical Islands of Hawaii. Affordable real estate prices, a slower more quality pace of life, coupled with numerous business opportunities, make moving to Hawaii easier than you might think.

moving to hawaii

Moving to Hawaii offers the chance to live in the intense beauty that most only dream about

Moving to Hawaii: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why would I want to move to Hawaii?

A: The Islands of Hawaii offers something for everyone, regardless of lifestyle choices. While the pace of life here in Hawaii is slower than that of the Mainland, it is typically that need to live a simpler, less complicated life that draws people to the islands.

The lush tropical setting, expansive ocean views of the vast Pacific Ocean, generally warm climate, and gentle trade winds make for an idyllic backdrop at any stage of life. Combine those features with the affordability currently seen in the housing and property market today, and there you have the once in a lifetime opportunity for fulfilling your dream.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Hawaii compared to the Mainland?

A: Several factors ultimately determine what some may consider “cheap” or “expensive.” Rather than try to cover all of the little items on the issue, let’s look at some of the more general facts concerning the true cost of living.

Here in Kona, for example, we have Costco, Lowes, Walmart, Target, as well as other well established national chain stores. You’ll find little difference in prices between these larger “box” stores and those on the Mainland. However, local supermarkets and convenience stores will have noticeably higher prices on everyday items. As the majority of the products found in Hawaii must be literally shipped in, those fuel and carrying costs are passed along to the consumer.

The same holds true for energy costs, specifically gasoline and electricity. Hawaii’s gasoline prices typically mirror those found in the more populated areas of California, or may be a few cents more. Electricity on the other hand is the highest in the nation; not a great selling point, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

However, Hawaii is well on its way to leading the nation in renewable energy sources. Finding a home in Kona without a solar water heater is rare and we’re seeing an explosive increase in single family homes with photovoltaic conversion systems.

For a two city side-by-side cost of living comparison in all the categories you need, such as taxes, housing, food, and other costs, use the Comparison Calculator.

Q: Where is the best place to live on the Big Island of Hawaii?

A: With 10 of the world’s known climate zones existing solely within the confines of the Big Island of Hawaii, it really becomes more of a question of, “In what type of climate do you wish to live?” Due to the large number of micro-climates, changes in elevation, lava zones, and population centers, one can surround themselves in virtually whatever surroundings they so choose. There is also the added benefit of oceanfront living, which takes on a completely different feel from that of inland island living.

The North Kona, South Kona and Kohala Coast areas are perfect for those who enjoy a dry, arid type of environment, but have the benefit of amazing ocean and coastline views. The oceanfront resort areas of the “Kona Gold Coast” are the perfect locations for those who enjoy luxury living, coupled with palm trees and beaches.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy warm tropical rain and lush rainforest, then the Hilo and Puna District is just right. The Ka’u District to the south is defined by its lava fields on the West coast, and its steep and rough terrain on the East side nearing Volcanoes National Forest.

The inland areas of Waimea-Kamuela and the northeastern Hamakua Coast are typified by their rolling green hills and cattle ranches. Here, the nights can be cold enough for a lit fireplace and the occasional frost or hailstorm.

All of the other islands in the Hawaiian chain fit into the Big Island of Hawaii, with plenty of room to spare. This diversity affords anyone the choice to live in the exact environment that fits your wants and needs.

moving to hawaii

Whether Mauka (up the Mountain) or Makai (to the sea), the Big Island holds something for everyone

Moving to Hawaii – Part II Preview

In Moving to Hawaii – Part II I’ll be answering some of the more specific questions focused on the actual logistical aspects of moving to Hawaii.

  • Shipping Companies for Vehicles and Personal Belongings
  • Transitioning Your Pet
  • Hawaii Job Market
  • Buying vs. Renting

Helping people realize their dream of living in Hawaii is my passion. If you are considering relocating to the Islands of Hawaii, or are in the market for real estate anywhere along the sunny Kona coastline on the Big Island, please contact me anytime for a no obligation “talk story” about why I make Hawaii home.

Let me make your dream of Moving to Hawaii a reality today.

A hui hou!

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32 Responses to “Moving to Hawaii (Part 1): Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Shaylyn Kimura
    October 24, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Very informative blog for those considering a move to the “Best Place on the Planet”!

    • Todd Barrett, R(S)
      October 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Thanks Shaylyn, I couldn’t agree more! What’s your favorite thing about living in Hawaii?

  2. Pat Strausse, RB
    October 25, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Hi Todd, Really loved using the Comparison Calculator and comparing Waimea with my old hometown of Anchorage. Very similar in both being non “mainland” or Lower 48 states
    as called in Anchorage. And, both are usually included in the * of prices higher in Alaska and Hawaii. However, Anchorage actually had a 25% lower cost of living as compared to Waimea…hmmm but then again the Big Island has about a 98% lower annual snowfall – gotta take into account the summit of Mauna Kea. I’m quite happy to live here compared to there!

    • Todd Barrett, R(S)
      October 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Pat, thanks for reading and checking out the Comparison Calculator. It’s the only one that I’ve been able to find that has enough data to produce approximate results that someone moving from the Mainland can use to estimate costs. I have family in Anchorage and when we talk their favorite expression is, “Compared to Alaska, you have it made!”

  3. Brandy Crowson
    March 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Todd, my husband and I really want to move to the big island so bad! if we had the money right now we would in a heartbeat! But since we have 2 young children its more scary! I was just wondering if u could give me a good price range that we should have saved up before we move?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      May 18, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      Aloha Brandy! Thank you for reading my Moving to Hawaii blog series. My apologies for the late reply; technical difficulties. Given the little bit of information that you have shared about your family, you will need at least 20% cash down payment for whatever price range you are looking to buy.

      If you intend upon renting, make sure that you have at least one year’s rent available should your plans change, or if other relocating difficulties arise.

  4. Victor
    April 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    I would like to know the answer that brandy crowson is asking?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      May 18, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Aloha Victor! Thank you for reading my Moving to Hawaii blog series as well. I hope that the answer to Brandy’s question above will give you some idea of what is needed for relocating to the Big Island.

  5. Gina D.H
    May 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Any suggestions for finding rentals? Besides Craigslist we’re having a hard time finding rental listings….unless there really aren’t that many! ;) Thanks!

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      May 18, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Aloha Gina! Thank you very much for reading my Moving to Hawaii blog post series. Besides Craigslist, you could go to the West Hawaii Today Classifieds, or call one of the many Property Management firms here in Kona that can be found in the online Yellow Pages. Hope this helps :)

  6. Blythe
    May 16, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    I am from the Pigeon Forge( Dollywood) and Gatlinburg, TN area. My mother used to work at an attraction called Porpoise Island and later loved the people and atmosphere so much, she moved to HI. She used to tell me stories of the perfumed air, the sunsets, and the puka shells on the shore. i have been dreaming of HI my entire life. I am now capable of making my own adventure and am interested in all there is to know. I am hoping to find answers on how to move from the mainland to Maui, and what types of jobs and housing opportunities are available. Any helpful information is greatly appreciated. Aloha!

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      May 18, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Aloha Blythe! Mahalo for reading my Moving to Hawaii blog series; much appreciated. Currently, I live on and service the Big Island of Hawaii, but Hawaii Life has many excellent agents on Maui that can assist you in your search.

      I would recommend you contacting through the online chat and requesting an agent to assist you on Maui. Good luck!

  7. Nate
    May 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Are their a lot of school districts in the big island because I’m in college right now and when I move to Hawaii, I was to become a biology teacher, and I want to make sure that their are schools around their?

    • Todd Barrett, R(S)
      May 27, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      Aloha Nate! Thank you for your interest in moving to Hawaii, and for reading my blog post series on Moving to Hawaii. There are many schools here on the Big Island that would be grateful for a young, energetic Biology teacher. I highly suggest that you contact the Hawaii Department of Education for more information on teaching opportunities here in Hawaii:

      Good luck Nate, and A hui hou!

  8. Brian Cardozo
    August 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Hey Guys,

    We own a car shipping company that ships to and from Hawaii and get literally thousands of requests to ship household movers to Hawaii. We don’t have anyone to refer to, does anyone have any experience moving to Hawaii and a good outcome with their mover?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      October 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      Aloha Brian! Thank you for your comment on Moving to Hawaii; much appreciated. Please feel free to contact me directly at: 808-937-1629 for my recommendations on relocation companies servicing the State of Hawaii, and of course, the Big Island. Mahalo!

  9. Melissa
    September 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Thanks for the information. My husband has put in for a transfer to the Big Island – not sure we will get it or not. Since I have never been there – not sure of which area to purchase a house in but he will be working in Hilo and the surrounding areas. I also will need to find a place for my horse which I know is going to cost me dearly compared to the mainland. Yes, there are boarding facilities, etc. but most of them seem to be catering to western style riding versus Dressage. Any help in this area would be so greatly appreciated.

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      September 10, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Aloha Melissa! Thank you for your comment and questions concerning moving to Hawaii. I will be contacting you directly by email to assist you in your possible relocation. Mahalo nui loa!

  10. Nate
    October 27, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    Dear Todd,

    Do you ever get tired of the warm weather like everyday? And is it really expensive to live in Hawaii because my family always tells me that it is very expensive to live their?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      October 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Aloha Nate! Thanks for your comments. I’m not a big fan of cold weather, especially freezing temperatures and wet conditions, so I never get tired of the warm weather. As for cost of living, Hawaii can be a bit more expensive, but it’s all compared to where you live now. In the above article you’ll find a link to a “Comparison Calculator” that should give you a much better idea. Try it out, I think you’ll be surprised. Mahalo nui loa!

  11. TO
    October 29, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    I would like to know the Homeschooling Public School alternatives in Hawaii, Thank You

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      October 29, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Aloha TO, and thank you for your question. If you continue reading through this blog post series on “Moving to Hawaii”, you will find that Part 5 has all of the information that you are looking for concerning school alternatives here in Hawaii. Mahalo nui loa!

  12. Nate
    October 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Dear Todd,

    In Hawaii, do people always talk Hawaiian language or do they talk regular English? And would it be good if I started learning some Hawaiian languages before I move to Hawaii?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      October 31, 2013 at 9:23 am #

      Aloha Nate! Thank you for reading my blog post, and for the comment. The Hawaiian language, while very much alive, is not the preferred spoken language here in the islands. English is the first language, as we are the 50th State, but having a rudimentary knowledge of the Hawaiian language will certainly help. Mahalo nui loa!

  13. Nate
    November 2, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    Hey Todd, I watch the Hawaii Life show for almost a year already, but are their going to be new shows that they are going to be posting on tv?

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      November 2, 2013 at 10:48 am #

      Aloha again Nate! Yes, the new HGTV episodes of Hawaii Life are currently being edited for Season 2 & 3. Keep an eye on HGTV for announcements of the new episodes, and thanks for watching!

  14. Alex Murray
    November 8, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Hello Todd,

    Thank you for posting your moving to Hawaii blog. It has been very informative. I am considering relocating to Hawaii in a few months. My situation is slightly different than others. I was recently laid off from my job in outreach coordination, and I have been actively searching for new positions but have been unlucky. I was in my field with the same company for about 11 years and I currently live in New York City. One of my oldest dreams has been to move to Oahu which is why I am heavily considering moving there. I have a few questions that I would really appreciate an answer to.
    1) I would want to rent a room or studio apartment for a short time lease, is there any areas you suggest that are better than others?
    2) How much money do you recommend I save prior to moving? I think that I should have about 5k before moving. I don’t plan on shipping any furniture or belongings.
    3) is it possible to get around the island on a vespa or motorcycle? I do not currently own a car

    I sincerely appreciate you reading this and commenting.

    Thank you!

  15. Maritza hernandez
    February 10, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Hello ;)

    I’m thinking of living in Hawaii in the near future and would like to know how much is the cost of living there is, for example how much is it for a one bedroon apartment, I’m sure it depends on the area, but on average? Thank you very much.

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      July 11, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      Aloha Maritza! Thank you for your comment, and for reading this Moving to Hawaii post. Yes, a one bedroom apartment can have a wide range of price depending upon the location within the island chain. Do you have a particular island in mind? Mahalo!

  16. Amber Higgins
    July 10, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    I lived in Hawaii as a Marine in the 90′s and recently visited with my husband (his first time) and we are able to apply for work at Pearl Harbor, cant wait to see if we can go back permanently. This blog is GREAT, thanks!! I wasn’t sure where to begin, as my last move here was bought and paid for by our US Gov’t, and this time around were going at it alone!! Again thanks!!

    • Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
      July 11, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Aloha Amber! Thank you so much for reading “Moving to Hawaii” and for the compliment. The idea behind the blog was to give those people moving to Hawaii as much basic information as possible. I’m grateful that you found it helpful. Mahalo!

  17. C.Pierce
    September 7, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Todd we are saving up to move to Hawaii but I want to move to maui but it seems like it is cheaper and easier to find a job on the big island we will be moving there with over 40,000 do you think we would make it on Maui

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