Moving To Hawaii

What to Bring (and Leave Behind) When Moving to Hawaii

If you are getting PCS orders or just moving to Hawaii as a civilian, deciding on what to bring can be overwhelming. Even if you are a military move and not paying for the actual shipping costs, you really need to think about what to bring. There are so many wonderful things about living in Hawaii that numerous articles could be written trying to describe just a little bit about this amazing island.

The one item that may not make the top 10 list is storage space. Land is certainly expensive on the island, hence the houses are smaller. A smaller house naturally translates into less storage space.

Most homes in Hawaii don’t have garages, so this is an additional area of lost space. Are you used to having a basement to store all your stuff? That certainly is not an option in Hawaii.

This brings us back full circle on what you should bring to the island. My best advice: less is more.


You really don’t need tons of stuff that you possibly needed on the mainland when you live in Hawaii. We do have cooler weather in the winter, but certainly not a full change of season as you get on the mainland. So all those jackets, hats, gloves, and gear have no place in Hawaii.

You don’t need that formal wardrobe either. Unless your profession calls for it, a nice Hawaiian shirt replaces a suit and tie. I certainly own some nice dress shoes but seem to wear my slippers more than anything else. We are all about being comfortable and practical over material items we certainly won’t need on the island.

Regardless of how you start off, you will end up more of a minimalist while living on the island. Less is certainly more when trying to maximize your space. All the stuff you accumulated over the year will not do much on the island but clog up the precious space you have.

Household Goods

All that kitchen gear, leave it behind. If you have heavy sheets and blankets, think of donating them to a homeless shelter as you won’t need them here. Take a good look at what you have and really take a second to think if it will serve you well in Hawaii.

Water Toys

There is one thing you will need to make room for is the water toys. You will need space for the snorkels, masks, fins, boogie boards, and, of course, the surf boards. The surf boards will take up more space then you realize, as you can’t have just one.

So, in the end, your thinking changes and your needs also change. If you are lucky enough to move to Hawaii, take the time to really look at your stuff and use this time to shed the extra items. The old saying is true– if you haven’t used it or needed it in the last 6 months, you probably won’t miss it.

I can assure you that if you don’t get rid of at last some of the unneeded items, you will be standing around looking at a pile of things that you have nowhere to put away. Just remember and keep repeating the mantra: less is more.

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Stefanie Ellison

August 15, 2017

Thank you David for all your great info what to bring and what not to bring to the island.

David Lundstrom

August 16, 2017

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Let me know if I can ever help with anything at all.


January 21, 2020

I want to know more. I am moving there with about $5,000 and plan to rent a room and enjoy life. My background in art sales and restaurants will surely provide a job, yes? Would you provide more info about those sorts of things? Thank you.

David Lundstrom

January 21, 2020

Aloha Anthony

Many room rentals can be found on Craigs List. There are a good amount of people looking for roommates to share costs on Oahu. Hospitality is the number one industry on Oahu so finding a job in the business should not be very hard especially in high tourist area such as Waikiki.

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