Whether this is your first PCS move or sixth, you are likely experiencing some level of anxiety around the event. A new place, a new job, and a new life awaits. One of the most complicated and stressful parts of any PCS is finding housing. Shelter, food, and clothing are our basic needs, and knowing that we have all three, puts our minds at ease. If you don’t plan on living in military housing, here are a few things to keep in mind and do when getting ready for your big move, especially when PCSing to Oahu, Hawaii.
One of many community pools in Ewa Beach, Oahu
Begin Information Gathering Early
In other words, be prepared for the next adventure. Every area is different. Hawaii is a dream destination for many vacationers. Millions of people visit Hawaii every year. However, visiting Hawaii and living in Hawaii can be quite different, and knowing the facts will help in making many decisions. By starting to research an area well in advance of any move, you can find out the details that could positively or negatively impact the relocation process. Finding out that an area has great schools, would be a positive discovery, while learning that commute times to work could be an hour, would not be so welcoming of news. Whether the information reveals positive or negative qualities about an area, that information will be important to know.
What’s the Weather Like?
“I’m going to Hawaii” is the most common way of describing a visit to Hawaii. People love to hear Hawaii vacation stories and see Hawaii pictures. The beaches, the ocean, the views are spectacular from any island. In that respect, it’s ok to be very broad with the explanation; however, all the Hawaiian Islands are, in fact, very different. The Big Island with its ranches, an active volcano, and lava fields, is different from the laid-back beachy Maui where resorts and condos line the coastline. Maui is very different from the tropical Kauai where chickens and roosters roam free on every beach. Urban Oahu is different from the rural Lanai, etc. They are all stunning in their own way, but very different in comparison.
As different as the scenery is on all the islands, the weather can also be very different island to island, as well as each side of every island. People typically focus in on areas and homes, but often unknowingly forget to investigate the weather. Since Hawaii is always warm, the assumption is that the weather is similar all over the state, and that’s not necessarily the case. On Oahu, there are several microclimates throughout the island. Kaneohe on the Windward side is lush and green with tropical plants in every yard and on every hillside. The area tends to get more rain than the dry West side of Oahu where the popular Ewa Beach and Kapolei communities are at. Mililani, close to Schofield Army Base is located at a higher elevation in the central part of the island, where the temperatures can be several degrees cooler at times of the year. Honolulu is on the South side of Oahu, with moderate weather, except for the hillsides where it tends to rain a bit more. The main point is that if you enjoy any particular weather or scenery, in addition to other criteria, match that up with the area of Oahu that will best suit your preferences.
Are You Familiar with the Pet Quarantine Process?
So many people own pets. They are family after all. When planning your PCS move to Oahu, begin the pet quarantine process early. It takes time, a few vet visits, and some paperwork to be able to bring a dog or a cat to Hawaii. It’s not a difficult process, but one that requires the pet owner to complete all the requirements and pay all the fees. Trying to get a pet over to Oahu last minute will result in high quarantine fees for the owner, and extended quarantine stay for the pet.
Is the Destination Area Pet Friendly?
Every community across the US is a little different. In some areas, almost every household has a dog or a cat, while in other parts, pets are not as common. Oahu falls in the middle of this scale. There are quite a few pets owners on the Island. That said, finding a pet-friendly home or condo, can be either easy or challenging depending on several factors. Renting vs buying, the number of pets, home vs condo, etc. will all affect a person’s ability to find a pet-friendly shelter. Here’s why: when a person buys a home, unless a there are specific pet rules in a particular community, it’s generally easy to bring a pet into a home. However, when trying to rent a home from a private owner, that owner may not allow pets. This is often the case on Oahu. The island is not overly pet-friendly when it comes to private rentals. So when looking for a rental home, it may take more time to find one that will allow pets. Having too many pets will definitely limit the availability of home options, especially when considering renting a property. Also, what many people are not aware of is that some condos do not allow pets. For anyone looking to move into a condo, it is very important to check the pet rules of any building as there can be restrictions on pets, the number of pets, and the building may have pet weight limits. Expectations vs reality can sometimes be quite different. Understanding the area dynamics will allow the pet owner to have the right plan ahead of any PCS move.
Connect with a Realtor Months in Advance
If the plan is to purchase a home as part of your Oahu PCS move, then connect with a Realtor early, even months in advance. Try not to simply arrive on Island, go online, request a showing and then work with the first person that shows you the home. You won’t know that person at all; their skills, their knowledge, their responsiveness, and their willingness to share information with you. It may turn out to be a great experience, but what if it’s not? If you connect with a Realtor months or weeks in advance, you will have time to establish a relationship with that person. It will give you time to figure out if that person is knowledgeable enough and helpful in the way you need them to be for your purchase. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh. Sometimes a Buyer’s needs don’t fit the Realtors area of expertise. These things are best if discovered early, not during the negotiations. By then it may be too late. The time before the purchase will be a perfect opportunity to ask questions, get local knowledge from someone who understands the area and the market, and preferably someone who is familiar with the basics of any PCS move, including financing. Since many VA buyers use VA Loans, it’s always a bonus if the real estate professional has an understanding of what may come up in a VA transaction. As lawyers have their specialties, Realtors do as well. An agent specializing in rural properties on the North Shore of Oahu, may not be the best advisor for a VA condo purchase in Honolulu. Having time to work with an individual ahead of the purchase will give you, as the Buyer, time to get to know the person that will ultimately be representing you in the home purchase process. If that person turns out not to be the one, then find the one that you want to work with and hire.
Hawaii Life Military Specialized Team
Don’t Ship Your Finacial Information
This actually happens regularly, so it’s worth noting. The movers come, the movers pack, the container with all the belongings goes into storage, and then on a ship to Oahu. The items are gone for weeks. In the meantime, a new adventure is about to begin and a home purchase is about to take place. Before you know it, your lender asks for tax statements, pay stubs, and other financial documents. Now what? Well, that can lead to a problem with closing on a new home. Lenders require all the financial documents and they require all of them in a timely manner to meet all the contractual deadlines once an offer is accepted by the seller. If you have not connected with a lender, or if the lender has not requested certain documents from you already, make sure to have access to all your required financial documents if your plan is to purchase a home. Don’t ship that information with all your belongings. Request information of what you will need in order to close on a home on Oahu. Your lender will help to identify the documents that will be required for a home purchase.
Successful home closing
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