You’ve made the move to Hawaii. It’s a beautiful place, friendly people, lots of fun activities, great weather all year long, low unemployment rates, and so much more, but like any new place you call home, there’s also challenges and necessary tasks to be done. Hopefully, you did some planning before you arrived: research on cost of living, housing, employment, schools, etc. If you’re still in the planning stage, here are a couple more links you can check out for some suggestions:
Although Hawaii is one state, it’s made up of several different islands, and each has its own personality. Each has its own climate(s), scenery, pace, and lifestyle. Check out this link for more information about the major islands.
Welcome to Hawaii
You’ve Arrived, Now What?
Cost of Living. Chances are, no matter which island you’ve chosen to live on, it’s going to be more expensive than you’re used to (unless you’re coming from one of those places that’s actually more expensive, in which case you’ll be relieved). Don’t be discouraged, be aware and expect to make adjustments in your spending as needed.
Two important areas where the increased costs can be shocking are food and housing. Both areas dear to my heart, and I spend a lot of time researching both. Take a look at the view from a restaurant at the Ka’aha’aina Cafe above the Waianae Comprehensive Hospital, where you can get a chopped steak lunch plate with salad for $8, and on Tuesdays they have live music. Their Blueberry Pomegranate smoothie is also my favorite.
Talk to other residents and your new neighbors about where they shop and eat. We have some great little farmers’ markets, local grocers, and small farm stands throughout the islands where you can often find fresh and affordable staples, and the locals can tell you how to find them. Here’s a map of over 100 farmers’ markets throughout Hawaii.
Some of the islands have franchise stores, like Wal-Mart, or wholesale stores (like Costco, Sam’s, ChefZone, Marukai) where you can buy in bulk at lower prices. Eating out is another area where some planning and research can help. Although most people can’t afford to eat or live like a tourist regularly, a tour book is a great way to find out about hidden gems for that occasional dining out desire. Frommer’s usually has a lot of suggestions in all areas related to the islands, and gives cost scales for planning within a budget. My personal favorite for Oahu is Oahu Revealed guidebook, which is in its 6th edition now. You can get it online for as little as $2, or get a free library card and borrow it to get started.
Job Opportunities. Hawaii has a lot of job opportunities to help offset the increased costs, and there’s something for almost everyone. The unemployment rate in Hawaii has remained below 3% (seasonally adjusted), and is among the lowest in the country (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Many employers offer cost of living adjustments, incentives for relocating to Hawaii, or bonuses. Also, the wide variety of jobs and the diverse populations offer options for a second job, part-time or seasonal work, or entrepreneurship opportunities.
Buy or Rent? Housing is important no matter what state you live in, and there are many factors to consider when choosing your home. You might think that living on a small island like Oahu, location wouldn’t make much difference, but that’s not the case. Here we have traffic to compensate for short distances, and don’t rely on the travel times you get from Google or Mapquest. Depending on where you work, you may prioritize location or distance over other factors when deciding where to live. If you have children, you’ll probably want to be in a desirable school district if possible. Different neighborhoods vary in amenities, have different paces and energy, and offer lifestyle choices you’ll want to consider.
Choosing to buy or rent your home is a big decision, and you should be well informed before you make that commitment. With that in mind, you might want to rent for awhile until you learn more about the types of communities you want to live in long-term. While I am and have always been a huge believer in owning your own home, make sure you do your research, identify your needs and wants, and get the help of a professional real estate agent, usually free as a home buyer.
Tasks to Complete as a New Resident
Apply for a local driver’s license or identification. Hawaii has several requirements for obtaining a new identification or driver’s license, and you’ll want to get one as soon as possible. This is one of the steps to establishing your residency, and you’ll want to get it done while all of your documents are readily available. And don’t forget to update your address with the postal service.
Transfer your car registration and insurance. Not everyone needs or has a car in Hawaii, but if you’re shipping one or buying one here, don’t forget to transfer the registration. You’ll need a current safety inspection, insurance, and registration for your vehicle. Hawaii insurance rates may be more expensive than you’re used to, so it pays to shop around.
You’ll need a current safety inspection, insurance, and registration for your vehicle in Hawaii
Get a free library card. Hawaii State has more than 50 library branches, with free borrowing of books, CDs, audiobooks, magazines, and more. Card holders can borrow DVDs for $1 per week, and can request to borrow from any of the branches. You can get a free library card with a state identification or other proof of local residency. Libraries also have activities for children and adults.
Identify evacuation areas, emergency shelters, and emergency numbers. Hurricane season is June – November, and you’ll want to be prepared for possible flooding, utility outages, high winds, traffic problems, and store shortages (food and other supplies). Here’s a link to emergency information and shelters.
Learn transportation routes and options. While there are some areas of the island where there’s only one road in or out, sometimes there are alternate routes you can take to decrease travel time, hassle, or traffic congestion. Oahu has an extensive public transit system (City Bus), and is currently working on building a raised rail system along the Leeward (West) side of the island to improve traffic flow (hopefully) and make commuting easier.
Identify your favorite beaches. There’s so many to choose from, and they’re free. Whether you prefer a busy and active beach, one where you can rent boards and kayaks or take lessons, or a private and secluded beach, we’ve got it here.
I hope you make a lot of friends and love living in Hawaii as much as I do. If you have any questions about making the move to Hawaii, the Hawaii lifestyle, or are interested in Oahu real estate opportunities, please contact me.