How to Move Your Belongings to Hawaii

Below are the basic steps you need to take to prepare and move your belongings to the Hawaiian islands.

Step 1: Go Through Your Items
Step 2: Decide on Your Plan of Action
Step 3: Start Packing
Step 4: Keep Your Important Household Goods Separate
Step 5: Shipping Your Car

Step 1: Go Through Your Items

Recommended you do this at least 12-16 weeks before you plan on moving.

The first thing you’ll need to do to prepare for your move to Hawaii is to go through your household items. Is this another PCS move? What do you really need to keep? What can you part with? This is a great time to pare down on the number of possessions you have.

Come discover the many perks of island living

It’s understandably hard to know what to get rid of and what to keep when you’re talking about moving to an island. A lot of things you use on the Mainland, or in different parts of the world, may not really be necessary in Hawaii. Hawaii living emphasizes simplicity and getting by with less.

It’s good to know that several homes and rentals in Hawaii do come completely furnished (a lot even have everything down to cookware), as this benefits both locals and newcomers, so keep that in mind when deciding on what you will bring.

There are also plenty of well-known clothing and furniture stores in Hawaii, so you always have the option of buying some things once you’re here. That being said, some specialty items that you have may not be found over here, so you might want to hold on to them. (For example, your favorite vacuum cleaner, or recliner chair.) Another popular choice for local residents, whether they’re looking for furniture or clothing, is to order online. Get your money’s worth from that Amazon Prime membership.

Shipping your belongings to Hawaii can be quite the process, so make sure to really go through everything and only bring the things you need. Everything you keep will have to be packed and will take up space in a shipping container (which will add to the cost of moving), so that may play a leading role in whether or not you want to keep it.

This is an important step to accomplish because you will need to have some sort of idea how much stuff you will be bringing with you before you can decide on which kind of shipping container you will need, or before you can get a quote from a shipping, freight forwarding, or moving company. You can either make an educated guess, or use something like an inventory calculator. (See Step 2: Decide on a Plan of Action for more on this subject.)

In order to make the move as stress-free as possible, it is really important to make sure you allow enough time to go through all of your belongings, get rid of the things you don’t need, and prepare everything else to be packed. This often takes longer than planned, so be sure to really put aside time to get this important step done. Remember, the less stuff you bring, the more affordable and easier the move will be.

All of that work will be worth the reward

Step 2: Decide on Your Plan of Action

Recommended you do this at least 8-12 weeks before you plan on moving.

You might be thinking, “Shouldn’t I decide on my plan of action first?” This is listed as Step 2 because before you can really decide what your plan of action is going to be, you need to have a basic idea of how much stuff you’re going to be bringing with you, so you can get moving and shipping quotes, and choose the best shipping container.

When deciding on what your plan of action will be, you should think about whether or not you would like to plan the move yourself, or if you would like to hire a moving company to help out. Regardless of which option you choose, it is recommended that you move with as little as you can, as it will eliminate both higher out-of-pocket expenses and workload.

Planning the Move Yourself

1. Use a Shipping Carrier
2. Use a Freight Forwarder
3. Use a Shipping Cube

Hiring a Moving Company

1. Full-Service Moving Companies
2. Partial-Service Moving Companies

After you have decided on your plan of action, you will want to formulate and follow a packing and moving plan. By following a checklist and being as organized as you can, you can ensure your move to Hawaii will be a relatively stress-free process.

Welcome to rainbow country

Step 3: Start Packing

Recommended you start this at least 6 weeks before the move.

The main thing you will want to decide on is whether or not you want to do all the packing yourself to ensure it is up to your liking, or if you just want a moving company to deal with it all. It may also come down to budget. Packing your own items will be the most affordable way to move. Packing needs to be done early in order to achieve the best results, however, this step may continue up until moving day.

Packing Essentials

  • Plenty of different sized but easily stackable boxes
  • Quality tape gun
  • Strong packing tape
  • Packing materials: bubble wrap, newspaper, furniture pads, etc.
  • Colored sharpies or labels

Packing your house can be a daunting task, and is usually the most stressful part of moving, but if you do little by little, and really plan things out, it will be less intimidating. Remember, the more organized you are, the less stressful this step will be. You’ll also appreciate all the time you put into packing when it comes to unpacking.

For help with packing or unpacking, hire a moving company. Be sure to ask around, read customer reviews, and check with the Better Business Bureau before you decide on which company to go with.

Note: Please see the helpful tips section for packing tips.

Did you know Hawaii has its own time zone and does not observe Daylight Saving Time?

Step 4: Keep Your Important Household Goods Separate

Because you may have to wait a little while before your household goods arrive in Hawaii, you’ll want to be sure you have certain items with you, meaning you’ll want to keep them separate. You can bring some of them on the plane with you, or mail them to your new address so they are waiting for you when you arrive or get there shortly after.

These items may include:

  • Clothing
  • Cookware
  • Breakables
  • Valuables
  • Important Documents

Are you ready to live the dream?

Step 5: Shipping Your Car

Almost all companies require you make reservations at least 2 weeks before you move.

This is usually the last step because, let’s face it, you need your car. The cost to ship a car depends on size, weight, and government restrictions, but usually costs somewhere around $1,000-$1,500 per car. It is helpful to know that most companies charge you separately for shipping your car. So you will need to make arrangements to ship your car and different arrangements to ship your household items. Some companies do ship both household goods and vehicles, but they will usually process them separately and ship them separately as well.

The most cost effective way to ship your car is to drop it off at a shipping port, however, some companies will pick your car up from your house for an additional fee. In all cases, your car must be completely empty. They do check and make sure nothing is in it, so in order to avoid hassles, be sure you take the time to empty out your vehicle.

You will need the following documentation:

  • The Original Title
  • The Original Registration

Note: Some companies will allow you to have three (3) certified copies of the original title and the registration.

Bring it, or Leave it Behind? If you are moving from a foreign country, or if you have an older vehicle, it may be more cost effective to sell your car and buy a new or used one once you get to Hawaii. There are plenty of places to buy new and used cars on all of the main Hawaiian islands and it could end up being a better choice than shipping your car.

If you own a truck, you may want to consider shipping it over here as they are highly desirable vehicles to own in Hawaii, and will often sell for more money than they would in other parts of the world.

It is also good to know that some car brands are not easy to service in Hawaii, or buy parts for. If you have a car that is hard to work on due to it not being a popular brand in the islands, it will end up costing you a lot of money to maintain it.

Car brands such as Range Rover and Subaru are some of the ones that might be costly to have in Hawaii. You may be better off to sell these types of vehicles and buy a car once you are in Hawaii. Popular brands such as Toyota, Honda, and Chevy are some that will be easy to find parts for and easy to find mechanics that can work on them. If you have a popular vehicle for the islands, you may want to consider shipping it.

Registering Your Car: After establishing residency in the state of Hawaii, you have 30 days to title and register your car. You have to submit your shipping document, an application, out-of-state title and registration, a Hawaii vehicle inspection certificate, and the required fee at any of the Satellite City Hall offices.

Obtaining a Hawaii Driver’s License: You can exchange your valid out-of-state driver’s license for a Hawaii license by producing documents such as your social security card, a valid U.S. license, name change certificates (if any), and the required fees. Upon clearing a general knowledge, eye, and a written test, you will be given a type-3 (car) license. If your out-of-state license is expired, then you have to take the road test as well.

Additional Resources

Moving to Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Belongings
Moving to Hawaii – Planning the Move vs. Hiring a Moving Company
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Shipping Your Belongings to Hawaii
Tips for Making the Move to Hawaii as Easy as Possible
Moving Your Belongings to Hawaii: Recommended Shipping Companies
Moving Your Pet to Hawaii – The Complete Guide

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Drew Chirico

September 4, 2017

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