From Tourist to Resident: Top Tips for People Who Want to Move to Hawaii

by Julia on December 29, 2015

When life awards you a chance to visit Hawaii, you can consider yourself one of the luckier of all people alive. What if you could actually live and work there, though? 

You don’t need to actually have a job that gets you transferred there; you could consciously decide that it’s the place you want to live. People move to California, Florida, New York or Texas all the time. There’s nothing about Hawaii that makes moving there all that crazy. It’s heaven on earth, after all. If it’s your dream, you shouldn’t let the possibility slip through your fingers.

What if you’re worried about how challenging a move can be?

Many people do quietly wonder in a wistful sort of way if they could ever pull off such a thing as a move across the Pacific. They drop the idea because it seems too far-fetched. It’s important to realize, though, that pursuing one’s dreams does need some daring and some unconventional thinking. When you actually do it, you’ll begin to see yourself in an all-new light. If it’s your dream to call Hawaii home, you should be willing to put in a little hard work, and take your chances.

Nevermind the naysayers

The first thing that you will hear about a move to Hawaii the minute you talk to someone about it is that it’s too far away, too expensive, too crowded and too hard to find a job in. Mostly, these objections tend to be irrelevant to a decision to move.  It isn’t that these objections aren’t based in reality, because they are. They simply aren’t serious enough to abandon a plan to move there over. Plenty of perfectly ordinary people do successfully take the step, after all. The answer is to back down from the temptation to research the problems too much. If you want to live in Hawaii badly enough, you’ll make it work.

Get in touch with others doing the same thing

Plenty of people move to Hawaii each year, and they go online to forums as well as to Facebook to talk about their experience. These can be great places to get information from people on the ground who have real stories to tell. You’ll find not only that such research gets you usable information, you’ll find that it makes you far less fearful.

You’ll need to work harder to find a job from the mainland

Some people who move to Hawaii do regret their decision; they become lonely for their friends back home, and simply dislike the slower pace of island life. They then attempt to cut and run. It’s for this reason that employers in Hawaii tend to be hesitant about hiring people from the mainland.  This only means that the search can take longer than you would expect back home. It’s important to prepare well in advance. Signing up with the many employment agencies and recruiters can help. It’s usually considered a good idea to take any job that you can get your hands on at first, move there, and then go about looking for something that’s more in line with your area of interest.

 Work hard to find a house

 There are plenty of high quality luxury homes in Hawaii. Affordable housing can be somewhat difficult to come by, though. Craigslist is usually not a good option because homes are snapped up as soon as they come on the market. Plenty of ads on Craigslist also tend to be fakes. It’s important to look for homes on reputable real estate websites.

You do need an emergency fund

If you have a job of some description and health insurance when you move, you will typically be all set. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that a move to Hawaii takes you far away from home. Should you struggle with unemployment at any point, you will need a reasonable emergency fund to survive on. Most staples do cost twice what they do on the mainland, after all.

Finally, remember — it isn’t a foreign country

You might worry about being able to manage if you were moving to Japan or South Africa. When you move to Hawaii, though, you can take heart in the fact that you’re still in America. Your qualifications will work here, your credit score will lend you a hand, the culture doesn’t get that unfamiliar, and best of all, you know the language.  Even if everything does go wrong, a plane ticket to get back to the safety of the continental US costs no more than $300. You will at least know that you tried. Chances are, though, that you won’t move back. Once you’ve seen lava flowing down a hillside on an evening drive out, and fresh bananas hanging off trees by the streets, you won’t ever see the sense of living anywhere else.


Patricia Choi, President and Principal Broker of Choi International, has sold over a Billion Dollars of real estate in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has been the #1 Broker in Honolulu for the last 18 years and is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top brokers by The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends. During the 30+years that she has been involved in real estate sales, Patricia has distinguished herself has a leader in regional, national and international real estate organizations.

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