Moving to Hawaii

On August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the country. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. located outside of North America. With 1.4 million people, the state is made up of eight main islands. The island of Hawai’i is the largest and is often referred to as the “Big Island.”

There are a number of customs and etiquettes specific to Hawaii that you may want to learn before you move. For example, you should always take your shoes off before you enter someone’s home, and it is customary to bring a small gift to whoever you are visiting. Also, most Hawaiian families have a luau to celebrate their child’s first birthday.

If it isn’t clear that Hawaiians love their state, their official motto should make that obvious. “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono” was officially adopted in 1959 as the state motto. Translated this means: “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” Hawaii’s capital is Honolulu, which is located on the island of O’ahu.

The 8th smallest state in the nation, Hawaii is also the 11th least populated state. The coastline is about 750 miles long, ranking fourth behind Alaska, Florida and California for longest coastline.

Things to Know Before Moving to Hawaii

Hawaii has a very laid-back vibe. In general, no one is in a big hurry and the residents love to take their time going anywhere. Even the dress code is casual in Hawaii. This is partly due to the warm climate, so you won’t see too many people dressed up. If fact, it is totally acceptable to do business in a Hawaiian shirt.

After moving to Hawaii, you will get used to not being “in the know”. This is because it takes a little more time for news and information to reach the island. So by the time breaking news reaches Hawaii, it is usually considered “old-news” on the mainland.

Hawaii is known for having a high cost of living, but there is good news on this front. After you move and obtain a Hawaii driver’s license, there is a “kama’aina” discount just for locals.

Also, keep in mind that certain items you are used to getting at the grocery store may not always be available in Hawaii. Since almost everything is shipped from the mainland, it is common for the stores to run out of products. You may have to wait days or even weeks for the item to be restocked.

Largest cities

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii. The 2010 census showed that the population here was around 337,256. Today this number is up to around 400,000 residents. Honolulu is the only city in Hawaii that has over 50,000 people living there.

Pearl City is the second largest city with a population of about 47,698. Residents who identify as “native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander” make up 5.5% of the population here. Pearl City is only five square miles, and Pearl Harbor is the largest attraction in this city.

The third largest city in Hawaii is Hilo. Its population is around 43,263. Hilo is located on the Big Island and 14.3% of its residents are Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders.

Weather & Climate in Hawaii

When someone thinks of Hawaii, they usually envision a tropical paradise with palm trees, sand and sunshine. This actually isn’t too far off from reality! The typical weather in Hawaii is considered tropical, but it doesn’t get too unbearably hot due to the constant trade winds coming in from the East.

The summers in Hawaii usually have a high around 88 degrees, and low of 75 degrees at night. In winter, the average temperature is still fairly warm at 83 degrees. It can get chilly in the mountains areas, but never below 65 degrees.

Hawaii really only has two seasons: the dry season, which takes place around May to October, and the wet season, which is usually October to April.

Traffic & Transportation

Each year on average, Honolulu residents will sit in about 58 hours of traffic. Since the islands in Hawaii usually have a small landmass, there is a lot of traffic wherever you go. This is extremely unfortunate since the gas prices in Hawaii are the highest in the country at $4.12 a gallon.

Fortunately, there is a lot of public transportation in Hawaii. A bus pass in Oahu will cost about $60 a month, with a year-long pass costing around $600. If you just need a day pass, one-way trips on the bus are only $2.50. You can also buy a 4-day pass for $35.

Some of the smaller islands in Hawaii have no public transportation, such as the islands of Molokai and Lanai. However, there are ferries in the state that can get you where you need to go via waterways.

Housing Market in Hawaii

Out of the nine districts in Hawaii, the sale of homes has slightly decreased in seven districts over the last year. So far in 2017, there were 545 homes sold, which is seven less than 2016. The city of North Hilo had the lowest amount of homes sold, at just 5 total houses.

The highest average cost for a house was located in North Kona with a price of $600,000. With just a little lower amount of $587,000 is Kohala, which increased from $462,000 in 2016. The lowest median price of an average home is located in the Puna District with a price tag of $212,500.

Real Estate

The cost of housing in Hawaii will mostly depend on which area you choose to move. The average price in the state for a four bedroom home was $645,648. More specifically, an average listing in the city of Honolulu for a four bedroom home was near $1.1 million.

When purchasing a home in Hawaii, location definitely matters. If you prefer a laid back, off-the grid life, you can certainly spend less on rent in smaller cities. As for the larger cities, the price will depend on which area you select.

Home Ownership

Buying a home in Hawaii is certainly not a cheap investment. The average price for a home per square foot is $483.

Over the past year, Zillow stated that the average price of homes in Hawaii have increased by 7.3 percent. They also predict that this rate will continue to rise another 3.2 percent in the next year.

Trulia stated that the median asking price for a home in Hawaii is 1.35 times higher than other states in the country. The median value of an occupied home is nearly 1.28 times higher than the U.S average.


Renting an apartment in Hawaii can get expensive, as rental properties are in very high demand here. The average rent for a studio apartment in Hawaii is $1,821, which is much higher than the national average. A one bedroom increases to $1,903 and a three bedroom apartment is nearly $3,000 to rent.


The overall crime rate in Hawaii is 18% lower than the rest of the country. More specifically, Honolulu’s crime rate is 17% lower than the rest of the state, and 35% lower than the rest of the country.

Property crimes in Honolulu are also low. Crime rates are 18% lower than the state average.

Financial Living

If you are going to relocate to Hawaii, you will need all to the extra income you can get. The good news is that the average wage for employees in Honolulu is higher than any other state in the country. The median salary is $49,320 in Honolulu, compared to the national average of $48,420.

Average Income

Since living in Hawaii can get expensive, you will definitely want to have a job lined up when you move. In a larger city like Honolulu, the average income ranges depending on the industry. Just to give you an idea, here are some examples of average income in Hawaii:

  • For an administrative assistant: $30,000 a year
  • For a nursing career: $60,000 a year
  • For a career in law: $83,000 a year

Cost of Living

As mentioned before, the cost of living in Hawaii is fairly high. However, it is certainly not the highest in the country. The cost of living in Honolulu is 6.7% lower than New York City, and 3.6% lower than San Francisco.

The high cost of living in Hawaii is partly due to increased travel costs and shipping fees. Also, the fact that Hawaii is pretty isolated when compared to other states can affect cost. Most items in the U.S. usually have a disclaimer that Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico are not included in all promotions.

Also, since most items need to be shipped to and from the island, the cost of food and goods will be a bit more expensive.

Job Market

The unemployment rate in Hawaii is below the national average, making for a promising job market. It may go without saying that the tourism industry jobs are top rated in Hawaii. For example, the city of Oahu alone brings in nearly 4 million visitors a year!


Hawaii is a high-tax state. The income rates are some of the highest in the country. Residents will pay the most taxes per person in the entire country, but there is no sales tax.

Instead, Hawaii residents pay what is called the General Excise Tax (4%) in addition to a hotel tax. The Hawaii Tax Foundation thinks the tax burden is too high, making for an unfriendly business climate. Efforts to reduce taxes are still underway.


Since 1959, tourism has been the top industry in the state. Other popular industries in Hawaii include:

  • Sandalwood
  • Whaling
  • Pineapples
  • Sugarcane
  • Education

In addition, the export of food and clothing also plays a role in the Hawaiian economy. The highest cost of exported food is coffee, macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, sugar cane and honey.

In fact, honey bees are the state’s most valuable exports. The Hawaii Agricultural Statistic Services reported there were $370.9 million in sales from honey bees alone.


The top four employers in Hawaii are all health companies. Under the state’s plan, each business is required to provide insurance to all employees who work at their company more than 20 hours a week. In 2009, almost 92% of residents were insured with the Hawaiian health care system.

Due to the strict adherence to preventative care, Hawaiians required less hospital treatments than the rest of the United States. In addition, health care expenses were significantly lower. Oftentimes, other states will use Hawaii as a positive healthcare model.

Hawaiian Culture & Food

The overall culture of Hawaii can be described as Polynesian. However, there are many traditional Hawaiian customs that still hold an important place in society.

There are often re-enactments of the original ceremonies and traditions all around the state. Two of the most popular Hawaiian ceremonies are the luau and the hula dance.

The cuisine in Hawaii is influenced by the various people who immigrated there, including those with American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and Polynesian roots.

A Hawaiian staple food is called the “plate lunch”. This meal comes with meat, rice, and a side, which is usually macaroni and cheese. The plate lunch is known to be very inexpensive, and has a combination of Native Hawaiian and Asian influences.


Just stepping outside in Hawaii can be considered an attraction. Whether you explore by land, sea, or the sky, there are so many gorgeous sites to be seen.

Island of Kauai

The Island of Kauai is mostly known for Jurassic Park, as the movie was filmed here. There are plenty of helicopter tours in Kauai that take you above the island where you can truly appreciate its beauty.

You can also snorkel, rent a catamaran, scuba dive into sea caves or check out the seals, dolphins and giant sea turtles. There is also a 22-mile hiking trail that is considered the best backpacking route in the state.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Whether visiting or as a local, you have to check out the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park located on the Big Island. There are five active volcanoes in the state, and four of them are located on the Big Island.

The Kilauea Volcano is the most active and has been constantly erupting since 1983. If you’re hesitant about erupting volcanoes, there are multiple places located a safe distance away where you can view the volcano’s beauty from afar.

Pearl Harbor

Another famous attraction in Hawaii is Pearl Harbor. Located in Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor memorial brings in millions of visitors each year.

While you are there, make sure you check out the USS Arizona memorial, which is included in the Pearl Harbor ticket. People come from near and far to pay their respects to the many Americans that lost their lives that day.

Recreational Activities

It pretty much goes without saying that Hawaiians like to be outside. Hiking is a big activity in Hawaii. There are plenty of trails on each island that are perfect for beginners and expects alike.

Bicycling is also a favorite activity in Hawaii. While it isn’t always fun biking to the top, riding downhill on the slopes of Haleakala is an unforgettable experience. You can also bike through Lanai and visit the Garden of the Gods, another famous tourist attraction.

And of course, who can forget the number one attraction in Hawaii: the oceans. On pretty much any beach, you can take surfing lessons, learn how to scuba dive, wade in the water, or simply lay out and enjoy an adult beverage. Be sure to take some time to go deep-sea fishing here too for an incredible Hawaiian experience.

Hawaii Universities

Founded in 1907, the University of Hawaii at Manoa was the first public education institution in the state. It is located just three miles inland from Honolulu. The university is known for its agriculture and human resources departments.

Established in 1965, the Hawaii Pacific University is known as the largest university in the central Pacific. Also located in Honolulu, this is a private university with about 6,906 students enrolled.

Located in the city of Hilo, the University of Hawaii Hilo is a public university about 200 miles from Honolulu. It has many programs for students, such as marine biology, volcanology and astronomy.

Sports in Hawaii

Although they are no professional sports teams in Hawaii, sports are still popular in the state. Each December, the Hawaii Bowl takes place, which is a postseason contest for two Division 1 schools in college football.

In January, the Hula Bowl in Maui takes place, where college seniors perform their best for pro-scouts. Every year after the Super Bowl, the NFL Pro Bowl takes place. This is a competition for the best of the best professional football players to play for some all-star action.

But football isn’t the only sport that is played in Hawaii. The state is also known for its gorgeous golf courses, which are regularly used for major golf competitions. Past participants in these competitions include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, just to name a few.

State Politics & Religion

Since Hawaii’s first election in 1960, the state has historically supported the Democratic party in all but two elections. In fact, Minnesota is the only state to have supported the Republican party less than Hawaii.

Hawaii has not elected a Republican to represent their state since 1970. Since 1977, both of the U.S. senators in Hawaii have been Democrats.


In Hawaii, the most common religion is Christianity, followed by Buddhism. However, one-quarter of the population is unaffiliated with a religion.

Christianity is the largest denomination, with 249,619 members. The Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints came in at second with 68,128 members.

History of Hawaii

The first settlement recorded in Hawaii was around 300 CE. These were most likely Polynesian settlers looking for the Marquesas Islands. Some archeologists believe a later wave of immigrants showed up around 1000 CE. At this time, there were new high chiefs in charge that even practiced human sacrifice. Yikes!

Hawaii is one of the four U.S. states that were independent nations before they became states. This nation was known as the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1810 to 1893. However, this was overthrown by American and European capitalists and the landowners in Hawaii.

From 1894 to 1898, Hawaii was considered an independent republic. It officially became part of the United States on August 21, 1959.

So, How Are You Getting to Alaska?

Similar to living expenses, it can be pretty costly to move to Hawaii. Since you can’t just drive to your new home, you’ll have to arrange flights for you and your family. You will also need to have your items flown or sent over on a ship via a shipping container.

Be sure to research moving companies to find the best fit for your moving needs, as well as your wallet. However, can you really put a price on moving to paradise?

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