Moving to Hawaii

Updated on May 29, 2013
K.L. asks from Fort Stewart, GA
13 answers

My husband might be getting stationed near Honolulu some time next year. I know it is going to be a major change for us, but an exciting opportunity. I am looking for info to figure out the cost of living and other tips for living (not vacationing) in Hawaii. Any info, advice, or tips are appreciated. Thanks!

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answers from Sacramento on

No personal experience, but wanted to mention HGTV has a new series called Hawaii Life that might be helpful to watch. The cost of living there is insane ... people are looking at million dollar homes there that are just old tract homes. The series is actively running right now, so you might record a few episodes. They've done quite a few on the island of Oahu.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

We vacationed there, and it was beautiful. One thing I took away from it, and I don't know how it applies to MOVING because the locals are kind of "protective" of the islands somewhat, is a respect of the indigenous culture. I made sure I knew how to say thank you in Hawaii'an - it's Mahalo. What was kinda sad is that the response was a pleased surprise - it was sad because apparently very few tourists/visitors said it.

Learn what you can about the history/culture of the island. Of course, enjoy the tourist things, but find out where the locals eat, etc. Maybe even write to the tourist board or whatever they have and ask them for tips, etc. There is a very rich history and culture everywhere you go. I've found that a little time invested in just even TRYING to learn/understand/be open to the culture goes a LONG way.

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answers from El Paso on

If you're moving in connection with the military, you should get a COLA for Hawaii. BAH is significantly higher there than most places.

This is a good site. You can get an idea of what your BAH as well as COLA will be.

There's a lot of things to do, but I hear about a lot of people who feel "trapped." Get out every weekend and FIND things to do. Don't JUST go to the beach (although definitely go!). Go out to the Dole plantation sometime. Do the normal stuff (zoo, aquarium, etc.). Just make sure you get out and do things. Every once in a while, see about splurging and going over to one of the other islands and enjoying some of the activities on them.

Definitely get things started with the transportation office and make sure they get you on their slate for moving. I don't know what the story is over there at Stewart, but here at Bliss, almost everyone PCSing is resorting to a DITY move because transportation is so backed up.

Gas is definitely more expensive. As others have said, pretty much everything is more expensive. Nearly everything has to be shipped from somewhere and that cost gets passed on to the consumer. Definitely try to stick to the PX/BX and the commissary as much as possible to keep your costs lower, except in the case of things that are grown/produced locally, then price shop like normal! :)

Best of luck and have fun!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My friends were stationed there. The whole family lived there for 10 yrs.

Realize before you get there that the pace is slower. Don't expect to get
anywhere in a hurry. It's a nice change: island time. :)

Food is very expensive so factor that in.

Most places did not come w/air conditioning. They just opened up their
slatted windows for the island breeze.

At first they were met w/some unfriendliness from the locals. Imagine how you would fee if your town was a vacation spot ALWAYS. People
come in & tear it up then leave. But don't let that discourage you. Just
give it time, anticipate that that could happen & be friendly showing them
you are there to stay.

Food is expensive so shop on base or the Foodland grocery store chain.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Woohoo!! We used to live on Oahu. I was stationed at Helamano (sp?) (near the Dole plantation) & my husband was at Schofield Barracks. Once we got married we were off the base as quickly as possible! When we were there (1999-2002) things honestly weren't much more expensive than a large metro area. I never saw milk more than $3.50/gal (even off base) and our rent & most of our friend's rents were around $1000 - $1300 for a 2 or 3 bedroom.
My biggest suggestion in to get away from the military community. Get out and meet people who have been there for a while; grew up there or have lived on the islands for a long time. Enjoy the culture & the pace of life. Head to the beach when it starts raining in the afternoons (the tourists tend to head in at the first sign of rain), stay out of the water on the North Shore during in Jan/Feb but go watch the Triple Crown of Surfing - amazing talent!
If you plan on taking animals with you start checking on requirements NOW. It is a long & detailed process to get them through quarantine in as little time as possible & as economically as possible.
Enjoy the time :-)

There was at least 1 mom on here that lives there currently (not military) but I can't remember her name; that & she probably changed it because of all the mamapedia/fb drama lately. Hopefully she will see this & give you some good info.
Mucho blessings.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My parents were stationed at Hickam AFB and loved it. Hickam is right next to Pearl Harbor. Prices for everything are outrageous, but you might be able to get military housing. If not, I'm pretty sure you get some sort of housing allowance. And you can buy most of your groceries and household items on base. That helps quite a bit. (And they have Costco there now, which they did not have back then.)

I remember being there for Christmas and my mom buying a totally Charlie-Brown Christmas tree for an outrageous price. We loved it though.

Have fun!

ETA: Totally forgot about the animal quarantine. It's like 6 weeks at a kennel. If you have a pet, you might consider leaving it stateside if you don't think it could handle a quarantine.

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answers from Washington DC on

My dad was stationed in Bermuda for 3 years. I know, different island, but similar concepts. Everything was outragiously priced. So shop on base whenever possible and have things shipped from family and friends. The big thing is really pre-planning everything. Shop for Christmas NOW. Plan for birthdays months in advance (shipping can take forever, so this will help make sure things get to you on time).

You'll love it though. I've never been, but my life on an island was heaven. I was 10-12 and and I knew even then how lucky I was. Do everything a tourist would do, see the islands. If he gets stationed there, I hope you enjoy it! I have a friend there now who LOVES it and a good friend of mine was there for a couple of years as a single man - he loved it too!

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answers from Amarillo on

If your husband is going to be stationed in Hawaii the government will ship your household goods. You can contact the military and get a listing of rentals and things as such. This will give you an idea of what the rents are if you are not able to live on base/post.

I wish I were going to enjoy all the water and the local food. Have a good time and enjoy.

the other S.
Retired Military Wife

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answers from Miami on

My college roomie and her husband were stationed there for a while. They LOVED it! She talked all the time about how expensive things were, though, so be braced for that. Keep in mind that anything we are used to on the "mainland" has to be flown or shipped, so it's pricier. Try to use as many local items as you can. Oh... and find a furnished house. It will cost a FORTUNE to have your things shipped... unless the military is paying for it, in which case HAVE A BLAST!

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answers from Miami on

I went to Hawaii for the first time a few months ago. It was wonderful, and I'm bound and determined to live there for the first 6 months of retirement, a month or so on each island, whenever we do retire! It was THAT great! Like living abroad in an exotic place, but everyone speaks English and they drive on the American side of the road!

It IS more expensive there, that's for sure. Gas is high, electricity is high as well. The condo we stayed in didn't have a heater OR A/C - just a lot of ventilation. I asked about that, and it was explained to me that the reason was because electricity costs so much. People seem to camp a lot in places where it's allowed, at least on Kauai, though camping can't actually be permanent. (They close the parks to everyone a day or two a week, probably to make sure that no one stays permanently, and to clean up and cut grass, etc.)

Honolulu is pretty crowded, so you'll be in an urban setting there. I do hope you'll have a cost of living adjustment, as LoveTeachingMath mentioned. It's not too expensive to island-hop, so try to do it one weekend a month, if you can, especially to enjoy a varied experience.

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answers from Houston on

I went to Big Island, Hawaii in 2006. I was not impressed. When I came back folk told me that I should have gone to Maui and I would have loved it. It was a business trip, so I was not able to see other areas.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I lived in Pearl Harbor - MANY YEARS ago!!! Back before there was a bridge to Ford Island...

Which side of the island are you going to be on? Barbers Point or Pearl/Hickam?

Do you know if you will be living on-base or off base?

I have a friend who lives in Aiea right now. It's expensive. They bought their home years ago and decided to move back (they had been renting it out for the last 7 years or so).

Here's a calculator to help where you are now...

When I lived there
- it rained every day at 2PM - for about 5 to 15 minutes.
- Cold was 60 degrees.

Have fun!!! good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Think double prices. I have read on here that milk was over $8.50 per gallon. I can't imagine food costing that much. Many people have moved to Hawaii and done just fine. Hopefully you will too.

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