Ten Things to Know When Moving to the Hawaiian Islands.


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Living in the Hawaiian Islands is perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  It has been about 4 years since I got on that last plane.  I remember the relief I felt, as the plane ascended into the air.  There was absolutely no fear.  Only certainty, that this was the right decision for me.

My decision happened after a nine-day vacation to Maui to move here.  Two weeks later, I was living in a rental condo, putting my daughter in school and meeting daily with my real estate agent, house-shopping excitedly.   Granted, I’d been traveling to the islands for 11 years extensively.  A lot of hours had been spent back east muddling over a possible move.  But, once the switch flipped in my brain, there was no going back, just joy and peace.

That being said, I didn’t move without making a few bad decisions.  They weren’t huge.  Just things I wouldn’t do again.  Here’s what I either wish I’d done differently, or things I stumbled upon and did right.

1).  Less is More/Declutter on the mainland, if you can:  Unless you are independently wealthy and buy a huge house, you will have to get used to living in a much smaller space.  I was a bit intolerant to this notion and, thus, instructed my husband, who I left behind to sell the house, to bring just about everything.  My sentimentality made a lot of extra work for me.   Four years later, I’m still working on the clutter and have two rooms in the house and a good part of the garage, that remain chaotic.  My goal is to finish it all this Summer Vacation.  Items you will need much less of?  Furniture, shoes, warm clothes, clothes in general.  People live in bathing suits, shorts, sun dresses, etc…  Before moving, read:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

2).  Don’t bother bringing your car, unless you are in love with it, or have just bought it (as we had) and the depreciation turn-in value would be too much to take.  People move to the islands, then change their mind and move back.  The deals can be amazing.  Secondhand cars can be picked up at a very reasonable price.  If you want to sell your car, do it on the mainland.  You will get a better price generally.

3).  Get an 808 phone number as soon as you get here, if you plan to look for a job.  I’m a stay at home Mom, but I know that for folks trying to find work, that having a 808 number, will get you that call back you’ve been waiting for, over numbers with area codes from other states.  We found Verizon has the best coverage here too, but it is pricier.

4).  Bringing pets to the islands:  If you plan to rent, it is often hard to find a place that allows pets.  Do your research into possible rentals, in advance.

I would start the process of getting your pets through the quarantine regulations 6-8 months prior to moving, especially if you want to do what is called, “same-day release.”  See – Hawaii Quarantine Guidelines.  Essentially, Hawaii is a Rabies Free Zone.  They want to keep it that way.  If you are flying into “neighbor” islands, i.e., other than Oahu, your inspector will meet you at the airport and after a five-minute inspection, if all of your paperwork is in order, you will have your best friend in the car heading home.  Now, if you are moving to Oahu, be sure to get an early arrival flight time, as they can get backed up in Quarantine/Inspections.  Your animal may have to stay for the night, unnecessarily, with a later flight.  For service animals, at least on Maui, the inspector will board your plane and do the inspection there.

5.  Health Assessment/TB test for children entering the school system –  All children entering Hawaii public schools need a TB test.  While it only takes a few days to have the result read, smaller children may feel more comfortable going to a known Pediatrician’s office, rather than here in Hawaii.   Also, if your child is going into 7th grade, the State requires a full physical.  Information about this and other Department of Education facts can be found here – Hawaii Dept. of Education.

6.  Car Insurance Cards/Registration/Tags – You will need an original car insurance card, not a copy, or print-out from the internet, to get your car registered/inspected in Hawaii.

7.  Kamaaina Prices – Most restaurants/tourist sites/etc…have Kamaaina prices, aka special pricing for locals.  This can save you an enormous amount of money, so get your local i.d. card asap to prove you are “Kamaaina”.

8.  Extended Warranties/service contracts on appliances:  Please buy these!  It can be very hard to get qualified service people to come fix appliances and you may have to wait months to get an appointment.  It will save you time and money in the long run, if you warranty whatever you buy.

9.   Fences – It is best to buy a property which is fenced in and offers privacy.  As Robert Frost wrote, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”  Expect to hear other people’s’ conversations, kids playing, dogs barking, etc…  If that bothers you, it’s best to buy away from the more crowded, tourist areas, though there will be a big price tag for more land around your home.

10.  Combating the high cost of island life – Check out what the locals are doing.  Find out where the good farmer’s markets are.  Shop at Costco.  Use your smart phone and download store apps, where you can have coupons scanned at checkout and save.  Find out where the good plate lunches are.  Usually they go for $10 each and we, generally, can get 2-3 meals out of each plate, as they tend to be very generous.  Food can be expensive here, but with a little effort, eating well and eating cheaper is certainly possible.

Hope this helps anyone interested in moving here.




Mrs. Sassy Pants

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