Moving to Hawaii: What You Need to Know

While moving to a new state might entail renting a truck, relocating to Hawaii will require a flight, at least, and a ship, possibly. Since Hawaii is a grouping of islands 2,390 miles from the mainland of the United States, new residents will need to consider relocation costs as well as island lifestyle before changing addresses.

Like many visitors, you may have thought about moving to Hawaii after a recent trip. Visiting and living in a vacation destination are two different lifestyles, and you should be aware of what to expect before relocating to the islands. For instance, overall expenses and income tax rates are higher, which means residents pay more for commodities and taxes than the average American.

Weather and Climate in Hawaii Year-Round

The islands of Hawaii only experience two seasonal differences a year. In the summer months, which include May to October, the average daytime temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the sea is usually calmer around the beaches.

From November to April, in the winter months, the average is 78 degrees Fahrenheit and north shores beaches experience more swells from sea storms. Winter receives more rainfall, but the average is 57 inches per year.

If you plan to live at higher elevations than sea level, then you will experience quite a different environment, like 30 degrees cooler and less sun protection.

Although year-round weather is consistent generally, unique microenvironments, such as rainforests, deserts and mountains, exist throughout the islands. Weather, environmental conditions and natural threats Hawaii locals experience include the following:

  • Earthquakes
  • Flash floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Trade winds
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanic fog (vog)
  • Volcanoes

Volcanic fog is caused by moisture and sunlight mixing with volcanic gasses, and it can cause headaches, difficulties with breathing and watery eyes in people as well as be unsafe to animals and plants. However, only the Big Island (Hawai’i) has vog due to the Kilauea volcano.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii is twice the U.S. average, which is mostly due to housing expenses on the islands. The median home price is $626,000 in Hawaii while two-bedroom rentals average $1,895 a month.

These amounts vary by island and specific location on the island. For instance, Hawai’i Island is the least expensive area to live whereas O’ahu Island is the most expensive.

Certain items are more costly in Hawaii than they would be elsewhere. A dozen eggs cost nearly $6, a box of 32 tampons is $9 and a pack of cigarettes is $10. Utility expenses are also higher than average on the islands, with the typical monthly costs for a two-person household collectively being $234.

The sales tax rate in Hawaii is low at 4.4 percent, however, the income tax rate is 8.3 percent. The average household income in Hawaii is around $75,000 while the average per resident is just less than $30,000. The working population that earns:

  • Less than $30k is 18.6 percent.
  • Between $30k and $60k is 21 percent.
  • Between $60k and $100k is 24.6 percent.
  • Between $100k and $150k is 18.8 percent.
  • More than $150k is 17 percent.

How to Make a Living

If you cannot work remotely or relocate with your current job, then you should consider an occupation in Hawaii. Hawaii has a low unemployment rate. Since tourism is a major economic aspect of the state, customer service jobs are always available. Positions in the tourism industry include taxi drivers transporting honeymooning couples to chefs and other food services positions in hotels and restaurants.

The top-earning industries include public administration, utilities and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction. Other positions needing workers include:

  • Home Health Aides and other health care workers.
  • Computer Systems Analysts and Software Developers.
  • Marketing Specialists and Market Research Analysts.
  • Construction Laborers, Electricians and Plumbers.
  • Retail

Most Popular Jobs

If you work in hospitality, food service or general customer service, then there is a good chance you will find employment. The top job positions include the following:

  1. Retail salesperson
  2. Office clerks
  3. Janitors and cleaners (not maids and housekeeping)
  4. Wait service
  5. Cashiers

However, the above list is lower-paying jobs. Popular higher-paying careers are registered nurses, management positions and secondary school teachers. Similarly, you may have an easier time finding an anthropologists job in Hawaii than you would in another state.

Health Care

Health care is a booming industry everywhere. The number of workers in health care will grow in the upcoming years as the population ages. This includes:

  • Home Health and Personal Care Aides.
  • Physical and Massage Therapists.
  • Registered, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses.
  • Medical and Nursing
  • Health Care Social Workers.
  • Medical
  • Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.

Not all health care industry positions will require direct care of patients. For instance, medical secretaries and pharmacy technicians facilitate the paperwork and non-direct care such as calling in and filling a prescription.


Every branch of the U.S. military has at least one base in Hawaii. If you are in the service, then you may request a transfer to Hawaii. Likewise, you may be able to enlist and request a station in Hawaii. However, Hawaii military bases create about 100,000 jobs for civilians, which means you can work for the U.S. military without joining one of the forces.

Where to Live

Depending on which factors are important to you, such as living costs or educational system, some places may better suit your needs. However, the north- and east-facing coasts generally get more rain than coasts facing the south or west.

Places in Hawaii good for families include:

  • Mililani, Aiea, Kaneohe and Kailua on O’ahu.
  • Laie, Hawaii.
  • Wailuku, Maui.

Places for people on a budget include:

  • Waianae, Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach on O’ahu.
  • Waimea and Waikoloa Village on Hawaii.

Where to live if you like to surf:

  • North Shore of O’ahu
  • Kaanapali Beach on Maui
  • Hanalei Bay on Kauai