What to know before your move from Canada to Hawaii

7 Things to know and do before moving from Canada to Hawaii

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When we think of Hawaii, we imagine the beautiful scenery and its stunning beaches, making it a paradise for anyone. A number of local activities such as hiking, sailing, swimming, kayaking, biking, and many others keep the Canadians occupied in their new paradisal bliss. It is the world’s largest island chain and the only US state to lie outside of North America, in the tropics. There are a lot of volcanoes and out of its 132 islands, only 7 are inhabited.

You must have heard of Aloha, which serves as both, hello and goodbye for the people. There are two state languages, US English and Hawaiian. This article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to Hawaiifrom Canada!

Moving from Canada to Hawaii: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move from Canada to Hawaii

1. First steps before moving to Hawaii

Visa Requirements

One of the first steps to do before even moving to Hawaii should be processing your Visa. Through the US Department of State, you must apply for your visa via a 12 step process. This process includes submitting a petition, NVC processing, paying fees, affidavit of support, financial documents, online application, civil documents, scan documents, submit documents, interview preparation, application interview and after the interview. 

Canadians can acquire a permanent resident green card through marriage or being an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. The steps you need to take to apply for a Green Card will be situation-specific.

Each of the immigration options highlighted above has different application requirements. Also, if you are moving, you would also need to provide a proof of identity as well. For that, if you are traveling by air, you need your valid passport or NEXUS card to enter the USA. But if a person or family is entering USA via road or sea, they required to present Canadian passport along with at least one of the following documents:

  • NEXUS Card.
  • Enhanced Driving/Identification card.
  • FAST Card.
  • SENTRI enrollment cards.

Business and Investment 

If you’re moving to the US to start a business or invest in the country, you will need to acquire a Business Visa or an Investor Green Card. There are many different types of business and investor Visas—temporary and permanent.

  • Business Visa: This is the most common immigration document for someone who wishes to start their own business in the US or invest in one. E-2 and EB-5 are the most popular programs for Canadian entrepreneurs.
  • Investor Green Card: While not all of these will turn into resident green cards, the one that provides you with the best chance is the EB-5 Investor Visa.

Finding a job

In August 2023, Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 2.8%. These rates are mostly due to the fires in Maui. Hawaii is still recovering and has multiple relief efforts in place for the matter.

Hawaii has a high demand in many sectors including dishwasher, veterinary technician, barista, server, loan specialist, clinical pharmacist, retail sales associate and agricultural technician, to name a few. 

When finding a job in Hawaii, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like Indeed and LinkedIn. It is also important to talk to locals and discover new job opportunities in your new area. 

Indeed (August 2023) & State of Hawaii (August 2023)

Employment Sponsorship

If you’re moving for the purpose of working in the USA, you’ll have three main categories to choose from. In most cases, your employer will sponsor you for a visa which would allow you to live and work in the country. Acquiring the appropriate immigration employment authorization means you need to be approved for one of the three following items: Employment Authorization Card/ Work Permit, Employment Visa and Permanent Resident Card/ Green Card.

Depending on which conditions you meet, and how long you will work in the US, you will be issued either of these documents.

Getting there 

The most practical way from getting to Canada to Hawaii would be flying. Hawaii is surrounded by water therefore, flying is the most convenient way to get there. 

You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Be sure to arrive in Hawaii two or three days before your move in date so you have time to take care of last-minute tasks. 

International Moving Company

It is wise to do thorough research to find the best movers for the big move from Canada to Hawaii. Be sure to check for the following requirements:

  • The company you have decided upon is certified and qualified to carry out the job.
  • They complete transport by plane. A boat is also a good choice but it may take longer.
  • They provide all the necessary insurances including damage and accidental insurance.
  • They have ample customer reviews backing up their claim of excellent service.

Additionally, you will be requiring the following documents to ensure that the whole process goes smoothly from start to finish.

  • Bill of Lading (list of goods that are carried in the shipment).
  • Proof of Delivery (this is the receipt for the Bill of Delivery, it confirms the date and time of the reception of the goods and confirms for them being received in good condition).
  • Commercial Invoice (it shows the full description and value of the goods shipped).
  • Certificate of Origin (to ensure compliance to NAFTA regulation and showing where the shipment is coming from).

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to Hawaii. You will be more prepared for your new life if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Be sure to acquire a valid passport or Nexus card beforehand. Primarily, contact the Canada Revenue Agency and clear your taxes and dues. It may take a little time for the whole process to be completed, so don’t worry if you think it’s taking a bit more time than you expected
  • Prepare yourself by becoming familiar with the island lifestyle and the climate as Hawaii is in the tropics. Spoiler: it is not the same as living in Canada!
  • If you have children, research schools and the education system. Hawaii is the only US state with a unified state-wide public schooling system, which is available for all kids free of cost.
  • Find an international moving company. You can find a number of international moving companies that can move your belongings from Canada to Hawaii. But to have your personal luggage shipped across a distance of 5705 Km, you will need to find a company that you can trust.
  • Consider learning Hawaiian as it is the official language of the US state of Hawaii.
  • If you have a car you would like to bring to Hawaii, make sure to do what is necessary for car shipping as well as auto insurance. 

Car Shipping to Hawaii

Importing a car from Canada requires that it be less than 25 years old and compliant with the FMVSS standards. The vehicle must be for the sake of personal use and not for resale. Additionally, the importer needs to obtain a letter from the original manufacturer of the vehicle along with its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Also, the vehicle needs to be compliant with the EPAs rules and regulations.

With that being said, car shipping from Canada to Hawaii may not be such a good idea, so it is best to sell your car and use the money some other way you see fit. But if it is an expensive car or you have some sentimental value attached to it, making it irreplaceable, then you may opt to have it shipped. But if you do decide to ship it, just find a trustworthy car shipping company, and have your car shipped with peace of mind. Car shipping companies can help you through the process.

2. Upon your arrival in Hawaii

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Have your valid documents ready to be displayed any time you need to. Registering with the Canadian Embassy and local council is also a good idea. If you are moving for work, be sure to contact your employer and let them know you have arrived as they may be able to answer some of your questions.
  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers. 
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.


Moving into the US, getting health coverage should be one of your first orders of business. To enroll in a coverage program, you must live in the United States and you must be a citizen/ national (or be lawfully present). Furthermore, you cannot be incarcerated.

In the USA, healthcare services are provided through private companies. The government has little to no part to play in this unless an exceptional case (disability, unemployment, living close to or below poverty level) is at hand. The citizens are themselves responsible to look after their wellbeing.

There are several healthcare programs that are available for residents of the USA to choose/facilitate from. This includes: Private medical insurance, Medicaid and Medicare.

As a Canadian immigrant, we urge you to get insured as soon as possible. As a new immigrant, you can consider New Immigrants Health Insurance. These will include companies such as Sirius International, Seven Corners, and Lloyd’s Of London. Additionally, you can opt for a Short Term Health Insurance plan that will provide temporary coverage while you travel to and settle down in the US.

Setting up your cell phone

Most of the major cell phone providers reside in Hawaii like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Unfortunately, you will not be able to keep your Canadian phone number when moving to Hawaii, in this case, you will receive a brand new number from the provider of your choosing. 

Be sure to cancel your plan with your Canadian cell phone provider when your move to Hawaii is official. 

Getting a driver’s license

According to the Honolulu Government, transfers of out-of-state driver’s licenses are allowed for individuals from U.S. states, U.S. territories, and Canada with valid licenses. You must visit a driver licensing center and complete the appropriate application for an out of state license. 

You will require proof of identity, legal presence, Social Security Number, date of birth and two forms of proof of your residence in Hawaii. Please note, it might be required to pass a vision test and fees may apply for any of the driver license services. Find out more about how to notify the Hawaii DMV of an address change.

It is required to have auto insurance when driving in Hawaii. Some factors that define or affect your insurance plan include car’s model and make, age and gender of applicant, marital status of applicant, credit history and city and neighborhood. 

Setting up a bank account 

Immigrant financial access is important as you move to a new country. As an immigrant, you may rely on these financial services to send remittances cash checks and pay your bills. The first thing you must do is open a bank account with both a USD account as well as a CAD account.The most popular bank in Hawaii is the First Hawaiian Bank.

While the required documentation depends heavily on each bank, you generally need two things: An I.D. number, and proof of your identity and address—a government-issued photo ID will suffice. 

3. Best places to live in Hawaii 

Best places to live in Hawaii

Moving to Hawaii means deciding where you want to live and considering your priorities. We’ve listed the best places to live in Hawaii to help you make your decision! 



Oahu, Maunawili

Known for grand waterfalls and swim holes


Capital and largest city in Hawaii


Known for hiking trails and nature lovers


Largest settlement in Hawaii County


Family-friendly city 

Setting up home services 

Setting up utilities and home services primarily depends upon where you are staying. You can talk to the locals to know which ones are the primary service providers for that area and then contact them to have utilities set up for you. 

For electricity, the main service provider for Big Island is Hawaii Electric Light Company, for Maui it is Maui Electric, for Oahu it is Hawaiian Electric, for Kauai it is Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and for Moloka’i the main service provider is Maui Electric. 

As for water, the main service provider for Big Island is the Board of Water Supply, Department of Water Supply, and County of Hawaii. For Maui it is the Department of Water Supply, Hawaii Water Service and Board of Water Supply. For O’ahu it is the Board of Water Supply, American Water and Hawai’i. For Kaua’i it is the Department of Water, County of Kauai and Board of Water Supply. Lastly, Moloka’i is the County of Maui’s Department of Water Supply.

For the Internet, Hawaii has a few main providers being Dish, Visasat, Spectrum, Sky Fiber, HughesNet, Hawaiian Telcom and Sandwich Isles. Find out more about the best internet providers in Hawaii!

Should you rent or buy?

As of October 2023, the median cost of buying a property in Hawaii is $792,997; as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Honolulu is $1,759.52.

Trusted websites such as Redfin, Apartments.com and Zumper are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Zillow (Oct 2023) & Numbeo (Oct 2023)

4. Cost of living in Hawaii

To show the cost of living in Hawaii, we are using Honolulu as an example. 


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($95.35 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in Hawaii

Hawaii has a tropical climate with warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. The weather in Hawaii is quite consistent with only little changes in temperature. There are only two seasons in Hawaii, winter (from November to April) and Summer (from May to October). 

In Honolulu the average temperature is between 22°C and 26°C. Rainfalls are expected from November to March.

6. What to do as a local in Hawaii

Residents of Hawaii take pleasure in spending their weekends playing golf like the Mauna Lani Resort Golf Club. When moving here, people adopt and immerse themselves in the local culture. 

Hawaii is known for its beautiful nature loving terrains but also for its miles of beaches. Be prepared to take part in activities like swimming, surfing, underwater diving, snorkeling and finding new wild life! 

Hawaiians are very culturally intune with their culinary skills. You will find plenty of farmers’ markets like the Lipoa Street Farmers’ Market on Saturdays where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, cattle farms, fine fish, poke bowls, Loco Moco and sashimi. 

If you truly would like to become a local, remember that life slows down on the Islands. So enjoy the views, get to know your neighbors and have fun!

7. Fun facts about Hawaii

  • Fun Fact #1: The Hawaiian Islands are a result of volcanic activity. 
  • Fun Fact #2: Hawaii is the only state in the US with no snake species! 
  • Fun Fact #3: Hawaii is considered to be the birthplace of surfing.


Moving to Hawaii is an exciting experience that promises a unique experience! It offers an appealing lifestyle, making it attractive to individuals, young professionals, and families alike. Hawaii has several family-friendly neighborhoods and communities to offer to its new residents.

In need of a trusted moving company to move you to Honolulu? Discover the 5 best movers in Honolulu.


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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