Cost of living -

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

Do you dream of moving to a sunny island where the spirits are always high, and every day feels like a vacation? We have just the place in mind – HAWAII!

Known for its vibrant atmosphere and pristine golden beaches, Hawaii is the perfect destination for those who enjoy both outdoor activities and natural relaxation. While tourists flock to Hawaii year-round, if you’re considering a move to Hawaii from California, here’s everything you need to know.

What’s it like to live in Hawaii?

Hawaii offers a modern-day escape to a tranquil and serene paradise. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and islands, it’s a popular vacation spot. The pleasant climate attracts people from around the world, and you’ll be welcomed by the friendly and spirited locals.

Apart from its breathtaking scenery, Hawaii boasts a very low crime rate and excellent after-school programs that support working parents, making it an appealing destination. With well-developed outdoor recreational areas, the state is home to seven national parks, over 1600 surf spots, more than 700 parks, and numerous botanical gardens. You’ll enjoy year-round beautiful weather, easy access to a multitude of beaches, and an abundance of outdoor activities.

For those moving from California, Hawaii offers a break from the ordinary and a chance to unwind and embrace a more relaxed lifestyle.

Get Ready for Your Move to Hawaii

Featured in this article


1. First steps before moving to Hawaii

Finding a job 

Hawaii, traditionally seen as a vacation destination, has experienced a shift in recent years as an increasing number of people opt to settle there and work remotely. Moreover, the tourism industry plays a vital role in providing job opportunities.

In the tourism and related sectors in Hawaii, there is a demand for various jobs. These high-demand jobs include positions such as dishwashers, veterinary technicians, baristas, servers, loan specialists, pharmacists, retail sales associates, and agriculture technicians.

Getting there 

How far is Hawaii from California?

If you’re planning a move from California to Hawaii, you’ll want to consider the distance, time difference, and travel options. The distance between the two states is approximately 2471 miles, with a 5-hour and 30-minute flight time from California to Hawaii. California is 3 hours ahead of Hawaii in terms of time difference.

If you need to ship a car, it’s advisable to hire a car shipping company. Traveling by boat is an option, but it can be costly due to fuel expenses. As a solo traveler, a one-way boat trip can be relatively expensive, not including shipping costs for your belongings.

For those planning a flight, consider exploring long-distance moving companies to help with transporting your belongings.

Must dos before your arrival

  • Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when relocating. You can easily set up mail forwarding either online or in person before your move. Remember to update your address with various organizations, including the SSA, DMV, and home services. To ensure you don’t miss any important notifications, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist, which covers all the places you need to update when moving.
  • Weather Preparedness: Be ready for Hawaii’s diverse weather. Check local forecasts and pack accordingly, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the region’s climate variations.
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.

2. Upon your arrival in Hawaii

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • 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.
  • Consider saving money with a daily transit pass for convenient travel. In Honolulu, TheBUS offers a monthly bus pass for $80.

Exchanging your driver’s license

Hawaii DMV Change of Address

It’s important to notify the DMV of your change of address so that you can legally drive a vehicle in Hawaii. When moving from California to Hawaii, you have to notify the DMV within 30 days of your move.

  • Notify the California DMV of your move to Hawaii within 10 days of moving.
  • You can only apply for a driver’s license and register your vehicle in-person at a Hawaii DMV office.
  • Bring your Social Security Number and 2 proofs of residency.
  • A vision test may be required.
  • Bring your out-of-state license with you. A written and road test will be required if you don’t have your out-of-state license or if it is expired.

For more information check out our article on how to notify the Hawaii DMV of an address change.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to Hawaii from California, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. This state follows the same procedures and regulations as in other states. First Hawaiian Bank has more than 50 branch locations in Hawaii, and it is convenient for every local because it is accessible.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you will not have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. Healthcare is regulated by the state in the US and so the state of Hawaii proposes a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose Hawaii as your state and create an account.

3. Best places to live in Hawaii

Best places to live in Hawaii

Oahu, Maunawili

Oahu offers a fantastic suburban lifestyle along its picturesque coastline, making it a versatile choice for anyone.


With a lower cost of living compared to Maunawili, Honolulu offers the vibrancy of an urban city with numerous entertainment options and top-notch amenities.


This is the second-best suburb, featuring above-average schools, excellent dining options, and beautiful parks, making it especially attractive to professionals.


Hilo boasts a diverse population and a range of residential options, appealing to both professionals and retirees.


Recognized as the third-best suburb in Hawaii, Mililani is a practical choice, especially suitable for families.

Best Places To Retire in Hawaii

  1. Hilo, Big Island: Considered a treasure by its residents, Hilo offers a cost of living that’s 18% lower than the Hawaii average.
  2. Paia, Maui: Known for its natural food market, Paia is an award-winning island destination that’s truly unique.
  3. Kailua-Kona, Big Island: Adventure seekers and golf enthusiasts will find Kailua-Kona perfect, with excellent greens and exciting activities.
  4. Kaneohe, Oahu: This location has it all – from mountains and beaches to rainforests. It offers a wide range of recreational activities like fishing, boating, kayaking, surfing, and more.
  5. Lihue, Kauai: If you’re seeking a calm and laid-back vibe, Lihue, a small town with many hiking opportunities, may be just what you’re looking for.

Best Places to Live in Hawaii With a Family

  1. Mililani Mauka: Undoubtedly the top choice for families, featuring the best schools and family-friendly neighborhoods.
  2. Maunawili: Offering a mix of rural settings and above-average schools, Maunawili is a very good place to live in Hawaii.
  3. Kailua: A suburban area with good schools and numerous residential options, making it family-friendly.
  4. Mililani: Recognized as the third-best Hawaiian suburb, it’s a popular choice for many families.
  5. Honolulu: While it’s an expensive and bustling city, Honolulu provides everything you need in close proximity to raise a family.

Setting up home services 

Hawaii has various electricity providers such as:

Electricity bills in Hawaii are the highest in the US. To set up electricity, you can visit the websites of the electricity suppliers listed above, fill out the required information or you can contact them by calling the numbers on their contact page. For water supply, you can reach out to the Board of Water Supply. For gas set up, see set up instructions on the Hawaii Gas Company’s website.

The best internet providers in Hawaii will have bundling options, various speeds, and multiple package options at reasonable prices. 

Should you rent or buy?

Hawaii, an absolutely breathtaking destination within the United States, is highly coveted by those wishing to visit or reside there. However, the cost of housing in Hawaii is notably high. For individuals planning an extended stay in this paradise, investing in property might be a viable option.

According to local advice, the prevailing mortgage rates and interest costs could potentially make buying a vacation home in Hawaii less financially appealing, unless you plan to rent it out for the majority of the year. Although renting in Hawaii can also be costly, it may ultimately prove to be a more economical choice.

Cost of rent in Honolulu, Hawaii


1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Hawaii (Outside of Center)



Numbeo (Oct 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Hawaii


Average home price 



Zillow (Oct 2023)

Pros and Cons of Living in Hawaii



  • The area has great weather year-round. It isn’t too humid and isn’t too hot either.
  • There are many interesting activities and places to explore.
  • The crime rates are low.
  • Hawaii is a family-friendly place with good schools.
  • It rains almost 200 days a year in Hawaii.
  • Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live in America.
  • The highways often have heavy traffic jams due to a large population living in a smaller area.
  • The waste management system is lacking

Advice When Moving to Hawaii

Tip #1

Before considering a move to Hawaii, it’s crucial to ensure your budget can handle it. Hawaii is undeniably expensive, with prices for everyday items, like food, running about 50% higher than on the mainland.

Tip #2

If you suffer from sinus issues or allergies, come prepared. The volcanic smog, while occasional and mainly affecting the main island, can make your stay uncomfortable.

Tip #3

Don’t be surprised if you find popular attractions crowded with tourists. Hawaii is renowned as one of the top vacation destinations, so expect to encounter large crowds at the main recreational spots.

Tip #4

There’s no need to dress in formal attire. Most Hawaiians opt for casual clothing year-round.

Tip #5

Bear in mind that groceries and toiletries might not be as readily available as they are on the mainland. Stores can quickly run out of stock due to limited availability.

4. Cost of living in Hawaii

Cost of living in Honolulu


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)

Cost of living in Los Angeles


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($70.56 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Hawaii

Hawaii enjoys remarkably stable weather, with minimal temperature fluctuations throughout the year. The state experiences just two seasons: winter, spanning from November to April, and summer, which extends from May to October. 

Winter sees an average temperature of 78°F, while summer averages around 85°F. Rainfall is typically anticipated during the period from November to March.

6. What to do as a local in Hawaii

If you are looking for an adventure, Diamond Head park is famous for its fun hiking trails with amazing views. The view at the top is worth the hike. The Pearl Harbor tour is an experience that one should not miss. It is Hawaii’s #1 attraction. 

Locals in Hawaii spend their weekends sightseeing, playing golf, swimming, and surfing.

7. Fun facts about Hawaii

Fun Fact #1

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth having its own separate time zone, the Hawaii Standard Time.

Fun Fact #2

Hawaii consists of 137 islands rather than being one single island, it is more like a chain of islands making it the widest state. 

Fun Fact #3

It is the only state with two official languages, English and Ōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian).


If you’re thinking of moving from California to Hawaii, there are several essential steps to consider. These include finding a job, addressing logistics like transportation, updating your information, and learning about the best places to live. 

You should also decide between renting and buying property in a state with a high cost of living. Lastly, be prepared for the diverse weather, and make sure to explore local activities and embrace the unique facts about Hawaii to ensure a successful transition to this beautiful island paradise.

Are you moving soon? Discover the best movers for your move to Hawaii.


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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