How to move, live and be happy in Hawaii, part 2

Looking towards the West Maui mountains from a boat

Looking towards the West Maui mountains

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on moving to Hawaii. You can read Part 1 here.

If you’re serious about moving to Hawaii, there are two things you need to know to make it work: the culture of Hawaii (covered in Part 1), and everything else — which is what this post is about. Make sure you read both, as they’re equally important.

It’s expensive, but…


Makena, Maui

Hawaii is beautiful and remote, which for resident translates to a highly desirable place to live with a high cost of living. Here’s what we mean:

  • Housing: rent and real estate prices are sky high, especially in the nicer areas
  • Food: groceries can cost literally double, triple and sometime quadruple of you’d pay on the Mainland
  • Transportation: airfare in and out of Hawaii is pricey, and it’s hard to get around without a car
  • Energy: we have the most expensive electricity rates in the nation

If you want to enjoy life without going broke, you have to be smart, patient and willing to experiment.

Here’s my advice: pay the money and live where you desire — location matters when it comes to quality of life. Food is where you can save money. Hawaii is fertile and abundant, and it’s not hard to grow and catch your own food. If you don’t have the time and energy for that, buy food at nearby farmers markets and local fisherman.

If you want to save on energy and transportation, go solar with PV panels and use hybrid/electric cars. There is no lack of sun power in Hawaii!

Learn how to supplement your income

Surfing on Maui's North Shore

Surfing on Maui’s North Shore

The average pay rate in Hawaii doesn’t always add up when you factor in the cost of living and compare it to Mainland wages. If you find yourself balking over a job offer with less than stellar pay but still want to live here, you’ll have to be more entrepreneurial. For example, you should consider:

  • Increasing your value in a company where your unique skills are scarce
  • Starting a small side business
  • Working remotely in a job that pays better than what you’d find locally

In Hawaii, it’s very common for people to supplement their incomes with creative side projects. Also, volunteering is a great way to build relationships and opportunities. Plus it feels good!

Don’t bring much

Sunset runners in Kihei, Maui

Sunset runners in Kihei, Maui

You’re better off selling most of your stuff before you get to Hawaii. It’s really expensive to ship things here, and it’s not hard to rebuy them. If you do bring stuff, make sure you find an air carrier with reasonable baggage fees and limits.

Many years ago, I moved from Hawaii to Alaska and shipped a 20 foot container of our household items and both of our vehicles. Two years later, we turned around and moved back to Hawaii and shipped everything back. We must have paid over $10,000 doing that — we were fools!

If you’re bringing your pet to Hawaii, you’ll need to follow the strict quarantine laws.

Focus on the getting through the first year

Kamaole Beach, Kihei

Kamaole Beach, Kihei

If you do actually make it here, congratulations! Now make it through your first year.

For some reason, the first twelve months for almost everyone who moves to Hawaii is filled with all sorts of challenges. Cars break down, jobs fall through and all sorts of strange things happen. If you can rise above these small obstacles and keep a positive attitude, you’ll be kama’aina (local resident) in no time!

When you move here and need a place to stay while you find your permanent home – check with us for 30 day rates in our vacation rentals to help make for a smooth transition!

We would be delighted to be part of your next Maui vacation. If we can assist you with planning your perfect Maui vacation, please contact our Sunny Maui Vacations’ team at or at 808-240-1311 Extension 21. Let us help you reserve your vacation rental condo in South Maui and assist you with island recommendations and activity planning through our in-house Concierge at 808-240-1311 Extension 71.

Image credits: Earthlandia 1 2, bluewavechris, Aaron Lynton, gomaba, heartinhawaii

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.