Hawaii Living: Moving To Hawaii

Hawaii Living: Moving To Hawaii
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So you've decided to move to Hawaii, but where do you begin with the actual moving part? We'll explain it all so read on.

• General: DIY / How-To • General: Educational

Guide Series: Hawaii Living
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You're one of the lucky few who is making the move to the paradise that is the Hawaiian Islands. Congratulations! What happens now? You have tons of stuff that has to get from point A to point B and a U-Haul isn't going to help you on this move. Relax, let's cover the various options and preparations needed for your big move to Hawaii.

Pare Down

Getting things from the mainland USA, or another country, to the islands is a costly endeavor. The more you have, the more it will cost you to get it here. The easy thing to do is to do is to get rid of as much as you possibly can. I see it all the time, people move here with all sorts of junk. Much of it gets tossed out after they get here or, worse, put in storage where it collects dust and loses value.

Now, I'm not suggest you sell everything you own just so you can come to Hawaii and buy it all over again. But there are times where that will make more sense than shipping it. After all, shipping costs will be calculated on size and weight.

The best thing you can do is to have a moving sale. Make it a big event and advertise it online (craigslist.org, etc) several days before you have it. Refer to it as a "moving sale" so buyers know you're serious about selling. Make several large signs and put them near all major access points by your house to pull traffic in. Don't violate any laws you may have on sign placement.

List all of your big ticket items (televisions, tools, cars, furniture) in the ad. Get all of your stuff into your garage before the sale, and pull it all out onto your driveway on the morning of the sale. No garage or driveway? Bad weather? Have the sale in your house instead! Host the sale early on a Saturday morning since this is when most of the vultures, I mean garage sale buyers, will be out and about. Price your stuff to sell and be willing to haggle.

If you don't sell enough, plan another sale the next weekend and do it all over again. Sell as much as you can of things you don't need. For example, you won't need those skis, heavy winter jackets and sweaters, snow boots, and so on. Got a huge CD collection you don't really listen to? Sell it! Are you really reading those 300+ books you've collected? Of course not, sell them! Got a massive antique sewing machine that's supposedly a decoration? Sell that hunk of junk. Tons of large, framed artwork? Unless it's something really expensive do you really need it? You're decorating tastes may change in Hawaii anyhow.

Selling can be a liberating experience. I look at it like this, if I'm not using something then why am I keeping it around? Sure, there are exceptions to that rule but it's a good general rule to work with. All of those knick knacks and chachkies are often nothing more than tacky dust collectors. You don't need them and chances are the place you'll be living at in Hawaii will be smaller than what you had on the mainland anyhow.

Got a lot of big, bulky furniture? Do you really want to pay hundreds of dollars per item to ship it? Unless it's very new or really high end the answer is likely no. Sell what you can and you'll probably be able to pay for shipping the stuff you choose to keep.

Is the item made of particle board? Sell it unless it's a must have item, that stuff is junk and likely to get damaged in shipping anyhow. Besides, particle board furniture (including MDF, and similar materials) isn't meant to be un-assembled and reassembled and often won't be as sturdy when you re-assemble it.

Pack Well

Ever get a package in the mail that looks like the shipper played football with it? Well, that's because they did. Or something close to it. And that was probably the result of a journey under 500 miles. Hawaii is over 2,300 miles from California so your stuff is going to travel at least that far.

It's also going to end up on multiple forms of transport along the way. The shippers, no matter how great they may be, won't be gentle with it. That fragile sticker is how they pick the box to play football with! Think writing "this side up" actually means anything? Don't fool yourself.

Pack your stuff extra good. Bubble wrap is great but my personal favorite is to wrap stuff in the clothes I'm shipping. That gives stuff a good cushion and then wrap that in bubble wrap.

When you box items up, be sure to use a lot of packing tape. Splurge for the thicker tape as the thin stuff tears too easily. Use three layers on the top and bottom (main) seems. Use two layers on the side seems (top and bottom, four total). Now, wrap a single piece of tape all the way around the box, perpendicular to the top and bottom (main) seems.

Think it's overkill? It often is, but it's also the best insurance for getting stuff here in one piece. Taping properly also helps keep out weather and bugs. Doesn't sound like a bad idea now does it?

Shipping Methods

You're not going to get a lot of shipping options here. You're stuff is going to come over on a boat or plane. If you have a lot of big items then it's a boat and you're stuff will go into one of those huge, metal shipping containers that you see on cargo ships. This is how many families that are moving a house of furniture will do it.

The next option is to buy a pallet worth of space. You know, those wooden pallets? Well, if you can fit all of your stuff on one or two of those this is a decent way to save on moving. If you have furniture this isn't for you, but great if you have a a few dozen boxes to deal with.

On that note, if you're only shipping boxes you can also look at using postal mail. FedEx and UPS are options as well, but they're often quite a bit pricier than the good old US Postal Service. This is how I moved my stuff over, though I did it in phases. It was cheaper for me to ship around 50-60 boxes through the mail than it was to use a pallet or (partial) shipping container.

Regardless of how you ship, your stuff will take a while to get here. If you go the cheapest postal mail route then it will take around two weeks. The other methods will take at least that long, probably three weeks or longer.

Check It & Carry On

When you move to Hawaii you're stuff will take at least a couple of weeks to arrive. So you'll want to check your most important items in your luggage. This is mainly your day to day stuff like clothing, toothbrushes and toiletries, some toys for the kids, and other essentials. If you rely on medications they should go in your checked luggage or carry on bags.

The same goes for important paperwork, ID cards, credit cards, insurance cards, and so on. Put important stuff into a folder and keep that folder with you until you arrive.

Speaking of kids, pack plenty of their toys, stuffed animals, books, and so on to bring with. Moving is stressful even for them so having items that remind them of their old home can help them relax in their new home. When you get here, consider letting them buy a couple of new toys for their new Hawaii house which gives them something special to look forward to.

Don't worry if you forget the toothpaste, you'll be able to buy any essentials you need when you land. But it's nice to have that stuff packed so you're not rushing around as soon as you get here.


I hope this gives you a good idea of what's involved in moving your stuff to Hawaii from the mainland. It's a pretty big task and best broken down and done over time. Meaning, don't try and rush it all in one or two weeks. Spread it out over a month or two if possible. The key to success and savings is to ship as little as possible. Think I forgot about shipping vehicles? I didn't, that one gets its own article next.