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The tropical paradise of Hawaii attracts many seeking an island lifestyle, but the costs associated with relocating can be daunting. If you’re wondering what budget you’ll need for moving to and living in Hawaii, read on for a comprehensive breakdown.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Expect to budget $5,000-$20,000 for moving expenses and housing costs alone when relocating to Hawaii long-term.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover every major expense involved with moving your life to the Aloha State. You’ll get a realistic estimate of moving costs, learn the range of housing prices on the various islands, understand hidden fees to watch for, and more.

With thorough planning using the estimates here, your Hawaii move can be smooth sailing.

Upfront Costs: Moving and Transporting Your Belongings

Hiring full-service movers for long-distance transport

One of the biggest upfront expenses when relocating to Hawaii is hiring professional movers to transport your belongings. For a long-distance move from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii, you can expect to pay an average of $5,000-$7,000 for a full-service move with packing and door-to-door delivery.

This covers the cost of packing materials, moving truck rental, fuel, labor, insurance, and any applicable permits or fees.

To save money, consider renting and driving a moving truck yourself without professional movers. However, keep in mind this option requires more physical effort and logistical planning. You also take on greater liability for any damages during the drive and ferry transport.

Shipping your vehicle

Unless you plan to buy a new car after your move, you’ll need to pay to ship your existing vehicle to Hawaii. This typically costs $1,200-$1,500 from the West Coast. Key factors determining the auto transport price include the vehicle’s size, time of year, and delivery destination.

An alternative is to sell your current vehicle and use the funds to buy one after relocating. But used cars generally cost more in Hawaii, so factor in potentially higher replacement prices.

Covering travel costs for your move

Don’t overlook the airfare or other transportation costs for you and your family to actually get to Hawaii. Especially during peak seasons, flight prices can easily total over $1,000 per person for round-trip tickets from major mainland airports.

You’ll also need to budget for taxis, rentals cars, hotels, and meal costs during your move. Having sufficient cash reserves gives peace of mind in covering these essential travel expenses before and after your island arrival.

The Range of Home and Rental Prices in Hawaii

Oahu Housing Cost Overview

According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home on Oahu in 2022 reached an all-time high of $1,095,000, an incredible 14.8% increase over the prior year (source).

Rental prices on Oahu are high as well, with the average one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,924 per month as of December 2022 according to RentCafe’s data (source). The high demand coupled with limited housing inventory is keeping home and rental prices elevated on Oahu.

Maui Housing Cost Overview

Real estate has become extremely pricey on the island of Maui. Based on data from the Realtors Association of Maui, the median sales price for a single-family home reached $1.02 million as of Q3 2022, a 19% year-over-year increase (source).

Rentals follow suit with a one bedroom priced at $1,990 on average and two-bedrooms going for $2,460 per month (source), squeezing budgets for potential residents.

Kauai Housing Cost Overview

Kauai has seen rapid home price appreciation although costs are still behind Maui and Oahu. According to Hawaii Life real estate, the median sales price for Kauai homes reached $985,000 in Q3 2022, up 15% from the prior year.

Typical rents on Kauai range from $1,800 for a one bedroom apartment to $2,200 for a two bedroom (source). With high demand from second homeowners and vacation rental investors coupled with limited housing units available, both purchase and rental prices will likely remain elevated in the years ahead.

Big Island Housing Cost Overview

County Median Home Price Q3 2022 Average 1BR Monthly Rent Dec 2022
Hawaii (Big Island) $525,000 $1,500

Real estate prices on the island of Hawaii (also called the Big Island) tend to be the lowest in the state, on average about half the cost of the other islands according to data compiled in the table above.

This makes Hawaii island potentially the most affordable for people looking to move to Hawaii on a budget. However, costs are rapidly rising here as well, with the median single-family home price up 15% in 2022 (source).

Overall Hawaii island remains the best value option among the major Hawaiian islands.

Accounting for a Higher Cost of Living

Grocery Costs in Hawaii

Grocery prices in Hawaii are typically 30-50% higher than on the mainland due to increased shipping costs and lack of economies of scale. For example, a gallon of milk in Hawaii costs around $5-6, compared to the national average of $3.50.

Fresh produce like fruits and vegetables also command premium prices due to spoilage during long transit times.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Honolulu is the most expensive metro area for groceries in the entire US. Their analysis shows grocery costs in Honolulu being 52% higher than the national baseline.

Gas and Energy Prices

Gasoline and energy costs are much higher in Hawaii than the mainland US. As of December 2022:

  • The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Hawaii is $5.19, compared to the national average of $3.30 (Source: AAA). That’s 57% higher.
  • The average residential electricity rate in Hawaii is 34.54 cents per kWh, compared to the national average of 14.77 cents (Source: EIA). Over 2x more expensive.

Hawaii relies heavily on imported petroleum and has limited local energy production, driving costs upwards. The isolation from continental infrastructure also contributes to pricier energy.

General Expenses

Most other living expenses in Hawaii cost more compared to mainland states. For example (Sources: Numbeo, Expatistan):

Item Hawaii Mainland US Difference
Restaurant meal $15 $10 +50%
Dozen eggs $4.20 $1.87 +125%
Movie ticket $12 $9 +33%

Rising prices coupled with limited economic opportunities outside tourism make Hawaii a challenging place for middle and low income families. Carefully accounting for the higher cost of living is essential before deciding to relocate.

Additional Costs to Factor In

Hawaii General Excise Tax

One extra expense to account for is Hawaii’s general excise tax (GET). This is a gross receipts tax applied to nearly all business activities in the state. The GET rate ranges from 0.15% to 4.712%, depending on the county and type of good or service.

This tax gets passed along to consumers in the final price of most products and services.

So when budgeting for your move, remember to factor in this extra tax on expenses like shipping, storage, furniture, appliances, vehicles, and more. The GET makes almost everything cost more in Hawaii.

Shipping Items from the Mainland

Shipping household goods from the mainland USA to Hawaii can be very costly compared to a local or interstate move. As Hawaii is an isolated island chain, barge shipping is often the most economical option, but still pricier than a typical ground move.

Some estimated costs to move a 1-2 bedroom home to Hawaii:

  • Small shipment (up to 1,000 lbs.) – $1,500 to $2,500+
  • Medium shipment (1,000 to 7,000 lbs.) – $3,500 to $7,000+
  • Large shipment (over 7,000 lbs.) – $8,500+

Oversized items like vehicles, boats, and pianos often cost extra too. And your belongings are exposed to maritime hazards like saltwater corrosion, rough handling, and weather damage.

Purchasing or Renting Furniture

Given the high price to ship goods, many opt to sell their furniture and large appliances and repurchase them in Hawaii. But the sticker shock continues once you start shopping locally.

Furniture and appliances generally cost 15-30% more compared to prices on the mainland. This premium is due to:

  • High import and shipping fees to bring inventory to Hawaii
  • Lack of competition among retailers
  • Overall higher cost of living and doing business

Renting furniture and appliances is often cheaper up front. But you may pay more over the long run. Be sure to calculate total rental costs for the duration needed, including tax and fees, before committing.

Websites like Hawaii Home Goods and Oahu Craigslist can help find more affordable secondhand furniture locally.

Saving Money on Your Hawaii Move

Look for moving discounts and specials

One of the best ways to reduce costs when relocating to the Aloha State is to keep an eye out for moving sales, promotions, and seasonal discounts. Many moving companies offer spring and summer discounts of up to 40% to fill up trucks during their off-peak season.

You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by planning your move during one of these promotional periods.

It’s also wise to get quotes from multiple licensed, reputable moving companies rather than going with the first one you find. Comparing rates and services allows you to negotiate pricing and potentially find unadvertised promotions not listed on a company’s website.

Ship your car early

Rather than paying to ship your vehicle along with the rest of your belongings, look into transporting it separately via boat, rail, or truck a month or more prior to your move. This allows time for potential delays and can reduce automobile shipping costs by up to 25%.

Just be sure your car insurance policy covers the transit period.

Alternatively, you could sell your existing vehicle and buy a new or used car once in Hawaii. Prices on the islands run higher than national averages, but you may still come out ahead after factoring in the costs and headaches of shipping.

Bring only essentials

It’s tempting to pack up your entire household and move it 2,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean. But each additional pound transported tacks dollars onto your moving expenses. Pare down before packing begins by holding garage sales, making donations, selling items online, or giving furniture and other goods to friends and family.

Stick to necessities like clothing, small appliances, computers and electronics, and sentimental items. Almost anything else you need can be purchased affordably once you’ve settled in the islands. Not only will you save on weight, but you’ll also avoid having to store excess furniture while searching for a new home.


While island fever might tempt you to make the Hawaii move right away, taking time to adequately save and budget using estimates here will prevent nasty surprises. With strategic planning for major and unexpected costs, you can dip your toes in those ocean waters sooner than you think!

Focus first on building savings to cover the essential moving, housing, and living expenses outlined above. Then go the extra mile padding your budget for incidentals like furnishing a new home. If you prepare for all possibilities, you can confidently land on those Hawaiian shores ready to say “aloha!”

to paradise.

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