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Moving to paradise without a job lined up may seem daunting, but with proper planning and preparation, you can make your Hawaiian dreams come true.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Save up 6-12 months of living expenses, secure housing, research work options, update your resume, and network both locally & remotely to land opportunities in Hawaii’s thriving tourism, agriculture, and defense industries.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to successfully move to and find work in Hawaii, including budgeting, housing, job prospects, networking, adjusting your lifestyle, and more.

Calculate Your Moving and Living Costs

When preparing for a move to Hawaii without secured employment, thoroughly estimating your relocation and living expenses is crucial. Carefully projecting these costs and saving an adequate buffer of funds can prevent major financial struggles after arriving on the islands.

Estimate Moving Expenses

If shipping belongings from the mainland, research costs for packing supplies, movers, shipping containers, boat transport, rental trucks, gas, lodging, etc. Inter-island barge shipping between Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island ranges $1,500-$2,500+. Use online calculators to estimate.

Also budget for essential purchases upon arriving, like a quality used car. Kelley Blue Book values reliable older Honda and Toyota models around $5,000-$7,000 on the islands.

Research Hawaii’s Cost of Living

Hawaii is notoriously expensive, with Honolulu ranked America’s 3rd priciest metro area in 2022. Groceries, gas, housing, utilities, healthcare, and other living costs can be 20-75% higher than many mainland regions.

Numbeo’s cost of living tool lets you compare your current location against any Hawaiian city. This helps set realistic budgets around higher rents, bills, goods & services.

Monthly Expense Hawaii Avg Mainland Avg
Rent (1 bedroom apartment) $1,800 $1,100
Utilities (electricity, heating, etc) $250 $150
Groceries (food, household items) $550 $400

Save 6-12 Months of Living Expenses

When moving to Hawaii without secured employment, have at least 6 months’ worth of funds to cover all living costs. Better yet, aim for 12 months’ savings as an extra buffer while job searching.

By accurately projecting moving costs and Hawaii’s high cost of living, you can realistically save enough to thrive on the islands as you launch your new career and lifestyle abroad!

Secure Temporary Housing

When moving to Hawaii without a secured job, finding affordable temporary housing should be a top priority. Luckily, Hawaii offers ample options for short-term rentals, house sitting, and hostels that can serve as a home base while getting settled.

Look into short-term rentals

Sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and FurnishedFinder offer house, apartment, and room rentals for periods as short as a week. Prices and amenities vary greatly, but even modest rooms can run $25-50 per night. An entire home or apartment will offer more privacy and independence while job hunting, with nightly rates from $100-250 depending on the location and size.

Those willing to stay outside of the main tourist hubs may find better deals. Be sure to factor in any cleaning fees, deposits, or additional guests when budgeting.

Consider house sitting

For free or highly discounted lodging, consider a house sitting gig through sites like Trusted House Sitters. Home and pet owners often seek responsible people to watch their property and animals when traveling. Stays average 7-14 days but can extend for months.

While typically unpaid, house sitting includes free lodging and sometimes meals or other perks. You must be comfortable caring for pets and homes, but for animal lovers with limited funds, it can be an ideal short-term solution while networking and job hunting across Hawaii.

Check out hostels

Hostels offer dorm-style lodging and a built-in social community, usually at far cheaper rates than hotels. Beds in shared rooms run just $25-40 per night, while private rooms with fewer beds cost $60-100 on average.

Major statewide hostel chains like Hostelling International have multiple locations, while smaller independent hostels offer a more authentic local vibe. Most provide WiFi, shared kitchens, and common areas to mingle with fellow travelers and get area advice.

Just be prepared for less privacy and space compared to other options.

With a little creativity, those moving to paradise without a job lined up can still secure comfortable, cost-effective housing during their transition. Taking advantage of Hawaii’s many temporary lodging options allows new residents to search for work and build connections worry-free.

Understand the Job Market and Opportunities

Hawaii’s largest industries and employers

The key industries that drive Hawaii’s economy and provide the most jobs include tourism, defense, agriculture, and healthcare. Tourism alone accounts for over 20% of Hawaii’s GDP and employs approximately 200,000 people.

Major employers in the state include The Queen’s Health Systems, Hawaii Pacific Health, Marriott International Inc, Hilton Grand Vacations, and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts. The US military also has a strong presence in Hawaii with bases across Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, providing over 42,000 civilian and military jobs.

Growing fields to target

Some top growing occupational fields to target when moving to Hawaii without a secured job include:

  • Healthcare – nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, home health aides
  • Computer science and IT – software developers, computer systems analysts, database administrators
  • Construction – electricians, plumbers, carpenters
  • Renewable energy – solar panel installers, wind turbine technicians

Focusing your job search on these in-demand and fast growing sectors can increase your chances of finding employment more quickly in Hawaii’s job market.

Seasonal and temporary work

Seeking out seasonal, temporary, part-time and freelance work can also be a practical way to secure employment when first moving to Hawaii without a permanent position lined up. Types of jobs to explore include:

  • Hospitality and tourism – hotel front desk agent, server, tour guide
  • Farm laborer – fruit or coffee harvester, crop farm worker
  • Retail – sales associate, stock person, cashier
  • Construction – demolition worker, landscaper, painter

Some key websites to search these temporary gigs include: Cool Works, Viva Hawaii, and job boards on Craigslist.

Polish Your Resume and Network

Update your resume for Hawaii

When moving to Hawaii without a job, it’s crucial to update your resume to appeal to Hawaiian employers. Here are some tips:

  • Highlight any Hawaii or tropical experience you have. Employers want to know you can handle island life.
  • Emphasize customer service skills. Tourism is huge in Hawaii so these skills are valuable.
  • Tailor your resume with Hawaiian keywords like “aloha spirit,” “ohana,” and local terms.
  • List ocean sports and activities you enjoy. This conveys an island lifestyle fit.

You can also get your resume critiqued by a Hawaiian local to ensure it’s polished for the job market there.

Network online and locally

Networking is invaluable for finding jobs in Hawaii. Here are some effective networking strategies:

  • Join Facebook groups for Hawaii job seekers and network with members.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect with Hawaiian companies and recruiters in your industry.
  • Check sites like for Hawaii networking events to make local connections.
  • Talk to friends and family in Hawaii for insider job leads and advice.

The more people you network with, the more likely you’ll hear about unposted job openings. Around 30% of new jobs in Hawaii are filled through personal connections, so tap into them!

Leverage social media

In addition to networking online, leverage social media to help find Hawaii jobs:

  • Follow Hawaiian companies on social media to learn about openings.
  • Join industry and career Facebook and LinkedIn groups in Hawaii.
  • Post updates when you move to Hawaii and are job searching to spread the word.
  • Use appropriate hashtags like #HawaiiJobs to increase visibility.

You can also connect with Hawaiian recruiters and hiring managers through social platforms. Shooting them a message can help you get on their radar for potential opportunities.

Adjust Your Lifestyle and Mindset

Embrace the island way of life

Moving to Hawaii is more than just changing your physical location – it’s adopting a whole new way of life. The islands have a unique culture that values balance, nature, spirituality, and community. To make the most of living in Hawaii, you’ll need to embrace the local lifestyle and mindset.

Island time is real! Things move at a slower, more relaxed pace, so be prepared to chill out. Locals live by the phrase “hang loose”, emphasizing going with the flow. Getting stressed or impatient won’t get you far. Instead, relax and don’t worry so much about schedules or punctuality.

Spend plenty of time outdoors enjoying Hawaii’s natural splendor. Go hiking, swimming, surfing – immerse yourself in the islands’ stunning scenery. Allow yourself to be rejuvenated by the restorative power of the tropics.

As the Hawaiian saying goes: “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

Community and shared purpose are central to Native Hawaiian values. Make an effort to build relationships, support local organizations, and give back. This emphasis on the collective whole over the individual is key to finding fulfillment on the islands.

Be flexible and open-minded

To thrive in Hawaii, it’s essential to stay flexible and keep an open mind. With limited job prospects, you may need to take a position that doesn’t match your experience and education. Look beyond job titles and predetermined career paths – focus more on finding meaningful work aligned with your values and passions.

You’ll also encounter cultural differences and new ways of thinking. Avoid judging things as “right” or “wrong” – simply accept that there are many valid worldviews. Adaptability is crucial for integrating and succeeding in Hawaii’s blended society.

Finally, you must get comfortable with uncertainty and change. Things rarely go according to plan on the islands! But rather than resist, practice letting go of expectations and going with the flow. This ability to “cruise easy” will enable you to truly enjoy island living.

Persistence is key

Moving to Hawaii without a job lined up is far from easy. You may face months of job searching before finding suitable work. Financial struggles are not uncommon for new residents. To make this transition, you must tap into reserves of grit, patience, and determination.

Maintain persistence in the face of setbacks and delays. When one door closes, keep knocking on others. Be relentless in networking, following up on leads, and sending out applications. Persevere through the highs and lows, continuing toward your goal of building a life in paradise.

The rewards will make the effort worthwhile.

You may need to get creative financially while looking for work. Consider part-time jobs, freelancing gigs, or entrepreneurial projects to pay the bills in the meantime. Some temporary sacrifice paves the way for ultimate success.


While relocating to paradise may sound like a dream, with strategic planning, financial preparation, and a positive, persistent mindset, you can absolutely move to Hawaii without a job secured.

By following the steps outlined here for estimating costs, securing housing, understanding the local job market, networking effectively, and adjusting expectations, Hawaii’s world-famous shores can be within your reach even during a career transition.

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