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Moving to Hawaii can seem like a dream come true. With perfect weather year-round, stunning natural beauty, and an easygoing vibe, who wouldn’t want to call the islands home? But for non-Hawaiians, living in Hawaii also comes with unique challenges. If you’re considering a Hawaii move, read on to learn what it’s really like as an outsider in paradise.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While Hawaii offers an enviable island lifestyle, non-Hawaiians can face obstacles fitting into the local culture, finding housing, and dealing with the high cost of living.

Integrating Into Local Culture

Living in Hawaii as a non-Hawaiian can be an enriching and rewarding experience. To truly embrace the spirit of the islands, it is important to immerse oneself in the local culture. Here are some tips on how to integrate into the vibrant Hawaiian community:

Learning the History and Customs

Understanding the history and customs of Hawaii is key to fitting in and showing respect for the local culture. Take the time to learn about the ancient Hawaiian traditions, such as hula dancing and the importance of ‘ohana’ (family). Visit museums and historical sites to gain a deeper appreciation for the islands’ rich heritage. The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts website ( is a great resource for learning more about Hawaiian culture and art.

Speaking the Language

While English is widely spoken in Hawaii, learning a few phrases in the Hawaiian language can go a long way in fostering connections with the local community. Start with simple greetings like “Aloha” (hello) and “Mahalo” (thank you). The University of Hawaii offers online courses in Hawaiian language, and you can find more language resources on the ‘Olelo Hawaii website (

Making Local Friends

One of the best ways to integrate into Hawaiian culture is by making local friends. Engaging in community activities, attending cultural events, and joining clubs or organizations can help you meet people who can introduce you to the local way of life. The Meetup website ( is a great platform to find like-minded individuals and groups in Hawaii. Remember to be open-minded, respectful, and willing to learn from your new friends.

Finding Housing

One of the most important aspects of moving to Hawaii as a non-Hawaiian is finding suitable housing. The process can be challenging due to limited rental options, restrictions on buying property as a non-local, and the need to consider your pets’ needs.

Limited Rental Options

When it comes to finding rental housing in Hawaii, you may discover that the options are limited. The demand for rentals in popular areas such as Honolulu or Maui can be high, making it challenging to secure a place to live. It is advisable to start your search early and be prepared to compete with other potential tenants. Additionally, be aware that rental prices in Hawaii tend to be higher compared to other parts of the United States.

Buying Property as a Non-Local

If you are considering buying property in Hawaii as a non-local, there are certain restrictions you need to be aware of. The Hawaii Real Estate Commission has specific laws and regulations in place to protect the interests of local residents. Non-Hawaiians are not eligible to purchase certain types of property, such as agricultural land or Hawaiian Home Lands. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for non-locals to invest in real estate, especially in areas like Waikiki or Kailua-Kona.

To navigate the process of buying property in Hawaii, it is advisable to work with a local real estate agent who can guide you through the legal requirements and help you find the right property that fits your needs and budget.

Moving With Pets

If you are moving to Hawaii with pets, it’s crucial to plan ahead and understand the state’s regulations regarding animal quarantine. Hawaii has strict guidelines to prevent the introduction of rabies and other diseases to the islands. Pets are subject to a quarantine period upon arrival, typically lasting 120 days. However, there are options available to reduce the quarantine period, such as pre-arrival testing and fulfilling specific requirements.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and paperwork required to bring your pets to Hawaii. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s website provides detailed information and resources to help you navigate the process smoothly.

Remember to plan ahead and allow enough time to fulfill all the requirements to ensure a stress-free relocation for you and your beloved pets.

Dealing With the High Cost of Living

Living in Hawaii can be a dream come true, with its stunning beaches, tropical climate, and vibrant culture. However, one aspect that can be challenging for non-Hawaiians is the high cost of living. From groceries to utilities, here are some tips on how to navigate the expenses and make the most of your time in the Aloha State.

Groceries and Dining Out

When it comes to groceries, it’s no secret that prices in Hawaii can be higher compared to the mainland. However, with some careful planning, you can still enjoy a healthy and affordable diet. Consider buying in bulk, shopping at local farmers’ markets, and taking advantage of sales and discounts. Additionally, cooking at home can save you money compared to dining out regularly. While enjoying the occasional meal at a local restaurant is a must, preparing your own meals can be a great way to save some extra cash.

Gas and Utilities

Gas prices in Hawaii are often higher than the national average due to transportation costs and the state’s isolation. To minimize your expenses, try carpooling, using public transportation when possible, or even investing in a more fuel-efficient vehicle. When it comes to utilities, be mindful of your energy consumption. Turning off lights and appliances when not in use, using energy-saving light bulbs, and setting your thermostat to a reasonable temperature can all help reduce your monthly bills.

Leisure Activities

While Hawaii offers an abundance of breathtaking natural beauty, some leisure activities can come with a hefty price tag. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy everything the islands have to offer. Look for free or low-cost activities, such as hiking in state parks, exploring local museums, or attending community events. Additionally, many tour operators offer discounts for residents, so be sure to inquire about local deals. By being a savvy spender and taking advantage of affordable options, you can still have an amazing time in Hawaii without breaking the bank.

Finding a Job

When moving to Hawaii as a non-Hawaiian, one of the first priorities is finding a job. Fortunately, there are several options available to non-locals looking for employment on the islands. Here are some popular avenues to explore:

Tourism Jobs

Given Hawaii’s thriving tourism industry, one of the most common ways for non-Hawaiians to find employment is through tourism-related jobs. These can range from working in hotels, resorts, and restaurants to becoming a tour guide or a dive instructor. The advantage of working in tourism is that it’s a year-round industry in Hawaii, offering a steady stream of job opportunities.

If you’re considering a tourism job, it’s important to note that customer service skills and a friendly attitude are highly valued. Providing excellent service to visitors is crucial for maintaining Hawaii’s reputation as a top tourist destination.

Telecommuting for Mainland Companies

Another option for non-Hawaiians is to work remotely for mainland companies. With advancements in technology, many jobs can now be done from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a reliable internet connection. This allows individuals to bring their mainland jobs with them to Hawaii and enjoy the island lifestyle while still earning an income.

Keep in mind that telecommuting jobs may require some adjustments to time zones, as Hawaii is several hours behind the mainland. However, the flexibility and freedom that come with telecommuting can be well worth it.

Starting a Business

For those looking for a more entrepreneurial path, starting a business in Hawaii can be an exciting option. Whether it’s a surf school, a food truck, or an art gallery, there are plenty of opportunities to turn your passion into a successful venture on the islands.

Starting a business in Hawaii does require careful planning and research. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with local regulations and obtain the necessary permits and licenses. However, with the right idea and determination, starting a business in Hawaii can be a rewarding endeavor.

It’s important to note that starting a business is not limited to non-Hawaiians. Locals and non-locals alike can pursue entrepreneurial dreams in Hawaii, contributing to the vibrant and diverse business landscape of the islands.

For more information on job opportunities and starting a business in Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations at


While moving to Hawaii comes with unique challenges for non-locals, embracing the local culture, finding the right community, and budgeting for higher costs can lead to an enriching island life. With an open mind and respect for Hawaiian traditions, outsiders can find their place in paradise.

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