Image of a camper van with surf boards stacked on top in Hawaii

Moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i

Gorgeous beaches. Plentiful rainbows. Lush Jungle, mountains, and waterfalls. Perfect 70-degree temperatures. A tight knit community and slower pace of life. There’s no shortage of reasons to move to the Big Island of Hawai’i! But it’s best to make the move prepared and informed. Adapting to island life can be a big transition. Here’s a few helpful tips for moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i. 

1. Build Rather Than Buy

Most homes on the Big Island are at least fifty years old. Older homes can be prone to hidden problems that end up costing you a lot of money on top of your mortgage. The median price for a single family home on the Big Island is $395,000, but can vary greatly by location.

Purchasing a piece of land and building a new home has many benefits. Depending on land price and the size of your home, you can often build a brand new home for a competitive price. Building your own home adds equity and allows you to customize the design to your lifestyle. You can also realize savings over time by building a home that is outfitted with renewable energy sources like solar PV, as well as water catchment and more. 

2. Understand the Neighborhood 

We recommend visiting and spending time in the community you plan to relocate to on the Big Island. Although it’s a popular trend, buying homes over the internet sight unseen isn’t recommended. Sure, the house might look great, but what about its location and the neighborhood in which it’s situated? 

If you’re planning on moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i, we recommend visiting different communities on the island and spending time in the areas you’d like to live. Go there at night as well as during the day. How does the neighbor maintain his house next door? Are there dogs barking at all hours? The only way to know is to visit in person. 

3. Consider Proximity to Services 

When choosing a community you’d like to live in, consider your proximity to services like hospitals, schools if you have children, veterinarians, and shops. Kona and Hilo are the main economic centers on the island. These are the places where you’ll find stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Costco as well as the main hospitals, the university, government offices, and airports. Smaller towns on the Big Island usually have the basics like gas stations, grocery stores, and a few other mom and pop shops. 

4. Organize Transportation 

A car is a must for living on the Big Island. Public transportation is limited. If you are thinking about shipping your car to Hawai’i, consider your proximity to the nearest port. Also keep in mind that the only port you can ship a car to/from the U.S. mainland on the Big Island is in Hilo. 

If you plan to buy a car in Hawai’i, you can sometimes find great deals on used cars being sold by people moving off island, or for sale from the car rental yards. In addition, good deals on cars can be found on the neighboring island of O’ahu which has a larger inventory and population. 

5. Consider Downsizing

When relocating, many people choose to ship everything they own to Hawai’i by shipping container. Instead, we advise traveling light. With the exception of rare and unique larger furniture items, everything you need to live can be purchased here or ordered online and shipped to your door. 

Sure, it’s a bit more expensive, but it evens out when you account for the cost of the shipping container, the moving trucks, your time to load and unload everything, and storage fees if your new place is not ready to move into right away. Plus, purchasing new furniture and home decor locally supports the island economy and provides an opportunity for you to connect with and meet new people. 

6. Plan for Your Pets 

If you’re moving to Hawai’i, you probably want to bring your furry friends with you. There is a process for doing this. Read more about the requirements for relocating pets to Hawai’i in this article. Another thing to be aware of is that not everywhere in Hawai’i is pet friendly. Finding a pet friendly rental can be a challenge in some communities and only certain beaches allow dogs. We are happy to say that Kuwili Lani is a pet friendly community! 

7. Educate Yourself on Hawaiian Culture 

Hawai’i is different from the mainland and that’s part of what makes it so special. We highly recommend taking some time to educate yourself on Hawaiian history and culture before moving here, or at least once you arrive. 

Here’s some resources for learning about Hawaiian culture: 

8. Plug into Your New Community  

Hawai’i is a community-focused place. As a new person to the island, a great way to get connected and meet people is to get involved in community organizations and activities. Churches, service organizations like Rotary or Lions Club, and professional organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce are great places to start. Another hub of social activity is the ocean! Join a paddling team or learn to surf. Volunteer! Ask around for the next beach clean up or other volunteer opportunity. The Aloha spirit is about giving. 

9.  Consider Your Environmental Impact 

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Āina i ka Pono, or “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” is Hawai’i’s state motto. Here in the islands, there is a deep spiritual tie between people and the land. Ancient Hawaiians lived in harmony with the land, careful to balance their use of resources. 

Today, many people in Hawai’i are looking to the past as a key to solving current environmental problems. As a new Hawai’i resident, you can be part of the solution and help to protect and preserve this special place with your lifestyle choices. At Kuwili Lani, this is what we’re all about! Learn more about Hawai’i’s first sustainable community here. 

We hope you’ve found these tips for moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i helpful! If you have a question about moving to Hawai’i, or about sustainable living in the islands please reach out. We’d be happy to chat with you. Connect with us here