How to Move to Hawaii
You can do it!
As a life long lover of winter, my friends and family were quite surprised when we moved to Hawaii. Other friends, couldn’t believe we could do it. Most people who ask me about it wonder, “how do you just move to Hawaii?” “Isn’t it expensive?” or “Isn’t it hard to do?”
Believe it or not…not really. The hardest part is generally figuring out where to go once you get here. In our case, after figuring out the cheapest flights here (out of San Jose, CA; one way; on New Year’s Day), it was a matter of making hotel reservations and then finding piece of land we both liked and could afford.
So, first off, why Hawaii? Well, truthfully, I was not one of those people who dreamed every day of moving to a tropical island. I did not spend my winters huddled under blankets on the sofa, dreaming of beaches. In fact, I was a dog musher, who waited for snow – and loved it. We left our winter haven, though, in favor of family adventure (in the form of an RV trip around Canada and the U.S.) and were languishing in Northern California – ready to settle down, but unable to decide where.
One morning, I woke with a start. We could move to Hawaii, I thought to myself. But I didn’t say it out loud. I also thought I might be crazy. I’ve been known to do a crazy thing or two – become a writer, a dog musher, travel around in a school bus – but flying to an island seemed a little more crazy than normal. But I started to do some research and then one night, while we were hanging out, I told John – we could move to Hawaii. And at first he gave me the “my wife is a crazy lunatic look,” but then I could tell he was really thinking about it. After presenting my research on the different islands, I told him that it looked like the Big Island would be most suited for us.
Why the Big Island? Well, first of all, all of the Islands of Hawaii look amazing. I have only been two as of now, but for us, a rural atmosphere and a place where we could homestead was very important. I also did not want to live in suburbia or in an urban place. While I love cities, even Eugene, Oregon was a bit too much city for me sometimes! On the Big Island, it is not hard to find 1-3 acres for a reasonable price and even more land, if you have more to spend.
So, we chose the Big Island and found a few places we wanted to check out, contacted the owners, and bought our tickets for New Year’s Day out of San Jose. We had a very reduced New Year’s Eve. We drove from Fort Bragg, California, where we left our RV with a nice family who needed a new one and headed to a cheap hotel for the night. We watched the ball drop in New York at 9pm then called it a night. At 4am, we woke up and got ready for the flight to Hawaii. Of course, the people in line at the ticket counter were thrilled to see us and all of our luggage. Since you can bring two bags on Hawaiian Airlines for $25 a piece, up to 50 pounds, it was way cheaper to pack our stuff and put it on the plane then to mail it. There are seven us, so we got 14 bags plus carryons and we used the opportunity to the fullest. In fact, we narrowed everything we owned down to those 14 boxes and bags and checked them all.
One fairly long flight and a hop from Maui to Hilo later and we were home in our new hotel room. We stayed in the hotel for 10 days and finally found our piece of land. We bought a tent and created an outdoor kitchen and started to create our Hawaiian life. Things took a strange turn, though, when we ended up buying the place across the street and selling the piece we originally bought only two months later – but that’s another story! The new place is a little higher and dryer than our original piece and it’s filled with cacao and coffee, so we like it a little more.
We are off-grid, using a generator, but working towards solar. We have a huge water catchment tank for showers and dishes and everything else. We are still using coolers but just got our first full size oven since leaving Alaska. I am hopeful that a propane refrigerator and a freezer are in our future.
Now, the mechanics of moving to Hawaii are pretty easy. But, you have to decide to do it. That’s the hardest part. You are leaving everything you know behind. Hawaii, especially the Big Island, is nothing like anywhere else in the U.S. There are big cultural differences. Most of them are interesting and awesome. Some are not. If you are white, you will be in the minority here. For us, that was a good thing in a lot of ways. We’ve lived in places that were mostly white, so it’s good for my children to experience cultural diversity. But for some people, it’s obviously a hard thing to manage.
You are also on an island. In the middle of the ocean. Flying back to the mainland can be pricey. You might not get off the island for a while – or might only see other islands. For some people, that sounds just fine. For others, like me, you might struggle. And I have. I have “island fever” sometimes and wonder if I’ll ever get off this island. I’ve only been here 11 months! But it’s OK. It’s just that I have moved and roadtripped a lot, so the idea of getting in the car and only being able to go to the other side of the island is tough for me sometimes. On the other hand, we do take road trips to the other side and it seems to be enough for me to want to head home. Maybe I’m feeling more settled in my old age!
The key to doing anything – whether it’s moving to Alaska (check), renovating a school bus (check), driving around and full time RVing (check), becoming a writer (check), or even becoming a mom (check) who homeschools (check) and lives in Hawaii (check), is doing it. Nike is not wrong. Just do it. We moved to Hawaii and bought a place to live and all of the other stuff we needed plus a hotel room for almost two weeks, for about $10,000. That seems like a lot, but it’s not really. If you can manage a good sized tax refund, you can add to it. Anything you can save, you can put towards your fund. Or you can buy some land from where you are – pay for it – then move. Heck, if you want land in the area, let me know and I’ll go take pics for you and let you know if it looks sound!
Maybe you don’t want to move to Hawaii. Maybe you just want to travel or write a book. Making the decision and going for it are the biggest steps. Everything else is just details. Don’t sell yourself short. I would gladly wait tables for extra money a few nights a week if it meant I could do something I love. Questions? Let me know! I’m glad to answer them.