Moving to Honolulu


Our rating

1 out of 5

  • Affordability 6 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 5 out of 5

  • Property affordability 6 out of 5

  • Climate 1 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Aloha and welcome to Honolulu. We can’t physically hang a lei around your next as a token of appreciation for you moving to Honolulu, but we can tell you how moving to the capital of the 50th state, situated on the island of Oahu, will change your life.

You will be hard pressed to find anywhere else that is so easy to get around and offers such a wealth of natural and cultural diversity. Honolulu is of the those rare places whenever you see the Pacific Ocean or the mountains, you say to yourself “I can’t believe I live here!”

You must aside all preconceptions you have of what living in Honolulu is like as the chances are you will be way off beam. Not being Hawaiian isn’t, and never has been, a problem. Honolulu is an ethnic melting pot with so many nationalities settling here everyone just mixes in together.

The price of property is high, however and the majority of new settlers in and around Honolulu choose to rent so they can enjoy the amazing lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Job market

The economy of Honolulu is very much dependent on tourism, and this is still the sector which offers the most employment opportunities. With a number of heritage sites, maritime centres, and hotel chains to choose from, those with experience in hospitality and tourism will be fine.

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That said, the city is growing in stature as a major trade zone and more job vacancies in education, construction, and healthcare are being advertised that ever before. There are a number of medical centres and hospitals in Honolulu, which are some of the top employers in the city. First Hawaiian Bank and several other financial institutions also top the list for the state of Hawaii.

We recommend doing your research job wise before making the move as it’s not like the mainland where you can just jump into your car and go job hunting over the state line.

Living costs

On the whole the cost of living is higher in Honolulu than on the mainland, on account of more things having to be imported. Compared to another city which relies heavily on tourism to bring in the bucks, Orlando, FL, most things are more expensive in Honolulu. However compared to New York, most things are cheaper!


Fresh grocery items such as meats are cheaper than large cities on the mainland, however milk and eggs are still pricey. While a romantic meal for two in Honolulu can reach $60, that isn’t as much as New York’s average of $75.


Basic utilities cover electric, heating, water, garbage etc. The monthly cost of these is Honolulu is approximately $246.67. 10Mbps Cable/ADSL Internet with unlimited data is $56.11 and you will pay 27c a minute to make a call on your mobile phone on a PAYG basis.


If you’re debating between moving to Honolulu or Manhattan, New York, keep in mind that one bedroom apartments are almost half as cheap to rent in Honolulu than in the Big Apple. However three bedroom apartments both within the city centre and out of Honolulu are a bit more expensive than coastal Los Angeles, with $3,220 the median rent for one in the heart of Honolulu.

Property information

There is a vast and varied choice of property available to both buyers and renters in and around Honolulu. Singles and couples can take advantage of the city centre condos whereas those relocating with their families have a choice of expensive to very expensive housing depending on how close to the ocean the neighbourhood is. Make no mistake there is no cheap and cheerful housing in Honolulu, and you wouldn’t really expect there to be in a city that prides itself on excellence.

Neighbourhood picks

Aside from a house with a view of the ocean, everyone who moves to Honolulu has different preferences for where to live in the city. From family-friendly to trendy areas, take a look at the following neighbourhoods to begin your search.

Family-Friendly: Manoa Valley – Famous for being the neighbourhood in which the university is located, Manoa Valley is the closest to a suburb you are going to get in Honolulu. A lush valley boasting a plethora of comfortable, spacious turn of the century homes, the tranquil way of life here makes it ideal to raise a family. With plenty of shopping and activities on offer, the homes here are in high demand for families relocating from both the mainland and other parts of the globe.

Upmarket: Kahala – One of the most elite neighbourhoods on the island, some of the wealthiest residents of Oahu choose to make their home in Kahala. On the east side of the island overlooking the ocean, the properties here are super luxurious; with price tags to match! A wonderful, upmarket mall is located here with a vast choice of fine eating establishments and top end shops. As many beach front properties come with a section of private beach this really is how the other half live.

Hip and Trendy: Waikiki – There’s nothing hippier or trendier than a neighbourhood where the surfer set reign supreme. One of the most popular tourist areas of the city is also home to some of the coolest hang out joints you will find anywhere. Even if you aren’t an expert on a board living here is an amazing experience for those who haven’t yet started a family and want to embrace the surfer scene before moving to another neighbourhood when they are ready to settle down.

Up and Coming: Kaka’ako – Long known as the retail and commercial district of Honolulu, this area is on the up and up in terms of actually living there. The property here is mainly condos and lofts with a New York feel to them. The lower cost of living here in terms of rent has put it on the map and with so much on offer in terms of shopping etc. it was really only a matter of time before somebody realised this was a prime location for rental properties.

Cost of moving

To estimate the cost of moving to Honolulu we have used the standard 20 square foot shipping container to base our prices on. Why? Because this is the most popular shipping container size for a typical move of a family of four.

Hong Kong£2,150

Schools and education

There is little difference between the education system in Hawaii and that on the mainland. The Great Schools website have ranked Honolulu 7/10 based on test results. This is a well respected source and one of the best to research the schools in your neighbourhood.

Many parents on the mainland use this site to select the school first then look for property to ensure their kids get the best education.

Universities in Hawaii

If you’re moving to Hawaii to go to university, you won’t be disappointed.There are several universities and colleges in Hawaii, and most of them are on Oahu or have a campus in Honolulu.

The University of Hawaii boasts 10 campuses, and UH Manoa in Honolulu is ranked in the top 1.5% of the world’s universities.

The private universities include Chaminade University of Honolulu and Hawaii Pacific University.

Ranking against the world

Honolulu ranks highly for climate, activities and quality of life for painfully obvious reasons. Don’t think Honolulu is all tropical lush and beaches; it’s the 11th largest metropolitan area in America.

If there are two things to know before moving to Honolulu, it’s that the city is really good at the hula and surfing. Honolulu is home to the World Invitational Hula Festival and is also the birthplace of the man who popularised surfing, 20th century surf legend Duke Kahanamoku.

There is a burgeoning expat community in Honolulu where only 9.4% are native Hawaiian, compared to 24% Caucasian and 42% of Asian background.

A day in the life

Start the day in Honolulu kicked off with breakfast at the highly recommended Cafe Kaila. This cosy coffee shop and breakfast joint offers an array of fine food whether you like to start the day with a light or hearty meal.

A free trip to the top of the Aloha Tower, dating back to 1926, is a must to view both the historic murals the amazing vista over the harbour at least once. All that culture and fresh air is enough to give anyone an appetite, which means a trip to Aloha Sub. The smell of fresh produce hits you as you enter the door and our Adam Sando sandwich with fresh salad and chips really hit the spot.

A perfect afternoon is spent enjoying the sights and sounds that assault your senses in Honolulu’s Chinatown. A manic myriad of temples, noodle shops, supermarkets, herbalists and markets, you can spend several hours here without even realising how quickly the time goes by. Enjoy a bubble tea in Oahu Market before tasting the most amazing Shanghai noodles or sizzling butterfish at the famous Little Village Noodle Shop.

If you aren’t exhausted by all that walking, or so full of delicious food that your sofa is calling your name, it’s time to experience the Honolulu nightlife. Harbour view bars, the cool hang outs in Waikiki, lounge bars, nightclubs, dance clubs, live music venues and the beach parties, you really are spoilt for choice. A day in Honolulu can be as chilled or as action packed as you want it to be, go with the flow is definitely the mantra here.