As you plan your budget, make sure to account for increased electricity costs.
You might also consider looking for a home with solar panels. Many Hawaii residents use solar to offset their electricity costs—and power electric vehicles. Considering the state goal of achieving 70% clean energy by 2030, solar makes for a smart investment.
Although you’ll find a number of working farms on the Big Island, Hawaii imports a significant amount of food—at a significant cost.
To get a good sense of your future grocery bill, check out the latest prices at Safeway in Hilo:
Grocery Store Prices in Hilo
52 oz. carton
You can save on your grocery bills by buying in bulk from stores like Cost.U.Less—a warehouse store located in Hilo. (There’s also a Costco in Kailua-Kona.) Of course, buying from warehouse stores means managing larger purchases, which can be challenging for single-person households. But when you’re living in Hawaii, every little bit counts!
#6: The Jobs in Hilo Aren’t All in Tourism
Many of the island’s visitors choose to stay on the Kona side of the Big Island. As a result, in addition to jobs supporting the tourism economy, you’ll also see jobs in office and administrative support, with sales and related occupations close behind.
If you plan on job hunting once you arrive in Hilo, check out the biggest employers on the Big Island. They’ll give you an idea of where you might look for work.
Top Industries on the Big Island by Number of Jobs
- Accommodation and food services
- Health care and social assistance
- Administrative and support and waste management
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
- Real estate and rental and leasing
#7: There Are Plenty of Neighborhoods to Choose From
Many people live in downtown Hilo. If you’re considering that option, you’ll enjoy easy access to Hilo’s farmers markets, plus the shops, boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants right in town.
However, if you’re looking for something a little quieter, you’ll have a number of options in the area surrounding Hilo. Consider checking out:
- Keaau – You’ll find this area just south of Hilo in the Puna District. Lower home prices and plenty of peace and quiet draw residents to Keaau.
- Pepeekeo – This town sits north of Hilo, along the drive to Akaka Falls. If a rural life with more room to spread out appeals, take a peek at Pepeekeo.
- Mountain View – In Mountain View, you’ll find an appealing mix of subdivisions with single family homes among farms, ranches, and horses. For some, Mountain View feels too remote. For others, it’s paradise.
#8: You’ll Need a Car to Get Around
Although the Hele-On Bus goes a surprising number of places, you’ll need a car to navigate the Hilo area—not to mention the rest of the Big Island.
Should you ship your car from your current home? We often get this question from our customers.
Our answer? It depends:
- If your car is reaching the end of its time with you—and plan to replace it soon—we’d suggest not shipping it. Instead, sell your car where you are and use the proceeds to buy a used or new car once you arrive.
- However, if your car still has plenty of years left on it—and it’s got 4WD capacity, which can be extra handy on the Big Island—it might make sense to ship it.
Cars come into Hilo Harbor all the time on ro-ro ships (roll on, roll off), and it’s easier to ship a car than you might think. In fact, if you live near a port city, it’s pretty simple.
Just remember: Shipping your car to Hawaii represents an investment in its longevity. If your car isn’t equipped for the long haul with you, don’t ship it.
Smile more, honk less.
A quick cultural note for you: Drivers on the Big Island rarely honk. In fact, honking can be considered rude—unless you’re trying to warn someone of danger. Once you move to the Big Island, drive with aloha and lay off the horn. You’ll fit into your new island home much faster this way.
#9: You Can Bring Your Dog or Cat to Hilo—But…
Back in the day, all arriving cats and dogs had to quarantine on Oahu. Today, we’re lucky to have the Direct Airport Release Program. If you meet all of the program’s requirements, your pet might be able to come home with you the day you arrive on the Big Island.
BUT, dogs and cats arriving from the continental US have to come through Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA).
In other words, if you’re flying in from the mainland with your pet, you need to fly into Kona and arrange for ground transportation to Hilo. You can’t fly into Hilo International Airport from the mainland if you need a pet inspected and cleared.
For more information on importing your dog or cat to the Big Island, check the Hawaii State Animal Industry Division website. Your vet will be able to assist with the necessary testing and paperwork.
#10: Downsizing Is a Good Idea
After moving tens of thousands of individuals to Hawaii, we can say this with confidence: Most people bring too much with them.
Before making a big move to Hilo, we recommend taking the time to downsize. Sell, donate, or trash the items you no longer want or need. It will save you on your move—which will be priced by weight. It might even put some money in your pocket. And it will certainly save you from paying to move items that won’t feel right in your new home, anyway.
Move, sell, donate, or trash?
Making Hilo Your Home
A big move can be exhilarating, exciting, and, let’s face it, a little stressful. However, now that you’ve got our tips and notes about your upcoming move to Hilo, you’re better prepared to make the move with ease.
If you need help getting your belongings to Hilo—or to anywhere else on the Big Island—we’d love to assist. We specialize in simple and stress-free moves to Hawaii. Just reach out to our Big Island moving experts for a complimentary quote for your move.