More than 995,000 people agree: Oʻahu is the place for them. If you’re thinking about a Hawaiʻi move and Oʻahu is on your radar (or Honolulu!), we’ve got some must-knows for you.

These tips will give you a sense of what to expect when you move to Oʻahu, help you settle in quickly once you arrive, and smooth the way for an easy transition to Hawaiʻi.

#1: Yes, Oʻahu Is That Beautiful

It’s easy to look at all the pictures of Hawaiʻi on social media and think that there’s no way Oʻahu could be that gorgeous.

Well, we’ve got news for you: It is. Between the island’s postcard-perfect white sand beaches, turquoise waters, majestic waterfalls, picturesque hikes, and serene forests, you’ll find jaw-dropping sights almost everywhere you go on Oʻahu.

If exploring the outdoors and appreciating the natural beauty around you are the kinds of things that make you happy, Oʻahu is the place for you.

#2: Honolulu Is Hawaiʻi’s “Big City”

Alongside Oʻahu’s spectacular natural landscapes, you’ll find Honolulu—the most populated urban area in Hawaiʻi. Almost 350,000 people live in urban Honolulu, among the city’s tall buildings, shops, bars, restaurants, office buildings, music venues, museums, art galleries, and more.

If you’re a bit of a city person at heart, you’ll love all the cultural resources in Honolulu—including its burgeoning food and cocktail scene. And even if you’re not a city person, living on Oʻahu means you can duck in for a taste of city life every now and then, which can be a definite perk.

#3: The Cost of Living Is Considerable

Living in paradise comes with a price, and Oʻahu is no different.

Hawaiʻi is consistently ranked as the most expensive state in the U.S., so you can expect a high cost of living when you move to Oʻahu. Those coming from more expensive urban areas on the mainland might not feel the pinch as strongly. However, if you’re coming from a low-cost-of-living area on the mainland, you may be surprised, especially by the cost of electricity and groceries.

Real estate is one area in which you might catch a break. Where it comes to average home values, Oʻahu has the second-lowest in the Hawaiian Islands, according to Zillow. (The Big Island has the lowest.) With averages in the mid-$800s, we’re not saying you’re going to find a bargain on Oʻahu. However, you may find something more affordable than you’d find on Maui or Kauaʻi.

#4: Downsizing Is a Great Idea

If you decide to ship all of your belongings to Hawaiʻi, they’ll travel thousands of miles over the ocean. And, since your move will ultimately be priced by weight, the more you ship, the more your move will cost.

For all these reasons, we recommend that our customers do a big downsize and declutter before they move. In other words, make sure you’re only moving the things you love.

And all that fancy, formal clothing? You won’t need it in Hawaiʻi. For men, a nice aloha shirt and a pair of pants works for most occasions. For women, you’ll probably never need those heels again, although a nice wedge sandal might be welcome for a special meal out.

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#5: You’ll See Some Similarities…But Leave Your Expectations Behind

As you drive around Oʻahu, you’ll see a lot of sights you’ll recognize from the mainland: multi-lane highways; big box stores like Target and Costco; fast food outlets like McDonald’s and Taco Bell; and a huge mall, Ala Moana, that could easily be mistaken for one in California.

In some ways, these can offer some comfort during a big transition. Walk into Target, and you’ll pretty much know what to expect.

However, keep in mind that things in Hawaiʻi operate a little differently. The cashier at Costco may pause to talk story with someone in line. People may stop unexpectedly along a busy Honolulu street to allow another car to exit from a parking lot.

So while you’re welcome to take comfort in the familiar things you’ll find, leave your mainland expectations behind. You’ll settle into Oʻahu much faster if you go figure out how things work out here, and go with the flow.

#6: Know Your Hawaiian History

Even though Hawaiʻi is now a U.S. state, it wasn’t always. Prior to annexation, the island chain was an independent monarchy known as the Hawaiian Kingdom. The transition from self-governance to U.S. rule caused a significant amount of hardship for the Native Hawaiians, who still struggle today to ensure that their culture endures.

Before you move to Oʻahu, take some time to get to know Hawaiʻi’s history. Hawaiʻi’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, written by Queen Liliʻuokalani is a great place to start. Once you arrive, make time to appreciate Native Hawaiian culture and traditions. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is a rich resource that covers several periods of Hawaiian history and culture. It’s well worth a visit, and it will offer you an excellent foundation for respecting the culture of Hawaiʻi’s first human settlers.

#7: All the Hawaiian Islands Are Not the Same

If you’ve only been to Oʻahu—or you haven’t visited Hawaiʻi yet—you might wonder how different Oʻahu is from Maui, Kauaʻi, and the Big Island.

The answer? They’re all pretty different. Each island has its own distinct character and vibe. The same thing goes for the neighborhoods within Oʻahu. Living in Kakaʻako versus Kapolei versus Kailua versus Haleʻiwa make for very different experiences.

The bottom line? If you haven’t visited, make sure you do before you commit to a move.

And, if you’re moving to Oʻahu and you want to get a taste for what life is like on the other islands, interisland flights are both frequent and inexpensive. While you’re living on Oʻahu, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check out the Big Island, Maui, and Kauaʻi.

#8: Not Everyone Should Ship Their Car

A lot of our customers ask us if they should send their cars to Hawaiʻi or buy a car once they arrive.

First of all, you should know that you’ll definitely need a car if you want to explore all that the island of Oʻahu has to offer. TheBus can be useful, but it has its limits.

Next, shipping your car or not comes down to one important question: Do you plan on keeping your car for several more years? If so, it’s probably worth the investment to send it out to Oʻahu.

If you probably would have sold or traded it in in the next few years, we’d suggest selling it wherever you are now, and then putting the money from that sale toward a car purchase on Oʻahu.

#9: Traffic Can Be Tough

Although Honolulu was once declared the worst in the U.S. in terms of traffic, it’s fallen significantly in the rankings since then. (A good thing!)

However, there’s still plenty of traffic on Oʻahu. Ask anyone driving into town in the morning hours or out of town in the late afternoon, and you’ll hear tales of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

When you choose your Oʻahu neighborhood, choose carefully. If you’re following the same route as many other commuters, you can expect traffic at the usual times. This can significantly impact your quality of life and even turn paradise into a nightmare. Working remotely or engineering a reverse commute can add hours back into your day and reduce your stress level.

#10: Learn to Drive with Aloha

Not everyone you’ll encounter on Oʻahu’s roads will be a courteous one. However, there’s a certain joy in encountering the Oʻahu residents who drive with aloha—and learning to embrace that spirit yourself.

You might find it in stopping to let a pedestrian cross in a parking lot, even when you don’t technically “have” to. It might mean letting someone into your lane on the highway, even if it means tapping your breaks. It also might mean throwing a shaka when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s kindness.

Most people don’t move to Hawaiʻi to speed up their lives but to slow down. Take that attitude to the streets, and you’ll find plenty of rewards.

#11: Moving with Pets Takes Some Preparation

In the last few years, Hawaiʻi has relaxed its quarantine rules for pets. Quarantine for all cats and dogs used to be mandatory. However, if you’re able to meet the state’s entry requirements, your cat or dog can go home with you right from the airport under the state’s Direct Release Program.

You’ll find all the requirements for direct release on the state of Hawaiʻi’s Animal Industry Division website. With a little assistance from your vet—and a little paperwork on your part—you’ll be able to avoid quarantine for your beloved cat or dog.

Our advice: Start as early as you can, and email the Animal Quarantine Station staff at if you have any questions.

#12: Not Everyone Surfs, but It Might Feel Like It

If you believe the Hollywood images of Hawaiʻi, you might expect to be greeted at Daniel K. Inouye Airport by a woman wearing a coconut bikini top and a grass skirt holding out a lei to place around your neck.

We’re sorry to disappoint you on that one. (Although you can order a lei greeting service!)

However, there is one Oʻahu myth that sometimes feels true: Everyone surfs in Hawaiʻi. Certainly not everyone, but you’ll find plenty of people who surf regularly or even just occasionally.

You’ll find waves practically year-round on Oʻahu, although the best spots will change with the day—and with the season. And in addition to surfers, you’ll find plenty of people with a passion for watersports, like stand-up paddling, scuba diving, spearfishing, snorkeling, foiling, and much, much more.

In summary, if you relish the idea of being able to enjoy the ocean year-round, you’re going to love living on Oʻahu.

#13: Leave Your Shoes at Home

We’ve got one more Hawaiʻi “myth” to share that’s actually pretty true—almost no one wears closed-toe shoes.

“Slippers,” or flip-flops as they’re known on the mainland, are Oʻahu’s footwear of choice. You’ll meet plenty of people who don’t own a pair of closed-toe shoes—and can’t remember the last time they put on a pair.

Of course, you’ll see plenty of people going to work in closed-toe shoes. (OSHA rules still apply out here in Hawaiʻi, of course!) But on weekends and days off, you’ll find most people in slippers of varying styles and colors.

All this is to say: If you’ve got an extensive collection of real shoes, you might want to leave them behind. Hawaiʻi’s heat and humidity isn’t kind to leather, and you probably won’t wear them that much, anyway.

Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to move to Hawaiʻi.

And just like there’s no “right” reason for making the move to Oʻahu, there’s no one “right” way to move. Some people buy a one-way ticket, pack a few suitcases, and go. Others have a few special pieces they want to send, sell the rest, and buy what they need when they arrive. Still others ship their entire household to Hawaiʻi.

If you plan on shipping your belongings to Hawaiʻi, look for a moving company who can offer a solution tailored to your needs. If you don’t need a full container, many companies do consolidations, in which your belongings are packed into sturdy, wooden crates called lift vans. Those lift vans get packed into containers with other lift vans headed to Oʻahu, allowing each person to pay just for the space they need, instead of a full container.

As you investigate your options, know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Keep looking until you find a provider who fits your vision for your Oʻahu move.

Oʻahu Is Waiting

Moving can be stressful—especially when you’re relocating thousands of miles to a new destination. Now that you know a little more about what to expect when you move to Oʻahu, you’ve got the information you need to set your expectations and prep right for a simple, easy move to the island known as the Gathering Place.

At DeWitt Move Worldwide, we handle Hawaiʻi moves of all sizes. We’ll put together a simple and affordable solution that will get your most precious belongings to Oʻahu, safe and sound. Just reach out for a complimentary quote to get started.

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