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The Military Guide to Moving to Hawaii: Before You Go

Amazing weather, tropical beaches, friendly locals, getting a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) selection to Hawaii may feel like winning the lottery. Planning is your next step, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect or where to even start. In this brief guide, we’ll help breakdown the PCS move process.

Once you have a better understanding, you’ll be better set your expectations and plan for your future military life in this sunny paradise. Keep reading to learn more about moving to Hawaii.

Consider Your Housing Options

New military members in Hawaii these three housing options: buying a home, living on base, and renting off base. See which one best suits your lifestyle:

Buying A Home: Buying a home is an excellent option if you are willing to invest your BAH. VA loans are also an option depending on your eligibility and the home you want to purchase. Start your house hunting before you arrive by contacting a military realtor. This military realtor should know all about Hawaii real estate and should have experience with military families moving to Hawaii.

If you want to look at houses and start the process when you arrive, know that your time is limited. You will be granted eight days to choose your new home and usually 60 days of Temporary Housing Allowance, or TLA. It’s important to note that it takes around 30 to 60 days to purchase a new home or “close an escrow” in Hawaii.

Living On Base: Living on base is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local military community. Reach out to your base’s housing office and ask about on-base vacancies. Living on base means more, or sometimes all, of your Base Housing Allowance will be utilized.

Renting Off Base: Want to live off-base but don’t want to invest in real estate? Renting may be your best bet. It’s important to note that compared to the mainland, rent in Hawaii is expensive. Even though you’re renting, you will still receive a BAH, depending on your eligibility. Your eligibility depends on several factors like your dependent status and your grade.

Reserve a Temporary Mailbox Prior to Your Arrival

Before moving to Hawaii, be sure to reserve your temporary mailbox ahead of time. These temporary mailboxes can be used for 90 days and even longer upon request. Every base has a post office, so reach out to them about temporary mailboxes so you’ll never stay out of the loop.

Research Local Schools for Your Children

You’re welcome to research local schools in the area before moving to Hawaii, or you can contact your base’s School Liaison Officer. This officer, or SLO, will educate you about all the schools near your assignment and how to register. The Hawaii State Department of Education and the military bases work together to help children from military families transition to public school.

Public school isn’t the only option; public charter and private schools are also popular in Hawaii as well as homeschooling. Before your arrival, research all your options so your children will have a smooth transition.

Local Culture

There is a widespread misconception that “locals hate the military” or are “unfriendly.” This is not true. What is true, however, is that locals dislike anyone that is close-minded. What makes someone close-minded? For example, a close-minded person would complain about everything and make little to no attempt to see the positive or make the best of their situation.

Hawaiians are friendly, and respect is a major factor in their culture. Leaving your shoes outside or by the door is an example of ways they show respect. Even the repairmen know to take off their shoes before entering someone’s home. Removing your shoes before entering someone’s home shows respect to the host. Keeping shoes outside helps keep their home clean by keeping the germs outside and not inside.

Another thing you’ll notice about island life is island time. Unlike the mainland, very rarely is anyone in a rush to do anything in Hawaii.


While it is true that the cost of living in Hawaii is relatively high compared to other places to live in the US, there also many ways to save. Shopping second-hand is a great option. Sites like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace have great deals that will save you some serious cash.

Another great way to save money is by visiting the local farmer’s market. Famer’s markets and fresh produce are all over the island, and you can find one on most days throughout the week. You’ll find good deals on produce, and best of all, the vendors are local!

For entertainment or touristy activities to do on the island, you can visit the MWR for some added savings. Also, one of the greatest things you’ll discover when moving to Hawaii is realizing how many activities are free. You can hike, head to the beach to snorkel with dolphins and turtles, and even watch a free hula show.

What’s the Weather Like?

When moving to Hawaii, you can expect living a sunny paradise. However, it would be wise to keep an umbrella in your car at all times. Hawaii is warm and sunny throughout most of the year, but rain can come out of nowhere.

Rain in Hawaii can range from light drizzles to torrential downpours. This is common for most tropical destinations, so it’s good to always be prepared to avoid getting soaked.

Moving to Hawaii: Before You Go

Getting a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) selection to Hawaii may feel like winning the lottery. Hawaii has amazing weather, tropical beaches, and friendly locals, which makes this place a paradise on Earth.

Planning is your next step, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect or where to even start. We hope our brief guide breaking down the PCS move process helped give you a better understanding of your future move to Hawaii.

Are you moving to Hawaii on a military reassignment and looking for a new home? Want to buy or sell a home or condo? Contact us and check our military in Hawaii relocation services today!