Find a job in Hawaii ~ The people who make it here are the ones who have a job that they like, one that pays enough, one that will last. The statistics are fuzzy, but a good percentage of people who move here from the mainland end up leaving within 5 years. Unfortunately, life in Hawaii is not always the paradise they were hoping for - often because of finances. Living on Oahu is living on an island, and all that entails, including a smaller job market.
If you're transferring to Hawaii within your company, look into the longevity of that job. Is it one that will force you to move away from Hawaii within a few years? I have found that the key is keep this mindset "I'm going to stay in Hawaii forever." If you come with the mindset of a temporary resident, you'll most likely end up leaving soon. If you say, "I'm going to try it out," you're going to leave. I guarantee it.
Decide which area of the Islands you will live in ~ This is one of the first things you must do. Talk to me, talk to other residents, visit the island a few times. If you move here without visiting, you might find yourself very confused and disappointed with the area you choose. Where you live on Oahu will determine all kinds of things, but most importantly for your longevity here, it will determine your commute and your friends. Some areas are nice and new, but they're cheaper for a reason. In Hawaii - older homes are often more expensive, and even more desirable.
Study company relocation policy to see what expenses are covered and which vendors are approved ~ If you're relocating with your company, you need to learn all about their policies. If you choose the wrong mover or the wrong lender, you may pay dearly for it. In other words, your company may not cover it.
Check which moving expenses will be tax deductible ~ Call your CPA and figure out what you can spend on government money. You might be surprised. If your move is work related, you will be able to write off a good portion of your Hawaii relocation.
Research Schools in Hawaii ~ Schools in Hawaii are a grab bag of all kinds of quality and style. We have private, charter, and public. The private schools will cost about $10k- $15k a year, even if it's just elementary. In fact there are some preschools that cost that much. Research individual schools and talk to teachers and parents. But these days after Covid, many people are homeschool families by default. So maybe school choice is less important, but it's good to know your options. Some people commute an hour each way for their elementary school. It sounds crazy, but I know several people who drive across the whole island in traffic just to go to Iolani or Punahou, and they pay $30k a year for that privilege.
Estimate moving costs ~ It costs about $10k to move a small 3 bedroom house from California, out of Long Beach, to Honolulu port. If you have more, expect to spend double, because more than that means you have to rent the entire 40ft container. There are dozens of companies out there, but most of them are going to put your furniture on Matson, so just go directly there first and get a quote www.matson.com.
Shipping Your Car ~ Your car will cost about $1000 to ship on Matson from Long Beach California to the Honolulu port. If you're moving from anywhere else, it's either going to cost you more or you're going to have to drive it to the port. I would go to Matson for this too. I've heard of horror stories of people losing their car in the ocean...
Research options for temporary furnished housing ~ There are tons of temp housing units in Waikiki, although it's very expensive. A nice condo in Waikiki or the Ala Moana area can be as much as $1000 a week! If you look in some of the other less expensive areas, and you're likely to find something for about 25% less.
Update your address book of friends and relatives ~ Don't forget to tell everyone about your move to Hawaii! Give them your new address early so you don't lose mail on the mainland. Mail to Oahu takes 2-4 days. A letter from Hawaii Kai to California takes about 2 days. Pretty great.
Complete a change of address notifications at the post office ~ Do this before you get to Hawaii, or some of your mail will be lost. In fact, a week before your move would be best. That way when you land in Honolulu, you will have some mail waiting for you !
Begin sorting out those items you do not plan to move ~ Don't bring everything. It will cost you tons of money, and you don't need a lot of things in Hawaii that you need on the mainland. For instance, the weather in Hawaii is about 70-80 degrees all year. In mid January, the dead of winter, it's about 70 degrees at night and you can sleep with the windows open. So don't bring heavy jackets, snow chains, winter gear. I gave my snow chains away when I moved here...
Pack, then Pack again ~ one thing you have to remember, everything must be boxed. The movers are not going to take loose stuff in the container, so even lamps, ironing boards, EVERYTHING must be boxed. A bicycle is about the only thing you don't have to box. Wrap everything in paper and packing material. You don't want your stuff to be broken traveling the Pacific ocean on the way to Hawaii. Once you're done packing, you have to pack again. What?
After you Pack all your stuff, you have to pack it up in bigger boxes, and pack up the last minute items you need until the day of your move. You will be amazed at the little things that stick around your house until the last day. Coming to Hawaii is a BIG move. It means you have to pack everything perfectly, in big boxes, wrapped, padded, sealed.
Get a bank account in Hawaii ~ There are no mainland banks on Hawaii. Whatever bank you use, you have to switch, because all the banks are local only. We have First Hawaiian, American savings, Bank of Hawaii, and a few small others. We don't have your bank. Trust me. Do it early so you have checks that people will take.
Turn on new home's utilities ~ Do it a few days before you leave for Hawaii.
Turn off utilities at old home ~ Give yourself a day or two after you move out.
Get a Hawaii Driver's license ~ Unfortunately, you have to go the main city hall in town in Honolulu. There is nowhere else to get your license. You can renew a Hawaii Driver's License at the satellite city hall in your little town just about anywhere in Hawaii, but to transfer your first license to Hawaii, you have to go to the main branch of the city hall here in Town.
Register your car in Hawaii ~ Before you can register a car in Hawaii, you have to get Hawaii Car Insurance. No, your mainland insurance is not good enough. Your company may cover you, but that doesn't mean you can register the car here in Hawaii. You have to get a card that specifically says "Hawaii Insurance Card" on top. Call your company to see if they have offices here. Most people here use AIG, Geico, or some local company. Chances are you're going to have to switch. See what I mean by "living on an island?"