Moving to Hawaii: A complete guide to shipping costs and logistics

Hawaii, the 50th state of the US, is a popular tourist destination in the United States because of its beautiful beaches, warm hospitality, and rich culture. It boasts a quality of life enhanced by its natural climate and resources, attractions, recreational activities, and friendly locals. For these reasons, it's also a coveted address that many aspire to have. 

What’s more, the Aloha State is considered one of the best states to live in because of its healthy and safe environment, that supports longevity. It even has a low crime rate and offers excellent educational opportunities that locals benefit from.  

It can be challenging to move to Hawaii, though, since the island has a high cost of living and a distant location. However, those who live in densely populated cities may find the price difference negligible. For instance, moving from Seattle to Hawaii may make sense for people willing to pay more for housing and utilities in exchange for the fantastic natural scenery and the exotic charm of island life.  

The best time to move to the lovely island is during the summer when it's lean tourist season. Summer months include periods between March and May, as well as August and October. Since it's the lean season, travelers are more likely to find lower prices for hotels and flights.  

It's wise to allocate three months for planning the move. This time would be sufficient for moving families to find shipping solutions that can help them move home essentials and other belongings to the new household. Then they can also plan to make a move more convenient and comfortable while keeping costs within budget.  

If you and your loved ones are planning to make your big move, you'll need to take costs into account as well. To know more about the shipping costs and logistics moving to Hawaii entails, continue reading this article.  

Factors that affect moving costs 

The cost of your move significantly depends on several factors, including the following: 

Origin of shipment 

A large part of the shipping costs depends on your point of origin. For instance, moving from California may entail more expenses than coming from regions closer to the destination. There will be a 2,000-mile distance to cover, and movers will also have to carry your cargo either by plane or by boat since they're the only travel options going to and from the island.  

These two travel options tend to cost more than land-based transportation, which is why you'll need to consider them when creating a shipping plan and budget for your move.  

Moreover, it's important to note that not all moving companies in the United States can accommodate a move to the island. Because of this, it can be considered an exceptional service coverage that will affect the costs too.  

Moving and shipping services acquired 

If you have many home items to bring, you'll need to acquire the services of a moving company to make the process easier and more convenient for everyone. Professional movers can help you pack and unpack your items, carry and unload them to and from vehicles or containers, and transport them to your destination.  

This way, you won't have to pack and carry all your furniture and other household items, which can be tedious and exhausting. You can also dedicate the time to other matters relevant to your move. Hence, hiring professional services is practical.  

Families moving across states usually rent shipping containers to keep all the items together during transport. Doing so decreases the likelihood of boxes going missing. Plus, shipping containers have more space, allowing movers to pack as much as the area allows.  

Usually, one container is more than enough to hold all the belongings of one household with two or three bedrooms. However, the container size you'll need may vary, depending on your preferences and requirements.  

You can opt for a full-service move where the moving company provides all the boxes and packing materials. They'll put items in boxes and handle the logistics until all your belongings are at the doorstep of your new home. Some companies may charge extra, depending on the services rendered, though many find the convenience worth the additional price. 

Accessibility of locations 

Two households in the same vicinity can have different moving costs if one is more accessible. Accessibility is essential, as it'll help movers work more efficiently. In addition, it helps minimize the likelihood of accidents or injuries.  

For instance, your moving company may require a vacant space to put the container while they load it temporarily. If the empty space is available and close to your home, the movers can do their work without adding effort, tools, or labor. Otherwise, they'll have to put in more work and time or use light vehicles to move things faster, which will add to the total costs. 

The same applies to apartments in high-rise buildings. The movers will adjust their packing and loading speed based on the capacity and availability of the elevators in the building. Since it'll take several trips before everything can be loaded into the container or dropped off at the house, movers will have to exert more effort and spend more time completing their job. 

Shipment weight 

Before you finalize a contract with a moving company, you'll be given a price estimate based on the distance to be covered and the weight of the cargo. It's easy to grasp how the distance is calculated, though many homeowners ask how companies weigh the cargo. 

Initially, movers can send a representative to the property and asses how much cargo would be included in the shipment. The representative can also take an inventory of the items and note their weight based on weight charts. This process is called onsite estimate, and it's considered wise for homeowners to seek one before acquiring moving services from any company.  

After the initial assessment, movers will send you a written estimate that includes the predicted total weight of the cargo and its corresponding price. The cost for a long-distance move with a Hawaiian destination can reach up to USD$10,000. Adding to the costs are handling fees for fragile items, labor fees for full-service movers, and other special features you may need to ship the cargo to your destination safely. 

It's worth noting that the estimated price of shipping your cargo may not be the exact amount you'll pay on the actual moving date. The final price will be known once all the cargo is loaded onto the moving truck. Then there are two ways moving companies determine the shipment's actual weight. 

The two types of weight-taking methods are origin weighing and destination weighing. The difference between the two is where the weight of the whole cargo is measured. In origin weighing, the truck's weight will be measured before and after loading the items. The resulting number that will come from subtracting the first weight reading from the second will be the basis for the costs.   

The reverse happens with destination weighing, as the movers weigh the truck after arriving at the destination. The first measurement will be done while all the cargo is still loaded in the car, and the second one is after they've been unloaded. They weigh the truck after they arrive at your destination home, and after they unload your belongings, they consider the car again. They subtract the second figure from the first to obtain the net weight. 

Type of items to be shipped 

Everyday household items, also called loose household goods, don't usually require special handling. For this reason, shipping them won't be as costly as moving fragile items, such as musical instruments, artwork, furniture, ceramic dishes, glassware, vintage décor, and other valued pieces.  

The movers must take extra care to prevent breakage and other damage while handling these items. Thus, they may also charge more if you include them in the cargo. With this in mind, many homeowners still opt to have their valued items handled by movers. They're the perfect people to take the job because of their experience and expertise with these materials.  

Allotting sufficient time for planning your move to Hawaii will help you better manage costs and find ways to save. It's possible to have your moving expenses deducted from your taxes if you meet the Internal Revenue Services or IRS requirements. Therefore, it might be helpful to visit their webpage and find the online tax deduction tool to help determine if you qualify.  

Hawaii moving checklist 

You'll need to prepare several things before your big move to Hawaii. At times, it's easy to forget essential things due to the many tasks involved in moving houses. So, you'll need to put together a checklist to stay on track with your preparation and ensure everything is in order.  

Here is a sample checklist that you can use to help you get ready for moving your home to Hawaii: 

1. Sort your belongings 

Allocating two to three months of preparation will be helpful, especially regarding sorting items you want to bring to the new home. It may be a time-consuming, tedious, and even emotional experience for many homeowners to go through things that have become part of their life for years. However, it's a necessary step that can help you get organized when you start anew in Hawaii.  

2. Hire an international moving company  

One of the most important decisions you'll make logistically is hiring a reputable moving company that covers Hawaii. Surprisingly, it's not common knowledge that many moving companies in the US don't accommodate moving projects to Hawaii because of the distance and transport restrictions.  

As a result, customers often have to consult with experienced international movers who can ship containers to Hawaii. When doing so, it's essential to research a company's reputation, customer ratings, and reviews to find one that will provide you with the best service.  

Moving companies should also comply with US laws, such as The Jones Act of 1920. This law states that any cargo transported via sea vessels between US ports must be carried by local ships operated by American crews.

3. Check pet transport requirements 

Hawaii has a unique system for accepting domestic animals into its territory. Since it's the only rabies-free state, the government imposed strict regulations before pets could be allowed entry. Some may also be entirely restricted or prohibited from entering the island. 

Knowing the legal implications of bringing your pet into the state is crucial to avoid inconvenience or conflicts. For instance, importing a prohibited animal is penalized through a prison sentence of up to three years. There are also fines that can go as high as USD$500,000 for the same offense.  

You can consult with the local government to know the preparations you'll need to make for your pet. For instance, you may need to fill out the Dog And Cat Import form and submit the completed copy along with pre-arrival requirements. Local authorities can ask for vaccine records, health certificates, and fees. Aside from the local government, consult with the Animal Industry Division to ensure your pet can live on the island. 

4. Get ready for moving day 

If you're going to acquire complete services from your moving company, the best time to get them started with packing is at least one day before the actual move. This time would be sufficient for packing and loading items into the container. You can be present too as the movers pack your belongings and give instructions for handling them, if any. 

You may also need to time your flights accordingly, so you'll have time to talk to the movers and go over the itinerary before you leave for the island. This way, you can ask questions or discuss any concerns you'd like to address before the container is shipped to its destination. 


Living in a new state is a life-changing event that requires adequate preparation. You'll need to allocate time and plan your move strategically. Furthermore, you'll have to explore your options regarding travel and shipping solutions to find a trustworthy moving company that'll give you the best value for your money. Overall, time and preparation are vital to make moving homes safe, efficient, and convenient for everyone.  

Barbara Norris is a real estate agent with more than five years of experience. She likes to share her knowledge through guest blogging. During her free time, she goes for strolls, hikes, and bakes.

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