Insider Tips on What You Should Do RIGHT Before You Move to Hawaii

Moving to the islands can be as easy as putting all your most important items into a few hockey bags and jumping on a plane like we did, or an intricate experience where you are moving an entire house hold over with pets and kids. Each person creates their own journey based on what they have to do to tie up their old lives and prepare for their new lives.

A current client of ours wrote this when I asked her to share a moving checklist she created: “Oh Julie, had I known what I was getting into, I am not sure I would have had the courage, but now I am happy to be where we are in the process! We are closing our house tomorrow at 12:30 and then it will be a matter of running out the clock here. So happy and nervous and excited and so many emotions right now. I cannot tell you how much we have appreciated yours and Eric’s help!”

I will tell you..having the advice from others is VALUABLE INFORMATION!  I asked members of my private homebuyers group for input on THEIR move RIGHT before they made the leap and they provided some fantastic insights. Check list at bottom!

Real Life Advice From Folks Who Moved to Hawaii Island

Sue Ellen C: I think lining up a place to land is probably the #1 thing that we did that helped us to organize everything else around. Once we had a move in date, it helped so that we could do things like get airline tickets, and figure out dates for vet visits and when to sell the house and pretty much everything else that had to flow backwards from that. Getting rid of clutter early helps both with just the cost of moving but also getting house ready for sale. Selling higher value items also takes more time so if not bringing, probably starting that early. I will think of more. We also started talking to the car shippers and shipping companies. It’s hard to plan shipping if you don’t know what you are taking.We also had to make sure that we had the rabies certificates and titers uploaded to Hawaii quarantine program and had a plan for how we were going to get the fur babies to Hawaii. That was so hard to figure out because of plane sizes and crate sizes and flight restrictions, weather temp, all that.

J. Berg: I’m exactly six weeks out. Yesterday I spent the entire day getting everything ready for my tax appointment next month. I also made a list of every business I need to contact about my address change, and worked on that. I have been getting ready for a yard sale, which is being postponed a bit due to my fall last week. I start Medicare the day after I arrive, so I am about to go to Kaiser’s website, to see if I can get in there. I have already taken care of my car, and moving pod situation. What I still have to do is go through my stuff, other than furniture, to figure out what stays, and what goes.

Stephanie P: At about 6 weeks out I was arranging our POD to be dropped off, sending dept of Ag my papers for animals to be direct released, arranging animals cargo flights, making appointments to drop off cars at port to ship. Deciding what stays and what goes. Making multiple trips to goodwill.

Heather W: About 6 weeks out I was just finishing up vet visits for my dogs arrival and visiting family and friends before our flight to our forever home! Although my decision to move and moving all happened within 3 months, I planned everything in the early stages to make it as smooth as possible and it paid off

Kristen J: About 6 weeks out I was making sure all the documents and paperwork was ready to go for moving my 3 cats over! That was tough also trying to land renters in my mainland home when I moved to Waikoloa I still had not found renters for my house in seattle! I was tying up lose ends with the kids school in waikoloa and also packing up our 5 suitcases. ( that’s all we came with, we rented a furnished home) what I wish I had been doing is making sure the home was properly rented for Bug infestations. And that a regular bug guy was maintaining the property.

Nicole M: If you don’t already have a place to buy or rent be ready for the docks to call for your destination address. They have minimal storage and want to move it ASAP! They found space for out stuff but because it takes a while to close and erratic shipping times (they quoted us 6 to 8 weeks but got to us in 4) be ready to scramble if you can’t move in yet or have an alternative option.

Cindy H: We were purging everything in our 3-story house in Washington and buying suitcases and bins to bring the bare essentials on the airplane. We were also finishing up the dog paperwork — this was the hardest part. We were listing our home and planning on some last-minute improvements to up our sale price. We were watching the Real Estate market in Kona and just hoping there would be a great house for us when we got here. We ended up buying land to build and luckily we have a condo to live in until it is finished). We were finishing up doctors and dentist appointments and filling prescriptions as we didn’t know how long it would take to find doctors here. We were giddy with anticipation. Best decision ever to move here ahead of schedule thanks to virtual work.

Lil A. Not the norm here…BUT we found out we were moving AT 6 weeks & somehow managed to pack/store/lease 2 properties on a whim, arrive with 6 pieces of luggage, 2 cars (a month later) & start new jobs….yep were crazy but like a little unexpected adventure! My advice is linking to your groups!! It has helped me tremendously!
Jana M: Six weeks before we moved here, my husband drove one of our vehicles to LA and sent it over on Mattson Shipping, then flew home. Then three weeks before we were due to fly to Kona, we took an epic road trip and visited as many national parks as we could, showed up in LA, dropped off the second car at the shipping company, then took an Uber to the airport to fly over with two suitcases each. When we landed in Hilo, we Ubered over to pick up the first car, which was already here. Worked out perfectly.
Julie Z: When I made the move, there was NO ONE I could ask for advice! I didnt realize that ANYONE moving to Hawaii has to hold painful garage sales and scale down their stuff in order to move to a whole new way of life. I wrote this blog post about my experience a few years ago-I cry every time I read this :  “58 Boxes-A Moving Story” 


One of our clients, Sue Ellen C., is currently purchasing a home in Kona and shared her list with me to help others. Thank you Sue!!
Hawaii Move Checklist

Shipping Logistics

Arrange Storage Facility





Arrange Pallet Pickup for

Shipper Name



Arrange Car Shipping




Drop off location:

Pick up location


Pack household goods

Mainland Home:


Hire Realtor:


Close Mainland Home (home address)(date)

Vet appt for health certificate, acclimatization form, breed verification

Date: (14 days before)


Forwarding Address for mail to USPS

Spouse 1- Hawaii Driver’s License

Spouse 2- Hawaii Driver’s License

Documents needed for car registration:

application for registration (form online)


bill of landing

prior registration,

Hawaii auto insurance

“failed” safety inspection

Car 1 Registration: need weight of car on title

Safety “Inspection”—initial will “fail” due to lack of registration

Hawaii registration

Re-inspection with registration

Car 2 Registration: need weight of car on title

Inspection—Initial will “fail”

Hawaii registration

Re-inspection with registration

Find Hawaii House

Set up listing alert




Get hazard Quote from (Insurance company)

POC: __________

Rental Policy Quote for (Insurance company) (Effective Date)

Wire option money to Escrow

Wire Balance to Escrow

Get Car Insurance issued

Set up Auto-pay for monthly Insurance

Set up Renters Insurance for Rental

Cancel Insurance with Goosehead

Rabies vaccine before (Date) (90 days out)

Rabies Titers Vet Appt (Date)

Get INK signed rabies vaccine certificates:

Rabies tags : (Insert tag numbers)

Send in application to Hawaii Quarantine for pets

Passenger Tickets for Hawaii (One way)



Airlines Cargo (large pets):

Airway Bill Number:

Reserve rental car for arrival



Mortgage Application




Purchase Airline Pet Carriers—Cats

Purchase Cargo Pet Carrier—Dog

Ship initial small goods (USPS/UPS) (mid-January?)

Open Bank Account in Hawaii (see below)

Switch to Renter’s Insurance with (Insurance company) for leaseback

Policy Number:

Policy Period

Cancel Once in Hawaii Rental House on (Date)

Confirm Uber to airport for (Date/Time)

Remind (2nd vehicle) of pickup (Date/Time)

Prepare animal crates:Confirm crate sizes for cargo (plane must be large enough for required crate)

Food taped to crate

Food/water bowl in each crate on door

Sign with last food/water offered, when to offer next

Pet paperwork

For Hawaii Dept of Agriculture:


Microchip numbers:

Health Certificate

For airlines:(Call to confirm requirements)

Breed verification form

Acclimation letter

Shipping agreement

Health certification for travel

Vaccine certificates

Hawaii House closing (Date)

Update Mailing addresses on all accounts

Turn on utilities/services (Hawaii House)



Cable/Internet service

Update USPS mail forwarding

Pest service (centipede)

Sign up for disaster alerts:

Points of Contact

Realtor: Eric Ziemelis!

Bank/Bank account numbers

Mortgage company

Moving company

Car shipping company

If you would like a PDF of this checklist, email me at

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