Please sign in to post.

Move to Hawaii

My daughter is going to graduate school at the University of Hawaii in Manoa (island of Oahu). So, not a great year to be making this kind of move! Plus, we are finding housing to be super expensive and probably will make up a large majority of her stipend. She will move there sometime in August. It's difficult to plan, of course, due to COVID. Any suggestions for managing a budget in Hawaii like shopping tips, free sites, etc.? Also, I'd like to buy her a guidebook or two as a going away gift and would welcome recommendations of the more helpful guidebooks for her situation. She likes hiking, biking, birding, mountains and generally the outdoors. She also likes history, culture and science. While she will live on Oahu, I'm sure she'd like to visit the other islands at some point, as will her dad and I. None of us have been to Hawaii. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by
1858 posts

hey hey jules
like you say, not the greatest time for the move. my niece graduates next week from UH Manoa, no ceremony, with her BA. She is planning to move to oregon for law school.
housing is tough and expensive for all, what is she looking for (room, studio, dorm, apt?) will she have a car or use public transportation, and how far away does she want to go? how long will she be living there?
i lived on oahu years ago, i will look up things to see and do for you guys and send you a private message after i put it together.

Posted by
4370 posts

Thanks so much for the response. She will live on Oahu approximately 5 years. She won't be driving a car and will rely on public transportation. She would like to live somewhat close to campus and in proximity to groceries, etc. She's not interested in any kind of night life. She hopes she can find a place on her own, something like a studio with a small kitchen. We are hoping for at least a little furniture, or else to be able to pick up things second hand. Hopefully I will fly with her to help her set up, but if we'd need to do a 14 day quarantine, I'd probably not go. Thanks!

Posted by
2273 posts

There's a Student Housing Services Office that offers assistance to both undergrad and grad students in finding accommodations near the Manoa campus. We used it several years ago when our son was going thru UH. As I recall there are a number of options, ranging from spartan dorms to self-catering apartments in nearby highrises. That's probably going to be the cheapest option. Anything on the economy is going to be super expensive.
Here's the link:
Public transportation on Oahu isn't the most robust but it'll get you where you want to go, and the campus isn't all that far from the beach at Waikiki.
A car would be more of a hassle than it's worth.
Don't know if she has the option, but there's a UH campus in Hilo on the Big Island - would be much cheaper over there.

Posted by
6793 posts

jules m, I'm no expert on Hawaii, but IMO. for someone going to live there, I think it would be valuable to learn as much about the history, peoples, and culture as possible. Its a unique place with a tragic history, and not just another state. Some of the backlash against outsiders you are hearing about has its roots in history. Maybe someone can recommend something better than James Michener's Hawaii but its the first thing that comes to mind. For sights and things to do, she'll probably get that from her fellow students and friends, but the best guidebooks are the Hawaii Revealed series (Maui Revealed, Oahu Revealed, etc.,) but note that they are resented by a lot of locals because they reveal no-longer hidden gems.

Posted by
21852 posts

This is the advice we gave our students. You indicated she would be there five years. Time is on her side. Work with university housing office to find the cheapest, least expensive available including university dorms for graduate students. Avoid signing any long term lease - 6 mos at the most. Once she is there and is oriented to both the university and the community then she is in a far better position to determine where and how she would want the live the rest of the time. Besides she may make some friends in the meantime that will be useful to her. At this stage of the a dorm room would work.

Posted by
842 posts

It’s early days still for finding housing. Her grad school cohort probably has or will have a Facebook page or the like. That’s how my DD found housing in The Cities when she left for grad school. I don’t think she finalized anything until July. Congratulations by the way. I’m sure she (and you) are thrilled.

Posted by
4370 posts

Hey, thanks for the advice so far. I should say that I've had 4 graduate from college and have 2 about to finish PhDs. Darn this COVID. Schools are so very different. My student at Wash U, did use grad housing. My son that was at U of Chicago found better housing elsewhere. If it weren't for that darn ocean and COVID, we would be in a much better place in terms of making plans. From the grad students in Honolulu that my daughter's talked to, off campus housing is definitely cheaper. She also contacted Student Housing and it would seem their grad housing, like undergrad housing, is for 9 months only. Further, a student faces quite a penalty if they move off campus 2nd semester. The 9 month time period is odd because grad students, at least in math and the sciences, go to school year round. Now part of the problem is that we haven't actually been able to talk to anyone affiliated with graduate programs. Their offices have been closed. Obviously she has been in touch with her department, but they don't deal with logistics like moving, etc. She probably does need to have housing set up in advance, because if a quarantine is required, she would need a place to be for the 14 days. We can't really wait to see how things play out because she needs an airline ticket and if we buy before 5/31, the ticket is exchangeable and probably much cheaper. The fares are really good right now, obviously.

Guidebook suggestions as well as ideas people have used to save $$s would be most helpful.

Posted by
800 posts

The best guidebooks are the blue books by Wizard pubs. She probably already knows about Craigslist and OfferUp, but she should also know about the flea market at the stadium on Oahu. When I visit that's where I go to buy a boogie board, shirts, and anything else, because I never carry anything more than a overnight bag to Hawaii. If's cheap enough I just leave the stuff for the next family when we're done. Public trans is not the best, and bikes have a tendency to get stolen if not secured. But a car is expensive, and if she can along without one that's a good thing. Note that used cars wear out fast on the islands; salt air isn't good for them.

If she's going to hike tell her to wear good boots and carry a pair of water shoes (Teva is a good brand). While flip flops and sandals are really common, they're not good on the trails, and walking back barefoot or blowing out an ankle is not something you want to chance. And you want water shoes if you go into any water as lava rocks are quite sharp, and there's always the chance some idiot broke a bottle.

If she's going to look for work tell her to get a job with the Federal Gov't if possible. They do have part time, hire students and interns, etc. The advantages are she'll have access to excellent health care, and can shop on base, and that's the best deal around. The hiring site is USAJOBS.GOV. Even if she just worked as a shelf stocker or lifeguard she gets the same benefits. If she can find something in her field she'll do even better, because she'll make the contacts that will help her career for her lifetime.

Posted by
6877 posts

Is in-person instruction in the Fall a "sure thing"? Many colleges are still online and expect to be even in the Fall. Unless you're positive that the university will be fully open (and the indicator that the supporting offices are closed is not a good sign), I would not make any plans to move just yet, especially given how expensive Hawaii is.

Posted by
5789 posts

The starting point of my comments is that this is a tourist forum. Hopefully your daughter's doctoral program is offering a generous financial package with a research and/or teaching stipend during her five year program. After paying for all those years of education, your child is getting paid to learn. Congratulations.

Unfortunately the Coronavirus complicates the situation.

Hawaii, Honolulu in particular, is a high cost place to live. Local strategies seem to be Costco shopping and The Bus for commuting. You can research cost of living or reach out to another graduate student in her department for cost information. One insight into cost of living:

In located a place to live, convenience including transportation to the Manoa campus should be a factor. Check out TheBus routes and frequency. The adult monthly pass cost $70.

Posted by
4370 posts

Edgar, I apologize if this thread has taken a "nontravel" turn. My question was pretty general in nature. I do anticipate that she and her dad and I , eventually, will do some exploring of the islands. I had been browsing guides on Amazon thinking one might be a nice "going away" gift. Typically, I would browse a library or book store, but of course that is not possible right now.

Yes, life for my daughter and many others is quite up in the air. We have 4 young adults trying to make life decisions. It definitely would be easier if she were going to a school we could drive to, however, it is what it is. We need to have information so that when the university makes decisions she is able to make her decisions accordingly. Right now, airline tickets are exchangeable and she certainly isn't signing any leases.

To further complicate the situation, some institutions have different plans for undergrads than they do for graduate students. Fortunately with two in grad school right now, one that works pretty closely with those working on COVID, we have a sense of the different scenarios our daughter could be operating under come fall.

Posted by
5789 posts

Jules in MN. No apologies needed. The intent of my comment about this being a tourist forum was for you to better filter any advice offered. Tourist advice may not be applicable to a long term relocation. Living and working differ from vacationing in many ways including adjusting to local life. As some of the others with local experience imply, some adjusting to the island way of life could be interesting.

Honolulu is a very urban environment but beaches and parks are very accessible by TheBus. Unfortunately, mountain trailheads are less so. She should check out the UH recreational programs after the Coronavirus situation clears:

Hawaii can be very casual with respect to clothing. Form follows function and single season clothing is the norm. Designer Hawaiian wear can be expensive (north of $100 for designer Aloha shirts) but economical clothing options are available at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet:

Andy Bumatai can help her learn the local dialect:
Hawaiian Pidgin Recognized As A Language (In Pidgin w/Subtitles):

Posted by
242 posts

The blue book by Wizard Publications is called "Oahu Revealed". They have books for each of the main islands and provide a wealth of information and are definitely the best guide books for Hawaii. Just make sure that you purchase the most recent edition. They also have an app and website. Good luck!

Posted by
21852 posts undergrad housing, is for 9 months only. Further, a student faces quite a penalty if they move off campus 2nd semester. The 9 month time period is odd because grad students ...... go to school year round.......

That is fairly standard policy. The nine months is geared to two semester. Even with graduate programs the summer term is far more casual than the two semesters. The penalty is for breaking the 9 mo contract and not for moving off campus. Although it may be hard to check, my university allow graduate students to break a housing contract for a small fee -- thinking it was less than $200 but each university is different. Most try to run their dorms as a profit center. But she will probably face the same thing if she signs an off campus lease. The big issue is that she doesn't know the territory. Personally I would rather face dealing with a dorm situation than having made a mistake in off campus housing.

Posted by
27 posts

Manoa Valley and Makiki are both great neighborhoods, though very different. Punahou is a very nice area. Waikiki is loud, but if you don't have a car and you like to walk to the beach it is nice that most everything is within walking distance. Plan $2000 minimum for rent and $150. utilities. Please know that all but a few winter months are very hot and humid living in the concrete jungle of Honolulu, so riding a bike or waiting at hot bus stops will not be much fun. There is a HUGH homeless problem on Oahu and they live at all the beach parks and bus stops. For this reason she really needs a car. Bottom line? $$$$$$$$$