The Ultimate checklist

Moving from California to Hawaii? The ultimate checklist that includes a full guide on how to pack, what to bring, what to sell and the best vendors you should use to get there! 

Disclaimer:latelywithmeganrenee  is not making any guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. This blog contains my opinions and doesn’t reflect the opinions of any organizations I might be affiliated with. I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

The details..

shipping your car

Shipping  your vehicle can seem quite difficult, however it really was very straight forward when you know the process. There are only 2 companies that ship cars to Hawaii, PASHA & MATSON, Pasha offers pick up and transport from your residence to the ship for additional fees, while Matson you bring the car to the port yourself.

We shipped our minivan over using MATSON, as Long Beach is only a 30 min drive to the ports in Long Beach, California. 

The first step is to call and reserve your car as well as pay a $100.00 deposit. In the days prior to your drop off, you’ll need to empty all of your personal belongings from the car, have it detailed and cleaned and make sure you leave no more than a quarter of a tank of gas. The only thing allowed to stay in the car is child safety seats and booster seats. 

Shipping car from california to hawaii

When booking your reservation at MATSON, they will tell you when you need to have the car there. Remember shipping can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

Upon arrival to MATSON shipping docks, you’ll receive neon safety vests and be asked to sign in inside the building and wait out in the sun until your name is called. (wear a hat & bring water).  We waited about 2 hours, however knowing what we know now we would have arrived right when it opened. Once our name was called, we finished the paperwork along with the final payment. They perform a final quick inspection of the vehicle and then you are good to go.

After your car leaves the port of Long Beach you are able to track its location and progress to get real time updates. It arrives first to Honolulu and then gets transported on a barge over to Hilo. When your car has arrived, you’ll need a reservation at MATSON Hilo to pick it up. You’ll also want to note they are only open for pick up on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the moment.

Moving from California to Hawaii
Moving from California to Hawaii

shipping your personal belongings

Packing up your entire house and all of your belongings is also a huge undertaking. There are so many options here, from do it yourself pods to full service door to door. After much research we went for a door to door service and used Hawaiian Shippers.

Something to keep in mind when doing  your research is that no matter what company you end up choosing, it all eventually ends up with MATSON SHIPPING. MATSON then ships your goods from the mainland to Honolulu Hawaii, and from there it goes to smaller islands on a barge.

The time process could take anywhere from 30 days – 60 days depending on the shipping time table and the container loads. 

Moving from California to Hawaii
Moving from California to Hawaii

Hawaiian shipping costs are calculated on cubic square feet (not weight), however some companies go by weight. The best way to maximize your space and protect your belongings is to buy these plastic tubs (photo above) that snap and lock into place. They also stack tightly allowing for the most space possible. These also are the best way to protect your things and you’ll want to be sure to bubble wrap everything inside. 

We also found this very easy to calculate our shipping costs buy using these containers that are all the same size. It simply made easy math and easy calculations. 

selling and downsizing

Back in California, they called me the queen of flipping furniture. I actually did this as a hobby and side income. However, when it was time to sell off my entire house and downsize to move to an Island it put everything into a whole new perspective. It was like my own version of guys grocery games as I had only two weeks to sell everything.

A lot of people ask me how and where I sell items. I like to use facebook marketplace. Furniture and plants sell the best and the most important thing here is taking great photos and pricing it right! If you have priced it right, you’ll have 15 messages within 45 minutes of posting. If you do not have messages you are overpriced. 

Remember, people shopping on facebook are looking for a deal so your not going to get your money back and you’re not going to get half of the purchase price. I always determine the list price after I search for a similar item on the marketplace so I can see what the competition looks like. Example you have a $4,000 couch your going to get $500.00 max. You also have a $600.00 couch and you could get $300.00. That is because used couches sell for $200.00 – $500.00 and you have to accept the market for what it is. 

The washer and dryers you see in the photos below sold for $500.00 for both. The going rate on marketplace was around $600.00 but those were sitting and probably would get negotiated down anyway. So I price it right, and have it sold the same day. I also made sure the photos were taken while it was on (showing it works)


Moving from California to Hawaii


I also want to point out, as much as I love selling, I love giving much more. I do not like supporting the goodwill because a lot gets thrown out and they over charge people in need.

I always like to give to families direct. The best way for me to do this, is by finding the right person through facebook marketplace. For example I sold my daughters new bed, memory foam mattress and comforter set for $100.00 (great deal) the mother who arrived was a single mom in need and I ended up giving her 7 boxes, including toys clothes and holiday decor along with the bed for free. 

I also had great luck posting in a local moms group that I was looking for a single mom in need of a new kitchen. I got several messages and ended up giving away my entire kitchen to a single mom of 5 who just got out of a domestic violence shelter. It made my heart happy to help her get a fresh start. 

Packing your luggage

While this is mostly standard, keep in mind whatever you pack in your luggage is the only thing you’ll have for the next month or so until your containers arrive. 

For me, I made sure to pack my expensive bed sheets so I don’t have to buy those when we get into our new house. I also packed vitamins, our alexa sound system and apple TV’s to use upon arrival. Each person will have things you’ll want while waiting for your container but make sure you really think it through. Everything else you’ll have to buy when you get here or do without util your shipment arrives.  

flying during Covid 19

LAX had a very easy check in process. Similar to what we are used to however with face masks required. Once we got through security we found a nice quiet space near the delta lounge to wait for our flight. If you are able to find a socially distanced area you’ll notice a lot of families were able to remove there facemasks while sitting down and waiting. This was important for us traveling with young kids. If you are waiting at your gate with several people and high traffic then you’ll obviously want your masks on. 

Moving from California to Hawaii

Food options at the airport before departure were slim pickings. There was however one restaurant open called Fish Fry, that was doing togo orders. This took about 45 minutes to order and get food so plan accordingly. 

We were aware there is no food served on the planes, so we took our lunch on board with us. On this flight we were lucky enough to fly first class and there was plenty of empty seats so we had no issues whatsoever. For the majority of the flight you are supposed to keep your facemask on, however if you are eating or drinking you can remove it. For kids, we just made sure they had snacks and water frequently to give them breaks from the mask. 

First class was serving beer and wine and bottled water but no soft drinks or juice. They also were giving out pre packpacked food but I did not try anything. I would imagine regular seating did not have any food options.

Once we arrived to Kona, Hawaii the exit from the plane was similar to what we were used to however a little slower with social distancing the rows as you exit. You will also notice the national guard immediately upon exiting the plane doing temperature checks on all passengers. Once you pass through this safety area you can get your luggage and find your transportation. 

The 14 day quarentine

Moving from California to Hawaii

As of today (August 9, 2020) Hawaii is requiring a 14 day quarantine for all travelers who are not essential workers. You are allowed to quarantine in your new house or choose one of 2 hotels on the Island. Although we do have a residence we choose to quarantine in the hotel because our home is not furnished and our belongings have not arrived yet. We felt like the hotel would be easier to manage since it provides beds towels and a stocked kitchen etc. 

During the 14 days, you cannot leave your room for any reason. We are in an isolated quarantine area of the hotel that is being monitored by hotel staff and we also have the Hawaii tourism calling us every other day to check in on us. They are asking basic questions, checking on your health, and making sure you are in fact not leaving the hotel/home you have stated on your documents. 

I would say the one positive is, they do count your arrival day, as day 1. On the morning of the 14th day we are FREE as of 5AM. 

Transporting animals

This is a very difficult area for me to write since we did have a young puppy at home that we are still in limbo with. Hawaii has loosened the restrictions with animals and animal quarantine however with the COVID situation at hand it opens up a whole new array of problems.

For us, our puppy is still quite young and has not finished his shots as in two rabies shots and a 30 day antibody test. If your pup is older and up to date on all of the shots as well as an international microchip then you can contact a few companies to help you ship your pet. 

It is a long complicated process and I recommend getting professional help with your pets if you plan on bringing them. I recommend using southern CA Pet transport and ask for William as he is a wealth of information and very kind. 

searching for homes & rentals

If you plan on buying I highly recommend using a realtor from Homes&Land Magazine. You can flip through the digital magazine here, or get a copy almost anywhere on the Island. Every good agent on the Island is in this Magazine so you’ll want to make sure you use this as your guide.

If you plan on renting a home, we searched zillow and had better options with Trulia. We also searched craigslist as well as the facebook marketplace. We ultimately found our rental online using an agent we found in Homes&Land magazine and got the house before it went live to the public marketplace! 

I am so fortunate the property management company was so easy to work with while we were coordinating the transaction from the mainland. 

facebook groups to join

I found these groups very welcoming and helpful as I try to navigate a new hair salon, yoga studios and basic questions any newbie would have!

  • Kona Newbies
  • Kona buy sell trade 
  • All things Big Island Hawaii
  • Buy and Sell Big Island
  • Kona Moms
  • moms connecting with moms on the  Big Island
Kua Bay Hawaii

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Posted by:Megan Renee

Hi friends! It's me @lately_withmegan.renee AKA @thatocmomlife. I'm here to share with you guys our favorite places to go and the things we love! I love to showcase fun things to do with kids, product reviews, and our travel adventures! I am a California girl, born and raised who recently moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. I am married to an amazing man who happens to be Australian. We have two beautiful kids that we are raising with the Aloha spirit, Island style. Thank you so much for all of your support, comments, and shares! Mahalo

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