Tips on Relocating to the Garden Island

Are you thinking of moving to Kauai and are not sure about all the things you need to consider when making the move?  Here are some tips to make the transition easier so you can complete the move to the Garden Island of Kauai and begin enjoying life in paradise.



We are lucky to live Kauai. What are you waiting for?

Choosing Your Location on Kauai

First you have to decide which part of the island of Kauai you want to live on. All parts of the island have something wonderful to offer and it comes down to personal preferences which area you will choose to call home.

As a general rule it is warmer on the south and west sides, windier on the east side and rainier on the north shore. Conversely the north shore usually has ideal temperatures, rarely getting too hot or too cold. It may be a bit rainier on the north shore but the payoff is verdant mountains and cascading waterfalls.

The west side provides close access to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park while the south side is known for its posh oceanfront resorts. There are also many small towns such as the south side’s Kalaheo which is known as Kauai’s “upcountry hamlet.”

Making the Decision on Where to Live on Kauai

The best way to decide where you want to live is to rent a place on Kauai for a month or two and spend some time in the different areas. This will allow you to see what the towns and beaches are like and also the neighborhoods and people. The beaches are spectacular on all sides of the island and each area also offers great hiking and scenic mountains.

Employment on Kauai

In general the most jobs are on the east side in the town center of Lihue. Wailua and Kapaa to the north also have plenty of commerce as does sunny Poipu and historic Koloa town. There are potential employers in all of Kauai’s towns though in more remote areas you may not get exactly the position you desire.

Surfing on Kauai

Are you coming to Kauai to surf? Fortunately this won’t put many restrictions on where you live since surfing opportunities are excellent all around the island. There are great surfing beaches and great waves from Haena and Hanalei on the north shore to Kealia on the east shore, Poipu on the south shore and Polihale on the west shore.

During the winter months the north shore of Kauai tends to have the biggest waves, while the summer months often bring bigger waves to the south and west shores. However, the small waves that many people find enjoyable can potentially be found on the north shore in the summer as well as the south shore in the winter.

Clothing and Attire on Kauai

Casual clothing is the norm on Kauai with shorts and light shirts being the most common attire. If you are moving to Kauai there is no need to bring a large wardrobe and little use for winter clothing items including heavy jackets. These items will just end up hanging in your closet.

Renting vs. Buying on Kauai

This is a great time to buy a home on Kauai due to the current low interest rates on home mortgage loans along with the market conditions that have created a “buyer’s market.” Rents on Kauai have dropped considerably in recent years so renting a home is also a good option if you want to enjoy life in paradise.

If you are undecided between renting or buying a home on Kauai then you may want to rent a place for a month or two which will give you time to search for a Kauai home. This will also give you time to assess the different regions of the island including the cost of homes, character of the neighborhoods and the different climates.

However, if you want to purchase a home before moving to Kauai then give us a call at Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty and we can help you arrange appointments to see a variety of homes that meet your requirements.

Kauai Home Furnishings

If you are renting a furnished house or apartment on Kauai then you won’t need to worry about furnishings and this will save you a considerable amount of money. If the kitchen is stocked with utensils, pots and pans this will also help you avoid purchasing items.

If you are moving to Kauai to an unfurnished home it is preferable to purchase items on island or in Honolulu and avoid large shipping charges. This will also give you time to decide on appropriate furniture styles, and you also may find some good estate sale deals that provide everything you need at a much lower cost than buying new furniture or shipping items from the mainland.

Personal Transportation on Kauai

Kauai has a fairly good bus system though it takes considerably longer to travel on the bus than in a car due to the many stops. The bus also sticks to the main roads and so if you plan on doing lots of exploring to beaches and mountain trails then you will need a car. See the Kauai Bus Schedule for more information.

Shipping a vehicle to Kauai can cost about $1000 but the cost may be worth it if you have a reliable vehicle. Buying a vehicle on island is fairly limited outside of car dealerships, and rust is a significant problem so if you bring a rust-free vehicle you will be ahead of the game. You may also consider rust-proofing your vehicle before sending it. For more information on shipping see the Young Brothers and Matson websites.

Getting a Hawaii Drivers License

Once you arrive on Kauai one of the first things you will want to do is apply for a Hawaii Driver’s License. You will need your current driver’s license for this so make sure you have it with you when you fly. Carry it on your person rather than in checked baggage as it is too important to lose. Many local vendors, parking and services offer discounts to those who have a Hawaii Driver’s License.

Bringing Your Pet to Kauai

To avoid a long quarantine period when bringing a pet to Kauai you need to plan ahead and fulfill several requirements. The USDA website provides a full explanation of Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine and can be found at

Final Tips on Moving to Kauai

You can get a sense of the overall employment opportunities as well as rental costs by checking Craig’s List. Gasoline and food generally costs a bit more on the north shore compared to Kapaa and Lihue—most people consider this the cost of living in paradise!

Rather than paying to bring a large number of items in your airplane baggage consider mailing many of your belongings via parcel post just before you leave for Kauai. This postal method often takes about a month to arrive and that will give you plenty of time to get situated without having to haul around too much stuff before you find a permanent residence.

Kauai Realty Services and Vacation Accommodations

If you are considering buying a home on Kauai you can see some of the island’s best real estate deals by browsing through the Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty Kauai Real Estate Galleries, or you can use the Map-Based Kauai Home Search.

For the finest quality Kauai vacation rentals including luxury estates, condos, cottages and beach villas, see our Kauai Vacation Rental Galleries or use our new Map-Based Vacation Rental Search feature.

Also please feel free to give us a call. The Bali Hai Realty staff will be happy to help you find the perfect Kauai vacation rental or assist you in the process of buying or selling a Kauai home.

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  • BreAna Blair


    Aloha I am looking to move to the beautiful garden island of Kauai pretty quickly! I am very interested in energy healing work as well as self sustainable living!! Any suggestions on how to make this move quickly and easily would be greatly appreciated!! Much gratitude!!!!
    Love & Light

  • Amanda M.


    I’m currently looking into moving to the Lihue area in the fall. Currently I am a banker. I’m a single mom and was just wondering how the childcare and school are there seeing that my daughter would be 1 1/2 when we move. What area, rent wise, are affordable and how much is the living cost in general for a studio or one bedroom place? How much income would be a good start in order to just have the needs? Is there a huge need for bankers in the area? Sorry for all the questions.

    Thank you so much

  • Tracy


    So excited, will be moving to Kauai one day (about 4 1/2 years), even though I never been there personally, my husbands Mom was born on Kauai, and Terry (my husband) did his masters degree at the university of Hawaii. I love island life, lived 4 years on the Isle of Lewis, & didn’t get bored of being surrounded by nature or the sea.

  • Norman and Vanessa Civello


    My wife and ate ready to make our move. I am in the mortgage finance industry and work work for a reputable California Bank. I can work from anywhere. My wife is a manicurist and one of the best! We would like to rent for 12 months to get a feel for what we want to purchase. We make between $140-$$150k a year. Any help or advise? We have 2 small dogs that we would also bring! Thanks in advance!

    • Jay


      I am currently a project manager and looking to move my family to the island. We have friends there, a local police lieutenant and his family, I’m wondering what it takes to get into real estate. Any advice?

  • Mark


    I am 51 years old and have been in the shipping industry for 28 years. I would love to move to Hawaii. Can you point me to who might be hiring a shipping manager in the islands?

  • rob


    Aloha my names rob and im doing my welders trade from south africa. I am 28 years old and single .I would love nothing more than to move to the island. If anyone can help or set me in a good direction It would be very appreciated.

    Regards Rob.

  • kristy


    How do I find out info about schools on kuai? Thank you!

  • Jim


    I am a licensed clinical social worker with nearly 30 years of experience. I am in my early 50’s and fell in love with Kauai when I visited there. I just need to find a way to make it happen.

  • Andrea


    I’m thinking of moving to Kuai after finishing college , I’m thinking of doing my master degree there maybe, are there any universities of college in the island? Also I’m moving there for the surf and cause it’s always been my dream to live in Kuai since I was little, but since I’m not from the states, I’m from europe, how do i do it? It just seems very difficult and I don’t know where to start looking for information or who to ask.

    Thank you for your time.

  • Brian O'Hara


    Also is it. Cheaper to buy land and build your own house or to buy a existing house?

  • Brian O'Hara


    What chances does a 22 year master plumber/Hvac service tech have of getting a good job in Kauai?

    • marty davis


      from my experience there always looking for people with a good work ethic. I just got a job working for a plumber over there theres alot of work. im no master plumber but ive been doing it for several yrs. i have a really good boss he is a Christian. easy going, fare, honest, hard working guy!

  • Mary


    I’m thinking of spending six months on Kauai to determine if I want to move theres permanently. What is the most economical way to have a car there for 6 months? Looking at car rentals, the cheapest I can do is $6000 for 6 months after all the fees. What if I bought a car and then sold it when I left? Any advice or suggestions?

  • Amina


    Hi, I’m looking to love to kauai, after I finish my teaching degree from New York. Does anyone know if there are any teaching jobs out here?

  • Wendy


    I am looking to move to Kauai with my 23 and 12 year old daughters. I am an RN. We will be moving from Colorado. When making a move like this, is it reasonable to take belongings with you, like furniture, or not. And how is that accomplished.

  • Amanda


    My name is Amanda and I plan on moving to Kauai when I finish school. I plan on being a marine biologist and having another major for back up just in case. I would like to start off renting but I still don’t really know how I would go about doing this. How do I look for a place to rent before I actually move there!

    • Richard


      Aloha Amanda,
      In light of your major you may be interested in a career with the US Fish & Wildlife Service that has intern programs from time to time on the North Shore of Kauai and their offices are located on the grounds of the Daniel K Inouye Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes, they provide accommodation to qualifying interns. Good Luck!

  • cody


    I had the crazy idea with a best friend of moving to Kauai from San Diego after i graduate with my degree in International Business. In approx 3-4 years. I was planning on renting to start out but in this market if i started making payements on a house now even if it didn’t all work out i could generate income off renting or selling the house when the market rises.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated…

    thank you

  • Sophie


    If I was to move to Kauai, just for the surfing with nothing with me just my board and a backpack would I be able to make a living out there and would I rent a place?


  • Shawnee


    Are you still thinking of moving? I am also a single mom looking to move back to Kauai… I love it there my daughters family is all fr the island.
    I have been twice this summer and hope to move this year…
    Probably go back in oct and November…

  • Ashley Annis


    I am a single mother, RN, I live in Texas and recently visited Kauai and fell in love with it. Is it a bad idea for a single mother to move to Kauai

    • Wan


      Ashley, work is scarce. Unless you have a work at home job like me (50k a year + benefits and 401k), or you are willing to work in various tourism jobs, this is probably not the best idea for you. Also, you have to consider schooling. Lucky for me, my wife just had a baby. We are going to move there in a few months, rent for maybe 4-5 years, and then move back to the states.

      • Ashley Annis


        Yes, I can understand the working conditions, I am a nurse and I’m always been told because of my profession I can find a job anywhere. The average salary is 50k-70k. I am just worried about meeting people as I will be alone and have a 7 year old at that time, as well as finding someone to watch him when I am work and he is not in school.

  • Barbara Trivitt


    I am looking to move to Kauai and restart my life – I am a health care worker and can start putting applications in before I move – but am looking for the cheapest way to travel and have probably a 5 by 10 storage pod of what is left of my belongings. If you have any ideas that can help please let me know

    • lois


      Aloha Barbara,

      I suggest contacting the Kauai Chamber of Commerce. They can provide data on visiting or relocating to Kauai, as do most Chamber of Commerce. All the best with your move! Kauai is a wonderful place.


      The Bali Hai Ohana

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