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What to bring or ship when moving to Oahu

Whether you’ve just decided to move to Oahu or have planning for years, you need to know how to go about getting your things here — or if it’s even worth it.

There are a few different viewpoints on this, and it really comes down to a few different factors. Those in the military get access to free shipping provided by the government. Otherwise a 20-foot shipping container costs around $7,000.

Deciding what to bring

Most say that you should sell everything non-essential — bring absolutely nothing that you aren’t required to bring. Jewelry, documents, summer clothing, sentimental items — only take the very necessities. This way, you can shave off costs and worries about things in transit.

Another view says that if you plan to bring anything, you should go big.

A 20-foot shipping container from California costs roughly $7,000. Trying to ship individual items is prohibitively expensive. If there are even a few pieces of furniture that you want to ship — it may be better to try filling the 20-foot container.

What about my car?

That really depends on the kind of car you have and how attached you are to it. The cost to ship a car from California or the west coast falls around $1500-3000.

Even then, the car has to be empty. They can’t be shipped with stuff inside, so no filling it to the brim with personal belongings to skimp on transit costs. In fact, the gas tank in your car must be drained to less than a quarter of a tank.

So unless your vehicle is new or a collector’s item that you must bring, it may be more cost effective to leave it behind.

Military members get affordable shipping

Military Moving and Relocation

If you’re in the military it gets cheaper and easier to decide — the government will ship your belongings for little to no charge. As a result, many people in the military will opt to leave very little behind.

This can backfire, as square footage for homes in Hawaii is much more precious and limited than on the mainland. And if you end up shipping more than your new house can handle, more money will be eaten up in storage fees.

Even with the shipping provided by the government, it’s often better to leave old belongings behind and re-buy on the island. Sometimes a storage container may sit full of shipped goods for 2-3 years — which eats away at money.

You should only bring things that are of significant value or significant importance to you. For what you do decide to ship — we’ve got some tips.

Moving Tips

Moving Tips

Before you move anywhere, there are some key things to keep in mind. Some items are too important to ship — they need to be taken personally. There are also some items that you’re not allowed to ship by normal means.

Items to take personally

There are some items that should be carried on your person when moving, either in a carry-on or in your luggage. These items are of either significant personal value or importance.

Here are a few examples:

  • Prescription medications
  • Stocks, bonds, and securities
  • Personal collections
  • Important documents
  • Currency
  • Jewelry

Many of these items are irreplaceable and significant. By escorting them yourself, you can be sure that they are there exactly when needed.

Prohibited items

The following items are prohibited by shipping companies. You shouldn’t even attempt to bring them through a shipping container. This is not an exhaustive list, and may vary by shipping company.

Common items:

  • Alcohol
  • Firearms & ammunition
  • Hazardous items — any kind of paint or aerosol, heating agents, or fire extinguishers, and many other kinds of chemicals or dangerous items

Preparing for moving da

Now that the decision about what to keep and what to let go has been made — what other preparation is there?

First, contact the movers. Find a relocation company, such as Crown Relocations, and arrange an in-home consultation well ahead of your planned move. Crown recommends contacting them to set up a consultation at least twelve weeks before the moving date.

Relocation costs aren’t easy to ballpark — your final costs will be calculated according to many factors that vary by company. It’s important to contact them as soon as possible and arrange a consultation to help you estimate costs.

When moving day arrives, you can make sure things go smoothly by checking off this list before the movers arrive:

  • Sell or dispose of any items that are not being shipped
  • Double check all rooms of the house
  • Disconnect and drain refrigerator and freezer
  • Set aside all personal carry items and important documents so they aren’t accidentally packed


For the most part, it’s better to sell furniture, appliances, winter clothing, and other things of that nature before you make the move to Hawaii. The living spaces are often smaller, and will be harder to sell your furniture once it reaches the island.

Even with military clients who get a deal on shipping their belongings, often it’s better to sell. Since the houses are smaller and have less living space, there’s not a lot of room for storage of unnecessary things. Keep costs down and sell before moving.



Scott Startsman
614 Kapahulu Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 291-5441