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Moving to Hawaii

May 22, 2014 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Uncategorized

By Francine Naputi

Hafa Adai! You’re planning to move to Hawai‘i and want to make sure that you prepare as much as possible. I was in your shoes once when I decided to move here two years ago. I was unprepared and had to live with friends and family for over a month before I found my apartment. My hope is that is article will make your move to Hawai‘i much smoother, especially since the rules here are different from our home islands. Here are just a few tips that will hopefully soothe some of your anxiety.


Navigating Hawai‘i:

When talking to someone about locations, “town” means the city area. The person is most likely referring to Honolulu. Anything outside of “town” is usually a 30-minute bus ride.

There are a few words you need to know when navigating through Hawai‘i:

Mauka: towards the mountains

Makai: towards the ocean

Windward: towards the east or north side of the island

Leeward: towards the west or south side of the island

Using the bus:

Always be sure to read the route on the bus, despite the bus number.  Too many times have I ended up taking the wrong bus because I was on the wrong side of the road.

If you are a student, be sure to claim your bus pass. Students get a bus pass for the semester by paying the $30 UPASS fee, which is included in your student fees anyway (UH Manoa). The policy at Chaminade is a little different. Full-time students get a free UPASS, while part-time students must pay $150 a semester. For students going to Hawai‘I Pacific University, you can purchase a UPASS for $152 every semester. For those of you, that cannot utilize these options you can click on this link to get prices of the pass:


When using the bus, be sure to download “Da Bus” app on your phone. It will help you to find routes as well as track when the next bus will be arriving. The maps application on your phone will also save your life when navigating through Hawai‘i; be sure to utilize that too!

Using a Car:

Traffic Lights: Always YIELD when making a left turn even if the light is green! The green light does not mean that it is your turn to go. Oncoming traffic will not stop for you, so be sure to yield otherwise you will get into an accident.

Be aware that Hawai‘i has parking rules that are different from home. You must pay for most parking. The rules of street parking are as follows: Parking is free after 6 o’clock in the evening from Monday to Friday and all day Sunday. Be careful and make sure to read the signs because parking patrol is serious about giving out tickets and towing cars!

Looking for an apartment:

If you are trying to find a place, try looking on Craigslist Oahu. When looking for an apartment, the average you will find for a studio or one bedroom is about $1,000 to $1,600 a month, only including water/sewer. Anything that is out of that range is either a scam or a rip-off.

If you decide to live off-campus, try to look for places in Manoa Valley, Kaimuki, St. Louis Heights, Punahou, and Ala Moana. All these places are near UH Manoa and Chaminade University. However, if you are going to attend Hawai‘i Pacific University remember that there are two main locations, the downtown Honolulu campus and the campus near Ko’olau Range. The Honolulu campus is close to Chinatown so neighborhoods around that area would be near the school. For those attending, HPU near Ko’olau Range, you will want to look for apartments on the Windward side, particularly in Kaneohe. There are many more areas you could look at; these are just a few suggestions.

Be prepared when looking for a place, be sure to have your credit reports or tax returns ready. The sooner you can get your application in; the better your chances are of getting the apartment. Looking for an apartment can be extremely competitive, so you must be fast. Most owners will ask for a security deposit that is equal to the first month’s rent. So be sure that you have the funds to move in.

Finding your roots far from home:

If you are planning to go to school at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, there you will find the Marianas Club filled with other Chamorros that attend the university. The school also offers a Chamorro language class taught by Professor Brant Songsong.

If you are planning to go to school at Chaminade University, you can join the Chaminade Marianas Club.

For those of you in the west side of the island (near Pearl City area), you can find the Hafa Adai Club. The club is a gathering place for Chamorros in Hawai‘i to come together to connect our community in the diaspora.

Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ I fino’-ta? Come down to Kaka’ako Kitchen every Saturday morning from 10am-11am for the Chamorro language pocket. Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and Brant Songsong offer FREE language classes to anyone that is willing to learn.

Additional Tips:

When looking for a cellular provider, choose AT&T. They are the only provider that considers Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands domestic so they do not charge international rates every time you call or text someone at home.

You can transfer your license to a Hawai‘i license, but be sure to do it before your license expires otherwise you will have to take the driving test. However, you will probably be asked to surrender your non-Hawai‘i license. Getting a license is a quick way to prove residency. By showing your Hawai‘i license at certain venues, you can get kama’iana (local) discount on your purchases. Click on this link to see where you can get your new license:


I know this move may seem overwhelming but the culture shock will eventually subside. I was fortunate enough to find an incredible community of Chamorros in Hawai‘i that made the transition much easier. I hope that this article will help you avoid many of the mistakes that I made and make your move to Hawai‘i as simple and stress-free as possible. Saina Ma’ase!


Featured Image: nhanusek, Luggage, 2006. From Flickr, some rights reserved under a Creative Commons license.



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