2021 Update: Pro Tips For PCSing To Hawaii

Subscribe To Our YouTube Channel

Aloha and congratulations on your permanent change of station to Hawaii! Most likely to the island of Oahu. I understand what a HUGE transition this can be as I have PCS’d myself. This can be exciting but also causing mixed emotions with the unknown. We’re here to help our military o’hana (family)!

We’re going to cover 5 very important tips when PCSing to Hawaii. These tips will help you be prepared or start getting prepared for the unknowns about your PCS. Things that I wish I had known when it came time for my family and I to make the move as well. Be sure to read all the way to number 5 or watch the video at the top of this page. You don’t want to miss it!


We know life can happen, believe me, but procrastinating when you are most likely getting ready to make the biggest move of your career is not the best game plan. PCSing to Oahu has it’s challenges. Especially if you are moving to Hawaii with family and/or pets. Be on the ball when it comes to this move. Be in your S-shops, be on your NCOs and Commanders about helping you get your pack out date scheduled, your pet vaccinations scheduled, doing your due diligence about where your kids are going to school, and everything else that needs to get done. We can’t stress it enough. Procrastination when PCSing to Hawaii will be your number 1 stressor. Get on the ball!

Get an approximate BAH (basic allowance for housing) in Hawaii here: https://militarybenefits.info/bah-rates-state/hawaii/

2. Downsizing Household Goods

You may want to consider downsizing before your move to Hawaii. Hawaii ranks dead last in the United States when it comes to the size of homes. The average home in Hawaii is approximately 1,300 and at a cost per square foot of approximately $630 as of March 2021. The average (source: https://hicentral.com/). So you can expect the average cost of a home to be approximately $814,000. Not big and not cheap.

That being said, it is highly recommended that you take a good look at everything in your current home and decide if each item does or does not need to make the trip across the Pacific Ocean. You may end up renting a POD, a storage unit or having to sell it if you can’t find space for it.

3. Hawaii Gun Laws

Hawaii is considered a relatively safe state. It is not a state with a ton of crime that you’ll hear about in the news. It’s gun laws may play a role in it’s overall safety. Hawaii has very strict gun laws to abide by. For starters, you have to be 21 to acquire a firearm and a permit. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Hawaii) The firearm also has to be registered with the county chief of police within 5 days of arrival to Hawaii. If you need to register your firearm you can schedule to do that with the Honolulu Police Department here (https://www.honolulupd.org/information/firearms/).

Hawaii is very strict with concealed carry and open carry permits. In fact, the state rarely issues a permit for either. When traveling, the firearm must be locked away and stowed away with the ammunition locked and stowed away in a separate container and compartment while in transit to destination. Learn more about state laws and published ordinances here https://www.atf.gov/file/117206/download.

4. Moving To Hawaii With Pets

Hawaii is the only state that is rabies free. There are strict rules in place as to what animals are allowed in the state and what incoming animals must go through when moving to the state. For a list of restricted animals please check the Hawaii Department of Agriculture https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/.

Your typical house pets, dogs and cats, will have to go through a series of vaccinations with your local veterinarian before travel. Check with your local veterinarian to make sure your pet is up to date and to see what other vaccinations will be needed in order to travel to Hawaii. If you need additional assistance with your PCS with pets to Hawaii the o’hana at Island Pet Movers has a great team that can assist your needs. https://islandpetmovers.com/military-pet-relocation/

If you are not on the ball with this process your animal may face up to a 120 day quarantine. That can be extremely traumatic for your pet. Do everything you can to decrease the amount of time that will have to be spent in the Halawa quarantine station. In fact, click here to read a 5 day or less FAQ https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/faq-for-five-day-or-less-program/ so that you can make sure you do what is necessary for your pet’s shortest quarantine possible.

5. Hawaii Real Estate: Buy vs. Rent

The biggest question of them all, should you buy a home when you PCS to Hawaii or should you rent? In the rent category is also considered living on post. I’ll explain...

Buying a home in Hawaii is going to be a different animal. For starters, the average price of a home in Hawaii is far more than most areas of the United States. That along with the size of the home my not meet your expectations. Here is 3 reasons why you may not want to buy a home in Hawaii.

  1. Homes in Hawaii are too expensive.
  2. Homes are too small.
  3. Don’t want to be attached to a home if you do not plan on returning, do not want to manage it, or you do not want to have a company manage it while you are far away.

This is not to discourage you from considering the option by any means. This is to give you the honest truth to why some military choose not to buy a home in Hawaii.

What about living in base. Should I just live on base instead of renting or buying? The answer is it depends. Here’s why...

If you’re considering living in the military base housing then your essentially giving your BAH back. (Full disclosure, we know it is a private company and you are not just giving it back to the military.) On base housing doesn’t care if you use less electric and less water than your neighbors, vice-versa. Whatever your BAH rate is, they take it.

Here is 3 reasons why you may consider renting off post.

  1. Less rules outside of base housing.
  2. Live in a local community.
  3. Potentially pocket some of the extra BAH pay if you are comfortable living in a place that doesn’t require your full BAH rate for rent.

Again, just giving you reasons that soldiers and their spouse tell us every day when deciding what to do when they PCS to Hawaii. Some choose to live on post for their first year to really get a feel for the island before deciding to buy a home and some choose to rent for a 6-12 months outside of post before making that decision.

Should you buy a house in Hawaii? This answer is also it depends. It really depends on what your overall goals are with the home.

  • Is it your forever home?
  • Is it an investment vehicle for you or your family’s future?
  • Do you plan to sell it in 3 years when you PCS?
  • Are you okay with the property being managed after you PCS?
  • Do you understand the Hawaii housing market and how homes appreciate?

There are a lot of questions to be answered when making this decision.

Now I’m going to give you my REAL advice on this matter.


If you can qualify for a hoe loan (VA Loan) here’s why.

  1. The government is paying for your home with BAH.
  2. The government is building your equity.
  3. Your home may not be your full BAH rate defending on the location and your home criteria.
  4. Homes in Hawaii appreciate on average approximately 3.4% annually.
  5. A lot of people in Hawaii cannot afford to buy therefore needing a place to rent.
  6. There will be other military service members moving to Hawaii in your same situation who may rent or buy from you.
  7. You can hold the property, let it appreciate, rent it out and make a monthly cash flow from it, then sell it later on down the line.
  8. I can keep going but we should really get on a call and talk about this. Click here to schedule your call. 

I think I made my point. Buying in Hawaii can be scary at first when you see the price points. Completely understandable. I am not here to sell you anything. Just here to coach you into the best possible decision for you and/or your family and it’s future.

ryan strong, ryan strong oahu real estate agent, veteran real estate agent in oahu

Ryan Strong

Aloha! I’m Ryan!

I was fortunate as a child to have the opportunity to move to Hawaii at a young age due to my parents being in the military. I now have spent more of my life here on the island of Oahu than anywhere else. Hawaii is my home! I talk to so many people who are either thinking about it or are already making the move to Hawaii and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! You can reach out too. Shoot me a text, give me a call or send me an email. However you want to get in touch with me, I’ve got your back when moving to Hawaii!



Would you like to see homes for sale in Honolulu, HI? Click the button below to begin your intuitive home search.