Moving to Hawaii means an opportunity to transform your new home into your personal paradise — whether you choose to rent or buy your housing, or choose a traditional interior design theme, a contemporary style or tropical Hawaiian decor. Regardless of personal preferences, there are plenty of housing options and quality furniture and design stores to choose from, along with moving and storage companies that can help you ship the items you want to bring with you.Furniture basics
Your home is an expression of your family’s style and needs, whether that means using multifunctional pieces to optimize a small space, creating spacious comfort for family movie nights or designing the perfect room where you gather with friends.
Furniture takes up the majority of space in your home and helps make your home feel lived in, welcoming and complete. When choosing furniture, keep in mind that homes in Hawaii tends to be smaller than those in other parts of the country. Think carefully about what you choose to ship to your new home — avoid bringing any oversized pieces and sectional couches and sofas. While they fit perfectly well in a spacious home in Florida or Minnesota, they will make an uncomfortable fit in most homes you will find in Hawaii. It’s best to sell the large pieces before you leave, and buy new, smaller ones when you arrive at your new destination.Downsize to right-sized
While it’s always important to consider downsizing your personal belongings when moving to a new installation, we can’t emphasize enough that space is at a premium in Hawaii, simply because of the limited, natural geography of the islands. In addition, many resources are limited because of the distance items must travel to reach the islands, including housing materials. You’ll feel more comfortable in your new home if you plan ahead for the challenges smaller houses present.
When packing your possessions to be moved, place the items in three categories: use it, love it, leave it. If you haven’t used the item in the past year or don’t truly love it for sentimental reasons, consider leaving it behind. Many possessions are still beautiful or functional, but in different stages of our life, they become unnecessary. Friends, family and donation centers will be happy to accept your extraneous items and can give them a new chance to be practical and appreciated. Visit websites such as www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org to arrange a pickup of unneeded items as you prepare to ship your belongings.
Of the belongings that you do plan to ship, start thinking about a place for everything and keeping everything in its place. Having an organized home will go a long way in keeping it from feeling cluttered. Shelving and storage with vertical design will minimize the strain on any floorplan, and furniture with built-in storage features will be especially helpful. Look for creative ways to use containers or space behind objects, such as large furnishings or doors, to either hold or hide personal items that would usually spread out over flat, horizontal surfaces.
The key is to remember that a smaller home doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to live without the items you truly cherish. Leave behind items that don’t add function or joy to your life, and plan for a good place for the things you do decide to bring. You may even find that lightening your load of possessions makes you feel freer and lighter mentally. At the least, downsizing before your move may give you more space to add personal items you will cherish as part of your stay in Hawaii.Covering the essentials
While waiting for your shipped items to arrive, consider using the Lending Closet, which loans common household items for a designated period of time. In addition to tables and chairs, the closet has small electrical appliances, pots, pans, dishes, ironing boards, high chairs, cribs and child car seats.
When you live in privatized housing, you will be provided with kitchen appliances such as a dishwasher, refrigerator and stove. A washer and dryer are also provided depending on rank. Leave your personally owned kitchen appliances and washer/dryer behind; you won’t need them. Air conditioners are not included but can be bought and installed if desired. It’s not necessary to bring yard maintenance tools such as mowers and weed wackers because most tools you will need can be borrowed from the privatized housing office.Shopping opportunities
Honolulu has excellent shopping options when you are ready to start looking for furnishings for your new home. When selecting furniture, pick timeless, functional pieces that fit your space and budget. Choose from contemporary and modern, traditional or a bit of both in a unique eclectic mix. There are no rules, so don’t be afraid to get creative and buy furniture you love.
If you choose a Hawaiian theme, wood furniture is the main material used in island decor. Bamboo is one of the best picks. The goal of this theme is to enhance an open space. Start with the essential furniture pieces before adding other, less important accents — and keep in mind the furniture or accessories that will be shipping from your previous home. Small homes can fill quickly, and you don’t want to feel cramped in a house that will likely be smaller than what you are used to. To accessorize, think indoor palm plants, vases filled with real or artificial orchids, wall tapestries of orchids or palm leaves, authentic Hawaiian art and photographs or prints of Hawaiian heritage and culture.
You will likely be moving to a different climate than you are used to. Hawaii has a temperate, tropical climate; the temperature typically varies from 66 to 88 degrees, and rarely falls below 61 or rises above 91 degrees throughout the year. If you are moving from a northern state like Minnesota and are accustomed to heavy rugs and draperies in your home, consider leaving them behind — you won’t need them in your new destination. Flooring in Hawaii tends to be easy-care, wooden surfaces.
Also, lighter colors are popular in indoor decor because of the tropical climate. Keep that in mind when shopping for curtains, furniture and bed covers. Lighter colors will not only make rooms feel cooler in summer, they will also make small spaces feel more spacious.Using plants in your decor
To enhance your furniture and indoor spaces, consider a trip to one or two of the abundant nurseries you will find in Hawaii. Most specialize in the wonderful tropical plants that are found locally, and they are an inexpensive way to add color and allure to your home.
In Hawaii, natural colors are everywhere. Emerald green and gold cover the landscape while the ocean provides shimmering azure waters. In 2000, the state of Hawaii gave each island its own official color. In most cases, that color matches the hue of the island’s official flower used to make leis. A simple drive through neighborhoods will reveal explosions of colors in yards, parks and boulevards.
Live plants are a great way to bring some of this natural island beauty into your home. Yellow is the official color of Oahu, and that is reflected in the official state flower, the yellow hibiscus, and Oahu’s flower, the yellow ilima, a popular choice in leis.
Though many military personnel in Hawaii choose to live in base housing, residing off base — either by renting or buying a home — can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Purchasing a home entails a long-term financial and emotional commitment with various pluses and minuses. Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Either way, housing costs in Hawaii can be higher than most military communities because of limited options. However, your Basic Allowance for Housing will reflect the higher housing costs in Hawaii accordingly.
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.Finding an apartment
Looking for local apartments online can save time and energy. Websites such as www.ahrn.com and www.craiglist.org specifically tout their housing listings, but chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, and even referrals from family or friends can be good resources for housing leads. The Handbook for the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code, published by the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, is another excellent resource for renters and can be found at https://cca.hawaii.gov/hfic/files/2013/03/landlord-tenant-handbook.pdf.
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history.
Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.Buying a home
Buying a home is a complex process and requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Home Buying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it may be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
There are three ways to order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and complete and submit the request form online; call toll free 877-322-8228; or download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.