Moving to Maui: One Year Later

moving to Maui Hawaii

Last year I wrote an article about Moving to Maui and why you shouldn’t be afraid to do the same. Exactly one year later, here’s my advice about moving, living and loving life on The Valley Isle.


Moving to Maui


Where to Live

The hardest part of moving to Maui is finding a place to live. There are very few places on the island that you can walk up to and ask to fill out a rental application. Almost every condo/ohana/apartment/townhome/whatever is privately owned, meaning there’s no management staff to keep you posted on when the next place will open up. Check Craigslist daily, book a budget hotel the first week you arrive so you can meet the agent and see the place in person (no one will take you seriously until you’re actually on-island), and be okay with not having everything you want right away.

We lived in a furnished room in a shared house for the first six months before finding our own apartment in South Kihei. It’s a lot of work, but it can be done. Also, what area of Maui you live in matters. Choose an area based on your preferences for activities, climate and proximity.

iao valley maui


What to Bring

Don’t bring a lot of stuff with you. You don’t need it, I promise. Most of what I use in a day consists of swimwear, shorts and a tank top, sandals, sunglasses, leave-in conditioner, a backpack, notepad, computer and a water bottle. My advice is to sell your belongings and use the money to buy whatever you’re missing when you get here.

We packed 3 suitcases each and even that, in my opinion, was probably too much stuff. We bought a cheap car and scooter on Maui and furnished our entire 2 bedroom apartment for around $700. There are tons of people constantly moving on and off the island, so whatever you need, someone’s probably selling it. And if they don’t, oh well. You don’t need it anyway.

pipiwai trail maui


Cost of Living

It’s expensive. Duh. Gas is $4.50 a gallon and milk is about the same. Unless you’re buying 20 gallons of gas or milk a day, however, it really isn’t that noticeable on a day-to-day basis. Don’t freak out about everything being more expensive than you’re used to. Buy less and learn to do more with it. There are still plenty of places that offer amazing meals for $5 – $12. Learn how to make your own cocktails. Eat lunch at Costco. Get a second job at a Maui restaurant. Make it work.

west maui mountains


Social Life

In my opinion, and maybe it’s just because I’m from Texas, where “yes ma’ams” and “darlins” and “hey, y’alls” were the norm, but Maui is a fairly difficult place to meet people and make friends. We live in South Kihei, where we make week-long friends on vacation, but beyond that, geography is a large factor of friendship here. It’s difficult to get together with friends who live in other areas of Maui. I don’t make it to West Maui more than once a month, for example, simply because I live in South Kihei and work in Paia and Wailuku and it’s totally out of my way.

If you’re a person that craves a lot of human interaction, my suggestion is to join something… gardening group, dance lessons, canoe club, etc., or start your own. I still want to start a Float Club – meet in the ocean with your float (and optional adult beverage in an ocean-safe cup) and simply float for 30 minutes a couple times a week. This idea is totally a rip-off of my friend’s grandmother’s group in California, by the way, but props to grandma, ’cause it’s an awesome one. If you move to Maui and you’re in, let me know. I’ll most likely be floating in the ocean trying to make new friends.

paia town maui


Island Life

I do miss things about big city life, but the positives outweigh the negatives. I miss having the option to go out after 9pm, which pretty much does not exist here, but I’ve learned to be more active while the sun is out. There are so many amazing things to do outdoors here, from swimming in waterfalls to lounging on Big Beach to hiking through Iao Valley and so much more.

My idea of getting up early used to be 10:00am, and I can’t even tell you the last time I slept that late. I regularly get up at 8:00am nowadays because my body has learned that as soon as the sun goes down, your chances of being active go way down. It’s a slower, more relaxed way of life, and I dig it.

camping road to hana


Listen, Learn, & Go with the Flow

Like I said last year, everything is what you make of it, and I still believe that. We made our move to Maui a success in many ways, and it’s all about having an open mind, being kind to people and accepting that having less is living more. Get involved in the way of life and learn as much as possible about the people, culture, history and island, and you’ll have a much higher respect and more meaningful experience.

aerial photos maui


And when you’re standing on a golden Maui beach, enjoying afternoon Float Club glory in turquoise waves and giving a shaka to a breaching baby whale underneath a rainbow, thank me later.

big beach shorebreak maui


  • Hey Kelsey, Texan here moving to the island in a couple weeks. Joining a fellow Texan who has been there about a year. Float club, I’m in! Thanks for the article:) we will be selling tie dye and parasols around the island, please say hello if you see us:)

  • Trish C

    My husband, son and I are working towards moving to Maui. We have been 5 times in the last couple of years and can’t get enough. This last October we brought our son with us and he is now doing everything possible to make this dream come true. Any advice on the actual move? I’ve been reading about moving your belongings as well as shipping my car and it seems a bit daunting. My husband suffers with a really bad back so I am extremely hopeful we can make it. Heck! if it were up to me I would sell everything I own, except my car and some photos, and just buy a condo fully furnished. By the way, we are totally up for the float club.

    • Aloha, Trish! Congrats on the upcoming move; you’ll love it. We sold everything and moved here with two suitcases each, so unfortunately I don’t know much about the costs and process involved in shipping all your belongings over. I’d say it’s best to get a few quotes from different companies, though, and maybe reach out to some locals via Facebook groups to ask more specifics from people who have done it in the last year. Keep in mind you can always find lots of furniture on island, so long as you don’t mind 70% of it being made of wicker. 🙂 Best of luck with the moving process; you’ve got this!

      • Interesting information, but the one thing you fail to mention is the cost of rentals. For the average person, housing is almost prohibitively expensive. You talk about the price of gasoline but not a word about rental prices. Not sure how or why one would skip this valuable bit of information…

  • moving to Hawaii this spring. Not real sure what island to live on. What can you tell me about the big island? Im very active , mountain biking , surfing etc… Any feed back would be great.. And I will be coming from Dallas.Best regards

    • Aloha, Sam. Congrats on the move! I unfortunately haven’t been to the Big Island, but I would suggest you check out this article about living on each island: I know the Big Island is a great place for diving, biking and hiking, but it’s difficult to say more than that without first hand experience. That being said, you’ll find plenty of activity on ANY of the Hawaiian Islands. Kauai is lush and quiet, Oahu is bustling but still has its charm (and the most work opportunities), Maui is the best of both worlds, and the Big Island has tons of culture and natural beauty, but is quite spread out. And of course Molokai and Lanai are uncrowded and lovely, but pose the most difficulty in terms of employment.

  • Hello Kelsey,
    I plan to move to Maui this summer but my only concern is my 12 year old daughter and schools in the Hawaiian Islands aren’t good, my husband is living there now and I’m going for spring break with my daughter so that she can experience Maui living for a week. Any suggestions on schools around Kihei Or Wailuku area?

    • Hey Alexandra, I have a few friends who teach in the public school system on Maui who seem to think it’s comparable to the mainland, but who knows. I don’t have any insight about this at all, as I don’t have kids myself, so you might be better off searching for Maui locals groups on Facebook or elsewhere to chat with other parents on the island. Congrats on the move!

  • Hi Kelsey! Really enjoyed your article. I am considering a job offer on Maui and would be moving there with my 5 year old Siberian Husky. He has lived in a condo all his life and is pretty mellow, but a large dog for sure. Do you have any knowledge on the ease of finding a place to live that would accept a dog like him?

    • Hey, Anthony! Thanks for reading. I’ve heard from a few friends who own pets that Maui is not a particularly inviting place to find housing that allows for dogs. And unfortunately I don’t have any specific recommendations for you, other than perhaps reaching out to a few local rental agents who might be able to narrow down your search options based on this criteria. You may also want to go the route of posting your own ad on Craigslist (or any current Maui housing groups or local rental sites) with this request, as you may luck out and catch a friendly landlord who doesn’t mind hosting a 4-legged tenant. Best of luck!

  • Very interesting and interesting post!
    Would love to move there with my 11yr old
    I’m Indian.
    Please tell me, how accepting are people there of race and colour?

    • Aloha, Poorna. Sounds like a wonderful plan for a move! Like anywhere, you’ll find the odd exceptions, but overall in my experience, Hawaii is a relatively accepting place. It’s the third most diverse state in the country, and because it’s such a popular tourist destination, the majority of people who live here regularly come in contact with travelers from all over the world. While that doesn’t always make for a population that’s necessarily more accepting than average, I have to think it doesn’t make it any less, either. Best of luck.

  • Great informative post for people thinking to make the move. Once you visit it is easy to imagine yourself making the move, because the beauty is unimaginable! Thanks again and great work on the blog!

    • I couldn’t find a way to post my own post so replying to this one lol I want to be a part of that float club when I get to move there lol ! This sounds like so much fun !

  • Loving all the positive comments! I vacationed In Maui for the first time in ‘06, fell DEEPLY in love, cried when I left was sure I’d never be able to afford to return( our trip was FREE, hubby won a contest st work, stayed at Ritz Carlton , WOW!) I’m a native Texan , San Antonio resident, born in Tyler, grow up in Port Neches! I love this state but after experiencing HI I’m hooked!!!!! I’m divorced now but my new fiancé and I have spent every Jan and Feb in Maui for last 5 years, how blessed am I? In fact my daughter married there at Makena Cove in 2017, it was a dream wedding, simple and no drama!! Fiancé has been begging me to move there, I’m seriously considering, hate being away from family but that’s the only negative! I’ve spent enough time there to KNOW I would not get island fever! The people the culture the scenery the food EVERYTHING about Maui is magical! I read incessantly about the history of HI for me it’s the closest to heaven one can get on earth!!! We have made friends w locals who we return to every year and other vacationers who are there every year when we are! Can’t say enough positive things about Maui and the HI culture, to say I love it is an understatement, your blog is pushing me more and more in that direction! Praying the good lord will see fit to bless us and make the way for a move to paradise possible! And you’re so right, it’s a very simple life, you realize how much STUFF you really don’t need, for me it’s the best part, dialing down all the chaos of city life and let’s not forget the perfect weather, no scorching heat or wet dreary gray depressing winters, I found that even rainy days are perfect, every single sunset is unique every second is pure beauty, and the music oh the music!!!! Can you tell I’m crazy over Maui???!!!! Trust me , no one loves it more!!! Aloha for now, and BTW a float club sounds awesome, we San Antonians love floating ( the Guadalupe, a summer favorite here) when I get there, I’m IN!!!!

  • Is this float club still a thing?! I move to Maui (Kihei) in less than 2 weeks!! (and I love queso, so we should be friends)

    • I’d be more concerned if you didn’t like queso, Rachel 😉 Haha I’m actually living in Asia at the moment, but you should contact some of the other gals in the comments here, as it sounds like there are more than enough to start a new float club! Best of luck with your move… exciting!

  • Hey, Kelsey! I’m from South Texas and Maui is my favorite island to visit. We go back every other year and always stay in South Kihei. Of course, I would love to move, too, but as a teacher, I’m not sure it’s feasible. My husband works for United Airlines and was offered the opportunity to transfer to Hawaii but it would have been to Honolulu. Based on our interactions with the locals, I think your article is spot on and filled with such sage advice for someone so young! May you continue to have such a blessed life in Maui!

    • Mahalo, Janie! While Honolulu isn’t personally my favorite, it is still Hawaii, and from my understanding it is still a relatively easy place to land a teaching job, especially if you have prior experience. Think it over, and in the meantime, I’ll be hoping for a new United branch opening on Maui! 🙂

  • Aloha Kelsey!!!

    Mahalo for such a great article! I lived in Oahu 22 years ago- my father moved his business from DTLA to Honolulu and I spent 7 months being a local girl. I saw Big Island and Kauai but vowed to return when I was ready to get married one day. This year I married my husband Tom on Maui in Kihei on cove beach. It was perfection and I fell in love…with MAUI!

    We both agree that we need to spend the rest of our lives there so I am obsessed with returning. Tom says we can start coming back every year on my birthday, so that means next September 2019! If your float club is up and floating by then shoot me one email sista and we can talk story! You know da kine! give me chicken skin just tinking bout it!

    A hui hou!
    Sue Perez
    New York City

    • Aloha, Sue. Congrats on what sounds like a magical Maui wedding! Sounds like Tom loves Maui just as much as you do. Hooray! Unfortunately (and fortunately) I’m living in SE Asia now, but hope you can keep the float club going or start one yourself! Cheers from this side’a the globe, and give a big aloha to NYC for me too.

  • Love your article! I have a plan to move to Maui in two years when my son graduates high school and goes off to college! I can’t wait! I’ve been vacationing in Maui for years and just love it there! See ya in two years!

    • Katrina I just came back from 11 Days vacation in Maui with my husband and two daughters. My dream is to move to Maui and we probably could do it if I can convince my husband. Our daughter graduates high school may 2019. We would have to buy a house because we have 6 dogs. I am a professional photographer so I can do beach photography for vacationers but my husband would have to find a job. We are worry about the cost of everything but I would take a risk and love these.

  • Love this post! My hubby and I have been going to Maui for vacation once a year for the past 7 years. My hubby applied and got a job as a teacher on Maui! He moved over there to start his job right away, and I will be joining him in February. He found us a rental, so I just need to find a job when I get there. Really looking forward to the slower life! So tired of the crazy LA life. You can count both of us in for the Float Club! That is what we would always do on the first and last night of every vacation!

    • My husband and I had just talked about moving to Maui. We visited last year and will be back this spring break. I teach in Texas right now, did your husband find it hard to get a job in education over there?

      • Chantelle – My husband is a SpEd teacher (along with English & Science), which is in high demand. He called the school district prior to us being on Maui for the Maui marathon and got an interview. They called him a few weeks later and hired him! They did mention that they still needed more teachers. Good luck, Chantelle – and keep me posted!

        • Awesome! I have been in SpEd for 8 years! I will be searching the Job Listings and making some phone calls!
          If anyone’s going to be floating in March, we’ll bring some adult beverages and come join!

          • Chantelle – wonderful! Yes, they are in need of other SpEd teachers. You can look me up on facebook under angela doran stewart – we can all get together and float in march….

      • Aloha If anyone has any connections with the FD there is love help getting hired. Been a firefighter here in NH for 16 years and want to relocate to Maui as a firefighter and also work on getting my helicopter license. Any insight would be awesome. And Mahalo… 🙂

  • Hi Kelsey, thanks so much for this article. What about break-ins…are there a lot of those on Maui? My husband and I are going to be visiting there in February to decide if we want to move there with our two young boys. Thanks! Katy

    • Hi, Katy. Thanks for reading! Nothing of mine has been broken into here, but it does happen. I’d say the likelihood is the same as anywhere else, really. Seems like a great place to raise kids, and hope you enjoy your upcoming trip. Whale season rocks!

  • Kelsey, This is really a wonderful blog. I lived in Lahaina for a year back in 1986. I turned 21 while I was there… you do the math 😉
    I have been back twice recently to visit since then and, yep, the bug has bit me. I’m constantly trying to think of ways to get my butt back there.
    My largest concern is being able to get back East at least once a year… that’s the most expensive part. Also finding a job that will allow me to afford a two bedroom place for my son (special needs) and I.
    When I lived there I did find some predjudice but that was because I was very young, unexperienced and uncultured and didn’t have the respect that I should have had. Today I just want to get back there and give back to a community that I’ve fallen in love with.
    I’m a Sr. Administrative Assistant with a large insurance company that pays very well and I’m having a hard time seeing anything in my skill set that is within my same salary range. I’m not giving up though! I live in Connecticut so the cost of living will not be any shock at all.
    If I get there, I will definitely look you up for your float club – I float REALLY well 😉 LOL

    • Aloha, Suzanne! Thanks for reading. It’s expensive for me to get back to Texas too, but I’m very slowly trying to learn more about travel credit cards and using points to fund some of my traveling. Also, two bedroom places aren’t that much more than the very few one bedrooms I’ve found, so hopefully you could find something that would work. As for now, maybe try to save up most of the great money you are currently making so you can relax and have time to find what you’re looking for when you arrive. Or be financially okay to make less for a while. Either way, hope you can make it back out to paradise, and definitely look me up if you do. Floaters unite 🙂 Aloha!

    • Yes yes yes! Float Club now has 3 members, and you’re one of them. Find me on FB (under Kelsey Kay Love) so we can set a time and place and optional adult beverage of choice. So excited and thank you for reading!

  • Just curious, have you encountered any negative vibes or hostility being a haole? I think we all know the positives of the island. Any negatives that you weren’t expecting that you could warn us about? Thanks!

    • Hi, Tim! Actually no. I know it happens, but I honestly haven’t seen it yet. As far as things to warn you about, don’t fall in a blowhole or try to surf 55 foot waves 🙂 this is by far one of the safest places I’ve lived.

  • Everything you say here is RIGHT ON – we moved here nearly one year ago….Your float club sounds awesome! I’m all about it, count me in!

  • Great post! I read your blog right before we moved here (about 3 months ago) and this update post is awesome! I definitely agree with the “do not bring hardly anything” I literally haven’t even used 60% of the 3 bags I brought!

    • Thank you, Destiny! Always awesome to hear from other island newbies as well. And yeah, there’s a reason I no longer own lots of the things I did on the mainland. No need for it.

  • Kelsey,
    Another excellent article. These keep my wife and I pumped up for the move. We’ve never lived in a McMansion, so we won’t miss it when we’re living in Maui. My friends say, you’re going to get island fever. We live in Grapevine and I rarely venture more than 5 miles in any direction. Going from Kihei to Kahului or to upcountry will seem like a great adventure. Thanks again.

    Mike Wilkshire

    • Thank you, Mike! You’re exactly right. Plus I’d rather drive 5 miles and get to 10 beaches than drive 5 miles to get to Grapevine Mills 🙂 Cheers and thanks again for reading and your support! Also I literally just wrote about Avoiding Rock Fever on my blog. Funny.

  • I’ve been following you since last year because that’s my goal. I’m planning on becoming a commercial hellicopter pilot and flying tours there. I will be retiring from the fire department in 5 years and should have my flight hours complete by then. I want to fly for blue HAWAII. I’ve been living vicariously thru you the past year and hopfully if you make it i will see you in 5 years. Mahalo

    • Yeah, John! That’s so exciting! I’ve always wanted to go up in a helicopter, and I’m sure that would be an excellent way to experience the island everyday. Who knows where I’ll be in 5 years, but I’m rooting for you. Keep in touch!

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