Because this past weekend I just moved to an apartment near downtown Honolulu, I figured I would share some tips about what it’s like to move in Hawai’i, particularly in the island of Oahu. While it’s not as intense of a process as Cat’s when she moved to a new place in San Francisco or back in the day when I lived in NYC, there are some noteworthy differences.
1. The Tools
Craigslist is, by far, still the main platform for apartment hunters and room seekers. There are other websites like Trulia and Zillow that have apartment listings for Honolulu but either I never got a response for my inquiries or it sounded too much like scam. Of course, many listings in Craigslist are also scams, but for the most part the listings there are from real owners or agents. Many realtors’ websites will not be updated with any rental ads, but the agents will post on Craigslist. This is why Craigslist is your best bet in Honolulu.
2. The Courting
As with finding a place in any city, you must engage in a little bit of a courting dance with the owner or agent as a potential tenant. But what I found to be unique in Honolulu is the seemingly large amount of tenants who break their one-year lease agreement and are consequently looking for replacement tenants on behalf of their landlords. Apparently, that kind of transience happens quite frequently here (especially with people in military and the tourism industry), hence many owners and landlords are willing to forgo the fees as long as the tenant can find a replacement for the rest of the year. And when you’re dealing with these delinquent tenants, all you have to do is win them over and they’ll be the ones championing you to the higher-ups.
3. The Parking
Parking is a hot commodity in Honolulu. The streets are narrow and the cars are large (people love their midsize SUV’s here), which does not make the best combination for street parking. Most units come with one parking stall, so this poses a problem for people like me with roommates looking for 2 bedroom places. I highly suggest scoping out the area surrounding the unit and making sure either person is comfortable with leaving their car out overnight for many nights, not to mention the hassle of looking for parking on a daily basis. For us, we were lucky to stumble upon a unit that offers an unusually sized parking stall. With a little bit of scheduling coordination of who leaves first, we’re able to squeeze in two cars:
3. The Moving
This tip highly depends on what kind of apartment unit you get, but for high-rises (which there are plenty of in Honolulu), make sure you get measurements of your large furniture and compare them with the elevator’s in your building. Otherwise, you’ll make the same mistake that I did of showing up on moving day and not being able to fit one of my sectionals in the elevator. But it might be a blessing in disguise, because I like the way my living room looks now without it:
4. The Internet
Oceanic Time Warner Cable basically has a monopoly over the TV and Internet services in the island. Because of that, you’d think they’d amp up the number of employees who do installations and repairs, but we can always dream. When I tried to schedule an installation date, the soonest available date was nearly three weeks later. While the customer service was very kind and apologetic, that’s still not an option for me as I work from home. Luckily, there are many local TWC stores where I was able to pick up a self-installation kit and set it up myself. It was a very painless process but if for whatever reason you need their customer service to install it for you, make sure you schedule in advance!
I’m sure there are other more universal tips and best practices about moving that can be shared, so please share your own in the comments section!