Moving to Hawaii from Thailand

If you’re a long-term expat, staying in Thailand, you have probably thought about the following…

Getting the hell out of Thailand.

If you’re single – great, there are a lot of places you can try.

Personally, if I was single, I would consider moving to the following countries for a year:

  • USA – Hawaii
  • Laos
  • Cambodia – Phnom Penh
  • Indonesia – Bali
  • Philippines – Manila
  • Vietnam – not sure where
  • Malaysia – KL
  • China – no idea where
  • Australia

As it is – I’m far from being single, and my choices are therefore, greatly limited. Lately I’ve considered:

  • USA – Hawaii
  • USA – Florida
  • USA – Colorado
  • Australia

Of these four options – Hawaii has the best chance of receiving us, and that’s what this article is about… moving to Hawaii from the land of smiles. Coincidentally, or not, there is a great book onMoving to Hawaii that you should pick up at this site: Aim for Awesome – if you’re considering Hawaii as a place to move to sometime in the future.

The first step in considering whether to move from Thailand to Hawaii is whether you are an American citizen. It’s tighter than a fat lady in neoprene to slip into the country at the moment – and it won’t be getting any easier. The USA has battened down the hatches and it’s a big pain in the ass for anybody that isn’t already an American citizen – to get in. If you’re not American already – I haven’t the slightest idea how to help you get to the USA. You probably don’t even want to. Moving to Hawaii though – is something that could make it all worthwhile.

I know numerous foreigners living in Hawaii at the moment. A couple of them, and this is the usual route, came for vacation… fell in love, married, and stayed on… eventually getting their green cards and finding good jobs on the mainland… and then, sensing the pull that Hawaii has on everyone with blood in their veins – went to check out the islands. They fell in love with Hawaii – nobody doesn’t – and they figured out how to move there.

The second step in moving to Hawaii involves taking a really honest look at your finances. If you don’t have a chunk of money saved – let’s say $10,000 USD – moving from Thailand – I wouldn’t consider it. Save the $ first, make the jump later. It is insanely expensive to live in Hawaii and it’s made all the worse by the paltry pittance (your salary) you’ll receive when/if you do find a job.

The third step – finding a job. Most people I know that moved to Hawaii were not quite ready for the amount of effort it took to…

1. Find a job.

2. Work that crummy job until a better one came.

3. Find a 2nd or 3rd job to supplement their income.

I was pretty lucky, having done internet marketing for years, so I was able to land 3 different cushy jobs during my latest time in Hawaii – and if you know either internet marketing or high-level web design, programming, are a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, whatever else… you can do fine and land a good job quickly. If you’ve managed hotels before – schwing…. you’re right in there.

The fourth step – this is it. Preparing yourself for the mental challenge of living in the Hawaiian islands is no small matter for some people. For me it wasn’t that big a deal, I don’t need much more space than Oahu or Maui had to roam around. Things only get old if you do the same things all the time and don’t vary your activities. I had a lot to do and wasn’t bored. Of course I’ve only stayed in Hawaii for 6-7 years – not 30 – so I can’t say boredom wouldn’t occur after some decades of living in Hawaii. I don’t think it would – but who knows?

Some things you might consider if you’ve lived in Thailand for a long time – and are considering moving to Hawaii:

  • There is now a speed limit. Seat belt laws are enforced – to a ridiculous extreme. Turn signals. Responsible driving… all of this comes back into play. You’re not in Thailand anymore, and you’ll know it when you see just how serious the police on Oahu or Maui are. I have experience with both – unfortunately.
  • People don’t stare at you any longer. They don’t care who you are until they get to know you. They won’t go too far out of their way to know you. You can make great friends in Hawaii but you’ll need to make some effort at it. There are all kinds of people in Hawaii – not just those who own houses, boats, and companies. There are people just like you – but you’ll have to find them.
  • Your chances of finding a mate – whether you’re a man or woman – go right out the window. Unless you’re 20 years old and in college in Hawaii – good luck. There are very few single people on the islands, and those that are – would like to remain that way in many cases. Sixty year olds with twenty-somethings is not seen much in Hawaii. I’m 45 and my wife is 29. That isn’t seen much in Hawaii either – but, wouldn’t be too big a deal. It wouldn’t prevent us from going back.
  • Americans talk back. I have really enjoyed being able to say whatever comes to mind when arguing with Thais. It’s been a wonderful way to make arguments seem surreal and pretty ridiculous. I let it fly and come up with all kinds of creative put downs and things – and they don’t understand a word of it. I get it off my chest – and they do too – I don’t know even one word in Thai that could be considered an insult. Ok – buffalo, I know that. But I purposefully told everyone that ever taught me Thai – no swear words. Why? I’d use them and escalate an argument to the point of no return. I’m sure I would – absolutely. So, better to remain ignorant of any harsh words in Thai.
  • Prices are orbiting stars. There is no way to really prepare yourself for the difference in cost of just about everything in Hawaii versus Thailand. It will take some getting used to. For me here in Thailand – if it’s over 100 THB – I have to seriously consider it. LOL. It’s funny… it’s $3. But, having lived for years like 3 bucks meant 3 meals at a restaurant, it will be quite a shock to go to Hawaii and pay $15-25 for 3 meals instead of $3.

Moving to Hawaii is something you can do – if it something you REALLY want to do. One friend I know from Sweden worked his ass off in Hawaii and now has a great business as a property appraiser. If you want to make it happen – you can.

Below is the coolest video of the Hawaiian islands I’ve ever seen. It shows Kauai – but, maybe it will make you want to move to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or Big island Hawaii…

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

7 thoughts on “Moving to Hawaii from Thailand”

  1. Hello all, just thought I’d add my two cents. Living in Hawaii is not for everyone, especially people from the American mainland (like me) who grew up used to being able to drive in one direction for days at a time. Just being able to loop your island is just not the same!

    I spent 3 years on the Big Island and went to college at UH. Right off the bat, I was turned off by the racist attitudes that locals had for white people. I can totally understand why they feel this way, as the US pretty much stole Hawaii away from the natives, but I personally wasn’t responsible! Yet you constantly are having groups of locals trying to start problems with you everywhere you go.

    Another big problem I had was work. I couldn’t even get a job washing dishes! The economy was so bad that even the local people were finding it hard to make a living, let alone for haoles like myself. After 6 months I finally found a job working on UH campus, thank god for that.

    Other than those things, Hawaiian life isn’t bad. What I really miss is the FOOD! Nothing like going to the store and buying sashimi grade ahi for like 5 bucks a lb. The fruit is amazing as well, now I am living back on the mainland, the fruit just tastes terrible.

    There are pros and cons for living everywhere, I guess. Well, having a good source of income is key, if you have that then everything else will fall into place.

    1. Thanks for your comment – I am sure that there are problems that start over locals resenting “foreigners” like those from the mainland USA moving to the islands. You found it as a college student. I am sure kids experience it in primary and secondary schools too – cliques form, and they’re hostile to others outside the group. As an adult in Hawaii – I didn’t experience much of that at all. Teenagers, kids, and even immature adults in the islands can be like that… Growing up in the islands might not be the best experience to give our children… or, if you can afford a decent school – it might be considerably better. Comparing Thailand and Hawaii schools and experience for a child growing up – and taking a wild guess… I think Thailand would give the better experience – quality education not being a consideration, but just behavioral issues… quality of social life in school and around kids.

      Anyone raised kids in both Hawaii and Thailand – and want to comment?

  2. Howzit Brudda Vern!
    Good post on moving to Hawaii from Thailand. One thing you forgot is that Majority of people back home (Hawaii for me) is BIG!!! Rather than here in Thailand where majority is smaller like my wife who is 4 feet nothing……nah not important.
    One thing though maybe good is that you will move from Thailand where NO ONE follows rules to a place that almost EVERY rule is followed when talking about driving which will reduce your stress level down about 90%!!!

    K-Den Lataz,
    Brudda Jon

    1. Hey Brudda,

      You make a good point… traffic for some will be less stress! For me – I think more stress because I’m on the motorbike 90% of the time and only take the car when I have to – when taking the family somewhere. In the car in Thailand – I STRESS. On the motorbike, not at all. In the car in Hawaii though – I stress. Not STRESS, just stress. On a motorbike in Hawaii it would be much worse. So for you – driving in Hawaii is a better experience because people actually follow the rules! I wasn’t thinking about that – but, yeah, I would like driving in Hawaii – a car – much better than driving a car in Thailand.

      And right – the locals in Hawaii are BIG! The Thais are so petite in comparison. I was just in Kuala Lumpur, and on average they seem bigger than the Thais. Just my imagination maybe.

      Thanks for checking in Jon – cheers brah… Alooooooooha….

  3. I’m not too keen on going to the US… But, I would consider moving to China (been recently to Sichuan province and loved it) or Japan. Still, my cushy job and life in Thailand…

    1. Thailand has a lot going for it – at the moment. Should a good chunk of what it has going for it – disappear, then it will be time to move on. I have to look more into Australia. You would consider moving to Japan – with the radiation and all? The country is not that big…

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