Hawaiian Living FAQs

Hawaiian Living FAQs Explore information about living in Hawaii

Q. Is it expensive to live in Hawaii?
A. Yes. Hawaii housing, food and activity costs are higher than most places in Canada and the mainland U.S.  In addition, it should be noted that members are paid in Canadian funds (CAD) that are converted to US dollars (USD) based on the exchange rate, which fluctuates. For the past few years the exchange rate has been unfavourable for CAD to USD which newcomers should be aware of as it affects the amount of salary paid each pay period. Fortunately, there are benefits such as rental assistance and a dependent benefit to counteract this.  Military families also have access to the US bases and their commissaries (grocery stores) and exchanges that are much less expensive than the local services available. 

Q. What is the time difference from Canada?
A. Hawaii follows Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), which is 5 hours behind Eastern Standard Time and 2 hours behind Pacific Standard Time. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time so add one extra hour to the time difference during this period (March through November).

Q. Is it easy to bring our pets to the state of Hawaii?
A. No! Hawaii is a rabies free state and to insure it stays that way strict regulations regulate bringing domestic pets into the islands. Dogs brought into Hawaii need to either spend 120 days in confinement in the Hawaii State Quarantine or can have an electronic microchip implanted 90-365 days prior to arrival in Hawaii and spend 30 days in confinement. Also, if you need animal inspection upon arrival at the airport, this is only available between 8 am and 5 pm daily.  In addition, it is difficult to find a Canadian carrier that will transport your pet and there are restrictions on when they can (such as maximum temperatures, so transport in the summer can be problematic).

For more information, visit the Animal Quarantine Information Page.

In addition, many landlords in Hawaii will be reluctant to rent their property to pet owners (regardless of the type of pet); bringing a pet to Oahu will greatly reduce the available rental accommodations.

Q. Are there French schools in Hawaii?
A. Education in the French language is generally not taught in Hawaii, but there are some schools that offer French classes as a language option. If you wish your child to continue (or begin) French studies while in Hawaii outside of the optional courses, you can arrange for French tutoring from a certified tutor to a maximum of 50 hours per school year. For full details including the maximum authorized rate, check with your Dependent Education Clerk at CDLS(W).

Q. As a military spouse, is it easy to find a job on Oahu?
A. No because of the following reasons:
  • The jobs available in Hawaii are mostly based on tourism. The second biggest area is either construction or in healthcare.
  • The majority of jobs are in Honolulu. Not everyone wants to live there – so they commute from wherever they are – from west toward town usually. This results in huge crowds on the road during rush hours.
  • Minimum wage is low compared to our Canadian standard. (USD$10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2018.)
  • All Canadians are required to have an Employment Authorization Document to work in the U.S. For more information, click here.
Q. What is the climate in Hawaii?
A. O’ahu averages 54.7 inches (1,389 mm) of rain each year. Even in the wettest locations on O’ahu (on the east coast along the Koolau Range), rain is hit and miss. One minute it may be raining, and the next the sun is back out.

Temperatures vary little throughout the year, with average high temperatures of 27 to 32 degrees Celsius and average lows of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. With a slight breeze called “trade winds” that blow from the northeast to the southwest every day.

Q. Does it snow in Hawaii?
A. Yes, the summits of the tallest mountains in the islands do get snow in the winter (not on the island of Oahu). There are three mountains that get snow, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island and Mt. Haleakala on the island of Maui. Because these mountains are so tall it will snow on these summits and at the same time be sunny and 30 degrees Celsius at the beach.

Q. What are the trade winds?
A. It is a nice breeze blowing from the Northeast which keeps everyone cool when the sun is hot. Hawaiian Islands are located close to the equator so the sun is very strong. When the trade winds don’t blow it can get very hot and humid, but this doesn't happen very often.

Q. What is the vog?
A. The vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a combination of the words "volcanic", "smog", and "fog".
The term is in common use in the Hawaiian Islands.
The vog is not always present on the island of Oahu, but people may have symptoms such as headaches, watery eyes, sore throat, breathing difficulties, flu-like symptoms, and general lethargy. These effects are especially pronounced in people with respiratory conditions and children.
(The erupting volcano Kilauea is located on the Big Island, not on Oahu.)