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 U.S. mainland. In addition, as Hawaii is not part of the contiguous US states, shipping costs can be higher and travel to and from the islands is more diffiult and expensive then living in other places in the US.  It should also be noted that members are paid in Canadian funds (CAD) that are converted to US dollars (USD) based on the day's exchange rate, which fluctuates. For the past few years the exchange rate has been unfavourable for CAD to USD. Newcomers should be aware of this, as it effects the amount of salary paid each pay period. Fortunately, there are benefits such as rental assistance, utilities assistance, the foreign service benefit and the  dependent benefit to counteract this. Military families in Hawaii also have access to the US bases and their commissaries (grocery stores) and exchanges, which 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 we 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. Hawaii is a rabies free state and to insure it stays that way strict regulations regulate bringing domestic pets into the islands. However, there is no longer a quarantine requirement if your paperwork and the required vaccinations are completed prior to bringing your pet to O'ahu. There are minimum periods between required vaccination(s) and being able to bring your pet to Hawaii, so it is necessary to look at the requirements and get started on preparing to move your pets months in advance of your move. 

In addition, it can be difficult to find a US or Canadian carrier that will transport your pet in the cabin and there are restrictions on when they can (cabin or in baggage compartment) such as maximum temperatures restrictions.  Alaskan airlines has allowed animals in the cabin, at least as of January 2021.  So, transport in the summer can be problematic or result in delays as the summer  coincides with the usual APS moving periods.

For more information, visit the Animal Quarantine Information Page, as well as described on the Government of Canada's Export of Dogs and Cats to the State of Hawaii, United States of America webpage:  


In addition, many landlords in Hawaii will be reluctant to rent their property to pet owners (regardless of the type of pet); which mean that bringing a pet to O'ahu 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, please check with your Children's Education Management (CEM) Dependent Education Clerk at CDLS(W).

Q. As a military spouse and for dependents, 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.
  • Most Goverment jobs and some jobs on the bases are restricted to US citizens. 
  • Minimum wage is low compared to our Canadian standard. (USD$10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2018 and beginning January 1, 2020. Special minimum wage rates, such as the "Hawaii waitress minimum wage" for tipped employees, may apply to certain workers.  Hawaii employers also may pay 18 year olds and minors the youth minimum wage of $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment. The workers must be paid full minimum wage after 90 days have passed (or after they turn 20).Other labor law exemptions for minors in Hawaii may exist.
  • 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 Ko'olau Range), rain is hit and miss. One minute it may be raining, and the next the sun is back out. 

Temperatures are warm all year round. There are 2 main seasons: dry (Apr–Oct) and wet (Nov–Mar). Peak travel to the islands is between Dec–Aug.Temperatures vary little throughout the year. O'ahu’s average high temperature ranges from the low to upper 80s F (27 - 32 C). The “coolest” months – at a lovely 81 F  – are January and February. The hottest months are July, August and September with an average of 88 F. (31 C)  Evening temperatures in winter and spring months dip down to the mid to upper 60s (18 - 20 C). If you’re outside past sunset, you might want to have a light sweater or jacket with you. Summer and fall average low temperatures are pleasant in the lower 70s (21 - 23 C). Thu humidty is controlled with slight breezes called “trade winds” that blow from the northeast to the southwest almost everyday.

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 O'ahu). 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, although 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 O'ahu, 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 active volcano, Kilauea, is located on the Big Island, not on O'ahu.)