10 Things Every Military Family Should Consider Before PCSing to Hawaii

Military Guide

When you first find out..

your family is moving to Oahu the excitement sets in.. HAWAII! Then you hear about all the hoops you have to jump through and weird stories about issues that arise during the PCS. Seriously, there needs to be info out there about all the funny issues with OCONUS orders! That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind in during your PCS travel.

1. HHG/car shipment can take LONG time

I know this topic is like ‘duh’ they have to put everything on a ship across the ocean. But when you’re in the middle of PCSing, it’s something that you ship out and don’t think about. Then when you ask the Transportation Office for an answer they say another ‘two weeks’. It’s frustrating and to plan this better keep in mind most shipments take at least 1 month to reach the island. Also lookout for ‘peak season’ which is between the months of April-August. This is the time everyone is PCSing to Hawaii and I’ve heard of shipments ranging from a month and a few weeks to 3 months!

Also, make sure you coordinate with your delivery company as soon as you can. Depending on the company, availability for the delivery of your HHGs may change. I’ve heard for some during peak season it takes nearly a month!

2. Moving pets is HARD

With pets, you have to watch out for how large your dog is, how many rabies shots they’ve had, restrictions on post, AND the costs!! It’s not cheap and if you’d like to see a comprehensive guide on shipping your pet, click here. Overall, the worst part for us was finding someone to watch our dogs during the quarantine process because pet hotels are not cheap!

3. Schools buses aren't free!

If you are considering living off post with your little ones consider this. To register, you first need your application to be accepted by the school so if you need more information on the bus service please click here. The prices for the bus range anywhere from $36 to $270 depending on the services you need and please check out the Hawaii DOE website and make sure your application is approved. Also, if you decide to live in Honolulu your kid might be stuck on the city bus. So heads up!

4. Getting comfortable with a different climate

So this is a major issue for me being raised in a dry climate. We don’t naturally get cockroaches and if you find some, run! Well, my terror is STILL fazing out. It doesn’t matter how clean your house is, they’ll still be too close for comfort! You can see them lurking in your backyard at night and guess what? Some fly!

Another unfamiliar issue out here is the mold. This may be an upward battle depending on who lived there last. A kept up house rarely has mold sitting in it but for my rental, I’ve fought constantly because the mold has found itself between cocking and the bathroom tiles. The people who’ve rented prior really neglected the shower which in turn helped mold grow in between the shower tiles. There’s not much more I can do besides rip out the tiles because the mold has stained the tiles. So FYI, if you see mold near a water fixture in Hawaii it’s probably not going to go leave!

5. Rain moves sporadically throughout the day

There’s definitely some areas of the island that get more rain than others but for most of the seasons, rain only lasts a few minutes. A down poor may happen in the winter seasons but usually, that’s no the case. So many people who move out here usually talk about regretting to bring more light jackets and hoodies. It’s not necessarily cold rain but it can be an enough to cause minor annoyance on a day outside.

6. Be prepared for little help from the military

Maybe this is just my experience coming from a large army base but we found little to no help moving here. We were constantly on the search for answers on Google even getting desperate enough to search the 15th page! We attempted to contact our sponsor, nothing. Since the moment we stepped foot outside the airport, we were thrown into chaos. We quickly learned that the airport didn’t have a military shuttle nor a reasonable priced option to go to Schofield. After 30 minutes of digging, we decided on a $60 Uber.

If I could recommend something to my past self, it would be to scour all the military spouse Facebook groups for answers prior to coming and to get better information from services like Fleet & Family or the USO. 

baby seal ocean beach hawaii turtle bay

7. The roads!

Thankfully, before we shipped out here we were forewarned about the roads and I’m glad listened! The roads on and off post are extremely rough. The highway isn’t as bad but potholes aren’t uncommon and if you have a low riding car, it definitely will hurt. That being said, if you’re considering buying a used car on island check out this article on how to buy a good used car.

Honestly, I recommend shipping one car and not paying out of pocket for the other. Most cars out here have low mileage, little rust, and great deals. So far, we’ve found a Fusion with KKB value of 4k sold for 700 bucks. An Excursion valued at 8k sold for 1.5k and we keep finding more and more deals! If you find yourself hesitant don’t be afraid to reach out, cars are probably my favorite hobby and I LOVE deals! Also, car scams here are just about non-existent. I’ve only met one scammer besides on the whole ‘pay-over-the-phone’ bit. Anyways, I listed that story here under #4 the ‘Know-it-all-mechanic’.

8. CDC/FCC waiting list

If you have kids I’m sure you’re familiar with the benefits of these child care agencies. That being said, the waiting list here in Hawaii is unsurprisingly long with many bases located in Oahu. So when you get a chance to sign up for childcare do it! Also for spouses who will be looking for a job once they arrive, check out the CDC. From what I hear they always need an extra hand and depending on the facility, some will give you priority on the waiting list for working there. Anyways, the link to the CDC can be found here and if you need help creating a resume for the CDC, please click here.

9. How to start receiving TLA

For the army, start by signing in at the army liaison center at the airport officially taking you off of ‘leave status’ and attending the soonest TLA brief at your new duty station. The Defense Travel site just states you receive TLA ‘when you receive COLA’. Not a whole lot of information out there and if you’re on Schofield, the TLA brief is weekly at the Housing Office on 215 Duck rd through the Lyman Gate. You are eligible for TLA once you sign in but you don’t receive TLA until you have gone through the briefing. Normally this information would be provided by your sponsor but if your situation is anything like ours, you’ll have been assigned a handful of sponsors with no way to communicate with them.

For other service branches, the best resources would be your new duty station’s Housing Office.

10. Little to no A/C off post

In searching off-post, you’ll find many houses don’t offer central A/C unless it’s a newer building. And to make matters worse, A/C can cost you several hundred dollars a month during the summer time. I remember our first summer here, we rented out a 1600 sq ft house with no central A/C but it had three window units. We decided to run all three for one month and our electric bill was $900. Now, our electric bill is usually $150 in the summer running a large fan throughout the day and turning on the A/C in our bedroom at night.

Another point I want to make about A/C is the jalousie windows. As they age, many of the window slats don’t shut properly and can leave as much as an inch gap in your window when you shut it. So if you decide you want to spend extra for A/C, check for gaps that could potentially let your cool air leak out! If you need help with other information related to home search please click here and good luck!



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