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How to Find Short-Term Housing in Hawaii

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A Hawaii travel nursing or therapy assignment can be a dream come true for any traveling healthcare professional.  But once the initial excitement of getting the job is over, reality sets in. What do you pack?  What do you do for transportation? Where do you live? How do you find short-term housing in Hawaii?

If you are looking for short-term housing in Hawaii you may realize that it is not an easy process.  There are scammers on websites trying to take your money before you arrive and many expensive options. This may be an assignment where you elect to have your travel agency find housing for you, instead of taking the stipend and doing it yourself. If you do choose to find your own housing, here is a guide to help you.

Short-Term Housing In Hawaii: The Basics

Before you begin your housing search, please understand the difference in housing and costs between Hawaii and the mainland. Hawaii is an island so space is limited.  Houses and apartments may be much smaller than you are used to. This is normal.

A bedroom in a condo or house may, on average, cost anywhere from $800 to $1500 a month.  A studio or small one-bedroom apartment may start at $1600/month and could easily be more than $2200 in a more popular area.  

Also, electricity is expensive and the trade winds are cooling.  Many apartments do not come with air conditioning or central air.  If AC is a deal breaker for you, please don’t forget to inquire about that up front. 

For travelers in Honolulu, parking can be a considerable expense (upwards or $200/month) and may not come included with your apartment.  If you have a car and need parking, make sure you ask if parking is included with the apartment, do not assume that it is included.

If you decide to move forward with finding your own housing,  here are my tips for finding housing for your Hawaii travel assignment.  

Ask Your Travel Agency for Help

Healthcare travel agencies have housing departments that employee housing specialists.  These departments have worked with landlords and owners at different locations across the US.  Even if you are not taking company-provided housing, it can be useful to reach out to your agency to see if they have any good contacts for housing on the islands that they can connect you with.  

Search Websites

Popular websites to find short-term housing in Hawaii for travel assignments:

My preferred method to find housing is through websites that verify their owners and provide places for travelers to review units. Furnished Finder and Airbnb are, in my opinion, the best websites to use to find short-term housing in Hawaii for your travel assignment.

Network with Others

A lot of the success you’ll find in Hawaii stems from who you know. Community is very important and embracing community is embracing life in Hawaii. If you know anybody who has worked a travel assignment in Hawaii or are a member of any forums for travelers in Hawaii (there are Facebook groups dedicated to each island and some specifically to hospitals), ask what others would recommend.

A lot of owners rent via word of mouth and rely on travelers to pass on their information to other travelers when they leave. In fact, I have a previous landlord who almost exclusively uses me as a word of mouth referral to find him tenants for his condo in Waikiki beach.

Walk Around and Read the Signs

Do you remember getting an apartment before the internet?  

You walked around and looked at signs on bulletin boards and in apartment buildings.  Many parts of Hawaii still run like that. Instead of listing apartments on the internet, people will list them on bulletin boards on the ground floor of buildings. I found my units in Hawaii through this method. In fact, in the last place that I lived in Hawaii, my landlord posted his ad on a bulletin board in the building and nowhere else. So, if I wasn’t walking around and looking at bulletin boards, I would have never found my apartment otherwise.

Obviously, if you’re on the mainland, you won’t be able to walk around and look at signs before you get there. In this case, you may consider renting an Airbnb or staying in a hotel for a week when you arrive. Then, you can get your bearings, meet your coworkers, ask around about units, and walk around and try to find units.

Conclusions

Hawaii is a dream location for an assignment, but housing can be far from a dream. This may be a time to rely on your agency’s housing department to find you housing or help to point you in the right direction.  You also may really want to consider setting up a hotel or Airbnb stay for a week to give yourself time to scout apartments in person. Best of luck and aloha!

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