Sunday, September 6, 2015

Surprising costs of an interisland move in Hawaii

Packing crates on the Big Island for Oahu
We always assumed that moving between islands in Hawaii would be much easier and cheaper than our move from California to Hawaii Island. The distance from Kawaihae harbor on the Big Island to Honolulu is only about 160 miles compared to 2300 miles from Oakland to Hilo, so we figured that the move would be less expensive and take less time. We were surprised to discover that the cost and complexity of an inter-island move is the same or more than our initial move to Hawaii from the mainland. 

The major expenses shipping between the islands include: 

  • the materials and labor to pack everything to survive an ocean trip, 
  • the labor to load a container or crates,
  • the cost of transporting the container or crates to the harbor,
  • the cost of shipping, 
  • and finally transporting the container to a residence and unloading. 

It turns out the fuel savings from shipping the shorter distance between islands versus from the mainland is only about $200.

In Hawaii, Young Brothers has a monopoly on all shipping routes between the islands. Young Brothers prices are based on weight with a set amount for different types of items such as cars, containers, cement, etc.. They publish their tariffs on their website. They do not offer the type of moving services Matson does, like dropping off a container at your residence and picking it up. 

So, to move personal effects you need, at a minimum, a moving company to deliver a container or  wooden crates and transport them to the harbor. The cost of loading a container or wooden crates (which have to be covered with plastic) and transporting them to the harbor is the same or more in Hawaii as on the mainland. In addition, the cost of packing everything for transportation, including the expense of boxes and wrapping material, is also the same or more on Hawaii as on the mainland. 

On the Big Island there are only six companies authorized to move between islands including Big Isle Moving, Royal Hawaiian, Kona Transportation, and Town and Country Moving. The moving companies provide door to door services including packing, loading, transporting to the harbor, pickup and unpacking. You can save some money by packing yourself. 

The moving companies send a person to estimate the total weight of your effects and overall moving costs. Regardless of their weight estimate, you are charged the actual weight of the container or crates weighed at the harbor for Young Brothers portion of the shipping costs. 

We had three local companies provide us an estimate and were shocked at the differences. Their  weight estimates ranged from 9300 pounds to 6100 pounds. Their cost estimates, after adding in packing, supplies, and delivery ranged from $10,000 to $4,621. 

Although all the moving companies use Young Brothers and their tariff rates are fixed, the actual rates they provided varied from $67 to $59 per 100 pounds.  Their moving estimates included only about 60 cents of insurance per pound. Additional insurance, which we required, was an added cost. 

The actual weight of the four crates was 6800 lbs. The crates took over a week to arrive in Honolulu from the Big Island, which was almost as long as our 20 foot Matson container took to get to Hilo from California. On the bright side, all of our things made it safely with no damage. 
Crates arriving in Oahu
Overall moving between islands in Hawaii was complicated, expensive, and time consuming.  Our  challenge now is getting all our stuff to fit into our much smaller apartment. 

In our next blog we will tell you about all the things, good and bad, that are different  living on Oahu than living on the Big Island.