Yeah! You’ve moved to Maui. While you are enjoying the island’s awesome weather and abundant activities, at some point you have to set some roots. Assuming you already did your homework and have figured out how your are going to financially survive on the island, the next step is finding a place to live and getting your new home set up. Different areas of the island offer wide choices when it comes to renting or buying a home. If you haven’t yet heard the term”ohana” dwelling, it is an apartment or cottage attached or near a main dwelling, and are very common here.

Frankly, it is difficult to find a rental before arriving. You can make an exploratory trip ahead of time, or plan on living in a short-term rental until you find permanent housing. You can check on rentals in advance and fill out an application using our on-line system. Rentals go fast, so check back often!

There are also a few hoops to jump through in establishing residency. Here is a guide to the main areas and helpful links to get you started.

Maui Map

Central Maui

Maui was created from two volcanos, and Central Maui is the isthmus that connects them. Quaint Maalaea Harbor village lies to the south, while the business centers of Kahului and Wailuku are to the north.

There are several condominium complexes in Maalaea, with a mix of both visitor and long-term residents. It is one of the most affordable ways to live on the water on Maui. If you think you may be interested in living in Maalaea, you can rent a vacation condo through our sister company, Destination Maui Vacations (or one in South or West Maui), and try the area out before renting or buying.

Central MauiKahului and Wailuku used to be known for older, more established neighborhoods. However with new developments in recent years, such as Wailuku Heights which hugs the West Maui mountains, and Maui Lani that wraps around the Dunes golf course, there are many more opportunities, from newer condo and townhomes to single family residences and ohanas.

Central Maui is also the main hub for supplies, with big box stores such as Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes and Target in Kahului. Wailuku hosts many of the State and County government offices, as well as an assortment of businesses, University of Hawaii Maui College and the island’s hospital.

West Maui

West Maui has the most abundant sunshine of anywhere on the island. Once the playground of island ali’i (royalty), the area is a favorite of visitors from around the world. Lahaina and the resort areas to the North in Kaanapali provide good employment opportunities in tourism related businesses.

In between Lahaina and Kaanapali there are many residential condominium complexes for long term residents. These areas tend to be more affordable than the West Maui resort areas. The density can be fairly crowded, so take that into consideration if you are not accustomed to having close neighbors.



upcountryDiverse upcountry includes the towns, vineyards, ranch lands and parks on the slopes of Haleakala. Cowboys and artists blend naturally in residential neighborhoods around Makawao and create an authentic experience.  Pukalani means “doorway to heaven” in Hawaiian, and you’ll soon see why. The rain showers that breeze across Upcountry often miss this area, creating a sunny spot midway up the mountain. Many like that the weather is cooler upcountry, and Kula, farther upslope, can get downright chilly at night.

If you are looking for a house with a little elbow room, Upcountry may be your best bet. Rents tend to be less expensive here too because properties are a bit farther away from beaches and main town services, but there are plenty of grocery stores, boutiques and restaurants.

South Maui
Kihei is another area that is a mix of visitors and residents. There are abundant opportunities for condos, single family homes and ohanas. You may not want to pay a premium to be right on the beach, but there are many rentals and average priced homes within walking distance to the beach.

South Maui also has a well-established resort area between Wailea and Makena, offering solid employment opportunities and higher end rentals near golf and tennis facilities. In between is the community of Maui Meadows, rising on a hill, this area of single family homes and ohanas often have great ocean views.


With a laid-back beach-town surfer vibe, Paia is home to quirky shops, a big health food store and awesome casual open air dining.

There is a mix of older and new homes in Paia, but few apartments. However, like other parts of the island, ohanas, or even a room in a shared house can be found here.


Unless you plan to live off the grid, arranging for utilities are pretty simple. Municipal water and trash pickup is arranged through the County of Maui. Maui Electric provides electrical service. For internet, there are two main choices, Hawaiian Telcom (ie, the phone company), and Spectrum, (also providing cable TV and voice services). Satellite is not a popular option in Hawaii due to signals being blocked by tall mountains and weather. You can use any cell phone carrier you would like, but Verizon has the best island-wide coverage.

Apply for a local driver’s license or identification

Hawaii has several requirements for obtaining a new identification or driver’s license, and you’ll want to get one as soon as possible. Many restaurants and some stores offer discounts to Hawaii residents, proven by showing your State ID. You will need to show two pieces of evidence for proof of residency to register your vehicle, which can include things like utility bills in your name, a local bank statement or voter ID card. Lines at the main DMV in Kahului can be painfully long. Try one of the satellite offices, or check out the automatically updated wait times for each location online. This is one of the steps to establishing your residency, and you’ll want to do it before registering your car. You can forward, hold and start new mail service all online, as well as updating your voter registration using the MyMove tools through the  postal service.

Registering your car and insurance

If you’re shipping a car to Maui, you will need register it within 30 days of its arrival and have it insured in Hawaii. The insurance card has to be an original with a watermark, not one printed from your computer.  Take the insurance card, ID and proof of residency with you on the following steps.

1.Get a safety inspection, available at most car dealerships and many repair shops.

2.Then go to the DMV and register the car.

3.Then go back to the safety inspection station with your registration to get safety stickers put on the car. Crazy, but that’s the way it works.

  1. Purchase insurance (required in Hawaii) for your vehicle. This can be done in advance, to be effective when you receive your car on Maui.
  2. Save your shipping receipt (also known as a “bill of lading”) when you pick up your vehicle from the port on Maui.
  3. Take your vehicle, shipping receipt and proof of insurance to a Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection (PMVI) station (usually found at Hawaii gas stations and auto dealerships and repair shops) for a state-required safety inspection.
  4. Go to the main DMV office in Kahului, located at the Maui Mall. Get a Hawaii Certificate of Registration and Hawaii license plates (the expiration date on your out-of-state Certificate of Registration will be transferred to your Hawaii Certificate of Registration).
  5. Take all paperwork and go back to the same PMVI inspection station and get your safety stickers put on your plates.

Welcome to the island!