Planning a move between Hawaii and the mainland involves a lot of moving parts. In addition to the big questions about where you’ll live and what kind of job you’ll take, one of the most pressing decisions you’ll have to make is:  

How am I going to get all of my personal possessions to my new home? 

One of the most popular ways to move your items is to pack everything into a shipping container. These containers, usually made of steel and painted with marinegrade paint in order to weather harsh sea shipping conditions, come in a variety of sizes. You may not even need a full container to transport your items. 

However, to give you an idea of how much a container can hold, we offer these two examples: 

graphic image of two containers sized 20 and 40 feet

  • 20-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 20′) – Generally fits the contents of a 2BR condo 
  • 40-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 40′) – Generally fits the contents of a 3BR house 

 We say “generally” because, in our experience, every move is unique. Some people who live in a 2-bedroom condo have enough to fill a 40′ container. We’ve also seen the contents of a house fit into a 20′ container. 

That’s where our Certified Moving Consultants come in. When you choose Royal Hawaiian Movers, we’ll send out one of our consultants to personally survey your home. They’ll help you put together the right plan for your Hawaii move, whether it requires a 20′ container, 40′ container, or one of our other options. 

Even given these standardized container sizes, the rate of shipping a container can still vary. To give you some insight into the process our Certified Moving Consultants go through when giving you a quote, we’ll start by sharing the three major factors that we consider: 

Factor #1: Location, Location, Location 

The exact location of your current home and your final destination make a big difference in quoting the cost to pack, move, and unpack a container. Let’s look at a few examples for moves originating on the mainland: 


The farther you are from a port, the more expensive it will be to ship your container.

In addition, we encourage our customers to consider access. For example, how difficult is it to get to your current home or your final destination? A simple move involves temporarily placing the container near your current home for packing and then your future home for unpacking.

However, there are some factors that can complicate your move:

Maybe your driveway is too small or your neighborhood association won’t allow containers on your street. In such a case, we’ll have to put the container as close to your house as possible, then move your goods in trucks, vans, or with a dolly. This will add to the time and cost of your move.

We’ve done moves where overhanging trees, small access roads, and other obstacles have kept us from getting close to a home. In that situation, we’d have to use smaller vehicles to ferry your goods to the container, resulting in longer moving times and higher costs.

A move like this often means elevator permits, parking permits, reserving an elevator, and moving your items elevator load by elevator load, instead of just, say, walking them down your driveway. All of this adds time, complexity, and cost to your move.

Each one of these scenarios can affect the cost of moving your container. That’s why we feel so strongly about sending a Certified Moving Consultant to your home—or using one of our virtual survey options. Our consultants will assess your situation and provide you with an accurate quote that takes into account all of these factors.

Factor #2: The Weight of Your Move

As a moving company, we can’t help but see your personal possessions a little differently. When most people are moving, they think about how much stuff they have—the volume of their personal possessions.

However a 20′ container packed entirely with books would weigh significantly more than a container packed full with pillows. You can imagine how much more fuel and care the container of books would require.

When our Certified Moving Consultants come to your home to produce a moving estimate, they look not just at the volume of your possessions, but also their weight. So if you have a library stacked full of books or an extensive collection of heavy tools, we’ll factor their weight into the cost of moving your shipping container to your new home.

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Factor #3: The Type of Goods You’re Shipping

When most people pack a container for a household move, they fill it with common household items. The shipping industry calls this “loose household goods”. A container packed with these kinds of items doesn’t require the special handling that hazardous materials can require. As a result, it’s cheaper to move a container containing just loose household goods.

However, let’s say you’re packing your car into your container along with the rest of your household goods. Because your car holds gasoline and oil—as well as a battery—this decision changes the type of shipment you’re sending. The container is now classified as one containing hazardous materials and requires special handling to ensure safe transport of your items and the items around yours. For this reason, a container with hazardous materials costs more than one that simply contains household goods.

The other thing to consider is the special handling of any delicate items you want to pack. For example, are you planning to ship any of the following items?

  • An antique grandfather clock or other antique furniture
  • A grand piano
  • A flat-screen television
  • Crystal, glassware, or art glass

These items will need special packing and handling to ensure a safe journey from your old home to your new one. Remember that your container will be moving across the Pacific Ocean, and the vessel carrying your Auntie’s piano may encounter rough seas along the way. Our movers will do everything they can to ensure its safe passage by taking the utmost care to pack and secure your special items so they arrive in great condition.

This extra care is going to increase the cost of your moving since we’ll spend significant time and energy keeping your most precious items safe during their voyage.

So, Bottom Line: How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Container to Hawaii?

Now that you understand the factors that go into pricing a container, let’s talk turkey.

But, first, we want to be clear: These numbers are simply ballparks. They don’t resemble a firm quote in any shape or form. After all, as you’ve discovered, there are too many factors involved to give you a blanket quote that works for everyone’s situation. Additionally, flights of stairs, long carries, and elevators—as well as costs related to moving the container to and from port via rail and truck—will cause prices to fluctuate.

With that, here are two ballparks for the cost to ship a container to Hawaii, using our full-service option:

  • Cost for a full-service move of a 20′ container from the LA area to Oahu: starting at ~$9000
  • Cost for a full-service move of a 40′ container from the LA area to Oahu: starting at ~$13,000

Note: A full-service move means that we provide all moving boxes and materials, pack all of your belongings, load and unload your items, and handle all the logistics of your shipment from door to door.

The best way to get an accurate quote that accounts for your unique moving needs is to reach out to us. We’ll schedule a consultation with one of our Certified Moving Consultants, who will come to your house and prepare a custom estimate for you so you’ll know exactly how much it will cost to ship your container to or from Hawaii.

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