Work in paradise: Hawaii offering incentives to remote workers who move to state

FILE - A surfer rides a wave as the sun sets on the horizon ahead of the Volcom Pipe Pro at Backdoor Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii.

Want to work remotely while also living in paradise? Hawaii is launching a new work-from-home program in an effort to boost the state’s tourism as well as create an economy resilient to economic downturns like the one triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, called Movers and Shakas, was created this month through a partnership among “the Hawai‘i state government, business leaders, alumni associations at schools and colleges, and founding organizations including the Central Pacific Bank Foundation, Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative, Island Holdings, Inkinen, and FCH Enterprises (parent company of Zippy’s restaurants),” according to a news release.

The goal of the program is to attract talented individuals to diversify the economy, according to the Movers and Shakas website.

“Furthermore, remote work requires less land, can run entirely on green energy, doesn’t rely on further degradation of the environment, isn’t extractive towards the host culture, and does not deprive locals of opportunities,” according to the Movers and Shakas website.

“We wanted to help fill the gap from the decrease we’ve experienced in the 7-day visitors to our state,” said Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises. Higa is a business leader who has spearheaded the program. “Now that many people have the choice to work remotely, there’s an opportunity for former local residents to return home and for out-of-state individuals and families to live and work from Hawai‘i for a longer period of time. We believe this program will attract many former Hawai‘i residents and professionals seeking a safe, warm environment to continue living their normal lives while contributing to the Hawai‘i community,” Higa said.

The program will launch starting only on the island of Oahu and as the program is still very new, the first 50 applicants to be accepted will receive a free round-trip ticket to the island, according to the news release.

It was also noted that the program is only offering additional incentives to those who are able to find remote work on the island. The Movers and Shakas organization is not offering remote jobs.

Those who wish to apply are required to sign a “Pledge to Our Keiki.” The pledge is an effort to teach new residents to commit to respecting “the culture and natural resources of Hawai‘i during their stay.”Movers and Shakas will help match individuals to a nonprofit who will be required to commit several hours a week to help “strengthen local communities,” the news release stated.

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In exchange for their volunteer work, participants in the program will receive benefits such as “discounts on month-to-month accommodations, flights, restaurants, attractions and other services they may need while living in Hawai‘i,” the news release stated.

Selected individuals are expected to be able to live in Hawaii for at least 30 days, according to the Movers and Shakas website. Those who already live in the state are not allowed to apply, as the program is meant to attract new residents to live on the island. But those who used to live in Hawaii and want an excuse to come back home are more than welcome to apply, as long as they meet the criteria.

Applications for the first group must be submitted by Dec. 15, 2020. Hawaii will be offering the first 50 applicants a chance to test out the new program. “Subsequent applicants will be accepted to the program on a rolling basis,” according to the news release.

For more detailed information and how to apply, visit