Are you considering relocating your home and life to Alaska? You’re not the only one! In 2022, Alaska had the highest number of searches for moves per capita. With movers looking for untouched wilderness, small town vibes, and tax benefits, it’s no surprise that Alaska has become more and more popular.
But planning a move to Alaska can be more complicated than other moves. It’s not as simple as renting a truck and loading it up. It’s 2,200 miles from Washington State to Alaska alone and double that if you’re on the East Coast.
That’s why we created this guide on how to move to Alaska. With more than a decade of experience helping thousands of movers relocate, we’ve helped people tackle even the most difficult moves.
Here, we’ll show you the different moving options, offer insight into what living in Alaska is like, and give tips to help you find the right moving company if you choose to move to “The Last Frontier.”
Interesting facts about Alaska
Alaska is nicknamed “The Last Frontier” for good reason. The weather is harsh, bears are common, and at more than twice the size of Texas, much of it is still rugged and pristine wilderness.
- At more than 660,000 square miles, Alaska is about five times larger than Germany. It’s the largest state in the US.
- More than ¾ of America’s highest mountains are in Alaska and it’s home to famous National Parks like Denali and Kenai
- By some estimates, the state has more than 3 million lakes.
- Alaska is 500 times bigger than Rhode Island but has 250,000 fewer people.
- Nearly 85% of the state’s budget comes from oil and gas revenue.
- Alaska has the highest male-to-female ratio in the country.
- Residents enjoy extensive natural beauty including wildlife — grizzly bears, halibut, and caribou! — as well as scenery including the arctic tundra, Northern Lights, and
Find the right moving company for your needs
Finding the right moving company can make all the difference when it comes to moving to a new home. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.
A good moving company will work with you to create a plan that fits your specific needs and schedule. Remember, a little bit of preparation and research can go a long way when it comes to finding the right moving company for your needs.
Finding a licensed interstate moving company is important when moving to Alaska from another state. Most states require them to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and have insurance coverage in place.
Make sure you research the moving company you’re considering and read reviews to ensure they are reliable, honest, and trustworthy. Our guide to the best licensed interstate moving companies, is a great resource for finding reputable companies, discounts, and estimates.
If you need to ship vehicles from the lower 48 to Alaska, ensure you understand the process and all associated fees before committing. It’s an expensive endeavor in most cases, but you can make it happen with the right information and a little research.
How to move to Alaska: The 4 main options
If you’re considering moving to Alaska, there are four main methods of getting your household goods there:
Though each has its pros and cons, the first two are clear standouts for several reasons.
Let’s take a closer look and see why.
1. Moving container companies – The best mix of price and service
Moving to Alaska can be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. On the other hand, driving a rental truck through the ice, snow, and vast bear-filled mountain ranges isn’t.
Luckily for cost-conscious consumers, there’s a way to enjoy the former while avoiding the latter.
Though they’re not the only container moving options when relocating to Alaska, U-Haul U-Box and U-Pack are among the most convenient and affordable. With their services, you pack, load, unload, and leave the logistics to them.
- Relatively fast delivery
- Can be used for storage too
- They handle the driving and logistics
- Small container size
- You’ll need to do the packing, loading, and unloading
- May have seasonal price increases and availability issues
Why use U-Box?
With internal capacities of about 260 cubic feet, U-Box containers are a good fit for those who aren’t moving the contents of an entire multi-bedroom home.
That said, U-Box allows customers to reserve extra containers; if they don’t get used, there’s no additional charge.
Containers hold about 2,000 pounds of household goods, and there are several delivery options depending on:
- Your budget
- Whether or not you’ll need storage
- If you’d rather pick your container(s) up at one of their service centers and transport them to your new home on your own
Just remember, with the third option, you’ll be responsible for returning the container to their facility once it’s unloaded.
On the plus side, it’s cheaper, and if you’re moving during the peak season (May to September), you can pick it up when it works for you without having to wait until they’re available to deliver it. This is a popular choice with those living in urban areas near U-Box service centers who have their own pick-up trucks, as the containers are on towable dollies.
If this isn’t an option, fear not because, according to their website, U-Box can deliver containers nearly anywhere in Alaska. It’s also worth noting that if you have multiple containers, they’ll only be able to deliver up to two at a time – so keep track of the items in each so you can prioritize delivery to get the things you need first.
Insider’s Tip: If you’re moving to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna, or Juneau, they’ll provide helpers (for additional cost) to assist with unloading.
Why use U-Pack?
U-Pack ReloCubes measure 6’ x 7’ x 8’ and have an interior capacity of about 300 cubic feet.
Generally, they’ll only hold the contents of a moderately furnished studio or 1-bedroom apartment, but renting more than one is an option for those with larger shipments.
U-Pack offers door-to-door service in central Alaska, or if you’re moving outside that area, they’ll deliver your container(s) to their service center in Anchorage. From there, you can hire local movers to pick up your household goods and transport them to your new home.
2. Professional international movers – Best for a full-service experience
In past years, household goods shipments from the lower 48 states (particularly those on the West Coast) to Alaska were commonly transported via moving vans like on regular interstate moves.
Known collectively as Alaska’s “thru-van” service, it’s much less common these days. Nowadays, if you’re heading to Alaska, your move will probably be handled like an overseas (international) relocation.
In other words, your items will be packed and loaded into a shipping container, hauled to a port in California, Oregon, or Washington, and transported to Alaska by ship. That’s why we recommend starting the move with an international moving company.
Then once you arrive in Alaska, a local moving company will pick your container up and haul it to your new home for delivery.
- Your international mover will coordinate every aspect of your relocation (peace of mind)
- You won’t have to do any of the packing, moving, or driving yourself
- Your move will be less susceptible to delays due to harsh winter weather
- Multiple container sizes are available to accommodate every shipment
- You’ll be free to drive, fly or take a cruise to Alaska
- Moves by ship (sea) are less expensive than ones by truck (land)
- You won’t be able to pack yourself to save money
- Door-to-door service may not be available in remote wilderness areas
- Transit and delivery times will probably be longer
Depending on the weight and volume of your household goods, they’ll most likely be shipped in a 20 or 40-foot container. Your transit time will be longer if you’re moving from the East Coast or Midwest because it’ll take a week or more to truck your container to the port of departure.
On most moves to Alaska, you’ll be charged a flat rate based on every 100 pounds (CWT) of shipment weight.
- Ground and sea transportation
- Unloading, unpacking, and normal setup of beds, tables, etc.
In addition, international shipping regulations require movers to pack and inspect every box (including ones customers packed themselves) to verify that they’re free from prohibited items.
This means that for any weight, the charges will be the same whether the company packs 50 or 150 boxes, so packing some things yourself won’t save you a dime.
FCL (Full Container Load) vs. LCL (Less-than-Container-Load)
With FCL, you’ll have exclusive use of the container even if there’s space left over. This is typically how moves are handled, but your international moving company may offer you the option of LCL, which means they’ll fill the unused space with another shipment.
This can reduce cost, but it’s generally only done by companies that handle many moves to Alaska from West Coast cities like Portland and Seattle.
In addition, if you’re moving less than 1,000 pounds of household goods, your mover may pack your belongings into a small wooden shipping vault and load it inside a 20 or 40-foot shipping container.
Did You Know?
If you’re moving to Anchorage or Wasilla, your mover will probably offer door-to-door service, but if you’re heading to a remote area to prospect for gold, they may not. This should be one of the first questions you ask during the pre-moving screening process.
3. Freight companies – A decent last-minute option
Many freight companies now offer household goods transportation to keep their trucks full and operate efficiently. These non-traditional services are usually offered by LTL (Less-than-Truckload) companies that move many relatively small shipments for various commercial customers.
- Most use 28-foot trailers with lots of interior space
- Some only charge for the actual space used
- They do the driving
- Many freight trailers have spring suspensions that are hard on delicate items.
- You’ll have to do the packing, loading, and unloading.
- May not offer door-to-door service to every part of the state.
- Most freight companies don’t transport household goods.
U-Pack offers 28-foot ‘pup’ trailers for those who have more than will fit in one or two ReloCubes.
With this option, they deliver to most of Alaska’s major cities and military bases. You can also unload at the service center and hire a local mover to finish the last leg of your move.
Insider’s Tip: Freight companies are worth considering, but for the most part, you’d be better off using a moving container company since their services are specifically geared toward household goods moves.
4. Rental trucks – Only for adventurous types
Yes, you can rent a U-Haul truck and drive it from the continental US to Alaska at certain times of the year. That said, you probably shouldn’t.
The weather in Alaska can be snowy, icy, and downright treacherous, even when the rest of the country is basking in mild spring and late summer weather. Getting caught in a surprise snowstorm is no cakewalk, even for professional truckers, let alone rookies with little or no experience driving anything bigger than a car.
On top of that, due to the distance, the prices can be in the $4,000 to $6,000 range, not including fuel, lodging, and labor for unloading and unloading – so it’s far from cheap.
According to U-Haul’s website, the cost to rent a 10-foot truck to Anchorage in April 2023 is:
- $5347 from Phoenix
- $3199 from Chicago
- $4645 from Los Angeles
With distances in the 4,000 to the 5,000-mile range, most people usually drive between 8 and 11 days. With your rental, you’ll have a set amount of time to make the trip, after which additional charges will apply. Many other rental companies don’t allow their trucks to be driven to Alaska.
What To Know About Moving To Alaska
Now that you know how to move to Alaska, here’s what you can expect from living in the rugged state. No matter which option you choose for your move, there are some considerations to be aware of in terms of living in Alaska.
Cost of living is higher than the national average
The cost of living in Alaska is higher than the U.S. average. Home prices are similar to other U.S. states and while the real estate market is competitive, prices aren’t astronomical. Grocery store prices also tend to be higher, though not as expensive as some states like Hawaii.
You get paid to live in Alaska
The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Program (PFD) pays Alaska residents an annual dividend from the state’s oil and mineral revenue. Most Alaskans receive about $1,000 to $2,000 annually from this program. This makes up for some of the additional living costs in the state.
In addition, many employers offer special benefits to employees that move to Alaska, including housing incentives and salary increases. This is especially true for those working in the oil, gas, and fishing industries. Check with local companies to learn more about these benefits if you want to move.
There’s no income or sales tax in Alaska (and any property taxes are low)
This can be a great advantage for those who are planning on moving to the state, especially retirees and families with multiple earners.
Though it may not seem like much at first glance, it adds up over time and can benefit those looking to save money in the long run.
It has a fast-growing economy
With one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, there is no shortage of job openings in Alaska. The job market there spans various industries, from mining and fishing to healthcare and finance.
In fact, Alaska is home to some of the highest-paying jobs in the country. Graduates, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs alike can find ample employment opportunities here in the Last Frontier.
Additionally, Alaska offers unique benefits such as low taxes, no state income tax, and a high-quality lifestyle. So if you’re looking for a change of scenery and a career move, consider Alaska as the next stop on your journey.
The climate and weather vary
The state of Alaska is known for its cold weather and extreme conditions that can change rapidly even within the same day. Understanding the different climate zones and weather patterns before visiting the state is important.
- The coastal areas are usually cool and humid
- The interior regions experience colder temperatures and less precipitation
- The summer tends to bring warmer temperatures but can still have unexpected showers, so be prepared with layers and rain gear.
- In the winter, the days become shorter, and snow is abundant, making it ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.
- Before embarking on any outdoor activities, it’s important to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.
Research Living Areas Before You Make Your Move To Alaska
Before moving to Alaska, it is wise to research potential living areas. Different cities and regions in Alaska provide unique lifestyles and different cost of living levels. Finding an area that matches your budget and lifestyle needs is important.
- For those looking for a more urban setting, Anchorage is the largest city in the state and provides access to amenities such as shopping, dining, and entertainment. Kodiak is another alternative.
- Fairbanks is a great option for those looking for a smaller city with plenty of outdoor activities nearby.
- The Matanuska-Susitna Valley region offers scenic beauty, open land, and abundant wildlife.
- Other cities like Juneau, Soldotna, Homer, Ketchikan, and Palmer provide an idyllic small-town feel with plenty of things to do.
No matter where you decide to go, the best way to get a feel for a place is to visit it in person and explore different neighborhoods. Researching online or talking with locals can also help you find the perfect location for your new home in Alaska.
How to move to alaska
Moving to Alaska can be a frightening prospect but is also an exciting and unique opportunity that makes the challenge worthwhile. With the right preparation, you can experience the state’s beauty and culture.
Research your options regarding climate and weather, cost of living, employment opportunities, and available living areas to find the best fit for you.
Consider what items you must bring with you and which will save you money on buying up there once you arrive. If you’re wondering how to move to Alaska, start by comparing estimates from different moving companies. Our handy calculator tool can give you a free quote based specifically on your move needs.
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