How To Move to Alaska: Everything You Need to Know

Are you considering relocating your home and life to Alaska? You’re not the only one!

In 2023, Alaska had one of the highest number of searches for moves per capita, according to our migration moving report. With untouched wilderness, small-town vibes, and tax benefits, it’s no surprise that Alaska has become an increasingly popular destination.

But planning a move to Alaska can be complicated. It’s not as simple as renting a truck and loading it up. It’s 2,200 miles from Washington State to Alaska — and double that if you’re on the East Coast.

That’s why we created this guide on how to move to Alaska. We’ll cover some essential facts you should know about Alaska, as well as reasons to move there, and how to move there — including how to the best long-distance moving company if you choose to move to “The Last Frontier.” 

Best Alaska moving companies

Due to its distance from the “continental” United States, not every moving company provides services to Alaska. That’s why we’ve put together this list of moving companies that can help you get to America’s largest state.

Company Type of mover Services What we like What we don’t like
International Van Lines Full-service mover Packing, loading and unloading, transportation, 30 days of storage, furniture assembly Complete door-to-door service to Alaska No binding estimates
North American Van Lines Full-service mover Packing, loading and unloading, transportation, furniture assembly, custom crating Dedicated agent based in Anchorage Upfront deposits can reach 50% of total move cost
JK Moving Full-service mover Packing, loading and unloading, transportation, furniture assembly, vehicle transport Small moves program can get items to Alaska in 9 days or less No local moves within Alaska
Allied Van Lines Full-service mover Packing, loading and unloading, transportation, installation and assembly Good coverage for Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Wasilla Tends to be more expensive than other full-service movers
U-Pack Moving container company Moving container rental, freight, temporary storage Good mix of full-service and DIY moves Not well suited for larger moves
U-Haul Rental truck company Rental truck, car towing, storage Generally the cheapest way to get to Alaska Driving a moving truck to Alaska is not an ideal option


5 things to know about Alaska

Not sure if moving to Alaska is right for you? Here are some essential things you should know before you book a moving truck.

1. The cost of living is higher than the national average

The cost of living in Alaska is 16.5% higher than the U.S. average. Home prices are similar to other U.S. states. While the real estate market is competitive, prices aren’t astronomical, though property taxes are slightly above the national average.

However, grocery store prices and utilities are significantly higher than the national average (comparable to states like Hawaii). Healthcare also tends to be more expensive. The high cost of living is something you’ll need to plan for to make your budget work.

2. You get paid to live in Alaska

One thing that can make budgeting easier: 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 when looking through job openings.

3. There’s no individual income tax or state sales tax in Alaska

That’s right. Alaska has no individual state income tax or state sales tax. This can be a great advantage for those who are planning on moving to the state, especially retirees and families with multiple earners. Even parts of the state that do have a local sales tax generally don’t charge high rates. This goes a long way in helping residents of Alaska keep more of their hard-earned money.

4. 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 (even into the 80s) 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. Temperatures consistently fall below zero at this time of year.
  • Before embarking on any outdoor activities, it’s important to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. The arctic tundra isn’t just home to the Northern Lights and National Parks like Denali and Kenai — it can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

5. Each part of the state is unique

Before moving to Alaska,  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 a must:

  • 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 natural beauty, open land, and abundant wildlife (like grizzly bears and caribou).
  • 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

At over 660,000 square miles, Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas! While this can make moving feel even more intimidating, you still have plenty of options available. Between container moving companies, full-service movers, freight companies, and truck rental providers, you can find an option that fits your needs and budget.

Moving container companies

Moving container companies offer a great blend between full-service and DIY moves, both in terms of cost and how much work you’ll have to do.

  • More affordable than using full-service movers
  • Customizable, with the option to order as many containers as you need (some companies don’t charge for unused containers)
  • Relatively fast delivery
  • They handle the driving and logistics
  • You’ll need to do the packing, loading, and unloading
  • May have seasonal price increases and availability issues

When you rent a moving container from a company like U-Haul U-Box or U-Pack, the company will deliver one (or more) containers to your property. You’ll then have a set amount of time (usually three business days) to load the container yourself.

Once the containers are loaded, the company will pick them up and transport them to your new home – so no need to worry about driving to Alaska yourself. Containers can be kept in temporary storage until you are ready to have them delivered to your new place, where once again, you’ll have a set amount of time to unload everything yourself.

However, it’s worth noting that door-to-door service isn’t always available in Alaska. For example, if you’re moving outside of central Alaska, U-Pack will deliver your containers to their service center in Anchorage. You’ll then need to enlist the help of local movers to get the containers to your new home.

Use moving containers if:

  • You want to save money but don’t want to go the full DIY route. You’ll still have to load the containers, but you won’t have to drive.
  • You’re not sure how much storage space you’ll actually need. Moving container companies won’t charge you if you end up with extra, unused containers.
  • You need some flexibility with your delivery timeline. Moving container companies offer temporary storage until you are ready to have your goods delivered to your new home.

Don’t use moving containers if:

  • You’re not confident in your own packing abilities. If you pack items incorrectly and they’re damaged during transit, that is your responsibility. 
  • You’re doing a larger move. Moving containers are relatively small. For example, each U-Box container only offers 257 cubic feet and a weight limit of 2,000 pounds. For larger homes, you’d have to order several containers to load everything – and a large number of containers might not fit on your property.


Full-service movers

Working with full-service movers to get your stuff to Alaska looks a little different than if you were staying in the lower 48, but it’s still a worthwhile option to consider for your move.

  • They’ll coordinate every aspect of your relocation 
  • 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
  • You’ll be free to drive, fly or take a cruise to Alaska
  • You won’t get to choose the local movers who deliver your shipment
  • Transit and delivery times will probably be longer

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 if you’re looking for full-service moving assistance, we recommend starting the move with one of the best international moving companies. They’ll help with packing and unpacking, loading, and most importantly, coordinating ground and sea transportation to get everything to your destination.

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.

Then, once you arrive in Alaska, a local moving company will pick your container up and haul it to your new home for delivery. However, door-to-door services aren’t always available for remote locations.

Use full-service movers if:

  • You want to take the stress out of your move. Full-service movers will handle all the packing and logistics so you just have to worry about getting yourself to Alaska.
  • You’re coordinating a larger move. The shipping containers that are used for full-service moves to Alaska are large enough to accommodate the belongings of a larger home. Plus, having other people pack and load everything is a major help.
  • You’re busy with other moving tasks. Moving to Alaska can be complex, with a lot of moving parts that you need to figure out to help everything go smoothly. With full-service movers, you can focus on other aspects of the moving process.

Don’t use full-service movers if: 

  • You’re trying to save money. Full-service movers are generally the most expensive option for any move – especially if you are going to Alaska. This isn’t the budget-friendly option.
  • You’re in a hurry. The process of shipping goods to Alaska with full-service movers is surprisingly time-consuming. The combination of ground and sea transport means it could be a while before everything arrives.

Freight companies

As an alternative to traditional movers, many freight companies now offer household goods transportation to keep their trucks full and operating efficiently. 

  • Cheaper than using full-service movers
  • Most provide 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, which can be 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

These non-traditional services are usually offered by LTL (Less-than-Truckload) companies that move many relatively small shipments for various commercial customers. Similar to using a moving container, you will be responsible for packing and loading everything yourself. However, the freight company will do the driving.

For example, U-Pack offers 28-foot ‘pup’ trailers for those who have more household goods than what fits in U-Pack ReloCubes. With this setup, you generally only pay for the space you use inside the truck. The rest of the space will be filled with commercial shipments, which will be unloaded before the truck arrives at your destination. 

Freight companies offer door-to-door service 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. Keep in mind, however, that most freight companies’ services (including their trucks) aren’t geared toward household moves, which could increase the risk of damage in transit.

Use freight companies if:

  • You want to save money. Like moving containers, freight companies are cheaper than hiring full-service movers.
  • You need flexible storage space. Freight companies generally only charge for the space you actually use in their truck. If you’re not sure how much room you’ll actually need, this is a great way to ensure you won’t run out of space.
  • You want to leave the driving to the pros. Since freight companies primarily work with commercial shipments, you can have confidence that their drivers will drive safely.

Don’t use freight companies if:

  • You need extra help besides driving. Freight companies don’t help with packing, loading, or furniture disassembly. For that kind of assistance, you’ll need to hire extra labor or a full-service mover.
  • You’re shipping lots of fragile items. The spring suspension used in many freight trailers isn’t well-suited to fragile household goods. This could increase the risk of damage during the shipment. 

Rental trucks 

Yes, you can rent a truck from U-Haul or U-Haul competitors and drive it from the continental US to Alaska at certain times of the year. That said, you probably shouldn’t.

  • The cheapest option for moving (though not as cheap as you might think)
  • You’re in complete control of your moving schedule
  • A chance to experience natural beauty on your drive up to Alaska
  • Driving to Alaska is time-consuming and prone to severe weather
  • Gas expenses can add up quickly
  • You need passports and other documents to drive through Canada

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 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. You’ll also need to have a passport and other travel documents to cross the Canadian border.

According to U-Haul’s website, the cost to rent a 10-foot truck (the smallest available size) to Anchorage is:

  • $5,347 from Phoenix
  • $3,199 from Chicago
  • $4,645 from Los Angeles

With distances in the 4,000 to the 5,000-mile range, most people usually drive between eight 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.

Use a rental truck if:

  • You’re confident in your driving abilities. Driving to Alaska is a long trip — and a potentially dangerous one, too. Only make this drive if you know you can do it safely.
  • You need to save money. Though renting a truck to get to Alaska can still be quite expensive, it’s going to be cheaper than most other options for your move.
  • You want flexibility with your moving date. With a rental truck, you can select your exact moving date for when you’ll pick up the truck and load everything. You’re not subject to the moving company’s schedule.

Don’t use a rental truck if:

  • It’s winter. Alaska’s winters are harsh and dangerous, especially for inexperienced drivers. Using a rental truck to get to Alaska during the winter is a highly risky endeavor.
  • You need to know exactly how much you’ll spend. A rental truck may seem cheapest at first, but you’ll also need to pay for gas, food, and lodging, along your journey. Moving trucks don’t get great mileage, which means these costs can add up faster than expected. With other movers, you’ll get a quote that tells you what to expect.

Our take

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 have confidence that your move will go smoothly, even with the state’s distance and weather challenges.

We’d recommend using either a moving container company or full-service movers to get your stuff to Alaska. These professional options have the know-how to handle the unique logistical challenges of moving to Alaska.

Finally, a few things to keep in mind that can help your move go easier:

  • Consider downsizing. Consider what items you must bring with you and which will save you money on buying up there once you arrive. Downsizing will make it much cheaper to ship your items, regardless of your preferred moving option.
  • Do your research. Not all movers provide services to Alaska. Compare estimates from at least three movers who ship goods to Alaska to get a better idea of your options. Our moving cost calculator can help you get an idea of what to expect.
  • Know your area. Door-to-door moving services aren’t always available, particularly in more remote parts of the state. Be sure to check with potential movers about how they handle moves to your specific destination. 
  • Try to move in fall or spring. Summer is a busy season in Alaska due to tourism, while winter can be tricky due to extreme weather. Spring and fall generally offer better move pricing and moderate weather.

How to move to Alaska FAQs

Do you get paid to live in Alaska?

Alaska residents get paid a once per year dividend from the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend. The amount varies from year to year, but is usually around $1,000-$1,600.

Is it a good idea to move to Alaska?

If you have a sense of adventure – and are able to find a good job and housing – moving to Alaska can be an exciting experience. After that, it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences. If you prefer rugged wilderness and natural beauty, and don’t remind a higher cost of living, a remote location, and extreme winter weather, Alaska could be just right for you.

Is it difficult to move to Alaska?

While moving to Alaska is more complicated than moving to other parts of the U.S., its far from impossible. Many moving container companies and full-service movers with international moving capabilities are well-equipped to help you transport your household goods to Alaska. 

How much does it cost to move to Alaska?

Moving to Alaska can be expensive! For example, renting a 10’ U-Haul truck from Phoenix, AZ to Anchorage will cost $5,347 – and that’s before paying for gas, food, and lodging along the way. Getting two ReloCubes from U-Pack to move from Seattle, WA to Anchorage will set you back $7,508. Full-service movers can be even more expensive.

What is the best time of year to move to Alaska?

If possible, try to move during the spring or early fall. Summer can be more expensive due to the tourist season, while winter’s unpredictable weather can be dangerous and result in delays for your move.

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