Moving can be stressful — it requires thorough planning and organizing — especially when the move is between Alaska and the Lower 48. There are logistical hoops to jump through, not to mention the unique costs associated with moving long distances.
But, it doesn't have to be a challenge. Armed with the right information, and by working with a reputable company, your big move is just the first step in an exciting new adventure.
There are oodles of ways to get your personal items into or out of the state. However, they're not all created equal — some are more effort while some are more expensive. Some are even more challenging, such as palletizing your belongings and having them sent by cargo ship if you're moving somewhere that isn't near a port. The easiest, and therefore most common, methods for getting household goods to or from Alaska include using a container moving company, hiring professional movers or using a truck rental company. Here's what you need to know — the pros, cons and some companies to consider — as you make your decision.
Truck rental company
Just like most moves in the United States, you can rent a box truck or trailer from companies like U-Haul, load your belongings and hit the road. However, given the distance and time required, it's a method that can be costly.
For a 10-day U-Haul rental — the company's default option for moves to and from Alaska, though more days can be added to accommodate for the total number needed for loading, unloading, and travel — the prices start at roughly $3,000. That doesn't include gas, which is typically a few dollars more per gallon in rural Alaska and Canada. Most U-Haul trucks average 10 miles per gallon, depending on driving style and weight of belongings. Aside from the vehicle costs, you'll need to factor in lodging and meals along the way.
Also, bear in mind that if you're driving on the Alaska-Canada Highway, towns and facilities are few and far between, and cell phone reception is spotty. If you run into trouble, such as getting a flat tire, you may be on your own. Alaska's weather can be extreme, particularly during winter, so take into account the seasonal variations and plan your move accordingly. If you're moving during winter, consider weatherproofing your belongings, insulating fragile items to protect them from extreme temperatures.
While it may not be as easy as a move across town, some people prefer to handle the entire move themselves. As an added bonus, the drive is beautiful and something worth experiencing at least once.
Arguably the easiest option is to work with a professional moving company. Moving companies are highly trained and can do everything from packing to loading to driving. Once they've arrived at your new home, they can even help you get settled in.
Research reputable moving companies that specialize in moves to or from Alaska — they will have to go through Canada, which may require paperwork and other logistics on their end — understand the unique challenges a move entailing the 49th state has, and have the requisite tools and resources to make for an easy move. Also, request detailed quotes and estimates; fees can vary depending on if you pack yourself, how many bulky items there are, overall weight and beyond. Be sure to verify their credentials, insurance coverage and any additional services they offer.
Container moving companies
Another option is to go through a container moving company, like U-Box and U-Pack. While you are responsible for the packing, loading and unloading, the company will handle the driving, and the service is cheaper than a moving truck overall, especially for those who aren't moving large items like beds and couches.
It's a good idea to reserve as far in advance as possible — 10 days is the minimum for most companies — otherwise, you might have to wait for a container to be shipped to you. If you're moving from Alaska, waiting for a container could take as long as 45 days.
Once your cube is available, the company will drop off as many six-foot by seven-foot by eight-foot weather-resistant containers outside your house as you need — one is enough for a one-bedroom apartment, according to U-Pack — which you have three days to load. When you're ready all you need to do is lock the container and they'll load it onto a truck and take it from there. How long the container takes to get to you depends on where you're moving, but two to four weeks is typical. Rates also depend on the destination, but the quote you're given is all-inclusive. For a point of reference, one U-Pack container going from Chicago to Anchorage costs $4,100 and would take an estimated 14 business days to get from Point A to Point B.
Before you decide between using a container moving company, hiring professional movers or using a truck rental company, consider what you actually need to bring and what you could sell and repurchase in your new destination. Having a realistic idea of how much stuff you’re going to move will help narrow your options down further. Good luck!