Moving to Alaska FAQs
Questions about your Alaska Move
While Alaska is part of the United States, it can feel like an entirely different country. Its terrain is expansive, unspoiled and full of beauty. If you’re considering a move to Alaska, you no doubt have questions — and we have answers. We’ve helped countless families move to Alaska, so we can help you better understand your move and what life in the 49th state is all about.
Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Alaska
What is the best way to move to Alaska?
The best way to move isn’t with a rental truck or full-service mover — it’s with U-Pack®! With U-Pack, you don’t have to drive your belongings through Canada yourself or pay an outrageous amount of money for full-service movers. Instead, U-Pack takes care of the transportation from beginning to end for an affordable price.
To compare prices, get a free moving quote, or call 800-413-799 and a moving consultant can price your move instantly.
Read more about moving to Alaska with U-Pack (equipment, cost and serviceability details).
Can I move to Alaska in a rental truck?
Yes, but it’s not for everyone. Driving will take you through Canada and up the Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN). The Alcan “officially” begins in Dawson Creek, BC (about 835 miles from Great Falls, MT) and “officially” ends in Delta Junction, AK — 1,422 miles later. It can be overwhelming for some, which is why many turn to U-Pack as an alternative.
What is the Alaska Highway like?
The Alcan is a well-maintained, two-lane paved highway (minus a few spots under construction). Once you pass through Fort Nelson, BC, you’ll cross the Rocky Mountains — about 150 miles of narrow roads with curves and hills (and no guardrails through much of it). If you attempt to drive the Alcan, buy the Milepost, a guide for driving this path. Also, be prepared with your driver's license, passport, updated vehicle registration, food, water, necessary tools, etc. Remember that you’re crossing an international border, so leave extra time in your schedule for possible delays in customs requirements. It's also good to note that cell phone service can be very spotty along the way.
I’m PCSing to Alaska. How does that work?
U-Pack moves military members to Fort Greely, Fort Wainwright, Eielson AFB, and JBER (Elmendorf AFB and Fort Richardson). Read more about how military members PCS to Alaska with U-Pack (and how you can actually make money on your move).
When is the best time to move there?
To avoid hazardous winter weather conditions, try moving during the warmer months (typically May through September).
What if I have to move to Alaska in the winter?
Alaska winters are dark, cold, and snowy — not the perfect combination for moving. While you may see lower moving costs in the winter, it might not be the best time to travel with all your household goods in a rental truck. Driving a heavy rental truck in the snow is usually unsafe (not to mention scary!). Instead, why not let U-Pack move your items while you fly or make the drive in your personal vehicle? Much better.
Do I need a passport to move to Alaska?
It depends on how you’re traveling there:
- If you’re driving, you'll need a passport because you’ll be traveling through Canada. Canadian law requires all U.S. citizens to carry a valid U.S. passport, passport card or NEXUS card.
- If you’re flying, you won't need a passport since you’re traveling from state to state. If you happen to land in Canada (emergency landing, weather, etc.), a passport isn’t required because Alaska is your final destination — just make sure you don’t leave the airport
- If you’re sailing via the Alaska Marine Highway System (with no stops in Canada), you won't need a passport. However, you will need a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.
Can my pet move with me?
Yes! To enter Alaska with your pet, you should have their current health certificate and a current rabies vaccination if your pet is three months or older.
- If you’re flying with your pet, check the TSA pet travel guidelines and your airline’s regulations for pet travel (see Alaska Airlines’ pet policy).
- If you’re driving, you should be ready with all the documentation for traveling through Canada with your pet.
- If you’re traveling via the Alaska Marine Highway System, you can read the AMHS pet policy here.
Is it true that I can get paid to move to Alaska?
Unfortunately, it’s not true. However, you can get paid to live there. All you have to do is establish residency and apply for the Permanent Fund Dividend. Read our post “Moving to Alaska for free?” for more detailed information.
Frequently Asked Questions about Living in Alaska
Where is the best place to live in Alaska?
It depends on the lifestyle you’re going for.
- Anchorage is the most populated city in the state, with more than 250,000 residents (about 40% of all Alaskans live here). If you’re used to living in a big city, you’ll fit right in.
- Fairbanks is like a smaller Anchorage. About 98,000 people call the city home.
- Mat-Su Valley includes the towns of Palmer and Wasilla and is home to about 85,000 people. This area is great for anyone who can't get enough of the outdoors.
- Juneau is the state's capital, and it's accessible by ferry. If you want to escape from typical city life, pick this town. About 32,000 reside in Juneau, and another 32,000 reside in the Southeast Alaska area.
- The rest of the Last Frontier lives rurally, in areas with 10,000 people or less. If you desire a tight-knit community where everyone knows everybody, try Ketchikan, Kenai, Sitka, Kodiak, Bethel, Homer, Barrow, Unalaska, Soldotna, Valdez, Nome, or Seward… to name a few. (And, of course, there’s always North Pole. Keep an eye out for Santa!)
How do I get a driver’s license in Alaska?
It’s really easy. You can get your license by visiting any Alaska DMV office. If you’re at least 16 years old, have a valid license from another U.S. state, and will be driving in the state for more than 90 days, a driver’s license is required. You’ll have to pass a written knowledge test, an alcohol and drug awareness test, and a vision test.
What are the motor vehicle registration fees and taxes?
For the most up-to-date info on fees and taxes, visit the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles website.
Do I have to display two license plates?
Yes. State law requires motor vehicles to display two license plates – one on the front of the vehicle and the other on the rear. A month tab and current year tab must be displayed on the back plate only.
Do I need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle?
Considering the epic weather in Alaska, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. If you don’t have a 4-wheel drive, make sure your vehicle is equipped to travel in wintry weather (studded tires, chains, etc.) The Alaska Department of Public Safety provides driving tips to help you prepare.
What is the cost of living in Alaska?
Housing, gas, food… it all comes at a cost in the Last Frontier. According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce, it costs 25% more to live in Fairbanks than in Tacoma, WA. A good way to compare the cost of living is to use a cost of living calculator. You can also take a look at the Alaska Economic Trends Magazine to learn more about the state’s current economy.
How do I find a job in Alaska?
If you're moving without a job or want to find a job before you move, start searching through the Alaska Job Center Network, powered by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Do I have to pay income tax or sales tax?
No and no. The 49th state doesn't levy income tax on personal income. And as a bonus, there's no statewide sales tax. If you have tax questions, refer to the Alaska Tax Division.
What’s the state minimum wage ?
As of 1/1/16, the current minimum wage is $9.75.
What is the weather like in Alaska?
In the summer, you'll enjoy temps in the 60s and 70s, with long summer days. June 21 will be the longest day of the year (summer solstice), with about 19-22 hours of daylight. In the winter, there's minimal light, especially in December. Winter solstice is December 21, with about 3-6 hours of daylight. When February rolls around, you'll see more light during the days leading up to June. Winter temps vary across the state. It'll be colder toward the interior, and warmer near the ocean. Snowfall is always in abundance, and Southeast Alaska receives the most rainfall.
What time zone is Alaska?
Most of the area falls into the Alaskan Time Zone. Alaska Standard Time (AKST) is GMT-9 while Alaska Daylight Time (AKDT) is GMT-8. AKDT occurs at 2 AM on the second Sunday of March and lasts till 2 AM on the first Sunday of November. The Aleutian Islands fall into the Hawaiian-Aleutian Time Zone (GMT-10), and daylight saving time doesn't occur.
What kind of clothes do you wear in Alaska?
You'll definitely want to invest in some good cold-weather gear, especially if you live in an area like Fairbanks where the winters are the very definition of cold. A good pair of boots, synthetic clothing and a heavy coat can go a long way in staying warm. With low temperatures and varying terrain, it's mostly function over fashion.
What are the schools like in Alaska?
Education is a big priority in the Last Frontier. Visit the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to see a list of all public schools in each city. Or, if you’re looking for higher education, consider enrolling in a school in the University of Alaska system or community, private or technical college.
More questions about moving to Alaska?
We’re happy to help! Leave a comment in the section below and we’ll point you in the right direction.