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Moving to Alaska for Free?

April 19th, 2018 - 8:59 AM

Do you get paid when you move to Alaska?

There are several rumors about getting things for free in Alaska. From moving there for free to getting free land, the talk of low-cost living seems to have no end. But while those specific rumors aren’t true, it makes sense why people believe them. They began as a result of the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) Program, where all residents receive a small portion of the state’s oil wealth each year. So while you can’t get paid to move to Alaska, you can get paid to live there.

land claim

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, checks have ranged from $331 to $2,072 per person since 1982. In 2017, the total payout was $673,794,327.64 or about $1,100 per person.

Fun fact: If a person were eligible for dividend checks since the program’s inception in 1982, they would have received $41,221.41 total!

Why does Alaska pay its residents?

Go back in time to 1969 when 164 tracts of state-owned land was auctioned to an oil company for $900 million. When this occurred, many debates started about where the money should go, with the Governor at the time pushing for the benefit to go directly to the people in the state. In 1976, voters established the Permanent Fund Program, which put the earnings into a fund to save for future Alaskans. The first check was distributed in 1982.

Residents can spend the dividend funds however they like. Many use it to offset the costs of living in Alaska, while others take vacations or save it for retirement or big purchases. The funds are not taxed by the state (because there’s no statewide income tax), but residents do have to pay federal income taxes on the payments. It gets claimed as regular income for children and adults.

Can I get the check after I move there?

As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can begin receiving the dividend. For 2018, the requirements are:

  • Must be a resident a full calendar year (January 1-December 31)
  • Must have the intent to remain an Alaskan for life
  • You aren’t claiming residency in any other state or country
  • Haven’t been sentenced as a result of a felony convicted during 2017
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of felony during 2017
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of a misdemeanor during 2017
  • Not absent from Alaska for more than 180 days
  • You were physically present in Alaska for 72 consecutive hours during 2016 or 2017

Not everyone who applies meets the criteria. In 2017, 670,590 people applied, but only 615,590 received payments. Before you pack up and move to Alaska with the intent of receiving the dividend, make sure you meet the requirements.

Establishing Alaska residency

One of the biggest eligibility requirements is establishing residency. You’ll have to prove residency with intent to remain in one of several ways:

  • Moving household goods to Alaska and providing a shipping receipt
  • Showing proof of a lease or rental agreement in applicant’s name
  • Showing proof of home purchase
  • Showing proof of moorage/boat harbor fees (if living in a vessel)
  • Showing proof of employment, like a W2 or paystub
  • Showing proof of Alaskan driver’s license or ID
  • Showing proof of vehicle registration (vehicle or truck, not motorcycle or motor home)
  • Showing proof of state benefits that require residency like Senior Benefits or Alaska Housing
  • Showing proof of voter registration

Read the full details to see which documents are acceptable.

Showing any intent to not stay permanently — like if you register to vote in another state or country or take actions that are deemed inconsistent with your intent to remain in Alaska indefinitely — the Alaska Department of Revenue will disqualify your application for the program. Keep in mind that you can’t become a resident while absent from Alaska (unless it’s an allowable absence, like for the military or college).

Can you get free land in Alaska?

Along with the myth of moving to Alaska for free, you may have heard about free land for Alaska homesteading. The Federal Homestead Act of 1862 made tracts of 160 acres in undeveloped western states available to those who would develop the land, build a home and live there for 5 years. After the 5 years, they would get ownership of their 160 acres. This program was extended to Alaska in 1898. For over 123 years, this program allowed millions of people to develop and own their own property. However, it was repealed in 1976, and the program ended in 1986, with the last homestead awarded in 1988. Over the course of the program, 3,277 homesteads were established in Alaska.

Now, the state offers undeveloped land for lease, sale or auction in designated areas through the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. So no free land in Alaska. If you want to homestead, you have to purchase your property.

Moving to Alaska with U-Pack

While you might think about renting a truck and taking the scenic route to save money, remember that driving a truck up the ALCAN highway can be a long and stressful drive (especially during certain times of the year). Instead, you can experience the beauty of Alaska while you travel on your own and let U-Pack® handle your belongings.

Here’s how moving with U-Pack works:

  • moving trailerReloCube® or 40 ft. ocean container is delivered to your home
  • You load the equipment with household goods
  • We move it to your new home in Alaska
  • You unload and we pick up the equipment

Or, you can save money by unloading at the service center in Anchorage.

To figure out the cost of moving to Alaska with U-Pack, get a free online quote or call us at 800-413-4799. In most cases, you’ll find the price is comparable to truck rental and less than full-service.

Looking for more information about moving to Alaska?

If you have questions about moving to Alaska for free, establishing residency in Alaska or anything else related to these topics, please leave a comment below. We’re happy to help. Or learn more about moving to Alaska by reading these additional resources:

Moving to Alaska

Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Alaska

Shipping Household Goods to Alaska