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Moving to Alaska for Free?

May 26th, 2016 - 3:47 PM

Does Alaska pay you to move there?

Living in Alaska might be a priceless experience, but it’s time to squash the rumors that you can move to Alaska for free or get paid to move to Alaska. They’re not true. The rumors began as a result of the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) Program, through which all of Alaska’s permanent residents (both children and adults) receive a small portion of the state’s oil wealth annually.

According to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, Alaska has been paying out Permanent Fund Dividend checks ranging from $331 to $2,069 per person since 1982. The payout for 2015 was $2,072, the highest payout yet and a $188 increase from 2014. If a person were eligible for dividend checks since the program’s inception in 1982, they would have received $39,099.41 to date. Not bad at all!

land claim

Do you get paid to live in Alaska?​

While you can’t get paid to move there, you do receive a dividend for being an Alaskan resident--which means you technically get paid to live in Alaska. But, how long do you have to be a resident to get paid for living there and what are the requirements? You must have intentions to be an Alaskan citizen indefinitely—meaning you’re in it for the long-haul. Like any benefit program, there are strict eligibility requirements you must meet:

  • 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 2015
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of felony during 2015
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of a misdemeanor during 2015
  • Not absent from Alaska for more than 180 days
  • You were physically present in Alaska for 72 consecutive hours during 2014 or 2015

During the 2015 calendar year, 678,689 Alaskans applied, but only 644,511 received a check. So, before you begin packing boxes with intentions of living in Alaska for free, make sure you understand how the program actually works and that you meet these requirements.

How do I establish residency in Alaska?

The biggest eligibility requirement is establishing residency. You can prove residency by:

  • Moving household belongings to Alaska
  • Showing proof of a lease or rental agreement in applicant’s name
  • Showing proof of purchasing a home
  • Showing proof of moorage/boat harbor fees
  • Showing proof of employment or school records
  • Showing proof of Alaskan driver’s license
  • Showing proof of a vehicle registration
  • Showing proof of voter registration

Read more about the specific documents, licenses, receipts and other paperwork that are deemed unacceptable proof.

If you register to vote in another state or country, have ties to another state or country indicating continued residency or take actions inconsistent with your intent to remain in Alaska indefinitely, the Alaska Department of Revenue will assume you don’t intend to stay permanently — and that means you won’t qualify. Keep in mind that you can’t become a resident while absent from Alaska (although there are exceptions for students and military members).

Why does Alaska give its residents “free” money?

It all began in 1969 when Alaska auctioned off 164 tracts of state-owned land to the oil company with the highest bid — which netted $900 million. This was a huge deal for Alaska, but it sparked many debates about where the money should go. In 1976, Alaska voters established the Permanent Fund Program, which puts a percentage of the oil money into the “Permanent Fund,” to save money for future Alaskans. In 1982, the first dividend check was distributed to Alaskan residents.

Residents who receive the check can spend it however they like. Many put it toward offsetting the cost of living in Alaska (which is very high), while others spend it on vacation, retirement or college savings, bills or big purchases. It’s also important to note Alaska has no statewide income tax so the funds are not taxed by the state. You do need to pay federal income taxes though! Even though the PFD may seem to be a standard dividend, it must be claimed like regular income for children and adults. 

What about free land in Alaska?

In the past, Alaska homesteading was a way people could obtain free government land by meeting certain requirements. This was made possible through the Federal Homestead Act of 1862; however, this act came to an end in 1986. As an alternative, the state offers land for sale in Alaska.

Affordable options (since you can't move to Alaska for free)

We’ve established you can’t move to Alaska for free and the state doesn’t pay you to move there — but, if you’re certain a permanent move to the Last Frontier is in your plans, there are moving options that are convenient and affordable.

If you're considering moving to Alaska, you may be thinking about hiring a full service mover or renting a truck and taking the scenic route. While these are viable options for some people, moving to Alaska with full-service movers can be expensive and time consuming. And driving a rental truck up the ALCAN or through Canada is possible, but might be stressful due to the ALCAN road conditions. Why not experience the beauty of Alaska on your own time, whether that be from your personal vehicle or from the skies? Moving with U-Pack® is an excellent option. 

Moving to Alaska with U-Pack

Here’s how moving with U-Pack works:

  • A moving trailer, ReloCube® or 40 ft. ocean container is delivered to your home
  • You load the equipment with your 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. It usually takes 8-13 business days for your shipment to arrive, so make sure you take enough clothes and personal items with you. If you arrive in Alaska before your belongings, treat this time as a vacation by exploring and learning more about living in Alaska

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.

Questions about moving to Alaska?

We’re here to help, so ask away! Leave a comment below with any questions you have about moving to Alaska. 

Additional Moving Resources

How to get a driver’s license in Alaska

Permanent Fund Dividend FAQs

Application to apply for the dividend

Moving to Alaska FAQs