There are lots of ways to move to or from Alaska, and the “can-do” spirit you’ll find in the Frontier State means that people have tried every single one of them. Some fill an entire container with their personal possessions. Others look to what we call “less than container” solutions where they might use a couple of wooden crates to pack up their belongings. And still, others prefer a more DIY approach to their Alaska move that might involve something like loading a truck or pulling a trailer full of all of their worldly possessions.
No matter how you decide to move, there’s one thing we’d suggest you do—and it will more than likely save you money on your Alaska move: downsize.
Downsizing can have a huge impact on moves to and from Alaska. Why? Well, I think you’d agree that living in Alaska isn’t quite like living anywhere else in the United States. As such, there are a lot of items you might need in Alaska that you might not need anywhere else—show shoes, anyone?—and vice versa. So rather than wasting money dragging stuff around that you simply won’t need, we suggest you take a careful look at your possessions and only bring what you need to your new home.
Need a little help paring down? Below, we’ve shared our best tips for downsizing before you move, whether you’re headed to Alaska or leaving the Land of the Midnight Sun for a new destination.
Tip #1: Start Early
If you’re pressed for time, you probably won’t have the opportunity to thoughtfully sort through your possessions and make careful decisions. Instead, you might find yourself boxing everything up as quickly as you can or hurriedly tossing out tons of things that you’ll regret later. So, as much as you can, get started early with your packing and downsizing process so you’ll have a patient, clear head to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
Tip #2: Think in Groups of Three
As you go through your possessions, you might find it helpful to put them in one of three categories:
- Move – These are the items you know you can’t live without, the ones you know you’ll need again, which are 100% worthy of moving with you to your new home.
- Sell/Donate – These are the items that are in good enough condition that someone else could get some use out of them. You might consider selling these (more ideas on that below!) or donating them to a worthy cause.
- Trash – As much as we hate to admit it, there are some items we own that aren’t any good to us—or anyone else. Moving presents a great opportunity for you to admit the truth about these items and stick them straight in your garbage can.
Bonus Category: We don’t want to make things too complicated, but there might be one other category to consider: rehome. For example, if you have valuable or sentimental items you’d planned to pass on to a loved one, you might put these in this category so you can do the gifting sooner rather than later.
Maybe you have an antique cabinet that you don’t want to drag to Alaska, but it’s a piece that’s been in the family for generations. Or perhaps you have a collection of porcelain dolls that you want to give to your beloved niece. A long-distance move to or from Alaska might trigger the decision to rehome these items, rather than relocating them to yet another destination.
Tip #3: Evaluate Your Lifestyle & Make Your Decisions Accordingly
As you decide which category each of your items belongs to, start by taking a look at the lifestyle you plan to live in your new destination. In the case of Alaska moves, it might be quite different from your current one.
For example, if you’re headed to Alaska, do you need to keep that pair of heels that have been gathering dust in your closet? Probably not. Your wardrobe in Alaska will likely revolve around comfortable clothing that can protect you from the weather. And, if you’re leaving Alaska for Texas (one of the more popular post-Alaska destinations in the lower 48) maybe those XtraTuf rain boots that have seen season after season of snow and mud have reached the end of their lifespan.
You’ll also want to consider whether your new home will be bigger or smaller than your current one. If you’re going from a two-bedroom place to a one-bedroom one, you’ll definitely need to pare down to fit comfortably in your new home.
Tip #4: Don’t Forget Those Unopened Boxes
It happens to the best of us: After you move, there are always those two or three orphaned boxes that never get unpacked. Maybe they’re full of things you thought you’d need—like a bunch of ethernet cables that became obsolete once we all moved to WiFi. Maybe you don’t even know what’s in them anymore.
Now that you have the time—and you’re in the right headspace—it’s time to open any boxes that might be leftover from your last move. If you haven’t cracked them since your last relocation, it’s probably a good bet that the contents can go straight into the donate or trash piles.
Tip #5: Be a Smart Buyer (and Seller!)
If you’re headed to a remote destination like Alaska, you might be tempted to buy everything you think you need in your current town, then move it with you. This may or may not be a good idea, depending on the item, its weight and the difference in price between your current location and your future one.
If you’re using a moving company, there’s an easy way to tell whether it’s worth moving many of these items. When you get your quote, the company should give you a quote based on weight. All you have to do is use this handy equation to discover exactly how much it would cost to move, for example, your washer:
[Rate quoted by your moving company] x [Weight of your washer] = Your cost to move it
Once you know that number, you can decide if it might be cheaper to sell your washer where you are now, then buy a new one when you get to Alaska.
If you’re leaving Alaska, you might want to ask yourself whether it makes sense to take your winter gear with you or sell it before you leave. (And if you’re coming to Alaska, these could be some good venues for you to pick up gently used gear when you arrive!) A few to consider:
- In the Anchorage area, try the Alaska Winter Gear & Ski Swap or the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage’s Ski Swap.
- Or stop by the Hoarding Marmot, also in Anchorage.
- You might also give Craigslist a try, both for buying and selling.
Tip #6: Don’t Get Too Attached to Any Particular Moving Method
When it comes to downsizing, you might just surprise yourself. Maybe you assumed you’d need a whole container, and you find that you can fit your items in just a few lift vans. Or maybe you thought you’d need at least two lift vans, but, after a big purge, you can probably make do with only one.
If you start early enough to do a significant downsizing effort, you just might discover that you don’t have as many items as you thought. If you keep an open mind, you may be able to manage a much more affordable Alaska move than you anticipated.
And that’s the big benefit of starting early: If you can get a moving quote after you downsize, when you have an accurate assessment of what you want to move, your moving consultant can help you evaluate your options more effectively and get you a more accurate quote for your relocation.
Creating an Affordable Alaska Move
Whether you’re headed to the Frontier State or you’re leaving Alaska behind for a new lifestyle, you and your personal possessions will travel a significant distance. That’s even more reason for you to get an early start on your Alaska move and pare down to the essentials. You’ll not only open the door for a more affordable move, but you’ll also make a much fresher start in your new home.
Looking for affordable options for your Alaska move? We’d love to help! Just reach out to us for a quote. We have all kinds of solutions available to help you make a safe, easy and affordable move, either to or from Alaska.