How to Move to Alaska Easily
If you're from the continental United States, you may never have imagined moving to Alaska. But if you're now ready to take the plunge and move to Alaska, you're probably a bit overwhelmed by all of the changes that are about to happen in your life. From finding Alaska movers and familiarizing yourself with the Alaska school systems, to confirming your housing and getting a driver's license, everything seems more difficult when you're far away. The good news is that with a bit of advance planning you can arrange almost everything before you actually move to Alaska, which will significantly reduce the fear of making this dramatic life change. Here are some important Alaska moving tips and useful information to help you get started:
Driving Rules and Regulations
- Alaska law demands that you apply for an Alaska driver's license within 90 days of arrival in Alaska (if you are driving with a commercial driver's license, you must apply within 30 days).
- All applicants who are over age 16 and have a valid license from another US state can apply for an Alaska driver's license.
- To receive an Alaska driver's license, you must surrender your previous license and pass a written road-knowledge test.
- If you are under the age of 21, you will also be required to take a drug and alcohol awareness test upon reaching age 21.
Tax Rules and Regulations
- You may be surprised to learn that if you move to Alaska you will no longer be required to pay income tax or sales tax in most areas of the state. Instead, Alaska residents receive payment each year from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (if that's not reason enough to consider moving to Alaska, I don't know what is!).
- There are, however, 25 municipalities that do impose some form of property tax.
- 62 municipalities have chosen to levy a sales tax, which can range from 1-7% of the purchase price.
- There are also statewide taxes on several specific items including hotel and motel beds, gaming, liquor and tobacco and raw fish.
Choosing the Right Alaska Movers
- Because of the complicated topography in Alaska, it's important to find Alaska movers with experience moving to your new location.
- The best way to choose a mover is to get several quotes from Alaska moving companies and then research each company. Weigh the price against the testimonials that you'll receive from previous customers, and if possible, check out the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any claims against them or positive feedback submitted.
- Although it's possible to move to Alaska year-round, most Alaska movers recommend relocating between May and September when the weather is the most pleasant.
- It is possible to move your car to Alaska, though it's not always recommended. For starters, if you're moving to Alaska, you'll probably want a car with 4-wheel-drive. If your current car doesn't have this feature, it's best to leave it at home. You may also want to keep in mind that it is possible to live in Alaska without a car, and to rely on public transportation. While this may not be extremely comfortable during the cold winter months, Alaska residents often get accustomed to this lifestyle and enjoy the money that they've saved on car expenses.
- Moving a car to Alaska is relatively expensive as you will need to cart your car to Seattle and then ship it to Anchorage. (Of course, you can drive your car to Seattle, but depending on where you're coming from, you may add significant mileage to your car and spend many days driving). It's worthwhile to weigh the cost of the move against the cost of purchasing a new vehicle upon arrival. There are ample car dealerships to choose from, especially in Alaska's larger cities.
Cost of Living in Alaska
There's no question that living in Alaska (especially in smaller towns) can be more expensive than living in the continental United States. Still, the arrival of discount chain stores like Walmart and Costco in the 1990s contributed greatly to lowering the cost of living in Alaska. You shouldn't be deterred from moving to Alaska because of the cost of living – annual living subsidies, relatively high salaries and a lower-than-average unemployment rate make it possible to live comfortably in Alaska. To ease your mind about the expense of living in Alaska, ask friends or coworkers who already live there. If you don't know anyone who fits the bill, why not ask your Alaska movers? Chances are good that at least someone from your Alaska moving company currently lives or lived at one point in the Last Frontier.