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Moving from California to Alaska

October 9th, 2017 - 11:25 AM

Planning a move to Alaska from California?

In 2015, just over 34,000 people relocated to Alaska from another state. Of those, close to 10% moved there from California. Why so many moves from the Sunshine State to the Last Frontier? In addition to military and employee relocation, Alaska has no state sales or income tax, and it offers a beautiful backdrop for all kinds of outdoor recreation, not to mention 24/7 sunshine in the summer. If you’re considering a move from California to Alaska, take a look at the logistics involved with getting your belongings and yourself there, and some things to expect once you arrive. 

moving from California to Alaska

How to get your belongings from CA to AK​

With more than 3,000 miles between California and Alaska, finding a safe, cost-effective way to get your belongings there is likely top-of-mind. Explore these three primary options for a long distance move to learn more:

You pack, we drive​

“You pack, we drive” is the middle ground between full-service moving and truck rental. It puts you in control of packing, loading and unloading, and a professional does the driving. U-Pack is an affordable “you pack, we drive service” that allows you to customize a move that meets your needs — choose between a moving trailer or ReloCube moving container, then select services like storage and guaranteed transit. And, if you need it, we can refer you to moving crews to help with loading and unloading.

For a U-Pack move from California to Alaska, the equipment is delivered to your home, you have up to three business days to load, then the shipment heads to Tacoma, WA where it sets sail to Alaska. The transit time averages 10-14 business days, then once you take delivery in Alaska, you have up to three business days to unload.

Check rates and serviceability for your locations by calling 800-413-4799 or get a moving quote online.

Truck rental

Truck rental is the true do-it-yourself option. You pack, load, unload and drive. A truck rental move from California to Alaska means a drive through Canada on the ALCAN Highway. If you’re considering this route, there are some things to be prepared for. Research the ALCAN ahead of time — it has few amenities along the way (important for fuel availability) and can be treacherous during certain times of year. It’s a beautiful drive, but not a good idea to start out on it in an unfamiliar vehicle without a plan in place. Also, since a drive across the border is necessary, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with Canadian customs requirements.

Full service movers

Full-service may be the most convenient way to move in terms of work load, but it may also be the highest cost and take the longest. Most full-service movers coordinate shipments going to a similar location, and then fill the trucks with other moves going back (so that they don’t have to return in an empty truck). Because of this, occasionally it can be difficult to find California moving companies that go into Alaska. And, with transit times that average 4-6 weeks, delivery time can sometimes be a concern.

Getting yourself to Alaska from California

With U-Pack taking care of the move, you can get to Alaska however you want! Three options to consider are:  


You can drive to Alaska in your own vehicle, just make sure to map out routes and stops along the way. It’s estimated to take 58 hours to make the 3,000+ mile drive. That normally takes about a week (with 8 hours of driving each day), but you can see some beautiful sights along the way. Note that a passport is required to drive the ALCAN through Canada.


Flying is the fastest way to get there. A flight from LA to Anchorage arrives in approximately 6-7 hours.

If you choose to fly, you may want to ship your vehicle.


There are ferries that travel from Bellingham, WA to certain Alaskan ports, so depending on your final destination, this may be an option.

What to expect after moving to Alaska from California

After moving, there are several new things to take care of, figure out and get used to.

The important stuff

After moving, you’ll need to establish residency in Alaska. This is important for the Permanent Fund Dividend, enrolling in school and paying taxes. There are many ways to establish residency including registering a vehicle, purchasing a home or registering to vote.

Also be sure to transfer your California driver’s license and registration — you have 10 days to apply for vehicle registration and 90 days to transfer a license.


One of the biggest differences will be the weather. Most areas of California rarely see snow, but it will be a common occurrence in your new Alaskan home. While totals vary depending on location, on average Anchorage gets 75.5 inches while Juneau gets just over 87 inches. First snowfall can happen sometime in late September with the last flurries in April. Alaska has mild summers with temps ranging from the 60s to 80s, and winter temps depend on where you are. Some areas get well below 0 degrees, where other areas (mostly the coastal areas) average in the 20s and 30s.


Alaska has its fair share of fresh food — including seafood, wild berries and game meats. To enjoy the fresh produce you were used to in California, you may have to search a bit and pay a premium (since shipping items there can be pricy). According to Expatistan, Anchorage has the most expensive fast food in the world, and things like cheese and tomatoes cost more than the average in Los Angeles, California. 


As you know, there are no warm, sunny beaches like in California, but Alaska does offer plenty of outdoor activities. Fishing, hiking and wildlife watching are popular. There are also museums, sporting events, cultural centers and performing arts venues across the state with plenty to keep you busy.

Have questions about moving from California to Alaska?

If you have questions about moving to Alaska from California, we’re happy to help. Leave a comment below, or call us at 800-240-7422.

Learn more about moving to Alaska

Check out this guide for tips on moving to Alaska.