Moving Your Stuff to Bush Alaska

Moving to the Alaskan bush is a little different than moving anywhere else.  Things can't be easily transported on a U-Haul (because there are no roads) or packed into a boat (because it would have to be a barge and that's expensive).  Everything, for the most part, has to be delivered by mail on a tiny bush plane. The easiest way to do this is by packing all of your belongings into 18-gallon Rubbermaid totes.  Each tote can weigh up to 70lbs, but you have to keep in mind that you pay per pound and it can get pricey.  I think we paid $500+ to ship 10 totes and a few priority boxes last time, and I expect we paid roughly the same amount this time.

Alaska version of transportation!
When you are considering what to bring with you in your little totes, you have to keep in mind what your "must haves" are, as well as what you need to survive.  For us, entertainment items are "must haves" to help keep us occupied during the long months without TV or home internet access.   While books and movies make for some pretty heavy totes, they are actually the cheapest to ship because of a little known secret called "media mail."  Media mail is a special type of shipping on media items that is significantly cheaper.  The pricing allows you to ship a full tote of books and movies for only about $25, which is a STEAL compared to what they charge for all other shipping purposes. USPS is very strict about what you can ship via media mail though, and your stuff is subject to search, but it is totally worth it.

Package things carefully and keep track of what is in each tote. 
Another important thing to know about packing these totes is that it is incredibly important to KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU PUT INTO THEM. When I pack, whether I am moving two blocks or three thousand miles (because let's face it I move constantly), I number everything.  All of our totes are numbered and then, on a piece of paper I have those numbers listed.  Underneath those listed numbers I have written exactly what is in each tote.  This makes it so that I don't have to rummage or guess.  All I have to do is say, "Oh, tote #8 is full of clothes, so that should go straight to the bedroom."  This will save you time, energy, and guesswork.  It also allows you to easily see what totes/items have not yet arrived.

Use permanent marker to address totes.  If you write on duct tape, put another piece of clear tape OVER the address to keep it from rubbing off in transit. 
It's also important to note that some items just aren't going to make the cut. Purging was a huge to-do for Cody and I this time around.  Two years on Beaver Island had made us complacent in collecting things, which I loathe.  I really had to revisit my minimalist lifestyle roots and look back through some of my favorite inspirational websites like Becoming Minimalist and books like The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up.  It can be difficult to purge and part with so many belongings, but it is absolutely essential if you are moving to the bush.  My advice, put your belongings in storage if you can't bear to part with them or have expensive pieces you know you'll want in a few years.

Don't be afraid to ask your family to send you care packages! 
Once you've purged your belongings, packed your totes, and correctly addressed them to your new home, it's time to send them off into the world! The post office workers may look at you like you have gone insane (I know they always look at me like that when I come in lugging a 70lb tote), but rest assured, the USPS is quite helpful when it comes to moving your goods. Take your tracking numbers and keep them in your possession until you get to your new home (I keep mine in my wallet), this will help you keep track of your shipments and ensure they all arrive. Totes can take a long time to arrive in Alaska.

It may seem overwhelming to start the shipping and moving process, but once you get started it's really not that awful. Just take it slowly and make lists.  The more organized you are, the easier it will be!

Your turn...What changes are happening in your life right now?
Currently listening to...Knock Three Times - Dawn


Comments

  1. Wow the joys of moving. I fortunately haven't moved in the last 15 years but I have done a lot of business travel which feels like I am moving especially when I go away for 2 or more weeks at a time. It really makes you think about what is important to you. I hope you enjoy your adventures and look forward to reading about them.

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    1. Traveling for long periods of time can definitely be daunting too! My husband and I have done three cross country moves in five years, so we are pretty much masters of the move at this point. Haha.

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  2. Gaaaahhh. Making big moves like that. So crazy tough. But, I have found that I have learned so much about what is really necessary and important and meaningful. Still, it's like pulling my hair out to go through the process! Good luck settling in!!

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    1. Very true! I've learned a lot about what I think is important. It's really helped me keep my attachment to "things" down.

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  3. Some good tips for moving in general, I have moved a few times in my life, but nothing really major. Dreading the next big move that will come soon...

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    1. Where are you moving to? Our move is definitely a big one, but I'm pretty excited about it!

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  4. That is crazy! I definitely couldn't live in Alaska. What do you do about furniture?

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    1. Housing is fully furnished for teachers, thankfully! We mostly just had to ship entertainment, clothing, cooking items, home decor, etc. It was all fairly small stuff.

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  5. what a unique way to move. Actually pretty easy you stuff will be waiting for you when you get there. Exciting moving to Alaska!

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    1. Yeah, it's very nice to have everything shipped ahead of time. Here's to hoping it all shows up in a timely fashion!

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