Packing for Nome, Alaska

My 10 foot metal container for shipping to Nome!

My 10 foot metal container for shipping to Nome!

Packing for Nome, Alaska was difficult because:
1. I had to think waaay ahead (compared to renting a Uhaul or Penske truck),
2. It is logistically more challenging–there are no roads to Nome, only barge and airplane. It’s a two-part journey for cargo coming from the lower 48–one overland to Seattle, then 2 overseas or air to Nome.
3. it’s way colder than any place I’ve ever lived,
4. I had no idea what kind of housing I would be moving to…
5. Everything is so expensive in Nome, so if a company is paying for the move, I recommend buying as much bulk in advance as possible, so I could buy it for cheaper and then have the shipping paid for.

1. I had to think months ahead since cargo has to be on a barge between July and September. The Bering Strait unfreezes in June (typically) and freezes again in October (typically). That means 9 months of frozen sea!!! It also means if you don’t get your cargo on the barge in this narrow window, you might not have your stuff for almost 1 year! The barge takes 1 to 1.5 month to go from Seattle to Nome, so in order to get my stuff by September, I had to get it to Seattle by the beginning of August. It’s especially difficult if you don’t have time to figure out what all you need. So even though I tried really hard to think ahead, I still didn’t get everything in the container that I need, and I ended up with 3 check-in bags on my flight.

2. Everything ships from Seattle on a barge, so you have to have everything packed in your home state and moved, but then also it must be properly packed and ready for the shipyard to put it on a barge to go to Nome. Most of the lower 48 moving services, like PODS are not available to go to Alaska. So in order to arrange it all, you have to have a container (pallets with your shrink-wrapped boxes, crates, liftvan, metal container) that you can pack and have it sent on a land carrier to a ship yard to jump on the barge to Alaska.

It is very time sensitive. I had to work backwards–from the time I needed my goods in AK, to when they needed to be in Seattle, and figure how long they would need to get to Seattle. I also didn’t know how long stuff would be sitting outside, so I wanted it to be not in palettes. Simultaneously I had to call a lot of places to find a container. I considered building a crate with my Dad, because it would be a LOT cheaper. But realistically, who has time for that?

Alternatively, you can look into air cargo carriers, like Northern Air Cargo (NAC) or Lynden or Everts Air Cargo. Shipping totes or boxes through UPS is also relatively cheaper than some cargo carriers. You can also take up to 6 check-ins per person, weighing 100lbs, which you will pay for, but may be the best way to get the bulk of needed items. 

my packing list:

Household goods:
Living room: couch, chair, bookshelves, curtains (although in hindsight, I didn’t really need all these)
Books (heavy! Need to invest in a kindle!)

Dishes, towels, paper towels,extra storage shelves (collapsable from target)
TP, towels, washcloths, cleaning supplies, personal bath items, lots of soap, shampoo, conditioner, razors, electric toothbrush (enough to last one person for 2 years!)
If you are bringing breakable ceramics, make sure each item is wrapped in bubble wrap or wrinkled paper, as they are sure to break if not well-packaged.

Bed and dresser (again, didn’t need to bring these!), bookshelves, nightstands, sheets, blankets, comforter/bedding

Bogs, lots of wool long underwear, jacket. I still need a 800-fill, long, down puffy coat with a hood :), sweaters, wool socks, warm clothes

camera, computer, extra extension cords and power strips, 3 S.A.D lamps and one regular lamp, fan-heaters

Food: I bought lots of non-perishable (Ie processed, boxed) foods from Costco, since I had a container to fill. Food is relatively expensive in Nome, but you can buy a lot of stuff at regular prices on Amazon Prime, and I hear Wal-mart ships goods to Nome for free, or with a small shipping price.

3 thoughts on “Packing for Nome, Alaska

  1. Outstanding find! Found this while researching on how to get my stuff to Nome if I accept this job I am looking at. I had the same idea just to buy a container and ship it to Nome. Tons of questions regarding this. Was think of maybe a 20 footer and putting a truck into it but then with only 110 miles of road, why bother. I might bring an ATV, but both mine are set up as sport quads for the desert. But I think a 10 footer would be all I need. Do you regret not building a crate?

    Cost and logistics. The job does not include relocation expenses or so they say for all their other positions in the lower 48, but you would think they may give me a little considering it is Nome.

    Is there a place to store it when you get there?

    Can you just ship it from where you live? Currently I am in SoCal?

    Plus there are so many other questions I have regarding Nome. I called up there yesterday inquiring about studio apartments, basically a room for $950 a month, but even those prices, both places I called had none available. Could I strike up an email exchange so I can work out these concerns?

    The job is still tentative and I have so much more to consider. I haven’t even been able to calculate my Cost of Living Allowance that I would receive. But I am trying to get all of this info before it comes down to a decision.

    • Hi Steve! I typed a long response on my phone and lost it. 🙁 Anyway, thanks for the comment and questions! To start off answering them, I really really am glad I brought a container up here! I don’t regret it at all. It’s much more durable, weather proof and will last much longer than a crate. Also, if you get it up here and decide you don’t want/need it, you can easily sell it for a good amount. People keep asking if mine is for sale. 🙂

      As far as a vehicle goes, it is really nice to have a truck or SUV! For getting out on the beautiful drives out to the countryside, for transporting things, fishing, hunting…etc. Ideally it would be great to have both, though–ATVs are fun for getting out on the tundra, and beach and just being more versatile. Plus it’s cheaper to buy it elsewhere and ship it than buy here. I also chose a container, because it was going to be about the same price as building a crate. I’m sure you can send it from Socal, although I only researched from Minnesota. But I’m guessing from Socal is even easier.

      I’m not 100% sure about storage. However, the majority of people have containers in their yards, and in general there is a lot of storage, empty space around that seems easy enough to have a container. Wherever you rent/buy/live, I’m sure you can figure something out with whoever the landlord is. That rental price sounds right. A studio is </=$1000, 1BR 1000-1500, 2br $1500+ and increasing accordingly. I think the general cost of living in Nome for a single adult is $40,000-60,000 per year, depending on how you live/budget.

      Relocation can definitely be expensive. I spent probably a total of $10,000-15,000 on relocating. I saved a lot from bringing a container with a lot of goods that would be really expensive here, so it paid off.

      Anyway, you can email me at pacificmeri AT gmail. Take care and good luck!
      Shana recently posted…Sunday ER ShiftMy Profile

  2. Hi Shana! I am moving to Nome, Alaska with my husband mid-August. Your blog has been very helpful and fascinating! I would love to connect with you! Any advice on preparation for moving and clothing?

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