We have begun to ship our belongings to Napaskiak AK where we will be spending at least 9 months of our lives.
Lots of Stairs!!
I went to the post office myself with the majority of the totes. I had to take them all the way down our stairs from our second story apartment and into my car. Moving in steps I was able to do it. I left the tote full of books for when Nathan was home though- that one was weighing in at 65 pounds on our scale at home, and that was too much for me to carry! Everything just barely fit in my car anyway.
At the post office, everyone was so nice and helpful. People held doors and chatted with me. People seem really shocked whenever I tell them that we are moving to Alaska- like it is a different country, and they can’t imagine ever doing it. What is really crazy though is that I ran into a man who was shipping his stuff and moving himself and his family back to Bangladesh! We wished each other luck, and he was off to the airport. And I thought the shipping costs were going to be high for my packages- at least I don’t have to worry about customs and international charges! I was a little annoyed that I had to lift all of the totes high up onto the counter ( about 4 1/2 feet!) to get onto the scale. I thought that they might have a larger lower scale like the airport, but no dice. It was funny to see them try to balance the totes on the little scale without bumping into their computers or other items.
Thankfully, our scale at home was pretty accurate so I had a good idea estimating the cost on the USPS website. They make it easy enough to put in the measurements and weight, and then give you a cost estimate. All of our boxes were too large to pay for postage at home (you can save money that way) and had to be verified by a postal worker. If you are planning to move to rural Alaska, be prepared- a 45lb tote costs about $80 to ship from the east coast. And we had five totes to send in our first batch. Hopefully we will only have about three more to send, but it is not a cheap thing to do. This is why most school districts offer a signing bonus or some form of reimbursement. However, the reimbursement is only really meant to cover the costs of ONE person moving, and in this case it is the two of us, so we obviously have more stuff despite donating and sorting and paring down everything. I couldn’t imagine doing this with a whole family!
Next on our list was to send ourselves some canned goods. The school district instructed us that it is cheaper to send yourself flat rate boxes full of canned food than buying it at our sites. In a flat rate box, “if it fits- it ships!” so they are ideal for shipping compact but heavy items. A can of soup can cost $5 at the local co-op in Napaskiak, so we went to Aldi (a really great discount grocery store) and got a whole bunch of cans:
It felt like we were stocking up for some sort of catastrophe! I found myself apologizing to the cashier for the sheer amount of cans, but I’m sure they see a lot of people coming through and getting things in bulk because of the really low prices.
We tend to buy a lot of our staples there anyway, so I know that they have consistently low prices, even when you factor in shipping costs. We used the Click and Ship option on the USPS website to save on postage for the flat rate boxes, and I was even able to schedule a pickup so that we just had to pile them down by the mailbox in our lobby!
In the end, this method has just about doubled the cost of each item, as we have spent just a little more on shipping than we did on the actual groceries, but because of the low prices here we will have still saved money in the long run.
Now we just have to keep packing everything that we will be putting into storage. The only things left to send to Napaskiak will be the kitchen and bathroom things that we will be using right up until we leave. Thankfully we are going to be visiting friends and family for about two weeks before we leave, so our boxes will have time to arrive before (or sometime close) to us. The school advised sending things 3-4 weeks ahead of time, but the post office gave us arrival dates of only 2 weeks away. We have tracking on all of our stuff, so we shall see!