Moving to Alaska
Imagine taking a leap of faith and embracing a grand adventure to the great wilderness of Alaska - where captivating beauty, thrilling escapades, and boundless opportunities await. If you're one of those fearless explorers seeking a new beginning amidst the stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems, our comprehensive Alaska relocation guide is designed just for you. Let your excitement build as we take you on a journey, exploring all the essentials that come with calling Alaska home. So, buckle up, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime!
What to Know Before Moving to Alaska
1. Living Off-the-Grid is a Real Thing Here
"Getting away from it all" takes on a whole new meaning in Alaska. Some residents choose to live off-the-grid, relying on solar panels, wind turbines, and backwoods skills to survive. Living in a remote cabin alongside pristine nature is a quintessential Alaskan experience. While this lifestyle isn't for everyone, it's a unique opportunity to engage with the land and learn a greater sense of self-reliance and adventure.
2. Embrace the Dark (and the Light)
Alaska's position on the globe means that the hours of daylight vary drastically throughout the year. In the winter, some parts of the state can have as few as 4 hours of daylight, while in the summer there can be up to 22! This can take some mental adjustment, but most people find it manageable after a short time. Embrace this change by discovering new hobbies for the long winter nights, like knitting, reading, or indoor bouldering. And when summer's endless light comes around, make the most of your extended days by going out to explore the great outdoors.
3. Wildlife is a Part of Life
No matter where you call home in Alaska, there's a good chance you'll be sharing your space with some new furry neighbors. Bear, moose, caribou, and countless other species thrive in this unspoiled environment. While seeing these animals in the wild can be captivating, it's crucial to learn how to safely and respectfully coexist with them. For example, if you live in an area frequented by bears, investing in proper bear-resistant garbage containers is essential. Observing wildlife from a respectful distance can provide exciting experiences while minimizing negative impact on their habitats.
4. Indulge in Fresh Seafood and Wild Berries
Alaska is a haven for food lovers, especially those who enjoy fresh seafood. Known for its wild salmon and king crab, Alaska's waters also provide an abundance of halibut, cod, and scallops. Food doesn't get much fresher than this! Additionally, Alaska's boreal forest abounds with wild berries in the summer, from blueberries and raspberries to lingonberries and cloudberries. Foraging for berries is a popular Alaskan pastime, and many residents turn their bounty into delicious jams and preserves, or use them in pie and other desserts.
5. Sourdough and Cheechako: Learn Alaskan Lingo
Before moving to the Last Frontier, brush up on some local lingo to help you fit in with the locals. Two important terms to know are "sourdough" and "cheechako." A "sourdough" is someone who has lived in Alaska for a long time, while a "cheechako" is the opposite - someone new to the state. These terms originated during the Klondike gold rush era in the late 1800s, and are still used today. Becoming a sourdough takes time, but cheechakos are welcomed with open arms as they learn the ropes and embrace their new home.
6. Prepare for Extreme Weather... Inside and Out!
Alaska's weather is infamous for its wide range of conditions and unpredictable nature. It is not unheard of to experience all four seasons within a single week. To help weather the inconsistencies, investing in good-quality outdoor gear is necessary. From a cozy parka and snow boots to quality raincoats and windbreakers, having the right clothing can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your life in Alaska. Surprisingly, you should also prepare for the occasional hurricane-force winds! Some areas of southeast Alaska, like Ketchikan, can experience winds up to 120 mph due to the prevalence of the "Taku Wind," a result of cold air rushing through mountain gaps. Batten down the hatches!
Moving to Alaska presents a unique opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. By embracing the quirks and challenges that come with life in The Last Frontier, you're sure to have an unforgettable adventure.
Pros and Cons of Living in Alaska
Pros of Living in Alaska
Natural beauty and scenic landscapes
Alaska offers breathtaking natural beauty with its vast landscapes, rugged mountains, glaciers, and diverse wildlife. Living in Alaska means having access to outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and fishing, all with the backdrop of the picturesque Alaskan scenery.
Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend
Residents of Alaska receive the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, an annual payment resulting from investments made by the state's oil revenues. This dividend helps to offset the higher living costs in Alaska and provides residents with extra income for living expenses or leisure activities.
No state income or sales tax
Alaska is one of the few states in the US without state income or sales tax, which can be a significant financial advantage for both individuals and businesses living and operating in the state. This tax-free environment can result in increased savings, allowing residents to allocate their funds more effectively.
Midnight sun and Northern Lights
Alaska is known for its extended daylight hours during the summer months, commonly referred to as the "midnight sun." This phenomenon allows for ample opportunities for outdoor activities and experiences throughout the long summer days. Similarly, during the winter months, residents can often enjoy the magical natural display of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.
Strong sense of community
Due to its remote location and relatively small population, Alaska fosters a strong sense of community among its residents. Many people in Alaska are supportive and helpful towards neighbors and newcomers, creating a welcoming and tight-knit atmosphere for those moving to the state.
Cons of Living in Alaska
High cost of living
Given its remote location and harsh environment, Alaska's cost of living can be significantly higher than in other states. Items such as groceries, gas, and transportation can be more expensive than in the contiguous United States due to shipping costs and limited availability, resulting in a higher overall cost of living.
Extreme weather and climate
Alaska's climate is characterized by freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and long, dark winters. Residents must adapt to these harsh weather conditions, which can cause seasonal depression, limited mobility, and challenging road conditions. The weather can also affect access to services and goods, as supply chains are sometimes disrupted by severe weather events.
Remote location and limited accessibility
Alaska's remote location can mean limited accessibility to services and amenities commonly available in the contiguous United States. Many towns and villages are accessible only by boat, plane, or snowmobile, making it more difficult for residents to access healthcare, retail, and entertainment options. This isolation can be both a pro and con, depending on personal preferences.
Wildlife encounters and risks
Alaska is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, moose, and wolves. While these animals contribute to the state's natural beauty, close encounters with them can pose risks to residents. It is essential for individuals living in Alaska to be prepared and knowledgeable about how to handle such encounters to stay safe in their daily lives.
Depending on your career and industry, job opportunities in Alaska may be limited compared to other states. The economy is heavily focused on natural resources, such as oil, gas, and fisheries, with fewer opportunities in other sectors. It is essential to consider your career goals and target industry when evaluating the potential for job success in Alaska.
Is Alaska a Good State to Live In?
Alaska is a great place to live because of its stunning natural beauty, numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, and tight-knit communities. The state also boasts a low population density, giving residents plenty of space and a peaceful lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
What Is Alaska Famous For?
Alaska is famous for the mesmerizing natural display of the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. Visitors travel from all over the world during the winter months to witness the green, pink, and purple curtains of light dancing across the night sky.
During the summer months, Alaska experiences a phenomenon called the midnight sun, where the sun remains visible for 24 hours a day in the northernmost reaches of the state. This unique event attracts tourists who wish to experience the never-ending daylight that allows for extended outdoor activities and exploration.
Glaciers and Ice Fields
Home to more than 100,000 glaciers, Alaska boasts some of the most stunning ice formations in the world. Visitors can marvel at the majestic glaciers from boats, planes, or even up close on guided tours, with popular destinations such as Glacier Bay National Park and the Mendenhall Glacier.
Alaska is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts with its diverse ecosystems and abundance of native species, including brown bears, moose, eagles, and orcas. Visitors can embark on guided tours, boat cruises, or aerial expeditions to catch a glimpse of the incredible Alaskan wildlife in their natural habitats.
Overview of Tax Rates
In Alaska, property tax rates vary by municipality, with an average of 1.18% (as of 2023), which is lower than the national average of 1.3%. Alaska has no state-level property taxes, making it one of the least expensive states for property owners in terms of taxes.
Alaska is one of five states that does not have a state sales tax, but local municipalities can levy their own sales taxes, with rates ranging from 0% to 7.5%. This makes Alaska's sales tax situation unique compared to other states and can lead to relatively low sales tax burdens depending on location within the state.
Alaska is one of nine states that does not have a state income tax, making it an attractive location for residents who want to keep more of their hard-earned money. This lack of income tax also keeps Alaska competitive with other states in terms of overall tax burden.
The Alaskan housing market stands out compared to other states due to its unique climate and geographic location. With a median home value of around $300,000, property prices are somewhat higher than the national average. However, rental prices are more affordable, averaging around $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. The state has a homeownership rate of around 65%, with an above-average impact of property taxes on homeowners. Home values have seen a modest growth rate annually, making Alaska's real estate market relatively stable, though subject to occasional fluctuations resulting from local industry and economic factors.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Alaska is generally higher than in many other states, primarily due to its remote location and harsh climate. Key factors such as housing, transportation, and groceries contribute to these higher costs. However, it is worth noting that some areas in Alaska, like Anchorage, have a relatively more affordable cost of living compared to cities in other high-cost states like California or New York. It is essential for anyone considering a move to Alaska to carefully assess the financial implications and potential benefits, such as job opportunities and the state's lack of income or sales tax.
Weather & Natural Disasters
The climate in Alaska is diverse and varies significantly across its expansive landscape. The southeastern region, comprising the coastal areas and the Inside Passage, experiences a temperate maritime climate with relatively mild temperatures, abundant rainfall, and high humidity. In contrast, the southern central region, encompassing Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, enjoys a subarctic climate with cooler summers and snowy winters. Moving further north, the Arctic region is characterized by extreme cold, long winters, and brief summers with limited sunlight.
Alaska's weather patterns can be unpredictable, yielding sudden changes in temperatures, fierce winds, and snowstorms. Despite its cold climate, Alaska faces various natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, landslides, and avalanches. As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the state has numerous active volcanoes and is prone to frequent seismic activity. Although natural disasters can pose significant challenges in Alaska, its majestic landscapes continue to offer an unique beauty and a captivating allure.
Economy & Job Market
Petroleum and natural gas
Fishing and seafood processing
Mining and minerals
Forestry and timber
Alaska's economy has always been closely tied to its natural resources, both historically and in the present day. During the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century, the region's gold mines brought thousands of settlers to the Last Frontier, setting the stage for future resource development. Today, the petroleum and natural gas fields in Alaska's North Slope provide a major source of revenue, despite the decline in oil prices in recent years. Fishing is another massive industry in the state, with its seafood processing sector being one of the largest employers in the nation. Other industries, such as mining, forestry, and timber, also contribute to Alaska's wealth, while a thriving tourism sector welcomes adventurers and nature enthusiasts from far and wide.
If you're considering a move to Alaska and planning to join the job market, there are a few things you should know. While the state's unemployment rate has slightly improved in recent years, it is still above the national average. However, don't let this deter you; there are still ample opportunities for work, especially in the state's major industries. Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau are the best cities to find jobs, with Anchorage standing out as the state's economic powerhouse. Seasonal work is also abundant, particularly in the tourism and fishing sectors, making Alaska an ideal destination for those seeking temporary or part-time employment in otherworldly surroundings.
Traffic and Transportation
Oh, Alaska! The land of stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife, and... traffic jams? Traffic in Alaska's big cities might not be as heavy as the rest of the US, but even the cold wilderness has its own unique transportation quirks. With average commute times in cities like Anchorage hovering around 20 minutes, residents have plenty of time to admire their surroundings or wonder what exactly is causing the holdup (A moose? Perhaps a bear?)
When it comes to public transportation, Alaska's cities have got your back! Alternatives like buses, vanpools, and shared-ride services make getting around pretty convenient. For instance, Anchorage boasts a highly regarded bus system known as the "People Mover" (We told you we're fun up here!) that keeps the city connected.
But let's face it, sometimes you just need your airborne fix. As the largest state, Alaska heavily depends on air travel, with over 200 airports dotting the map, including the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Have a hankering to visit a remote spot or for some bush plane fun? There's a good chance you'll be hopping on a smaller air taxi to reach your destination. Happy travels!
Things to Do'
Packing your bags and moving to the Last Frontier? Alaska's vast landscapes offer an array of adventures for those eager to brave the cold and discover the state's shimmering treasures. From wandering around ice caves to whale watching, venture into this outdoor wonderland to soak up the best this northern paradise has to offer. Here are the top 7 things to do in Alaska!
1. Explore Mendenhall Ice Caves
What once seemed like a hidden gem in Juneau is now on the radar of avid adventure-seekers. The ice caves at Mendenhall Glacier is a stunning must-see, with their ethereal blue hues and mesmerizing natural formations. But act fast because this frozen wonder is rapidly retreating due to global warming. Exploring the caves requires a combination of kayaking, ice hiking, and some crawling, so prepare yourself for a day of adrenaline-fueled excitement.
2. Bet on the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics
Now, for a lesser-known spectacle. Every year, the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics is held in Fairbanks, bringing together Alaska Natives from various tribes to showcase their athletic prowess, traditional games, and dancing. With competitions like the blanket toss, fish cutting, and muktuk eating, the event allows you to indulge in the local culture while enjoying a vast array of food stalls selling mouth-watering Alaskan delicacies.
3. Dog Mushing in Denali National Park
Nothing embodies the Alaskan spirit like dog mushing. This beloved activity doubles as both an exhilarating wilderness experience and a unique bonding opportunity with your furry companions. Visit Denali National Park, where you can mush through pristine snow-covered landscapes with trained sled dogs. Mushers offer rides, tours, and even classes, so seize this chance to learn firsthand what it takes to command your very own team of huskies.
4. Catch a Glimpse of the Northern Lights
Alaska is hands down one of the best places on the planet to witness the mesmerizing dance of the aurora borealis. Head to Fairbanks between September and April, when the nights are long, and the skies are frequently clear. Or, for the ultimate bucket list experience, join a guided tour that will whisk you away to remote locations, where you can bask in the magical glow of the northern lights, with minimal light pollution.
5. Get a Taste of the Last Frontier Salmon Fishing
It's no secret that Alaska is heaven for seafood enthusiasts, and what could be more thrilling than reeling in your own fresh salmon? Visit the Kenai River, where you can partake in a guided fishing expedition for king, sockeye, and silver salmon. You'll enjoy a day surrounded by nature's beauty, and once you've caught your next meal, try your hand at grilling it over an open fire—you won't be disappointed.
6. Discover the Forgotten Bus 142
For those with an adventurous spirit and a penchant for off-the-beaten-path excursions, this one's for you. Embark on a journey to the abandoned Bus 142, immortalized in Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild." Located near Healy, this pilgrimage is no walk in the park, requiring a challenging hike through rugged terrain. But once you get there, you'll be stepping into a piece of Alaskan history and iconic wilderness lore.
7. Get Up Close and Personal with Whales
Alaska is known for its unparalleled wildlife, and nothing compares to the awe-inspiring sight of a breaching humpback. In Juneau, put on your sea legs and set out on a guided tour to witness these gentle giants during their summer migration. And if you're lucky, you might even spot orcas gracefully slicing through the waves. Check this Whale Watching guide for more info.
So there you have it, the top 7 things to do for anyone ready to tackle the Alaskan frontier. From the natural beauty of glaciers and wildlife, to the vibrant native cultures, there's something for everyone in the Last Frontier. So pack your bags, brace for the cold, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!'
Find Movers for Your Alaska Relocation
Now that you're well-informed about the wonders and challenges of relocating to Alaska, let Great Guys Moving take the stress out of finding the perfect moving company for your transition. With our vast network of reputable, licensed, and insured movers, you can be confident in your decision. Don't delay, simply request a free moving quote today to get started with this exciting new chapter in your life. Embrace the adventure, and let our trusted professionals help you make Alaska your new home.
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