Moving is not easy, it takes a lot of planning, researching, packing, leaving family and friends behind or worse – taking them with you ;); and getting ready to make new ones. But what if you were to move to a place so distant, unknown and different from everything you’ve seen? How would you prepare for something that not everyone can face?
I have to admit that it takes some guts to move to Alaska, so, if you have decided to take the leap and explore the not so populated, filled with fresh air, territories of Alaska, then cheers to you!
You have probably seen some of the videos on YouTube about people who have moved to Alaska; why they did it and what they have discovered since they got there, including the National Geographic documentary on Bushmen in Alaska. All of them are very helpful and educating, but the main thing they have in common is the fact that the people who moved there, wanted to be away from the city noise, crowds and complications.
A simpler and less stressful life is what many of us want, but not all of us can handle Alaska, especially if it comes with 6 months freezing darkness or endless days without a setting sun (ok, maybe I don’t mind the last one). My point is that living in Alaska is adventurous, but it could be stressful at times, (remember our friend THE BEAR), but all in all you have to be mentally prepared to enter a new, different way of living.
What do you need to know about Alaska?
It really depends on what your goals are…for instance, if you are interested in solitude and living on your own up North, i.e. being a Bushman, then you should definitely learn how to hunt (even better if you get licensed), build a house from scratch and portion your supplies well, because you can only get what you need a few times a year. Alaska is the least populated state in America for its size (570, 640.95 square miles) – 736, 732 residents as of 2014 with a people density of 1.2 per square mile, so if your goal is to get away from people – you are on the right track.
If you happen to be interested in a modern life, filled with the vast outdoor experiences Alaska can offer that too. In this case you might want to go for one of the bigger cities – Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. These three cities offer a lot of career opportunities and given the fact that Alaska is being targeted by so many big companies nowadays, I am sure it won’t be hard to find a job.
Alaska happens to be the only state that does not collect state sales tax or levy an individual income tax on earned or unearned personal income (only some cities do). On top of that, every Alaskan, receives a yearly payment from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, every resident can apply online in order to receive the Permanent Fund Dividend.
I know that the lack of personal income tax is very appealing, however the weather is still in the back of your mind isn’t it? The good news is that you shouldn’t be worried about it – yes it does get very cold in the winter up to -65 F in some regions, however, the summer can be very appealing with temperatures varying between 60 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moving to Alaska – Where should you begin?
- The City of Sitka – situated on the West side of the Baranof Island, Sitka is one of the safest cities to live in Alaska, with a crime rate of 2, 379 crimes per 100, 000 people. It is well known for its high median real estate price of $309, 800, has an incredible air quality (one of the lowest pollution rates -> 13) and it has an average summer temperature of 55F. If you are interested in going to a university or expanding your career, this might be the place for you – the city is famous with its university and the Baranof Island Brewing Company.
- Anchorage – a dream come true – it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, standing at 5.5%, a huge amount of career opportunities, no sales tax and an average summer temperature of 56 degrees. You can expect a bit more expensive homes and the rent is a bit higher too, however, the median household income stands a higher as well, so I’m sure you can afford it.
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- Juneau – great quality of life, 4.7% unemployment, comes with all the amenities you might need, of course the real estate is on the higher end, however the median household income is 20% higher than the rest of the state.Alaska’s capital is not to be overlooked, but make sure to have a job before you move, unless your relocation is temporary and you are interested in a seasonal job.
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- Fairbanks – there is no way you haven’t heard of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and its Museum, in terms of quality of life and access to amenities its stands right behind Juneau. If you want to move to Alaska, but the cold is not really your cup of tea, then you should go straight for Fairbanks with an average summer temperature of 60 degrees, it is one of the warmest places to live in Alaska.
The above mentioned cities are barely the top of the iceberg. There are so many wonderful places and cities to check out, depending on your goals – if you are interested in winter sports, go to Bethel, if low taxes are your priority – well that’s not hard to find in Alaska, not to mention that the crime rate in its major cities are incredibly low – Wrangell standing at 1, 410 crimes per 100, 000 people.
In terms of business opportunities, Alaska is becoming more and more popular in the technology and healthcare sector and as in every other state, the bigger the city that you move to, the more chances you have for your career to grow. However, if this is not your priority or you are happy with hospitality or a fishing job, then any city in Alaska would suit you.
Here are some curious facts about Alaska:
- Out of the 20 highest peaks in the US, 17 are located in Alaska – Denali (The Great One) equals 20, 320ft above the sea level and is the highest peak in North America
- Alaska has an enormous storage of water – there are more than 3 000 rivers and over 3 million lakes only in the state of Alaska
- Alaska has the highest number of active glaciers, equaling 5% of the state’s surface. In total, Alaska has around 100, 000 glaciers
- In my head for some reason glaciers and volcanoes don’t stand hand in hand (honestly, don’t know why), but Alaska has more than 70 potentially active volcanoes, which is not great given that Alaska gets approximately 5 000 earthquakes each year
And of course, you can explore all of the National Parks located in Alaska, but let’s face it – any place in Alaska looks and feels like a National Park. If you happen to be moving during the winter months, you should take a look at our tips on How to move in the winter. And should you need to transport your automobile to Alaska, we can help with that year around.