Is Moving to Alaska a Good Idea?

For many people, Alaska is a faraway state with a cold climate. Moving to Alaska isn't a common decision, but it can be a great one. The majority of people move to Alaska for work or adventure. If you take the right approach, you can do both.

In Alaska, you can enjoy beautiful nature, kind people, new customs, and much more. You can discover an entirely new life and learn to love it. People who stay in Alaska feel positive about this state and all the impressive opportunities it brings.

In this article, you'll learn about moving to Alaska, the pros and cons that come with it, and the reasons to make this beautiful state your new home.

Important things to know before moving to Alaska

If you have already made a decision to move to Alaska, you have plenty of interesting discoveries ahead of you. Before you start looking for a place to live or planning your weekends, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Location

While Alaska is a state, it doesn’t border with any of the states in the USA. Instead, it borders Canada. Alaska also has a maritime border with Russia. This state used to be a part of Russia before 1867 when the United States formally purchased it.

Climate

The climate in Alaska is hardly mild. However, it never gets too hot there. The summer in this state runs from May to September. During this time, temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, sometimes, near the coastal areas, they can reach the 90s.

In August and September, temperatures begin to cool down and fall begins. Fall is one of the most beautiful times in Alaska. The foliage is amazing while the temperatures are still warm enough for comfortable sightseeing.

The Alaskan winters begin in October and last until the middle of March. Temperatures can vary from city to city. In the coastal areas, temperatures may never fall before 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, interior regions can see temperatures as low as - 60 degrees.

In the spring, the air gets warmer during the day but temperatures are still low at night.

If you are moving to Alaska and trying to figure out which climate to expect, you need to look at each region separately. Temperatures can vary dramatically depending on the area you choose to call your home.

Best place to live and retire

According to ratings, Anchorage is in 101st place on the list of the best cities to live in the United States. It also holds the 67th spot on the list of the best places to retire in the USA.

While the climate in Alaska may not be the most demanded in the world, it can be suitable for many people.

If you are looking at one of the smaller cities, they come with benefits too. Besides being closer to beautiful nature spots, smaller cities have a much lower cost of living than Juniper or the Anchorage area does.

Diverse wildlife

Moving to Alaska is an exciting adventure, especially if you love wildlife. It's not uncommon to see a moose, an eagle, or even beluga whales up close. Every time you venture out of the city for some nature-filled weekend fun, you could meet a new neighbor.

That's why it's imperative to know about safety measures. Not all wildlife in Alaska is friendly. You could encounter grizzly bears who don't feel like posing for your Instagram photo. So, it's important to read up on basic bear safety precautions and behavior in the unspoiled wilderness.

Numerous business opportunities

Alaska is well known for its variety of business opportunities. If you are moving without a job waiting for you in the state, it may be a good idea to start your own business. Alaska offers spots in a number of industries, including oil & gas, pharmacy, fishing, transportation, logistics, and tourism.

Once you become a resident, you can apply for a business license. Take the time to browse the market. You are likely to find something readily available.

The average costs of becoming a business owner in Alaska are higher than in many other states. However, you can collect impressive revenue. Since the competition is reasonable, you have a good chance of finding your own niche and becoming an industry leader.

Excellent job market

If you aren’t ready to start a new business just yet, don’t worry. There are plenty of job opportunities waiting for you in Alaska. While the market is highly competitive in some niches, there are many jobs available. Alaska's unemployment rate is a little over 4 %, which is an average indicator. 

The highest-paying jobs in Alaska are healthcare-related. However, you can also find a job in many other industries, including aviation and oil & gas. 

If you are thinking of moving to Alaska right now, you can already start looking for a job in the state. When choosing the position, pay attention to the location. Conditions, climate, and infrastructure in Alaskan cities can differ dramatically.

Economy

Alaska boasts a fairly solid economy. It has been in better shape before the pandemic. However, now it's recovering. The rankings of this state on economy-related scales are satisfactory.

With the oil & gas industry responsible for over 80% of the state’s revenue, the economy depends on the state of that particular market. Oil production has been on a declining trend for several decades. However, it still manages to support the state's economy.

Market forecasts differ every year, going from excellent to worst. It seems that today, the economy is in satisfactory shape.

Education

Alaska invests a significant amount of money into its education system. From kindergarten to higher education, children and students have a variety of impressive opportunities. Large schools, small classes, and excellent spending for pupils make Alaska a wonderful place to live for families with children.

According to Times Higher Education, the University of Alaska is one of the top 100 small universities in the country. The university also offers online programs for students who want to get their education from home or juggle education and work opportunities.

The costs of moving to Alaska

The costs of moving to Alaska depend on many factors including:

Where you are moving from - the distance dictates the moving costs, including tickets and moving services.

Where you are moving to - not all places in Alaska are easy to get to. If you are planning to move somewhere outside Anchorage, it may be more expensive to get your belongings there.

How much you want to move - if you are planning to move all of your belongings, including furniture, costs can be extremely high.

You need to keep in mind that the cost of living in Anchorage exceeds the average cost of living in the United States by almost 25%. Anchorage is the most expensive city in Alaska, it’s also the largest one. The rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Alaska is around $1,000.

If you choose to live in any other city, excluding Juniper, the costs will likely be lower. However, the accessibility of jobs, entertainment, and products may not be the same.

To minimize the costs of moving to Alaska, you may want to take the time to find the right moving company. Unless all you have is a backpack, you would need someone who knows local nuances to help you relocate your belongings.

Cost of real estate in Alaska

The average cost of living in Alaska is around $50,000 a year. That's higher than the national average. However, if you choose to live in smaller cities, costs can decrease drastically. Out of these $50,000, you can expect to spend:

Housing - around $9,000

Healthcare - around $10,000

Food (without eating out) - around $4,000

Gas - around $500

Other expenses - $25,000 - $30,000

The cost of living depends greatly on the housing your choose. The median sale price of a house in Alaska in 2022 is around $337,000. That’s lower than the national American median price, which is around $455,000. You can expect to spend:

Around $2,000 on the mortgage (monthly)

Between $800 and $1500 (monthly) on apartment rent

If you are moving to Anchorage, Alaska, you can expect to spend around $330,000 on a new home. In Juniper, the prices go up to $420,000.

Anchorage is a major city with the lowest cost of living. So if you want to live in a big city but pay less, choose this one. However, you may find that Juniper offers more employment opportunities in some industries and niches.

Benefits of moving to Alaska

Natural beauty and no state income tax are just the beginning. Moving to Alaska from California, Texas, or any other state comes with a variety of benefits. Here are just a few of them.

You get money for being a resident

Back in the 1970s Alaskans decided to establish a Permanent Fund Dividend Program for the state and Alaska residents. At least 25% of Alaska’s oil and mineral royalties go into the fund. The money can supplement the general fund of the state of Alaska and go to the eligible residents’ pockets as dividends.

For example, in 2022, all eligible residents receive $3,284. It’s a nice bonus to get simply for living in the state. To start getting the dividend, you need to live in Alaska for at least a year. And, yes, kids get it too.

Amazing nature

Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on the entire planet. If you decide to move to Alaska, you can have all the beauty at your fingertips. From stunning wildlife to amazing landscapes, Alaskans enjoy breathtaking views every day regardless of the season.

A dozen of truly impressive national parks, including the world-famous Denali National Park, is a great place to spend your weekend.  Meanwhile, all the finishing and hunting opportunities are impossible to miss.

Even if you’ve never hunted or fished before, you will start doing it in Alaska. The experience is so rewarding, you can’t ignore it.

Don’t forget about the Northern Lights! As long as there’s night, you can see the Northern Lights from almost anywhere in Alaska.

Remote work opportunities

While Alaska seems to be far away from all major American and Canadian cities, you can still work remotely. The state has excellent infrastructure and an internet connection to support your remote activities.

So, if you aren't planning to work for an Alaskan company, it's not a problem. You can relocate and work remotely at any organization you want regardless of its location.

If you are planning to move to a smaller city, make sure to check how good the internet is at your new home. Fiberoptic connection is available in Juniper, Fairbanks, and Anchorage but may not be readily accessible in smaller towns.

Today, around 80% of Alaskan homes have access to high-speed internet.

Wonderful climate

While some people worry about moving to Alaska because it gets cold there, others see tremendous opportunities. All this snow during the winter months allows you to learn all kinds of new winter sports and enjoy the great outdoors even more.

Summers aren't hot, which makes hiking and traveling a possibility from May to October and beyond. Meanwhile, the daylight hours are extremely long. In some regions, daylight time can last for 24 hours.

Even if you aren't a sports fan, Alaska can motivate you to start moving. Your body and mind will say "thank you".

Relaxed rhythm of life

If you are tired of fast-paced city life, Alaska is a great place to be. When you move there, you'll notice how relaxed people are. While it may confuse and frustrate you at first, you'll see the benefits shortly.

In about a year (or maybe earlier), you’ll find yourself enjoying your time and moving at a relaxed pace. Such an approach is highly stress-reducing.

Disadvantages of moving to Alaska

While there are dozens of benefits of moving to Alaska, such relocation may come with a few disadvantages. You have to be ready for them in order to simplify your adaptation period.  

It gets cold (really cold)

If you aren't a fan of winters, you may not like the Alaskan climate. Temperatures can fall below -50⁰F. That’s extremely cold. Thankfully, if you live in coastal regions, it never gets that bad. However, winters are cold. That's a fact.

Meanwhile, summers are mild and sometimes cool. If you are used to scorching summers, Alaska will definitely surprise you.

Higher costs

The cost of living in Alaska is higher than in many American states. If you don’t have a job in Alaska just yet and need to count your pennies, make sure this doesn't come as a surprise.

Take the time to study living costs in the city you are planning to move to. You may make adjustments to your plans and choose a less expensive city.

Distance

If you are moving to Alaska from the United States, distance can become an issue. The flight to New York can take around nine hours. So when you travel back home, you would need to spend half a day in the air.

There are many airports in Alaska so you aren’t going to have a problem finding a convenient flight. You just need to be ready to spend a significant amount of time on travels.

Nights aren't always nights

While some people enjoy 24/7 daylight, others may have trouble falling asleep at night. It may take some time to get used to summer nights that aren't dark. Be ready to invest in some thick curtains.

The midnight sun can become an issue for children and the elderly. However, everyone gets used to this issue over time.

Things to buy before moving to Alaska

Before moving to Alaska, you may want to review your belongings and decide on the most useful things that you'll need in the state.

Winter clothes (very warm winter jacket, hat, waterproof gloves, balaclava, rain pants).

Thermal underwear

Fleece jackets

Fleece-lined pants

Waterproof shoes

Warm wool socks

Sleeping mask (to ignore 24-7 daylight in the summer)

Don't worry, online stores deliver to Alaska. However, shipping costs may be higher. You also need to get ready for a longer wait.

Since the relocation to Alaska can be complicated due to the distance, try not to bring things that don't work for the Alaskan climate. This can make your move more expensive.

The Takeaway

Moving to Alaska is an excellent decision that can turn your life into an exciting adventure coupled with a new beginning and sprinkled with impressive opportunities. While moving to this beautiful state has many advantages, there is some information you need to know before making the final decision.

To simplify your move to Alaska, make a list of things you need for the new climate. Leave all the unnecessary things behind. Working with a reliable moving company can save you time and money while streamlining the process and making your first steps in the new state easier.

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