What to Know when Moving to Alaska

If you are reading this article, you and I are most likely quite a bit alike. You most likely aspire to move to “The Final Frontier”, Alaska, which seems to be a growing trend. I personally developed this desire several years ago, when I was a child. I grew up hearing from my father about how great Alaska was when he was required to make several visits to Elmendorf Airforce Base. I made this dream a reality when I moved to Anchorage in February, 2011, and my wife followed in May. If you plan to bring your dream to life as well, you most likely are already aware of the weather and daylight changes, there are, however, a few other things you should know.

The first of these is having enough money. Because of its size, and state university, my wife and I made the decision to move to Anchorage. We made the move with about $18,000 to settle in on, and probably would have found it difficult to settle in with less than $15,000. Since Anchorage is the main port of entry for Alaska, things to tend to be a little less expensive than elsewhere in the state, but still more costly than the lower 48. The $10 gallon of milk rumors only holds true in extremely rural areas. You can expect to spend slightly more on groceries and fuel, but if you shop smart, you can easily accommodate this difference. Having moved up from San Antonio, TX, finding a place to live forced me to open my wallet more than I was used to. If you intend to rent, plan on spending about $900 for a one bedroom, $1200 for a two bedroom, and around $1400-$1800 for a three bedroom apt or nearly any house. Purchasing a house is another story all together. Throughout the municipality of Anchorage, the median home price is about $250,000. However, if you want to live in South Anchorage, the more desirable side of town, $250,000 will get you about 1200 square feet.

After you gather enough funds and make the move, you will need a job. Obviously, having a job before making the move would be ideal, but I didn’t find it necessary. I stayed unemployed for a little over a month before I found it time to begin my job search. I found craigslist to be my saving grace, and was officially employed within two weeks of the beginning of my search. I have experience in sales, estimating, and IT work, and found myself in a position to choose from a few different job offers, all of which paid well in comparison to similar jobs in the lower 48. When in search for her job, my wife found herself in a very similar situation. I would definitely not consider finding work to be very difficult, as long as you have some level of ability. However, don’t expect opportunities at every corner or with the government, many do prefer to hire Alaskan residents.

Now for the fun part. Anchorage has proven to be a great destination of choice. In my short time here, I have found much time to hop in my car and explore other areas. Together, my wife and I have visited Fairbanks, many small towns between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and explored the Kenai Peninsula. Although Alaska offers beauty along every stretch of road, I always find joy in returning to Anchorage. Even though exploring Alaska is fun and highly recommended, the municipality of Anchorage has so much to offer without having to travel those long distances. Within Anchorage, you can expect to find hundreds of miles of bike and hiking trails, great fishing and hunting, a ski resort (in the community of Girdwood), golf and disc golf courses, numerous parks and lakes, great bird watching, major restaurant and department store chains, and plenty of culture. Local activities seem to be ever-present, and my wife and I discover things to do just by driving around town. Due to the amount of eccentric people in Alaska, much like myself I must admit, I never cease to be amazed. On any one day, you may see people walking tight ropes in the park, or skijoring down the side of the road.

A life in Alaska is not for everyone, and you truly must love the colder climate. Yes, we miss our families, and are still meeting new people, but we are extremely happy. Hopefully this writing is of some help, and one day you may be those new people we meet.

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