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Is Alaska a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in Alaska

Is Alaska a Good Place to Live Pros and Cons of Living in Alaska

Is Alaska a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in Alaska
Alaska is a state in the most Northwestern point of the United States west coast. It became a US state after the US purchased it from the Russian empire in 1867 Alaska lays just across Asia’s Bering Strait. It is mainly bordered by Canada’s British Columbia province, the Yukon Territory and the Pacific Ocean. Alaska is the largest US state by land area. With a population of about 750,000 residents, it is the third least populated state in the US and the most sparsely populated. Despite its size, most Alaskan residents live in the Anchorage metropolitan area.

Is Alaska a good place to live? The cold Alaskan weather will be the biggest challenge for an expat. There are no income, city or state taxes in Alaska and there are plenty of employment opportunities. The sparse population makes it hard to know neighbors but some communities are close.

Alaska deserves credit for having one of the most diverse populations in the country. Getting used to the weather especially for people from warmer climates is the biggest challenge to living in Alaska. However, the breathtaking beauty of great Alaska will convince you to stay. You will love the humongous wilderness, vast open spaces, mighty mountains and varied wildlife. There is also a long shoreline which is great for fishing. The cost of living is relatively high especially the cost of utilities in Alaska. Tourism, fishing, oil and natural gas production are the main economic activities in Alaska.

Is Alaska a good place to live?

The diverse and stunning landscapes of Alaska offer expat plenty of amazing places in which to reside. It is difficult to rate the neighborhoods in Alaska especially considering the state’s degree of wilderness. Therefore most of the neighborhoods to rate will be an area in Anchorage. The best neighborhoods to live in Alaska are College, Gateway, Ester, Sitka, Ridgeway, Soldotna, Juneau, Kenai, Anchorage, Palmer, Kalifornsky, Kodiak, North Pole, Tainana, Fairbanks, south Addition, Rogers Park, Turnagain and Rabbit Creek. There are quite a large number of best cities to live in Alaska. The worst neighborhoods include Downtown Anchorage, Mountain View, Government Hill, Midtown Anchorage, Spenard, Fairview, Russian Jack Park, Chugiak, Airport Heights, North Star, Kotzebue, Wasilla, Homer, Bethel, North Slope and Nikiski.

The crime rate in Alaska has been steadily increasing in the past few years much of it owed to the rise in opioid addiction rates in the state. Alaska has one of the lowest overall crime rates among US states. On the contrary, Alaska has one of the highest violent crime rates in the US. The state has a very high murder crime rate with 8.4 murders per 100,000 people in 2017. Insurances and additional security measures are encouraged in Alaska especially if you live in Anchorage.

There are many schools in Alaska and they are managed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. The state also runs Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka and provides partial funding for other boarding schools in the state. There are also over a dozen colleges and universities offering degree courses in Alaska. Some of the noteworthy higher education institutions include the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast and Alaska Pacific University. Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development manages AVTEC, Alaska’s Institute of Technology with campuses in Seward and Anchorage.

Road transport in Alaska is not as extensive as the rest of the United States. In fact, the Interstate highways in Alaska only make up 1082 miles. Moreover, you cannot access the state capital, Juneau via road. Smaller roads help connect the population to the Alaska Highway through which they can travel via Canada to the other US states. The Alaskan highway system includes the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel which is the longest combination road and rail tunnel in North America. The Alaska Railroad runs through cities across the entire state and is locally known as the ‘Railbelt.’ The Alaskan rail network does not extend outside of the state. The main modes of travel in Alaska are by air, river or sea. Alaska has a very well developed ferry system and equally developed bush air services. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is the main airport in the state and Alaskan airlines the only airline.

Alaska’s social life consists of activities and events very particular to their culture. You will find dog sled races, whale festivals and native arts and music festivals.

Living in Alaska Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. You will experience the great outdoors in Alaska in a way that you never have before. There is a vast wilderness in the state.
  2. Alaska is the perfect state to learn snow and winter sports. There is great space and it is almost always cold and snowing.
  3. The pace of life in Alaska is really slow. You will appreciate the lack of hurry.
  4. Even the big cities in Alaska have small-town charm. There are closely-knit communities in Alaska.
  5. Alaska has some of the best summers in the world. You will see almost 24 hours of daylight during summer in Alaska.
  6. There are plenty of employment opportunities in Alaska not only in the oil and natural gas industries but also in healthcare, transportation and security.
  7. You can get paid to live in Alaska. You do have to qualify first.
  8. Alaska is a great state if you enjoy the wilderness. You will encounter wildlife every day in the state.
  9. There are no state income taxes in Alaska. Local taxes are also very low.
  10. Alaska has a great environment for business. There are few barriers to entry.

Cons

  1. Alaska is a state of earthquakes. You will have to get used to experiencing about 5000 earthquakes annually.
  2. The cold weather in Alaska is only rivaled by living on the poles. You will have to get used to the frigid climate.
  3. Alaska has a high cost of living brought about by the high cost of energy to keep warm especially during winter.
  4. Fuel prices in Alaska are surprisingly high despite the main industries in the state being oil and gas production.
  5. You will be far from any of your loved ones who live in the continental United States.
  6. You will have to come up with extra ways to keep warm especially during winter which will need budgeting during the warmer months.
  7. Getting used to dealing with and removing snow on your premises. You will get good with a shovel a few months after living in Alaska.
  8. You cannot work as a self-employed individual or freelancer in Alaska. You have to set up as a business.
  9. 95% of North America’s bears live in Alaska so bear attacks are common.
  10. There is been an increase in crime due to the opioid epidemic.

Is Alaska a good place to work?

Alaska’s had a total GDP of $47.5 billion as of 2016 making it the forty-seventh largest state economy in the United States. The oil and gas industry is the backbone of the Alaskan economy making up about 80% of the state’s revenue. Although much of Alaska’s oil reserves have been depleted, the state still has extensive energy resources.

Are you thinking about moving to Alaska? With the introduction of fracking, Alaska is now the fourth highest producer of crude oil among states in the US. Alaska’s economy has become more dependent on dear diesel fuel for its energy needs despite the huge wind and hydroelectric power capacity. In addition, the vast distances it takes to transport fuel and the low population make the price of gasoline in Alaska is quite high.

Other industries in Alaska include fishing, tourism, mining and agriculture. Alaska deserves credit for being one of the prominent locations on the planet for wild sea fishing. Alaska also has extensive forest cover which allows the state to be an exporter of timber and related products. Alaska also exports coal, silver, zinc and gold which can be found in some Alaskan rivers.

As of 2013, Alaska had the fifth-highest concentration of millionaires among states in the country. The above statement is further supported by the fact that Alaska has one of the highest incomes per capita of states in the country. The average annual salary for an individual in Alaska is $73,181. On the contrary, the unemployment rate in Alaska is 6.2% and slightly above the national average.

The largest employers in Alaska include Providence Health & Services, Carrs-Safeway Alaska Division, Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, Trident Seafoods, Alaska Airlines, ASRC Energy Services, and Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

Is Alaska a good place to buy a house?

The real estate market in Alaska is quite expensive. Alaska has the sixth-highest average home price among the United States at $285,000. Homeownership in Alaska stood at 63.7% as of 2018. Despite low-interest rates, there are still barriers to homeownership in Alaska including down payments and mortgage insurance. To avoid paying mortgage insurance in Alaska, you need to make a down payment of at least 20% of the home value.

The average monthly rent for an apartment in Alaska is $1125. However, the rents will vary depending on the location. Rental rates in Anchorage are way more expensive than rents in more remote places like Kenai.

The best neighborhoods to live in Alaska are College, Gateway, Ester, Sitka, Ridgeway, Soldotna, Juneau, Kenai, Anchorage, Palmer, Kalifornsky, Kodiak, North Pole, Tainana, Fairbanks, south Addition, Rogers Park, Turnagain and Rabbit Creek. The worst neighborhoods include Downtown Anchorage, Mountain View, Government Hill, Midtown Anchorage, Spenard, Fairview, Russian Jack Park, Chugiak, Airport Heights, North Star, Kotzebue, Wasilla, Homer, Bethel, North Slope and Nikiski.

The average price of a one-bedroom property in Alaska is $254,500, of a two-bedroom property is $287, 300, of a three-bedroom property is $330,120, of a four-bedroom property is $376,780, and of a five-bedroom property is $423,440.

The mean rent per month for a one-bedroom property in Alaska is $1,170, for a two-bedroom property is $1,495, for a three-bedroom property is $1,790, for a four-bedroom property is $2,130 per month, for a five-bedroom property is $2,670 per month.

Is Alaska a good place to retire?

Despite most retirees preferring to retire in states like Florida where the sun is always shining and spending the rest of their days sunbathing by the pool, Alaska is a great place for retirees. Alaska is especially welcoming to retirees for financial reasons. Not having to pay taxes after years of accumulating a retirement fund while still paying taxes is a huge relief for retirees.

Moreover, there are scores of opportunities for employment in Alaska. Therefore, even if your retirement fund runs out or if you want to supplement it, you can get a part-time job and still live comfortably. A job may also be used to offset the high cost of living in Alaska.

The best neighborhoods to live in Alaska are College, Gateway, Ester, Sitka, Ridgeway, Soldotna, Juneau, Kenai, Anchorage, Palmer, Kalifornsky, Kodiak, North Pole, Tainana, Fairbanks, south Addition, Rogers Park, Turnagain and Rabbit Creek. The worst neighborhoods include Downtown Anchorage, Mountain View, Government Hill, Midtown Anchorage, Spenard, Fairview, Russian Jack Park, Chugiak, Airport Heights, North Star, Kotzebue, Wasilla, Homer, Bethel, North Slope and Nikiski.

The mean price of a one-bedroom property in Alaska is $259,650. The mean price for a two-bedroom property is $295, 750. The mean price for a three-bedroom property is $336,800. The mean price of a four-bedroom property is $382,100. The mean price of a five-bedroom property is $429,200.

The mean rent per month for a one-bedroom property in Alaska is $1,230. The mean rent per month for a two-bedroom property is $1,560. The mean rent per month for a three-bedroom property is $1,850. The mean rent for a four-bedroom property is $2,600 per month. The mean rent for a five-bedroom property is $2,795 per month.

Is Alaska a good place to visit?

Alaska has a very strong tourism industry and with good reason. The state has a great natural beauty that attracts visitors from the world over.

The following are the most prominent tourist attractions in the state:

Denali National Park and Preserve

Denali National Park is made up of 6 million acres and has some of the most beautiful natural attractions you will ever see.

You can visit Denali Mountain (North America’s highest mountain), Wonder Lake and Mount Foraker and see beautiful plant and animal wildlife.

Juneau

Alaska’s capital is one of the most remote capitals you will ever see. It is located at the foot of Mount Roberts. You can only get to Juneau via boat or seaplane.

You can go fishing, hiking and bird watching in Juneau. There are also museums and fresh seafood restaurants in Juneau.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

You will rarely ever find the opportunity to see a glacier that is almost the size of a small town so Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a real treat.

You can explore the mountainous park as you hike with the aid of tour rangers. You can also take a cruise ship and admire all the massive glaciers.

Marta Kovachek

Marta is a true digital nomad, traveling across the USA for the last 10 years and sharing her expertise with a wide range of readers. Read more articles by Marta Kovachek

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