Thinking about living in Alaska? Well, it’s not your everyday move, that’s for sure. In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the Alaskan way of life, drawing from my own personal experiences. So if you’re ready to learn more about America’s Last Frontier, read on!
The Pros of Living in Alaska
Alaska boasts some of the world’s most mesmerizing landscapes, comprising over 3,000 glaciers and a coastline stretching for more than 100,000 miles. With over half the state designated as protected wilderness, the pristine beauty of Alaska will be conserved for generations to come.
During the summer, the days stretch endlessly, and wildflowers paint the landscapes with vibrant colors. Conversely, winter blankets the region with snow, setting a striking contrast against the dark skies. Here are a few astounding statistics to underline Alaska’s natural allure:
- Mount Denali, North America’s highest peak, resides in Alaska, reaching over 20,000 feet.
- The state is home to the largest national forest in the United States, the sprawling Tongass National Forest, which spans over 17 million acres.
- With a coastline extending over 6,600 miles, Alaska claims the longest stretch of any U.S. state.
- The state’s wildlife is equally impressive, harboring over 100 mammal species, including brown bears and moose, as well as over 400 bird species, including bald eagles and puffins.
Alaska is also home to a vast array of incredible wildlife, from brown bears and moose to bald eagles and more. Observing these animals in their native habitats offers unforgettable experiences that leave a lasting impression.
Unique Alaskan Culture
Alaska’s rich culture combines Native American, Russian, and American influences. Over 200 Native American tribes and language groups coexist in Alaska, making it one of the most culturally diverse states in the nation.
The environment greatly influences the culture as well. The tough terrain and harsh weather have a strong impact on everyday life. Traditional hunting, fishing, and a thriving outdoor recreation industry highlight the state’s deep connection to the land, generating over $2 billion in economic activity annually.
No State Sales Tax
Unlike the majority of U.S. states, Alaska does not levy a sales tax. The state relies on alternative revenue sources, such as taxes on oil and natural gas production, to fund government services. This unique tax structure, deeply rooted in Alaska’s history and economic reliance on resource extraction, sets the state apart from the rest of the nation. While the lack of a state sales tax is a definitive pro for residents, there have been ongoing debates about its implications.
Some argue that introducing a sales tax could stabilize state revenue and bolster public services. However, concerns exist about the potential economic impacts and burdens on residents and businesses. The absence of a state sales tax is a distinctive facet of Alaska’s financial landscape, deeply intertwined with its history and economy.
If outdoor activities are your passion, Alaska is an ideal destination for you. With 81% of its population actively engaging in outdoor pursuits, Alaska takes the crown as the most outdoorsy state in America. There are plenty of opportunities for winter sports as well, with over 3 million acres of state park land to explore. In fact, Alaska leads the nation in state park acreage per resident, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
A Strong Sense of Community
In Alaska, the bonds of community run deep. A survey conducted by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation revealed that nearly 75% of Alaskans claim to have strong connections with their neighbors and a deep sense of community within their localities. Despite Alaska’s expansive landscapes, there’s a prevailing sense of interconnectedness and state pride. A vital contributor to Alaska’s community spirit is the multitude of shared outdoor activities. Fishing, hunting, hiking, and more bring Alaskans together.
The communal spirit extends to various events and festivals as well. These range from small-town fairs to grand cultural gatherings, providing ample opportunities for residents to come together. Alaska’s sense of community is further fortified by the necessity of interdependence. In rural areas, neighbors often rely on one another for tasks like snow shoveling and carpooling. The demanding environment fosters cooperation and reinforces the sense of community in everyday life.
Annual Dividend for Residents
Every year, Alaskan residents receive an annual dividend check from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). This dividend is a means of sharing the wealth accrued from the state’s oil and mineral resources with its citizens. The average dividend check typically hovers around $1,600, although the exact amount fluctuates depending on the fund’s performance. In recent years, dividends have ranged between $900 and $2,000, providing a welcomed financial boost for recipients. The money can be used for various purposes, from covering bills to saving for a rainy day, or even funding an annual vacation.
Access to Fresh, Local Seafood
Alaskan residents enjoy access to some of the world’s finest, freshest seafood. With an annual seafood harvest exceeding $5 billion, Alaska ranks among the top three states for seafood production. Succulent salmon, sweet crab, and delectable halibut are just a few of the treasures found in Alaska’s waters. Alaska’s seafood is renowned for its unique flavor, attributed to the state’s frigid, pristine waters. The Arctic Circle’s influence imparts an unparalleled taste to the fish and shellfish caught off Alaska’s coast, setting it apart from any other region.
Alaska’s seafood offerings are also remarkably varied. Whether you’re craving a hearty fish stew, a refreshing salmon salad, or a simple plate of steamed crab legs, the state’s culinary repertoire is diverse.
No State Income Tax
Alaska stands among a select few states in the U.S. that do not impose a state income tax. This exemption translates to residents not having to pay state taxes on income derived from wages, salaries, and other sources. The absence of a state income tax can be a financial boon for residents, helping offset the state’s high cost of living. Yet, it also poses challenges related to funding public programs and services, particularly in times of economic downturn or financial exigency.
The Incredible Wildlife
Alaska shelters an incredibly diverse range of wildlife, having over 1,700 species of plants and animals. The state is particularly famed for being home to more than half of the world’s brown bears and the only place in the U.S. where all three North American bear species coexist: grizzly, black, and polar bears.
Alaska offers prime wildlife viewing opportunities. Denali National Park, for instance, is home to various animal species, including bears, moose, caribou, and wolves. The Katmai National Park and Preserve is celebrated for its brown bears, often seen fishing for salmon in the park’s rivers. Astonishingly, you don’t have to venture far – extraordinary wildlife encounters can sometimes happen right in your backyard.
Pristine Air Quality
Alaska boasts some of the finest air and water quality in the nation. The state’s unspoiled wilderness, complemented by stringent environmental regulations, results in clean and fresh air. Its far-northern location, distant from major urban and industrial areas, grants Alaska some of the cleanest air in the country.
Alaska demonstrates a steadfast commitment to environmental preservation. With rigorous regulations governing pollution, development, and a strong emphasis on conservation and sustainable resource management, the state takes its role as an environmental steward very seriously. Over 90% of Alaska’s surface waters are classified as “clean” or “moderately clean,” and only a handful of areas are deemed “polluted” by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The Cons of Living in Alaska
Prepare to grapple with prolonged periods of darkness if you choose to reside in Alaska. The state endures long, dimly lit winters and short, sunny summers. The impact of this darkness can be challenging, as seen in the phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The extended darkness in Alaska can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder, characterized by symptoms like sadness, low energy, and difficulty concentrating.
Coping with these effects can be particularly challenging in a place where winters feel interminable. Slippery, snow-covered roads and sidewalks pose risks during the winter months, making everyday tasks even more treacherous.
Prepare for substantial rainfall, particularly if you’re moving to Ketchikan. Alaska, despite its cold reputation, ranks as one of the rainiest states in the U.S. with an average annual precipitation exceeding 20 inches. This is due to the state’s coastal location, which invites moist air from the ocean and storm systems, resulting in heavy rainfall.
Alaska’s rainy climate can be a departure from the stereotype of a constantly frozen landscape. It’s important to be ready for a fair amount of precipitation, even in a place known for its snow.
Limited Housing Options
Housing availability is a significant issue in Alaska, particularly in rural regions. Many individuals end up living in crowded homes or temporary housing like trailers or cabins.
Strict federal regulations on land use, coupled with the scarcity of available land for development, restrict the construction of new housing units. This exacerbates the overall shortage of affordable housing options in the state.
Many Alaskan communities also face a shortage of rental units. The low vacancy rate in the state (4.6%, as compared to the national average of 6.9%) means fierce competition for a limited number of rental units, often leading to increased prices.
High Cost of Living
Alaska boasts the highest cost of living in the United States, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Housing costs are particularly steep, with average home prices nearly double the national average. Groceries and healthcare expenses also rank higher in Alaska. The state’s high cost of living is partly attributed to its remote location and challenging climate, which elevate the cost of transporting goods and services.
Alaska’s economy is also significantly dependent on the oil industry, contributing to fluctuations in living costs. Economic downturns in the oil sector can reverberate through the state’s economy. The elevated cost of living in Alaska can be especially burdensome for those on fixed incomes or with lower salaries. Balancing daily necessities can pose challenges, given the higher price tags associated with daily life in the state.
Alaska’s economy revolves around resource extraction, including fishing, mining, logging, and oil drilling. This foundation provides many with well-paying jobs and a stable income source. In 2019, the oil and gas sector contributed over $11 billion to Alaska’s economy, supporting more than 33,000 jobs and generating $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenue.
While resource extraction can offer economic stability, it is also sensitive to market changes and shifts in consumer demand. Oil price drops or declines in fish demand can severely affect Alaska’s economy, underscoring the vulnerability of a resource-driven economy.
High Costs of Goods
Alaska’s remote location necessitates the shipping of many goods from distant locations, driving up their costs. The state’s small population contributes to higher prices, as businesses aim to cover their expenses and remain profitable.
The elevated cost of goods in Alaska can be particularly burdensome for low-income individuals and families, potentially making it challenging to afford daily necessities. Census data indicates a higher poverty rate in Alaska compared to the national average.
Alaska encompasses vast, remote regions where many communities are isolated from the rest of the country. This remoteness affects access to essential services like medical care and grocery stores. Approximately 40% of Alaska’s population resides in “frontier” or “remote” rural areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Your experience of isolation largely hinges on your choice of location. Larger cities like Fairbanks, Juneau, and Anchorage offer comprehensive amenities and entertainment. Conversely, rural areas can feel remote and somewhat isolated, akin to residing on the surface of the moon.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Moving to Alaska means combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to seasonal changes. Typically occurring in fall and winter when natural sunlight is scarce, SAD leads to feelings of sadness, low energy, and difficulties with focus.
Contrary to common belief, SAD isn’t confined to cold climates. It can affect people worldwide. Bright light exposure is an effective SAD treatment, improving mood and mitigating depressive symptoms.
Limited Fresh Produce
Obtaining fresh produce can be a challenge in Alaska. Due to its remote location, much of the produce must be shipped from other parts of the country or even abroad. This increases costs and limits the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Alaska’s harsh climate translates into a shorter growing season. Locally grown fruits and vegetables may only be accessible for a few months each year, restricting options for consumers. Efforts are underway to improve fresh produce access, including the development of local farmers’ markets and community gardens.
Alaskans face some of the world’s most relentless mosquitoes, notably the “Alaska mosquito,” known for its aggressive biting habits. Alaska is home to over 20 different mosquito species, which are most active during the warmer months (typically May to September). The constant buzzing and biting can be frustrating, and mosquitoes can even transmit diseases like West Nile virus and malaria, making them a significant nuisance.
In considering a move to Alaska, one must weigh the enticing pros, including its natural beauty, strong sense of community, financial benefits and clean air and water against the potential drawbacks of darkness, isolation, high costs of goods and those ever-present mosquitoes. Ultimately, Alaska’s distinctive character and natural splendor offer an adventure like no other, one that can be as fulfilling as it is demanding, depending on your perspective and priorities.
Q : Should I move to Alaska?
A : Alaska offers unparalleled natural beauty, a strong sense of community, and abundant outdoor activities. The annual dividend, absence of a state sales tax, and pristine environment are additional perks. Moving to Alaska is a choice you should think through, consider it if you can adapt to its distinctive surroundings.
Q : Is Alaska good place to live?
A : Alaska offers stunning natural beauty, a strong sense of community, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. It also provides residents with an annual dividend, no state sales tax, and clean air and water. However, it comes with challenges like long periods of darkness, isolation in remote areas, a high cost of living, and the prevalence of mosquitoes. In the end, it depends on your preferences and priorities.
Q : What are the some of the living in Alaska benefits?
A : Living in Alaska comes with a range of benefits. These include experiencing stunning natural beauty, enjoying an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, receiving annual dividends, embracing adventure, and relishing the spirit of the Last Frontier
Q : What is it like living in Alaska?
A : Living in Alaska offers a unique experience, with pristine nature, close-knit communities, and a strong connection to the outdoors. However, if you truly want to know what is it like to live in Alaska, you must also learn about the downsides. This involves dealing with long, dark winters, high living costs, isolation, and adapting to a different way of life.
Q : How to move to Alaska?
A : If you want to know how to move in Alaska, let me tell you moving to Alaska 2021 involves thorough research, a visit, job search, housing, logistics, documentation and finalizing your move.
Q : What is the average salary in Alaska?
A : The average pay in Alaska was around $63,679, as of the latest available data.
Q : What is the minimum wage in Alaska?
A : The minimum wage in Alaska was $10.34 throughout 2022 and was increase to $10.85 on January 1, 2023.
Q : What do I need to know before relocating to Alaska?
A : Relocating to Alaska involves several considerations. You’ll need to think about factors such as housing availability, employment prospects, cost of living, and lifestyle adjustments. Moreover, it’s important to research and plan thoroughly before making the move.