Things To Know Before Moving To Alaska
Today, I would like to review the pros and cons of living in Alaska.
First, the benefits of living in Alaska. Then some reasons not to move to Alaska.
So you can answer the question: Is Alaska a good place to live?
Because if you decide to move to Alaska. Well, it is one big commitment.
For all of the reasons, we are going to cover next.
So, let’s not delay. And dive into the top 10 living in Alaska pros and cons today.
Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Pros And Cons Of Living In Alaska
From my perspective, here are the advantages and disadvantages of living in Alaska:
- The great outdoors
- Enjoyable summers
- Big financial benefits
- Unique lifestyle
- Tight-knit people
- Harsh winters
- High cost of living
- Remote living
- Risk of earthquakes
- Bad behaviors
Realize that this state list is loaded. Of what to know before moving to Alaska.
And I’m going to take you through each point in detail.
But first, let’s hit the big question that’s on your mind…
Is Alaska A Good Place To Live?
Yes. Alaska. Also known as “The Last Frontier”. It is a great place to live.
Reasons To Live In Alaska
First of all, this state is a nature-lovers paradise. Because the snowcapped mountains, ocean waters, lakes, rivers, and forests are mesmerizing.
In the summer, there’s no scorching heat to deal with. Plus, the daylight hours are almost endless.
Furthermore, the state will help you with your finances. By paying you to live there! While not charging you a small fortune in taxes.
Finally, this state brings life altogether with a community feel. Of genuinely welcoming, helpful, and laid-back people.
I must flip the script. Since this living in Alaska review would not be complete.
Without addressing some of the drawbacks of Alaska living…
Reasons Not To Live In Alaska
To start, winters are tough and long.
Think frigid cold. Lots of snow. And long stretches of darkness.
Next, this beautiful place is remote. From the lower-48 states.
And even if you don’t intend to leave. Transportation around the region can be difficult.
Then throw in the high price and limited supply of goods. That you need to carry on life in Alaska.
Plus some pretty bad social, political, and personal behaviors.
And these things will have you thinking hard. About the moving to Alaska pros and cons.
Okay. That’s the big picture view. And with those points taken care of.
It’s time to dig into the 10 pros and cons of living in Alaska.
So, let’s get moving…
The Great Outdoors
This state has a depth of outdoor beauty. That is unmatched. And getting out to enjoy it is not an afterthought.
Here’s why this is the perfect place for getting outdoors…
First of all, Alaska is a state of mountains. Where most of the highest peaks within the US are found.
The most notable of them is Mt. McKinley. Located in Denali National Park.
Furthermore, Alaska is a state surrounded by pristine bodies of water. Including the:
- Pacific Ocean
- Gulf of Alaska
- Bering Sea
- Chukchi Sea
- Beaufort Sea
Plus many lakes, streams, and rivers. Plus this state has lush forests and wilderness areas. Throughout this immense land.
And adding to the cool things about Alaska…
Unspoiled By Population Density
Furthermore, the Alaska landscape is mostly unspoiled by humans.
As the state has the lowest population density in the country. Similar to the characteristics of Wyoming being a distant second.
See The Northern Lights Living In Alaska
It is a magical place too. Where you can watch the light dance across the horizon.
Also, know as the aurora borealis. Being shafts or curtains of colored light visible in the night sky.
The northern lights are truly unique. And one of the best things about Alaska.
Wildlife Living In Alaska
Of course, we humans aren’t the only ones that like Alaksa life. Because the state is rich with wild animals.
First of all, moose, different types of bears, sheep, wolves, and mountain goats all call Alaska home.
Furthermore, if you visit some of the small coastal towns. You might be lucky enough to spot whales. Frolicking in the sea.
But some of these “locals” add to the dangers of living in Alaska. Since bear attacks and accidents due to moose are not uncommon.
Summer Activities And Snow Sports
Finally, Alaska’s outdoors and natural beauty. Well, it lends itself to many great activities.
For example, winter sports are plentiful. Such as:
- Ice skating
Or, just jump on a snow machine (snowmobile) and enjoy the scenic terrain.
But the summers can be fun too by spending time:
Since there are few places in the world where the average person can catch enough fish. Or hunt enough wild game.
To fill a freezer. And feed an entire family.
Get the idea? If not, let me say it.
This is one of the best states for hunters!
Speaking of summers. They are another one of the living in Alaska benefits…
First of all, let me just say it. Summers are great in this state.
Since Alaska is known for moderate temperatures during this season.
A great environment for those that do not like oppressive heat. Or high humidity.
And those summers days are practically endless. With some parts of Alaska enjoying 24 hours of daylight. Around the summer solstice.
Even in Anchorage, you will find abundant summer daylight there. Experiencing nearly 20 hours during parts of the summer season.
Summer is truly a great time in Alaska. To get out and hunt, fish, and hike. Until your heart is content.
Next, this is without a doubt one of the best perks of living in Alaska.
What am I talking about? Your money!
Big Financial Benefits
Because there are some great financial benefits of living in Alaska.
Since this state offers some financial advantages. That no other place in the country can match.
Payments From The Permanent Fund Dividend For Living In Alaska
First of all, you get paid for living in Alaska. Yes. You heard me right.
Because of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). It is money paid directly to residents each year.
The PFD is one of the important things to know. About the top 10 living in Alaska pros and cons
The purpose of the PFD is to share a portion of the state’s minerals revenues with residents.
However, one has to establish residency in the state for at least a year. Then every person in your family, including kids, are eligible for a payment.
The payment varies each year. But usually, you can count on about $1,000 per person. Sometimes more.
The PFD is one of the good things about Alaska.
And I have another one of the financial benefits of living in Alaska…
Tax Benefits Of Living In Alaska
First of all, Alaska is one of only 8 states in the country. That does not charge an income tax.
And a 9th state taxes only investment income. But, Alaska does not tax that either.
So, make as much money as you like. And this state won’t tax any of it.
Furthermore, Alaska is a rare state without a sales tax. However, some local municipalities do charge a tax on sales.
Still, the average state sales tax rate here is super low. At less than 2%.
So, spend as much as you like. And Alaska won’t tack much more on to your bill.
A Business-Friendly Climate
It’s fast and simple to form a business in Alaska. By establishing a limited liability company online.
Just be aware. Since the state does not charge individuals income tax. They do require freelancers and independent contractors to register as a business.
Which brings a tax bill along with it. But it is much less when compared to states with high individual income tax rates.
Jobs Are Plentiful For Those Willing To Work In Alaska
If you are moving to Alaska in search of new job opportunities. You will find there is work to be had in certain industries.
The oil industry and the natural gas industry lead the way.
Plus commercial fishing, military support operations, transportation, healthcare, construction jobs, and tourism.
They are popular areas. For those looking for work.
And I have another one of the benefits of living in Alaska for you…
I think I can safely say. That Alaska life is like no other.
Especially, for those looking for a fresh start.
And here is why I think that…
Do Your Own Thing Living In Alaska
There are far fewer rules and regulations. Versus what you will come across in other states.
So, if you are kind of a free spirit. And don’t like being told what you can and cannot do. You will like it here.
Enjoy The Relaxed Vibe Living In Alaska
First of all, this state has a laid-back feel to it. Great for those who like an easy-going flow.
Because people just take an individual approach. To how they deal with their time.
When do they get to things? Well, when they get to things.
Furthermore, you will feel no pressure to keep of with the Joneses.
That is to say, comparing oneself to a neighbor. As a benchmark for social class. Or, the accumulation of material goods.
Yes. Some people in Alaska have more money than others. But, you may not notice. And you probably won’t feel any need to keep up with them.
Truly, this is one of the great advantages of living in Alaska.
Enjoy Small Town Charm Living In Alaska
And the state has plenty of small-town charm. How could it not?
Since the largest city, Anchorage. Has only about 300,000 people.
Then Juneau, the state capital. And Fairbanks. Both with populations of nearly 30,000.
After that, the towns get smaller and smaller. And they have plenty of small-town charm.
Especially, the unique villages. Along the many miles of Alaska coastlines.
All of this laid-back, small-town charm brings me to another one of the pros of living in Alaska…
There is something about living in this place. With its brutal winter months (more on that in a bit), isolation, and outdoor lifestyle.
That brings out unique qualities in the people who live here. Perhaps you are already picking up on this idea.
Where words like helpful, authentic, resourceful, and even quirky come to mind. To describe the people of Alaska.
Here’s more on what I mean about the people. As we continue to evaluate the pros and cons of moving to Alaska.
Community-Minded People Live In Alaska
When you live in this land of few. Those few, tend to bond together. In ways, you won’t see elsewhere.
Perhaps it is the isolation. Mixed with the tiny, spread-out towns. That allows people to form this invisible bond.
You may be surprised. To see strangers talk openly with each other.
Because they know they are part of a select club. And unique culture.
That gives residents something in common. Even with those, they have never met.
I think this is one of the big benefits of moving to Alaska. For those looking for a community-minded state to live in.
A Diverse Population Lives In Alaska
The state’s diversity can partly be attributed to its indigenous people.
Including Eskimos (or “Inuits” for the more politically correct). Native Americans, and inhabitants in and around the Aleutian Islands.
In addition, there are multiple U.S. military bases. Bringing to Alaska people from all over the lower-48 states.
Helpful People Live In Alaska
Finally, because of the intense weather. And the tight bond that the people form.
Residents of Alaska tend to be helpful to their neighbors. And strangers too. When there is a need.
Okay. That wraps up my 5 top reasons to move to Alaska.
But the pros and cons of living in Alaska would not be complete. Without going through the bad things about Alaska.
So, let’s keep moving. And do that next…
If you don’t like winter. Alaska is not the place to move. Because you won’t get the chance to enjoy mild winters in this state.
Or, at the very least, you should move to Anchorage. Where the winter is more temperate. Versus other parts of the region.
Regardless, here is what relocating to Alaska means. As it relates to the winter months.
First of all, winter temperatures in much of the state can fall to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Or even lower.
It is a true continental subarctic climate. And winter can last eight months of the year.
Lots Of Snow
Furthermore, the state gets a lot of snow. Which not only makes travel difficult.
But you need to be ready to shovel, scoop, and blow much of the winter.
If you can pull it off. Having a garage. And a snow removal service for your home is a good way to go.
Otherwise, you can chalk up the snow. To your winter exercise routine.
Finally, almost all areas see long periods of darkness each winter day.
With daylight hours decreasing to just a few around the winter solstice. Depending on where you live in Alaska.
It’s not uncommon for residents to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A type of depression that is related to the change of seasons. And lack of sunlight.
So, you should be able to see it by now. Winters can be tough in this state.
If you can swing it after moving to Alaska…
Pick a place like Arizona. And plan a winter getaway to keep your sanity.
Next, another one of the cons of living in Alaska…
High Cost Of Living
It’s a known fact about the Alaska lifestyle. Living costs more in this state.
So, here are some things to consider when making your budget. About the average cost of living in Alaska.
According to BestPlaces.net and World Population Review. This is how Alaska’s living expenses stack up. Versus national averages:
Utilities: 70% more expensive. Due to the long cold winters. Your heating costs will be high!
Groceries: 42% more expensive. Because of the transportation costs to get products to the state. Adding to the price of living in Alaska.
Median home prices and apartment rents: 34% and 25% higher, respectively. Due to limited supply.
Finally, gasoline prices are some of the highest you will find in the United States.
The price per gallon typically falls in the top 10 most expensive. When compared to other states in the country.
Tips For Saving Money Living In Alaska
Because of the high cost of living, you will want to save money every way you can.
Here are a few money-saving tips. They will work regardless of where you decide to move.
Mortgage lenders and landlords will check your credit score. So get out in front of them to get the best deals. By checking yours for free using Credit Karma.
Then, get the best rate on a mortgage by shopping online.
Also, get cashback on all your online purchases. Using the rebate app from Rakuten.
And when you go to the grocery store (Fred Meyer is a popular choice in Alaska). Be sure to shop for sales because groceries can be pricey in Alaska.
Finally, get your finances in order. Both your budget and your investments if you have some.
Personal Capital is a great online tool. To manage your money. And, best of all, it’s FREE.
These tips and tools can help a lot. So you don’t derail your finances when moving to Alaska.
Okay. Enough about money.
And another one of the risks of living in Alaska…
Realize that by moving to Alaska. You are choosing an isolated place to live. In a remote corner of the world.
Let’s be honest. You are just a short boat ride. Or, a quick airplane trip from remote parts of Russia.
That is if you want to go. And once you get there. They will let you in.
But, let’s be serious. Here’s a little more on remote living in Alaska.
A Long Ways From The Lower-48
Alaskans refer to the rest of the U.S. as the lower-48.
But whatever you want to call it. Remember that this state is a long way from the rest of the U.S.
And by choosing this place to live. By default, you are choosing remote living in Alaska.
Just think about Washington state for a moment. Since it’s roughly a 2,200-mile drive from Anchorage to Bellingham, Washington.
That’s a long road trip!
I find that all I can drive is about 700 miles in a day. So you are talking about a 3 to 4-day trip.
On the other hand, there are plenty of flights out. From Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
But they are expensive. And add to the cost of living. If you need to get back to the lower-48 frequently.
And here is another one of the transportation-related obstacles of living in Alaska…
Intrastate Access When Living In Alaska
Because even if you don’t want to leave. It’s not easy to get around the state.
First of all, you have to deal with snowy and icy conditions much of the year. Making any drive slower and more stressful.
And many places inside of Alaska aren’t easy to access. Since a lot of places do not have ideal road infrastructure.
Take for example the state capital of Juneau. It is relatively remote. And not completely accessible by car.
And this is the state capital for goodness sakes!
Okay. Not to scare you.
But here is a risk of living in Alaska. And one of the biggest dangers of Alaska living…
Earthquake risk is a big part of Alaska’s living conditions.
First of all, Alaska experiences thousands of earthquakes every year. And many have a magnitude of at least 4 on the Richter Scale.
So yes. Experiencing earthquakes is a strong possibility in Alaska. Because it sits on one of the most seismically active areas of the world.
Furthermore, Alaska is also home to some of the largest quakes ever recorded.
For example, a massive earthquake shook the heart of southern Alaska. Doing so on March 27th, 1964, with a magnitude of 9.2
And the largest on-land earthquake in North America in almost 150 years. Occurred in Alaska.
It was on the Denali fault. Located in central Alaska. And happened on November 3rd, 2002. It measured a magnitude of 7.9.
And last, but not least. One of the worst things about living in Alaska…
As close-knit and helpful as the residents of Alaska can be. Not everyone is always on their best behavior.
Especially, when you peel back the layers a bit. And get inside the heads of locals. Willing to offer an honest assessment.
Specifically, some things lead to poor quality of life here. At least for some.
These behaviors include:
- Rude drivers
- High drug usage
- High crime rates
- Domestic violence
- Abusive relationships
- Ineffective politics
- Corrupt politicians
- Racial inequities
Of course, these things happen in every state. To one degree or another.
But these types of behaviors seem to get amplified. Within and among a state with a small population.
That lives in a culture with fewer rules and regulations. That, unfortunately, diminish the Alaska quality of life.
I do not like ending on a down note. But, it’s just something to be aware of.
Okay. That’s it for today. Now you know what living in Alaska is like.
Allow me to wrap up with a summary.
Pros and Cons Of Living In Alaska
Here is a summary of the top 10 pros and cons of living in Alaska:
- The great outdoors
- Enjoyable summers
- Big financial benefits
- Unique lifestyle
- Tight-knit people
- Harsh winters
- High cost of living
- Remote living
- Risk of earthquakes
- Bad behaviors
Hopefully, after reading this you can answer these big questions for yourself.
Is Alaska a good place to live?
And, what is it like living in Alaska?
Thanks for reading. And good luck with your decision. No matter where you choose to live.
More About The Pros And Cons Of Alaska And Far Beyond
The Best Money Resources For Moving To Alaska (or anywhere)
Here are the best resources for making ends meet. That I mentioned in the article.
They are summarized here for your convenience:
- Check your credit for free with Credit Karma
- Get cash back on your online purchases with Rakuten
- Manage all your money with Personal Capital
Author Bio, Disclosure, & Disclaimer: Please join me (Tom) as I try to achieve my goals, find my next place to live, and make the most of my money. However, I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial counselor, real estate agent, or tax professional. Instead, I’m a 50-something-year-old, early retired CPA, finance professional, and business school teacher with 40+ years of DIY dividend investing experience. I’m here only to share my thoughts about essential topics for success. As a result, nothing published on this site should be considered individual investment, financial, tax, or real estate advice. This site’s only purpose is general information & entertainment. Thus, neither I nor Dividends Diversify can be held liable for losses suffered by any party because of the information published on this website. Finally, all written content is the property of Dividends Diversify LLC. Unauthorized publication elsewhere is strictly prohibited.