Moving to Alaska: The Complete Guide

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Moving to Alaska

Would you love to live a life where there are so many possibilities with attractive insights? If yes, you have made the best choice by choosing Alaska – a place which is popularly known for lots of opportunities for both starters and retirees with a fresh experience.

It is, however, important to be guided on what you will face there, as there can be some hurdles associated with relocating to Alaska, as life in your current location would be different from the one you will find there.

The excitement we see in people moving to Alaska is lovely. Some of them are getting to know the state for the first time. Moving to Alaska gives so much excitement and anticipation into the heart of the people regardless of the reason behind their move; be its military deployments, commercial relocation, or individual relocation into the frontier.

Moving to Alaska does not necessarily have to be stressful; however, it will be nice for you to understand the points highlighted in this write-up. Relax, as we share information about your moving to Alaska, ranging from weather, housing, to weird associated with living in Alaska. Let’s start by taking a glancing through Alaska as a city.

Alaska at a Glance

Alaska, which popularly translates as ‘the great land’ is an Aleutian word. That alone doesn’t cut it, as the state is also nicknamed “The Last Frontier” because of how far it is from the continental United States, and as well as the nature of its landscape and non-natural climate. The Land of the midnight sun, however, is the only confusing one.

The largeness of Alaska is also another fun fact. Alaska is the largest states in the country at large. It can contain Rhode Island in a very great number of times. Even if you combine Montana, Texas, and California, Alaska is still bigger. However, the population in Alaska is very small even though it has a large surface area.

It is regarded as the most thinly populated state in the country with about 738,068 residents, ranking 48th on the population list. The number of cities in Alaska that their population is above 10,000 people is 29. Despite that, Alaska still remains the choice of many people to live.

2020 Best Guide Guide For Moving to Alaska

2020 Best Guide Guide For Moving to Alaska

Alaska is always on peoples list of states to visit because of its popularity in the great number of wildlife, beautiful nature, and utmost temperature. Alaska is the answer if what you are hoping for is to live in a place that is a little wild and full of adventure.

All you need to understand before relocating to Alaska have been compiled in this article.  Below are all you need to know before moving to Alaska.

1. Living in Alaska

The life in Alaska can be different from one location to another even though you can have a general discussion about what it is to live there. It will be more meaningful when you think about its size, which is exactly 663,300. Alaska is twice bigger than Texas. Just like some other states, Alaska has more populated places with many comforts, as well as small separated villages. It is advisable that the exact information about the region or city you are planning to live in should be sought after prior your move.

2. Weather

The climate in Alaska is not constant because of its huge size, although everyone knows that it is cold during winters, as temperature drops with about -50 degrees. The temperatures in Alaska are enjoyable during summer at the 60s and 70s degrees coupled with extended summer days. There is a difference in the temperatures in winter throughout the state. The temperature towards the ocean will be warmer while colder within the state.

The Southeast part of the state enjoys the most rainfall, while snowfall is generally much. Schedule time to clear snow from the car and to also shovel it. Based on the standard in Alaska, Anchorage (and other southern coasts) for instance, receives serious winters.

The climatic condition inside Alaska is known as continental subarctic, and thus, cities such as Fairbanks can be so cold during winters and temperature may rise to 90 degrees during summer.

There are also differences in the size of falls with the southeast receiving a great average of 275 inches annually compared to Juneau (capital city) with 50 inches.

During winter, residents of Barrow, which is the top northern town in Alaska, will not get to enjoy the sun for almost 70 days but will enjoy it all day and night during summer.

3. Sunlight and Darkness

Compared to the lower 48, Alaska has numerous numbers of daylight and darkness because it is closer to the Arctic Circle. Daylight is between three to six hours on average, while winter is majorly dark. It will cost an extra electric bills charge to have an extra light because of the cold. To combat the bad effects of darkness, most people use additional Vitamin D and sun lamps.

However, there is a lot of sunshine during the summer. Daylight lasts for 20 hours long in some places when the sun sets and darkness doesn’t stand a chance. Most people make use of blackout curtains to cover their bedrooms so they can have a sound sleep. You too should prepare yourself.

4. Job Market in Alaska

The unemployment rate in Alaska is known to be the highest in the country, and it is presently at 7.3%. This is a little bit turn off for some people aspiring to move for an employment opportunity. This could be as a result of a great number of people living off the land.

On the other hand, the minimum wage in Alaska is greater compared to the national average, and it is at $9.84 per hour. Residents made it known that wages here are huge, which may be a turn on.

Cab driver, crew member, dentist, kitchen steward, personal care assistant, billing specialist, receptionist, and cook are currently the rapidly developing professions in Alaska, as reported by www.zippia.com. Psychiatrists, optometrists, nurse anesthetists, CEOs, pediatricians, dentists, and OB/GYNs are the sets of professionals with enough luck to make much money.

There are still enough chances for you to secure a job once you get here regardless of the unemployment rate. It is a nice place to train sled dogs as well as a nice place to relax after a hectic day.

5. Culture and Natives

The description Alaskan gives to themselves is “cautious and fierce.” They have enough capabilities and all that is needed to survive on the land. Hunting, fishing, making fire from woods, and making use of oil lamps in the absence of power is part of what they do.

Wearing of heavy attires such as boots and jackets is peculiar to Alaskans. Fashion is not given much consideration here, as they try as much as possible to be comfortable in the weather. One can easily identify an Alaskan with their choice of words.

And with this effect, they have created a way of fighting back. The populations in Alaska are very authentic, resourceful, and helpful. With the spread-out nature of some towns in the state, you will also be able to pick up some strange behaviors.

You will meet a lot of locals such as Tlingit, Yuit, Aleuts, Athabascans, Haida, and Inupiat, including Russians, although Alaskans are from different places. It is said that Russia can be seen from your backyard in Alaska, as it is just about 50 miles away.

6. Housing in Alaska

You will get whatsoever your choice of house in Alaska whether it is an igloo, cabin located in the woods, or a normal old rambler located at the exterior of the Anchorage. While house-hunting, make sure you go along with the following breakdowns:

  • According to zillow.com, $307,600 is the current average home value in Alaska and has since risen to 0.6% in the past years. You can find homes listed for a median value of $284,900 on the market. If you are considering renting a home, instead, you can get one at a median value of $1,695 per month. Although the rent here might be a little bit expensive, it is, however, affordable. Let us now discuss with the people that love to get an apartment.
  • rentjungle.com reported that a 1-bedroom apartment would be available for rent in Juneau (the state capital) for a value of $1,205 per month. This is not too much. You will not spend up to that if you relocate to one of the biggest city in the state.
  • bestplaces.net reported that it would cost an average of $1,044 per month to rent an apartment in Anchorage and $1,080 per month for an apartment in Fairbanks. The house in Homer, however, is cheaper, you can get one for as low as $793 per month if you are on a low budget.

Although residents reported that there is not much house up for rent in Alaska at the moment, do not bother by this. The fact that there is not much new development is not encouraging, as many people are finding it difficult to get a place to live.

You should probably try and locate a friend to stay with if you are looking to relocate to The Last Frontier. You can from there start your house hunt before you overstay, and also experiencing the culture in Alaska in the process.

7. Cost of Living in Alaska

The Department of Labor and Workforce has done serious work on the cost of living in Alaska. Living in Alaska is still affordable, even though most things are not cheap in the state. In the report of the 1st quarter of 2018, Alaska came behind six places in the US to become the seventh most expensive place to live in. The places include New York, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, District of Columbia and Maryland.

Only a few numbers of things have the same average costs such as telephone service which is about $184 in Anchorage (average is $178 in the United States) and ribeye steaks which are about $11 in Anchorage (including the average in the United States).

Some items here such as bananas are more expensive and the price almost doubled the national average ($.92 here and $.57 average), doctor visits are also much expensive here, as it is around $188 compared to $108 which is the average.

Because it doesn’t come cheap to move food to the rural area, the cost of grocery varies throughout the state. Prices are higher in places like Bethel and Nome where food must be transported to but are lowest in places like Wasilla and Fairbanks, which are urban areas. According to the state average, the cost of gasoline is $3.52, and milk is about $4.78 gallon.

8. Entertainments and Side Attractions in Alaska

There are many kinds of fun being offered by Alaska regardless of your choices. Below are a few of the attractions the state offers:

  • Aurora Ice Museum: Fairbanks at the Chena Hot Springs Resort houses the biggest ice in the world. You will get to see all sort of ice sculptures such as snowball fight scene (2-story), jousting Knights, an igloo, bedrooms for a polar bear, an ice bar, and a big chess set. An ice toilet is also included in there. The color of the Aurora Borealis lit up everything in the interior. Many tours are granted for a whole day, and you also get parkas, even though you might have come along with your own. Kindly avoid licking the sculptures.
  • Santa Claus House: The design in this trading post located in the North Pole has a lot of resemblance to the house the real Santa lives in. The homeowner receives many letters from kids every December when it opened in the ‘50s and so he starts replying each of the letters. That is very great if you ask me, and would be more if shopping is also being taking care of.
  • The Upside Forest of Mendenhall Gardens: There is a unique garden signified by upside-down trees in Juneau, the state capital. Perfect baskets are created for mosses and flowers that drop from the trees, as the top of the trees is buried in the soil with the roots pointing to the sky. The place is called the hanging garden of Alaska, and the trees are known as the natural flower pots.
  • Totem Bight State Historical Park: There are many Alaskan artifacts in Ketchikan. The village life in Alaska was recreated by the park established in 1940 and it features structures that were damaged and rebuilt and totem poles. Visitors get a chance to see a clan house and 15 outstanding totem poles. The mighty significance of bear, beaver, killer whale, wolf, and raven in Tlingit history were all shown through their symbols located all around the park.
  • Musk Ox Farm: There is a livestock farm in Palmer that rears musk ox which is known to be resident to Alaska, adapted to its weather condition. In 1964, the farmer in Palmer saved the remaining animal from extinction. Today, the animal is both smelly and thriving.

9. Getting around Alaska

Although moving around from one city to another in Alaska is not an easy thing to do; however, it is always full of adventure. Regardless of your means of transportation (train, car, or air), Anchorage is Alaska’s travel base. Not many roads in Alaska lead to your destination although it doubles Texas in size.

For this reason, your best option is the railroad and the air taxis in Alaska. Alaska is crossed with 365,000 miles of rivers, meaning that the state is surrounded by oceans (to be precise), you can also get around through boats and ferries. Enjoy yourself as a journey around the city!

10. Places to Live in Alaska

Alaska is the best option for you if you want to live in a big city that has a lot of amenities, or a small village where you can get around by ferry is what you are looking for. You just have to determine what you need. Your best options might be Fairbanks and Anchorage if you plan to study at a university. Ester or Gateway is also the best options for who wants an easy-going life in a remote area. The list of some of the best places to live in the state is outlined below.

Here are ten (10) highly populated places in the state along with the 2010 United States Census:

Anchorage

Fairbanks

Juneau

Sitka

Ketchikan

Wasila

Kenai

Bethel

Kodiak

Palmer

291,826 in population

1,535 in population

31,275 in population

8,881 in population

8,050 in population

7,831 in population

7,100 in population

6,080 in population

6,130 in population

5,937 in population

11. Weird Laws

In this section, we can now proceed to discuss more on some of the Alaskan laws that may leave you wondering. Pay attention to how crazy the laws are.

  • While in a moving airplane, it is prohibited to push a live moose. This means skydiving is not allowed.
  • Whispering into a person’s ear during moose hunting is prohibited. This is so because it might cause the person to yell, thereby scaring the moose away.
  • Feeding a moose with an alcoholic beverage is prohibited. You will instead find another means to play with them. You can start with a muffin.
  • Grooming of dog in the state capital is prohibited. This is the only law that is not moose-related. You will get to see so many rough looking dogs across Juneau because caring for them is not allowed.

Pros and Cons of Alaskan Life

Apart from what you’ve been told about the amazing scenery in Alaska, it is also important to hear what the residents have to say as it the only way you can get to know the truth. Below are the lists of both the pros and cons of living in Alaska according to the residents:

Pros, according to real-life Alaskans include:

  • Natural beauty: According to a resident in Alaska, she made it known that every spot in the state could be a point in the national geographic. There is no better way to have presented that. Alaska is a beautiful state which has volcanoes, mountains, attractive rivers, northern lights, and lakes.
  • Taxes: There is no imposition of tax in Alaska, neither on sales nor property as well. The locals here substitute this “no tax” advantage with the high cost of living in the state.
  • Permanent Fund Dividend: Just by living in Alaska, you can get paid. The state tends to compensate residents who have been living in the cold region of Alaska up to a year and still have it in mind to continue doing so without a plan to stop. A sum of $1,600 was given as dividend to each person in the year 2018. This is part of the innovative to make up for the high cost of living.
  • Tight-knit people: Residents in Alaska tend to unite with each other greatly because of how isolated and spread-out nature of the towns in the state. They understand that they have to come together to survive the tough moments in the state. Once you make a friend in the state, the friend will stand with you till the end; it is advisable to choose friends wisely.

Cons, according to real Alaskans include:

  • Crazy cold: It has been made clear that Alaska is cold. The region around Fairbanks, which is the Central of Alaska, is popularly described as “a great example of a really cold climate.” Mild temperatures in Alaska happen mostly around there. The temperature drops under -50 degrees Fahrenheit during winter, and sometimes drops below -60 degrees. Residents in this area refer to the cold to be very punishing.
  • Natural predators: There are many predators in Alaska lurking around for you to come. This is one of the negative effects of the beautiful nature in the state. It is very normal here to see animals like moose and bears roaming around your house or streets. During summer as well, there will certainly be mosquitos around your backyard waiting to suck your blood. A trekker from Alaska stated that the population of mosquitos in Alaska is legendary and advised that everyone should be prepared.
  • Painful travel: The state capital is one of the places you can only travel through plane or ferry, as we have already made it clear that not all the places in the state are accessible by real roads. It might even take a lot of time and effort to get to your destination even when there are roads to take you there. The problem is that everything is in isolation here. This means that your plan to make a run on Saturday morning might take the entire weekend from you.
  • Everything’s expensive: Things are more costly in Alaska because it is far away from other states. The cost of shipping items to the state is already high. Although your location is a factor in how much it will cost you to get groceries, the price varies from state to state. You might be wondering why the price is so, after you’ve been issued a receipt. But then, the absence of tax already makes up for that.

How to Move to Alaska?

How to Move to Alaska

There are three options available for your long-distance relocation to Alaska, and the options are a full-service moving company, moving truck rental or a do-it-yourself service. The latter is the cheapest way to relocate to Alaska by making use of reliable service because it brings together the ease of service provided by moving companies and the cheaper nature of a moving truck rental.

Prices are different and are based on many factors which include from where you are relocating, to where, and the level of items you are relocating.

Request a moving quote from any of our hand-picked moving services so that you can understand the cost of your move. Fees like taxes, fuels, and more should be added in case they did not add it to have an accurate figure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Alaska have multiple time zones?

The simple answer is yes. While almost all of Alaska is on the Alaska Time Zone (AKST), the Aleutian Islands (part of Alaska) are on the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone. The Alaska Time Zone sits at (UTC−09:00), which is about 4 hours ahead of New York.

The Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone is another hour after AKST time (so 4 hours behind New York). Daylight savings time will throw these differences off a bit, but this should give you a good baseline for understanding the Alaskan time zones in their national relevance.

If I move to Alaska, do I need to retake a state driving test?

If you come to Alaska and already have a driver’s license issued by another state in the US, you will not have to redo the driving test for Alaska. When you go to update or replace your state license, you will have to repeat the written test, however.

For some state benefits, you will want to switch your license over sooner rather than later. Visitors to the state and those with permits from other countries are allowed permission to drive for 90 days before being required to do the Alaskan licensing process. Make sure to plan ahead and see what is expected of you to receive the benefits from your state citizenship.

What laws in Alaska should I be aware of?

Alaska is a bit different than the rest of the United States. While there are not that many crazy laws in Alaska compared to other states, there are a couple that demonstrates well the cultural difference in the area. For example, there are laws on the books prohibiting feeding alcoholic beverages to a moose, which is a bit of a cultural difference.

Highway camping is also a popular activity that is allowed by Alaskan law. Outside of a city or town, you are allowed to stop and spend the night in the hundreds of gravel stops along the highways and roads. Generally speaking, Alaska laws are similar to those of many more conservative states.

Where does the name “Alaska” come from?

The name for Alaska is taken from the Aleut words “alaxsxaq”, meaning mainland, or the land in which the water is directed, and “Alyeska” (the great land). At the same time, the Aleut tribes are a diverse set of peoples with many dialects. It is not easy, nor truly proper, to summarize all of these tribes as single entities.

The Aleut island chain, which is home to most of the Aleut people, extends over a thousand miles across the ocean towards Russia. This mountain chain interestingly contains over 50 volcanoes, and the largest city center is just under 5,000 people. The nearest Aleutian island under US control is only 55 miles from the coast of Russia.

How big is Alaska? Can I drive to Alaska?

While Alaska looks big on a map, that simple visual doesn’t really do the state justice. The state is 663,300 square miles, meaning that it is more than 2.5x the size of Texas. Alaska actually takes up as much space as a fifth of the rest of the US. The Mercator map we are used to seeing in school actually compresses a good portion of the land to fit it on the page, so the state is quite different from what you are used to looking at.

While Canada separates Alaska from the United States, it is possible to get there by land. The most direct route is the Alaska-Canada Highway that connects Alaska to the lower US. It is about 1,300 miles from Washington State to the first major Alaskan city centers.

Wrap up

Now you already understand how easy you can move to Alaska through our tips, prepare your belongings, and cover everything that needs to be cover. We strongly hope that each of your worries about moving to Alaska has been solved here, thereby giving you all you need to know before your move to Alaska. Stay tuned for more informative posts on the page!  

Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

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