Once thought of as a folly, Alaska soon became an important investment for the US, all because the purchase allowed for an expansion at the value of just two cents per acre. Russia and America completed the acquisition agreement in 1867. The land eventually became the 49th state in 1957.
What might be news to many people is that Japan actually occupied two Alaskan islands during war II for 15 months. They used Attu and Kiska as a probable launching point if they were ever getting to attempt to invade the continental 48 states. That never happened, but it’s a stimulating part of U.S. history that isn’t always taught in history class.
Alaska is additionally a state of mountains. 17 out of the 20 highest peaks within the US are found here. The foremost notable of them is Mt. McKinley, which is the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet.
While living in Alaska may mean a different lifestyle than living in most other places, people still consider it as a destination to move to. And if you’re among them, here are a few advantages and disadvantages of living in Alaska.
Pros of living in Alaska
1. Great Outdoors
While living in Alaska, you won’t have to think twice about heading outdoors. The outside activities become a part of your lifestyle as there is plenty of sunshine that lasts deep into the night during the summer months. You will come across more opportunities to explore trails, kayak bays, and embrace your inner explorer. Even with the arrival of winter, the adventure streak won’t die as the winter months have their own charm.
2. Snow Sports
If the cold winters don’t bother you quite as much, then Alaska might be just the perfect place for you. It’s a haven for those who enjoy playing in the snow. Also, there’s no place better to learn a new sport. Activities such as skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, and snowmobiling become a part of your life when you move here. Amidst the regular duties you carry out through your days such as your job and going to school, the outdoors becomes another addition that is fun to embrace.
3. A Relaxed Lifestyle
The concept of “Island Time” will make sense when you move to Alaska as you will get to experience a slowing of life across the entire state.
Unlike the rest of the world, the hectic chaos is not on the same level. You will come across a slower-paced life that mainly focuses on individual dreams. The meetings here start according to the time when the people involved feel like making them happen. Deadlines are more of a suggestion than a finite term.
This perspective stays put because people just take an individual approach to how they deal with their time. When you move here, you will either stress out because you’ll feel like no one is being responsible, or you’ll learn to take a deep breath and go along with the relaxed attitude.
4. There’s small-town charm, everywhere
With almost 300,000 people calling it their home, Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska.
You will come across many cultural opportunities to have an exploration of the community,
You’ll also be getting chances to have an experience of the small-town charm that seems to dominate the culture in the state.
The next largest city, outside of Anchorage is Juneau, with a total population of 32,000. Fairbanks is home to 31,000 people. The other largest community is then in Wasilla, with just 10,000 residents. Once you become a resident for a year or two, often you’ll come across someone you’ve never met, but they’ll already feel like they know you.
5. The Summer Sunshine
The best summers in the world are found in Alaska. This isn’t an argument to be made for any other location. There are nearly 24 hours of daylight in some parts of the state during the season. When living in Anchorage, you’ll experience a temperature that tends to hover around 70° in July and August. This provides you with much time to begin exploring the 300 miles of trails that are around this one city.
During the summer, you will also have several opportunities to pursue your sport of choice. Thankfully, activities perfect for summer, such as backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing, hang gliding, and so much more are available in Alaska.
6. Numerous Job Opportunities
The oil industry and the natural gas industry are the two industries that come to mind when you begin thinking about the jobs that are available in Alaska.
There is also another occupation of commercial fishing that several households practice in the state. On a better note, those aren’t the only career opportunities that are open.
You will find out that there are military, transportation, healthcare, and construction jobs readily available when you move to Alaska. Several positions that help to support the tourism industry in the state are available as well. It is so because even if you decide not to live here, a holiday visit still creates the right opportunity to relax.
7. You can get paid to live in Alaska once you Qualify
If you have heard about the rumor that the government will pay you to live in Alaska, there is a certain truth to this idea.
After having lived in the state for a full calendar year, residents can qualify for a term called the PFD payment. This portion comes from a permanent fund that is supplied by the oil and gas industry industries. In 2017, the payment per person was $1,100.
That money can apply to every member of your family, including the kids. So if you are a married couple with four children, then you’ll be receiving a $6,600 PFT payment in total. For some families, that might give enough reason to make the move immediately.
Cons of Living in Alaska
1. Extreme Cold
After moving to Alaska, if you decide to make a home around Anchorage, then the weather might feel somewhat temperate. But you’ll be experiencing a shorter summer which won’t necessarily make a jarring difference.
The cold really becomes an issue if you do move further north in the state. As stated, the temperatures dropped to a record of -80°F in 1971, at the Prospect Creek Camp. Various communities in the northern half of the state have been experiencing sub-zero temperatures all through the year.
To take an example, Fairbanks, Alaska has an average high temperature for the city during the month of January at 0°. It can get slightly better in February, but you’ll still only be averaging 13°. While at the same time, you’ll be experiencing an average low that is sub-zero.
2. Frequent Earthquakes
Per annum, there are about 5,000 earthquakes that happen within the state of Alaska. The most vigorous earthquake to have ever been recorded in North America occurred here in 1964.
Prince William Sound experienced a magnitude 9.2 earthquake in March of that very year. The state also experiences powerful volcanic eruptions time and again, including the most powerful of the 20th century at Novarupta Volcano. This event was what formed the Valley of 10,000 Smokes at Katmai park.
3. Higher Cost of Living
It is essential to note that costs are higher in Alaska. It is mostly because of the upper cost of transportation and the isolated factor of the state. You would possibly have to pay double for a gallon of milk as compared to other states.
But if you shop strategically, keeping hold of your reward cards, most of the cost difference can be put aside with a little creative budgeting. Also, if you have a household that lives a paycheck to paycheck, then this possible disadvantage might not apply to you.
4. Isolated from the rest of the US
Even if there are many flights that you can take from Alaska to the continental 48 states, the distance that you have to cross becomes surprisingly large after you make the move. This disadvantage is particularly noticeable if you happen to come across a family emergency happening outside of the state.
Driving from Seattle to Alaska in about 72 hours is a possibility if you don’t make tons of stops along the 1,000-mile trek. Even then, you will have to consider the cost of traveling before fixating on any plans.
5. Constant Need for Snow Removal
In Alaska, you will only get about 100 days of the frost-free glowing season. This means you’ll find yourself dealing with around the same number of snowy days each year.
As compared to most other locations in the United States, even the southern areas of Alaska witness a higher level of snowfall. Anchorage, during the average year, sees over 30 inches of snow from January to March. Another 30 inches may pile up to that during the months of November and December combined.
It all means that you’ll have to get used to doing a lot of blowing, shoveling, and plowing in order to keep your driveway and walkways clear. This process might be physically demanding and time-consuming in accordance with where you live and how much snow comes down in the season.
Costs of Living in Alaska
The state of Alaska has its temptations and also, there are some repelling factors so you’ll just have to measure them out and choose what you think is best. If you are considering becoming a resident, here are some basic costs of living in Alaska.
As compared to the rest of the U.S., homes in Alaska are a bit on the pricier side.
The state median home value is $265,385, as per the NeighborhoodScout. In addition, 71.8% of the homes in Alaska are placed somewhere between $108,722 and $435,285 in value. The median values are higher for some of the bigger cities, with Anchorage and Juneau standing at $303,601 and $364,295, respectively.
Taking note of the rent, Alaska is only slightly cheaper than the entire U.S. As reported by the Apartment List’s 2019 report, the median rent for a studio and one-bedroom apartment in Alaska is $17 and $21 cheaper than the national median, respectively. With all these facts into consideration, the state still mostly consists of homeowners.
According to the 2017 cost of living study by Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, the overall monthly utility costs in Alaska are pretty high. In fact, gas and electricity bills are 33% above the national average in Alaska.
Apart from the local food, since other food varieties need to travel far distances to get there, their prices in Alaska are relatively high. The suggested minimum amount of money spent on food for one person in Anchorage is $451.71, as noted by Numbeo.com, data from April 2019. Comparing this to the national average of $323.72, you’ll be able to see how food can get pricey in the northernmost state.
The typical price of a gallon of gas in Alaska is $3.36, according to GasBuddy. That value is the sixth-highest average in the entire nation. On the bright side, a report from Insure.com in 2019 shows that Alaska has a $1,183 typical annual car insurance premium. This is favorable as compared to the $1,457 national average.
The general healthcare prices within the Anchorage metro area are an astounding 82% above the national median, according to a 2016 report from the Health Care Cost Institute. To make the situation worse, Alaska private company employees give out $99 more than the national average for healthcare to cover just one person, derived from a 2017 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.