Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pros & Cons Of Living In Alaska

Alaska is still somewhat of a mystery to people in the Lower 48.  It isn't a typical vacation destination or a place that children grow up wishing they lived in.  With the surge of Alaska-affiliated reality shows over the last few years though the interest has really grown.  I've found that a lot of people are interested in our lifestyle up here.  I get asked a lot of questions both personally and through my blog about life in this beautiful state.  These questions are what inspired my post today.  So, without further adieu, here is my list of Alaskan pros and cons :)


1.) Outdoorsy Lifestyle: If you love the outdoors and don't mind braving the elements, you can really have a good time with recreational activities. Hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, camping, ice climbing, rock climbing, etc. There is never a shortage of outdoor activities (year round).  Hiking, climbing, and fishing have really shaped our personal lives, and helped us make really valuable connections with friends.

2.) The State Pays You: After one full year of living in Alaska you can apply for the PFD.  It ranges from $800-$2,000/yr.  Each resident is eligible for it, no matter your age.  Also, there are similar "incentive programs" for various careers.  In Juneau you can qualify for up to $5,000 in additional money for working in any early childhood program.  It's nice that the state appreciates their residents so much that they are willing to pay us to live here!

3.) Wildlife: I've seen moose, deer, mountain goats, bears, eagles, otters, and a ton of other cool wildlife while living here.  It can be dangerous, but it is also an incredible experience to find yourself 50ft away from two black bear cubs (if you're like me you'll scream loudly at them).  I find that sitting on my porch and watching the eagles is one of my favorite, relaxing activities to do here in Alaska.

4.) Comfort is Key: There isn't a passion for fashion in Alaska.  I suppose that some people might see this as a negative thing, but I am not one of them.  I love that I'm allowed to teach in jeans and a school-affiliated sweatshirt.  I love that I can live in my Xtratuff boots. You have to dress for the weather up here, so casual and practical clothing wins out every time.

5.) No Bugs: The bugs here are nothing compared to the Lower 48.  The mosquitoes suck, but the lack of poisonous snakes, spiders, roaches, and centipedes more than makes up for it.  I've killed approximately one bug in the entire time I've lived here.  It rules.

6.) Native Alaskan Culture: I've been lucky enough to work for a tribe in SE Alaska while working/living here and the culture is amazing.  The languages are still alive and the elders are still revered.  Honestly, I could do an entire post on this.  Oh wait, I did (follow this link).


1.) Cost of Living: The COL in Alaska is outrageous.  The goods in remote villages are insanely priced (think $10 for a gallon of milk). For example, an electronic item that Cody and I wanted to purchase cost $250 in town but only $150 online. The local housing prices are no better.  I pay $1,000/month for a place that is less than 500sqft and I know people who think I'm LUCKY to have cheap rent.  Inflation is everywhere. Seriously.

2.) Darkness/ Seasonal Depression:  During the winter even our southern communities don't see the sun for more that six hours per day and it gets more extreme the farther north you travel.  Seasonal Depression (SAD) is a very real problem here.  I know a TON of people who have experienced it here.  Many people find it to be especially bad in Juneau because we typically see the sun less than 60days per year due to rain and snow.

3.) Travel Costs/ Accessibility: Very few places in Alaska are connected by road.  We are completely isolated unless we schedule a ferry (months in advance) or pay a ridiculous amount for plane tickets (months in advance).  Ferry tickets are cheaper and the ferry is fun to ride, but it is not a time-efficient way to travel.  Flights to the Midwest can range from $800-$1500.  It's rough on the bank account.

4.) Minimum Wage Sucks: The minimum wage in Alaska is $7.75.  Imagine having to pay $10 for a gallon of milk and $1,000/month for rent on a minimum wage job.  Honestly, unless you qualify for a very good skilled labor job (fishing, mining) or a great professional job (teaching, federal/state jobs, healthcare) I wouldn't recommend moving up here.

5.) Slow Shipping: All of your goods are shipped or barged in and I've found that shipping varies greatly.  When I lived more remotely it wasn't out of the ordinary for a package to take a month to arrive.  Here in the "urban" areas of Alaska the shipping is a little more reliable.  Prices are still high though and I've found that my packages are often MIA for random lengths of time.  Keep in mind that almost everything you buy (basics not included) is shipped so costs add up quickly.

6.) Snowy Roads: They do not use salt on the roads in Alaska…they use gravel, and sometimes it's not very small gravel.  While this works great for traction, it's not so great for many people's windshields.  This also means that snowpack stays on the roads all winter long.  Studded tires are a costly but necessary evil in this state.

What are some additional questions you have about Alaska? 
What type of Alaska-related posts would you like to read?


  1. hey, I'm really want to go there to live
    but im really scared to make this big leap due to the fact I don't know anyone there
    I want to start a new life with my husband which is a full Caribbean atmosphere person
    any advice ? on what should I do first before coming down to live ?

    1. My biggest piece of advice is find a job first! The Alaskan job market (particularly in the more desirable locations) is just as competitive as the lower48 job market, except the cost of living is twice as high. I am assuming you've visited before? If not, visit in both summer and winter. Some people LOVE summer there but quickly realize they can't handle the complete lack of sunlight all winter. If you have specific questions I would be happy to answer! :)

  2. I live in the caribbean and my best friend is living there, she said: " It's not easy"


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