Alaska is a stunning state filled with natural beauty, clean air, and regular access to outdoor activities. Is it any wonder why so many people want to move to Anchorage, Alaska?
While Anchorage, Alaska isn’t usually the first thought for go-to moving destinations, it’s carved out a niche among outdoorsy, rugged, and creative types. Should you be considering a new move, it’s wise to circumvent the more mainstream cities. Major cities are becoming increasingly unpopular for their skyrocketing cost-of-living and high crime rates.
But before continuing on, check out our full guide on moving to Alaska, and everything it entails.
What’s it like to live in Anchorage?
How about an overview of this oft-overlooked location? Anchorage is the biggest city in Alaska, though that may not look like much from the vantage point of California or Texas.
Alaska is the least populated state in the United States, boasting a mere 730,000 people on average. Compare this to the comparatively smaller Rhode Island, which is denser at one million people. Nicknamed ‘The Last Frontier’, this state is instead filled with wildlife, mountains, and endless lakes.
Juneau and Fairbanks are the second-largest cities by the population at around 32,000, which is a pretty sharp drop in size. Wasilla, Sitka, and Ketchikan are smaller towns ranging between 8,000 to 10,000 people.
Does that mean Alaska is lacking on the economic and artistic front? Far from it. Anchorage, Alaska is a unique location that blends a natural touch with cultural diversity. The state as a whole is home to a few dozen indigenous communities and, as a result, multiple indigenous languages.
What are the Pros and Cons of Moving to Anchorage, Alaska?
You shouldn’t move to a place just because it’s trendy. You should move because you’ve done your due diligence on how a new location can improve your quality of life.
Anchorage, Alaska is visually lovely, less cluttered, and boasts much cleaner air than a similarly sized city in New Jersey or California. We’ll start off with the pros for those already considering this state as a new living spot.
What are the Pros of Living in Anchorage, Alaska?
Anchorage, Alaska is frequently overlooked for its small size and noticeable distance away from the bulk of the United States. As such, it’s ripe for the potential movers who need greener pastures.
Is moving to Alaska a good idea for you? We have a few positives for you to consider.
Overflowing with Rich, Untouched Wilderness
Why not start off with the most obvious perk on the list? If you’re a fan of the big outdoors – or are a remote worker who needs quiet time – you’ll adore Alaska’s natural diversity.
Alaska is predominantly composed of vast, untouched wilderness. Rich green forests and snow-capped mountains make up the majority of its vista, though you won’t be left wanting if you’re a fan of the water. Close proximity to the ocean, rivers and lakes make this state a camper’s paradise.
Whether you like to go hiking, love snowboarding every year, or want to try your hand at salmon fishing, you’ll never be bored.
Close Proximity to Natural Wonders and Fun Events
Let’s keep the ball rolling! If you’ve ever wanted to witness the aurora borealis up close, you’re in luck: Alaska regularly gets a front-row seat to this natural wonder.
Why stop there? Witness dog sled races based on classic sled teams of the past. Swing by art galleries on First Friday to get a taste of what local artists have to offer. Try out river rafting for a taste of adventure or go on a photography trip for your next Instagram showcase.
Just because Anchorage is small doesn’t mean it’s dull.
Smaller City Gives You a Cozy Town-Like Vibe
Do you tire of the endless hustle and bustle of major cities? If you want to avoid traffic jams and loud crowds, Anchorage will give you a comfortable middle ground.
Anchorage is a smaller city that houses nearly half of Alaska’s population. Considering Alaska doesn’t even break one million occupants, this inherently smaller figure makes the city much more personalized.
Fascinating, Diverse Cultures
Are you interested in living somewhere less homogenous? Do you find yourself fascinated by history, culture, and different art forms? Anchorage, Alaska is your one-stop-shop for cultural enrichment.
Alaska is home to dozens of indigenous cultures and languages, which you’ll regularly encounter while you’re on a walk or out shopping. The Anchorage Market is well-known for providing easy access to local farmers, artists, and music.
Extra Long Summer Days for Extra Long Play
While Alaska is a pretty cold state, that doesn’t mean it lacks warm, sunny days. In fact, this state goes through an average of seventy-five to eighty days of endless daylight.
Visit the national park in your bright, sunny free time. Go snowshoeing or kayak without fear of running out of daylight. If you plan your vacations wisely, you’ll have the opportunity to party, hike, or research all day and night long.
There’s No Sales Tax or Income Tax
Are you tired of skyrocketing taxes chipping away at your monthly income? Alaska has no sales tax or income tax, making it quite appealing to small businesses and families alike.
Vibrant Beer and Wine Culture
Do you love cracking open an IPA to wind down the night? Rev up your passion for breweries, because Alaska is home to dozens of them.
Anchorage, in particular, is home to fifteen local craft beer businesses that create light ales, porters, and hard ciders. Enjoy a beer tour, swing by a wine tasting event, or attend one of the annual beer festivals: you won’t regret it.
The State May Give You Yearly Funds to Live There
This detail comes as a surprise to many, particularly with the cost-of-living rising so sharply throughout the country. Alaska is home to what’s known as the Permanent Fund Dividend, a payout system given to Alaskan residents annually.
This money ranges from $800 to $2,000, paid on a yearly basis using the money gained through Alaska’s wealthy oil and mineral resources. This law was established in the ’60s as a way to support Alaskan residents on a rolling basis, which is especially helpful due to the harsh winter and relative isolation of the state.
Whether or not you qualify for the refund depends on several factors, however. You need to remain in Alaska for at least a full calendar year with the intent to stay for the long term. You also can’t claim residencies in any other state.
What are the Cons of Moving to Anchorage, Alaska?
While moving to other sleeper hit states like Georgia or Texas boast a balanced set of pros and cons, Anchorage is a little more imbalanced.
The drastic qualities of Alaska make it a more niche prospect for many movers. Here’s why.
The Cost-of-Living is Expensive and Won’t Change Anytime Soon
Sadly, Anchorage isn’t known for being super affordable. In fact, the state of Alaska regularly hits the top ten lists of most expensive cities to move to.
Why is this? There are a few reasons. Due to Alaska’s smaller population, there simply isn’t as much product to go around. Expect to spend nearly double the amount you would anywhere else for a gallon of milk or a basket of eggs.
Alaska also has rather extreme weather patterns, meaning you’ll be constantly turning on the heater just to get through the night. While rent hovers between decent and expensive, the surrounding cost of living will quickly rack up. So…is it expensive to live in Anchorage, Alaska?
The simple answer is yes.
Very Cold Weather Will Turn Off Fans of Warm or Temperate Climates
It’s not a stereotype that Alaska is cold: it’s the truth. This state is located far north, sandwiched between Canada and the Arctic Circle.
Expect heavy snowfall during the winter months and very brisk air during spring and summer. Nights are very long in Alaska once autumn rolls around, which could be difficult if you struggle with issues such as seasonal depression.
A Higher-Than-Average Crime Rate Makes New Moves Difficult
Anchorage, Alaska is well-known for its natural beauty and small-town feel. It’s not well-known for its safety.
In fact, Anchorage hits a mere four on the national crime index (for comparison, one hundred is considered the safest). This is because it boasts a staggeringly high property crime rate and a higher-than-average violent crime rate. General theft is the most common crime, with vehicle theft a little rarer.
The Walkability Score is Pretty Low
Do you prefer to walk or bike to get somewhere? Perhaps you’re someone who likes to rely on dependable public transportation. If any of these statements fit you, then you should steer clear of Anchorage.
Anchorage has a lower-than-average walkability score. While you can expect to move around comfortably in downtown Anchorage, you’ll have a difficult time getting anywhere quickly without a car once you hit the city limits.
How Much Money do You Need to Move to Alaska?
The cost you’ll need to comfortably and safely move to Alaska depends on your housing size, your timeline, and your personal finances. At the minimum, you’ll need a few thousand dollars.
At the very most, you may need upwards of $20,000. Take the time to research different moving methods so you can find the best balance for your budget and accommodation. Relocation planning should also be done as early in advance as possible due to Alaska’s distance from the mainland United States.
What Are Some Good Neighborhoods in Anchorage?
Do the beautiful forests and small-town feel of Anchorage call to you? It’s time to start exploring different neighborhoods so you can set up roots as soon as possible.
Chugiak-Eagle River for the Outdoorsy Types
Get the best of the outdoors right in your backyard with Chugiak-Eagle River. It’s only a dozen miles from the Anchorage downtown area, which can be a boon for regular campers, kayakers, or hikers.
Enjoy the long, winding hiking trails or take one of the nature tours.
Palmer-Wasilla is a Convenient Location for Walking
This middle ground provides you with some of the quiet, peaceful town life you’re craving without being too far from basic amenities. Expect to have a decent time shopping, working, or studying.
Girdwood is a Lively, Bustling Locale
Maybe you want a little more of the city life and don’t want to be too isolated. Girdwood is a classic tourist spot, regularly seeing spiking activity during the summer and winter months.
Bakeries, ski resorts, and restaurants are just a few of the places you’ll have easy access to. The Alyeska Ski Resort is an idyllic vacation spot, particularly popular as the only destination ski resort.
Living in Anchorage, Alaska could easily be the best or worst thing to happen to you. The unique, extreme qualities of this city-borough make this location a polarizing option.
For fans of outdoor activities and the beautiful wilderness, Alaska is an easy choice. The rich diversity in cultures, dazzling alcohol scene, and lack of sales and income tax are all icing on the cake. You may even be able to take part in the Permanent Fund Dividend, which is an annual payout for Alaskan residents that can be put toward utilities, savings, or your business.
The high crime rate, higher-than-average cost of living, and extreme cold will be a turn-off for others. People who struggle with seasonal depression will likely have a hard time with the very long fall and winter nights.
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