After posting about Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Alaska nearly a year ago, I have had a lot people ask me via the comments section or by e-mail: should I move to Alaska?
The good: beautiful scenery
(From this post: Winner Creek + Sugarspoon)
The bad: friends and family are far away
My sister and I
The ugly: snow in May
(From this post.)
I always struggle with a clear-cut answer for those people who ask me about moving to Alaska. I know most people just want to bounce their questions off me and get a better picture of life in the 49th state. I am more than happy to help them discern whether or not Alaska is for them, but I am cautious on how I answer each question.
Of course I cannot give a yes or no answer since every person is so different, but I’ve compiled a (short) list of things you should consider before moving to Alaska because it definitely is not for everyone. I thought I would really enjoy my time here (I love the outdoors, always wanted to live near the mountains, and enjoy the open spaces.), but within a relatively short period of time, I realized there’s a lot more to this state than I originally thought.
Things to consider before moving to Alaska:
1. You must love winter. Period. I can’t put it any other way. Winter is here for a solid six months and the seasons that bored winter aren’t your true fall and spring like other places in this county.
This is so very true!
2. You have to realize you will not see your family and friends very often. Flights out of Alaska start at $600/$700. (Occasionally you might be able to find a deal for $500, but most flights are much more expensive.) Not only are flights expensive, but you must allow for a solid 8-12+ hours of travel to get to your destination.
3. Anchorage is a fairly large city (280,000 people), but it does not offer an endless number of things to do. Of course this is very relative and often depends upon where you came from. If you come from a large city on the East Coast versus a small town in the Midwest, your perspective on this might vary. There are things to do, but I’ve heard people mention that they do get bored easily.
4. The cost of living is much higher: food, housing, gas, household goods, etc. are going to cost more. The pay from most jobs help offset the higher cost of living, but I do miss the novelty of cheap things.
5. The winters are long and dark. In Anchorage the sun typically rises at 10:00 a.m. and sets at 3:00 p.m. in the winter. But even when the sun is up during these five short hours, it is so low in the horizon it doesn’t warm the air or provide that boost of energy you normally get from the sun. If you suffer from SAD where you live now, it will only get worse here!
Sunrise at 9:30 a.m.
6. There are endless opportunities to hunt, fish, trap, and catch big game animals—as well as small game—year round. Caribou and bear are very popular big game animals to hunt and fishing for salmon in the summer is a necessity.
7. Summer temps only get into the 60s—maybe low 70s, so don’t expect to be sporting your bathing suit of taking a dip in any lake. (The summer of 2013 was an exception.) The sun does shine for about 20 hours in the summer, but even those 4 hours in between, the skies are still dusky and not completely dark.
8. Once you are here, it is very hard to move back to The Lower 48. People get stuck here. It is hard because of how much it costs to actually move all of your belongings back—even if you sell off many of them. It isn’t like you are moving across the border to another state. It is 1700 miles just to get from Anchorage to Seattle!
Plus I’ve found it is very difficult to find a job out of state. Who wants to hire someone from Alaska and take the chance that they will actually move from that far away. Nonetheless, there are other well-qualified people much closer, so your application will probably get by-passed.
(Picture from our trip to Maui.)
9. People either love Alaska or hate it. There isn’t much middle ground. For those who grew up here, it is a huge part of who they are and they will go to every length to defend their state. (Yes, I am speaking from experience.) And here is my theory on whether or not you will like it here:
If you are a female, and you were born and raised in Alaska: 75% of these people love it, 25% hate it.
If you are a female and you moved to Alaska as an adult: 50% love it, 50% hate it.
If you are a male and you were born and raised in Alaska: 100% of these people love living here.
If you are a male and you moved to Alaska as an adult: 75% love it, 25%hate it.
10. While Alaska is very different, Anchorage is still a US city with chain restaurants, shopping malls, fine arts entertainment, and most things you would find in a similar-sized city. We do not ride sled dogs to work, live in igloos, or eat whale blubber.
I’m not sure if these things help or make your decision more difficult but hopefully they at least cause you to take some new things into consideration. Alaska is like no other. Whatever you decide, I hope you follow your heart and live life to the fullest.