Does your economy suck, tired of a crazy commute or just fed up with sales tax? Then maybe its time to consider Anchorage!
If you’re considering moving because you’ve been laid off, or maybe you’re bored and crave a sense of adventure. How about a place with few people, tons of natural wonder, and an almost limitless amount of career opportunities? Then perhaps you should consider Anchorage, Alaska. I know- crazy right? Not as crazy as you might think. Our economy is fantastic, and I mean fantastic for just about anyone, with any skill set. This is doubly true if you are an educated professional like myself. There really is no competition like there is in “lower 48” what we say when we mean “The Continental United States”. The labor market here is currently exploding with unemployment at historic lows. New companies are opening businesses here all of the time, and unlike most other prosperous states, our state actually NEEDS people. There is no state income, city or sales tax in Anchorage, and on top of that-Alaska actually will pay you live here– Sounds great right? Well keep reading.
For most people the type of positions you will qualify for in Anchorage will be better than what you could currently get in the lower 48. There just isn’t the competition for positions. I imagine the way Anchorage is economically, is what it was like to live in the rest of this county 30-40 years ago. It has been very good to me. While I think you will find the state to be a neat place to live, like all places it can get frustrating. The weather can be a challenge and it will be especially difficult for people from warmer places. The winter is shit, and like other places that are cold but only longer! The daylight thing can be hard for people too, it is for me still, with the long days in the summer and the short days in the winter it can hard to adapt, it is difficult waiting for the sun to arrive at 10:30 AM in December, as it is waiting until 3:30 AM for it go down in June. Alaska can also be a challenging place to meet people, at least the way I would like to because its small and pretty tight-knit, and I also think the place tends to be so transient.
If you decide to move up here you really should consider driving it. The Alaska Canadian Highway known simply as the ALCAN, which is the highway that you take to do the drive to Alaska is ridiculous. It is a real Discovery Channel style adventure. If you’re thinking about doing it, you should grab book called the Milepost. It will help you plan your adventure and it will be money well spent, trust me.
Do you love to hunt or fish, then I imagine that living here would be nothing short of paradise for you. There are national corporate chains that are opening here all of the time as the city is experiencing rapid growth. Cabella’s, Bass Pro Shops just opened and are waiting for you to come and start your outdoor adventure. What about food culture in Anchorage? Well we are blessed with an abudence of great restaurants that range from family to fantastic. Hard Rock Café just opened recently, along with Texas Road House. Like to shop tax free? Alaska Shopping outlets and a Nordstrom rack are coming soon along with a Dave and Busters that is on its way, so you kind of get the idea. It is getting real in the last frontier.
So what is all of this doing for the people who are already here? It’s adding to the overall quality of life here, and it’s changing the culture. I think you will find lifelong Alaskans who are not happy about the growth but overall, I think people here are starting to accept the progress that comes as a part of prosperity. Anchorage is a blend of super libertarian republican and to a less extent democrat. It feels more free than most parts of the United States, with people and police who tend to leave it’s citizens alone to do whatever it is you do, as long as its legal. Hell the state is even about to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use just to give you an idea of the mindset of your average Alaskan.
So what are the major downsides? Well for one, the cost of living is high here, especially for certain things like fresh produce. but on the upside some things can actually be cheaper, or at least similar to prices in the lower 48 especially when you consider the tax savings. Honestly it really depends on the time of year and what exactly you are trying to buy, another is the lack of a decent public transportation infrastructure, so if that is important to you, be forewarned. Also everyday things are expensive here, especially housing. Just keep that in mind when you start looking at rental units and you want to break down crying. Sadly the supply is not keeping up with the demand, and the rent is astronomical at the moment. If you can commute from Wasilla or Palmer, known in Alaska as “the valley” it can be A LOT better, but then you’re looking at hour or more each day in traffic, and it will be that long at least—longer if there is an accident on the Parks Highway leading into town.
Well what does make the cost of living here more reasonable-Well what about free money? Its true. After one complete year you qualify for what’s known as the Permanent Fund Dividend or (PFD as it’s so lovingly called here) which is free money given to all Alaskans. It helps to offset the cost of living to some degree, and the best part? You get it for every member of your family, so keep that in mind for a family of say for when the dividend is $1900.00 a person like its supposed to be this year. My advice to anybody is to make sure that you negotiate a salary that will support a quality of life you can live with.
I want to wish everyone who is considering the faithful move to Anchorage a lot of luck. This is a cool place, one that’s very unique in its place in world. Not only wondrous because of its breathtaking beauty but also its cultural diversity.
Costs for some basic staples (These will vary, but this is a good approximation):
Gallon of Milk: $3.69-$3.99
Loaf of French Bread-Freshly Baked $1.28
Box of Crackling Oat Bran (my favorite) $4.50
Loaf of fancy bread $3.50-5.00 depending on brand
Box of Capri Sun $2.50
12 Pack of Cocacola $5.00 (approximately as it depends)
Dozen Eggs Cage Free ( all we buy) $3.50
Salmon Wild Caught Free (if you catch it) to approx $9.99lb
Beef Sirloin $9.99 a pound
Cheese Colby Jack 2 pound brick $9.99
White Bread $1.99 or less
16 oz. Mocha at Kaladi Bros $4.00 (Like Starbucks, and we have those too J)
Gallon of Gas at TESORO $ 3.99 (7/20/2014)
8.4 oz. Red Bull @ a convenience store $2.39 each
Pint of good IPA at a bar $4-6
Dinner out moderate for two (Chil’s) $50 (burgers, a beer, one app to share)
Dinner out fancy place for two $75+ Double musky, Club Paris ect.
Movie Ticket $10.50 first run/ $3.50 Second run
Big Mac Meal Medium $7.00 Approximately
Oil Change-Synthetic & VW Dealer $89.00
If anyone has any thoughts on moving to Anchorage or Alaska–please post them in the comments below!