So you have been thinking about moving to Alaska?

Dated: March 3 2024

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All of the United States have nicknames. Alaska stands out, though, for having at least three. Based on land mass, the state is the largest in the nation. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that it takes three nicknames to capture the spirit of the state.

Alternately known as The Land of the Midnight Sun, The Last Frontier and The Great Land, the state has much to recommend it besides its size. Have you ever wondered what life in Alaska is all about and whether you might want to call the state home yourself? Read on and learn more about the state’s geography, culture and economy and why it’s just an overall fun place to live.

12 Reasons Why You Should Consider Moving to Alaska

1. Alaska is known for its breathtaking natural beauty

Alaska offers a stunning variety of landscapes, ranging from snow-capped mountains, vast ice fields and glaciers to a coastline that spans over 34,000 miles. The rugged terrain of Alaska is also dotted with numerous rivers and lakes, providing habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. The coastline is marked by numerous fjords, bays and islands, providing sheltered habitats for marine life, including sea otters, whales and sea lions. Alaska is also home to more than 130 volcanoes, ten of which are considered active at this time. Fifty of them have been active in the last 300 years.

Alaska attracts more than 2 million adventurers and tourists each year. The state is known for the research it conducts to maintain healthy ecosystems, including specific studies into whale populations, climate change and more. Preserving Alaska’s natural beauty is a passion that scientists and state residents share.

2. The state is home to a diverse array of wildlife

Alaska’s mountains, forests, tundra, coastline and waterways are home to an incredibly diverse range of wildlife, from massive bears to elusive wolves to vast herds of caribou. One of the most iconic animals in Alaska is the brown bear, which can be found throughout much of the state, including in places like Katmai National Park and Preserve, where visitors can watch them fish for salmon in the Brooks River.

Alaskan moose, which are the largest subspecies of moose on the planet, can be found throughout the state’s forests and wetlands, including in places like Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park.

In addition to these large mammals, Alaska is also home to many other fascinating species, including mountain goats, Dall sheep, and muskoxen. Mountain goats are often found in the rugged peaks of the Chugach Mountains and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, while Dall sheep can be spotted in the high alpine regions of Denali National Park and the Kenai Mountains. Meanwhile, muskoxen can be found on the tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where they use their thick coats to survive the harsh winter weather.

Of course, Alaska’s waters are also teeming with wildlife, including a variety of fish and marine mammals. The state is home to five different species of salmon, as well as halibut, cod and other popular fish. Marine mammals like whales, sea lions and seals can be seen in many of Alaska’s coastal areas, including the Inside Passage and the Bering Sea. With such a rich diversity of wildlife to explore, it’s no wonder that Alaska is considered one of the world’s top destinations for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

3. Alaska offers a rich indigenous heritage

Alaska’s indigenous heritage is fascinating and diverse. The state is home to over 20 different indigenous groups, each with its own unique language, culture and traditions. Some of the most well-known Alaska Native groups include the Inupiat, Yupik, Tlingit and Haida. These indigenous communities have inhabited the land for thousands of years, thriving in the harsh Arctic and subarctic environments that make up much of Alaska’s landscape.

One of the defining features of Alaska’s indigenous heritage is its strong connection to the land and natural world. Many indigenous communities rely on hunting, fishing and gathering to sustain themselves and their way of life. This has led to a deep respect and reverence for the environment, with traditional practices emphasizing sustainable and responsible use of natural resources. Indigenous communities also have a rich tradition of storytelling, with oral histories passed down through generations to preserve cultural heritage.

Despite the many challenges that Alaska’s indigenous communities have faced over the years, including colonization, forced assimilation and the impact of climate change, these communities continue to be a vital part of Alaska’s cultural landscape. Efforts to preserve and celebrate Alaska’s indigenous heritage are ongoing, with many indigenous organizations and cultural centers working to promote traditional knowledge, language and practices. By honoring and respecting the unique contributions of Alaska’s indigenous communities, we can gain a deeper understanding of the state’s history and the complex relationships between humans and the natural world.

4. Alaska offers many career opportunities

Alaska offers a diverse range of career opportunities, with an economy that spans many sectors. The state’s abundant natural resources, including oil, fish and timber, create a strong foundation for industry. The healthcare industry is also growing in Alaska, with the need for medical professionals in remote areas of the state. Additionally, the tourism industry offers numerous job opportunities, with visitors coming to Alaska to explore its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.

Another growing industry in Alaska is technology. With advances in remote work, many tech companies are establishing a presence in the state. This has opened up new opportunities for tech professionals in fields such as software development, cybersecurity and data analytics. Alaska also has a robust government sector, offering employment opportunities in fields such as public administration, law enforcement and education.

For those interested in outdoor careers, Alaska offers a wealth of options. Alaska is also home to a number of national parks, including Denali National Park and Preserve, which attracts visitors from around the world. Outdoor recreation is a major industry in the state, with jobs available in areas such as guiding, park management and conservation.

5. Alaska offers a wealth of outdoor activities

Alaska is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true — especially if you’re fond of cold weather activities. But the state also offers year-round opportunities for fun and adventure.

Alaska has countless trails that allow you to explore its natural beauty, from mountain hikes to coastal walks. The state is home to eight national parks, including Glacier Bay National Park, Gates to the Arctic, Katmai, and more, all scattered around the state. No matter where you are in Alaska, there’s a special place where nature is preserved for your wonder and pleasure.

Alaska is famous for its world-class fishing, with some of the best salmon, halibut and trout fishing in the world. Whether you prefer fly-fishing in a remote river or deep-sea fishing in the ocean, you can cast your line in this magnificent state.

Alaska hosts some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife, including bears, moose, caribou, whales and eagles. Many visitors come to Alaska for the chance to see these animals in their natural habitats.

Alaska’s coastlines, lakes, and rivers offer some of the best kayaking opportunities in the world. You can explore the fjords and glaciers of the Inside Passage or paddle down a remote river in the interior.

Alaska’s winter wonderland offers some of the best skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing opportunities in the world. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Alaska has ski resorts and backcountry areas that cater to all skill levels. And if you’re looking for a unique snow experience, check out dog-sledding. You can hire an experienced tour guide or, if you’re really adventurous, try your hand at mushing your own team.

6. Alaska offers an affordable cost of living

While certainly not the least expensive state in the US, Alaska is relatively affordable given all that the state has to offer. The average cost of living in Alaska is $48,739, which is 28% higher than the national average. But the median income in the state is about $80,000. So many Alaskans find it a very affordable place to live. While home prices are on the rise, they are rising considerably more slowly in Alaska than elsewhere in the country. And rents are slightly lower in Alaska, too. Healthcare expenses in Alaska, however, are among the highest in the nation

7. Alaska is known for its abundant salmon and halibut fishing

Salmon and halibut are two of the most iconic fish species found in Alaska’s waters. Salmon is one of the most important fish species in Alaska’s commercial and recreational fisheries. Five distinctive species of salmon swim in Alaska’s waters: king, sockeye, coho, pink and chum. Alaska’s cold and nutrient-rich waters provide the perfect environment for salmon to thrive, and Alaskan salmon are known for their exceptional flavor and texture. If all you’ve ever had is farm-raised salmon from the supermarket, you just don’t know how delicious the fish can be. Not surprisingly, salmon fishing is a popular activity in Alaska, with visitors coming from all over the world to try their hand at catching these prized fish.

Halibut is another yummy fish found in Alaska’s waters. It’s known for its firm white flesh and mild flavor. Halibut can grow up to six feet long and weigh over 500 pounds, making it one of the largest fish species found in Alaska’s waters. Halibut fishing is also a popular activity in Alaska, with visitors coming from all over the world to try to land “a big one.” Many fishing charters and lodges in Alaska offer guided halibut fishing trips, providing visitors with a challenging and exciting experience they won’t find elsewhere. And here’s something you probably never knew about halibut: they’re flat fish that swim sideways, with one side facing down and the other facing up!

8. Alaska pays you to live there

There are a number of states that compensate their residents for living in them and Alaska is one. Payments given to Alaskan residents come from the Permanent Fund Dividend Program.  The fund was established in 1976. Capital invested in it originates from surplus revenue derived from the development of the state’s oil and gas reserves.

All Alaska residents who have lived in the state for one year receive Permanent Fund dividend payments. In 2022, the payment was quite substantial: $3,284 per person. What a great way to earn a living: just stay put in one of the most beautiful places on earth for a little while!

9. In Alaska, you don’t pay state income or sales tax

One other benefit that Alaskan residents enjoy is the state’s income tax structure. There is no state income tax in Alaska. That hasn’t always been the case. State income tax was repealed in 1980, in response to the decade’s oil boom. (You’ll still have to pay the Feds, though. Sorry.)

In addition, state sales tax is not levied on any product or service you purchase in Alaska. Seriously. Not on a case of beer and not on the 4-wheel drive vehicle you purchased to help you traverse the state in all kinds of weather. In any given year, that can save you thousands of dollars versus living elsewhere in the United States, where state sales tax can approach 10%. We have to add one caveat though: some municipalities do assess their own sales tax. But two of Alaska’s largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks do not.

10. Alaska offers a property tax exemption for senior citizens

If you’re a senior (aged 65 or older) or the widow of a previously qualified senior and you own a home, Alaska has another bargain for you to take advantage of, in the form of a property tax break.

The state exempts the first $150,000 of the appraised value of your home from being taxed. So if you own a home worth $300,000, you’ll only pay property taxes on $150,000. That’s a boon to senior citizens who are adjusting to living on less than they earned while they were working.

Overall, property taxes in Alaska are a little bit higher than average in the US: 1.17% compared to .99% nationally.

11. During the summer months, the sun never sets in Alaska

Alaska occupies a unique geographical position — way north! — which also puts the state in a unique position relative to the sun. During the summer months, the Earth’s axis tilts towards the sun, causing the sun to stay above the horizon for almost 24 hours in some parts of the state. This phenomenon is popularly known as “the midnight sun.”

The midnight sun is an unforgettable experience for visitors. Long-term residents learn to take it in stride.

Alaska’s midnight sun has a significant impact on the state’s tourism industry. People travel from all over the world to experience the phenomenon, which provides an opportunity for 24/7 outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping. Outdoor enthusiasts who “can’t get enough” of Alaska’s magnificent natural features love it. The midnight sun in Alaska isn’t just a natural wonder, either — it’s an economic boon for the state’s tourism industry.

12. The state is a prime viewing location for the aurora borealis

And while we’re talking about incredible celestial phenomena, let’s not forget the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. There’s no better place in the US to view them.

What are the Northern Lights? They’re a natural phenomenon that occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a breathtaking display of colorful lights in the sky. Alaska’s location within the “auroral oval,” a region around the Earth’s magnetic pole where auroras are most likely to occur, makes it a prime location for witnessing this awe-inspiring natural wonder. The aurora borealis can be seen in Alaska from late August to early April, with the best viewing occurring during the darkest months of the year, when the nights are long and the sky is clear.

The aurora borealis in Alaska has significant cultural and spiritual importance for Alaska Native peoples, who have long-held beliefs and traditions surrounding the phenomenon. Alaska Native cultures view the aurora borealis as a manifestation of their ancestors and a connection to the spiritual world. Many Alaska Native communities hold festivals and celebrations during the aurora season, where they share stories, dance and sing to honor the Northern Lights. The aurora borealis is a vital part of the state’s cultural heritage, making it a must-see for visitors who want the total Alaskan experience.

OK, so you want to move

Moving is a big step, no matter where your destination is. But there are a few special considerations you should take into account when planning a move to Alaska.

Not all moving companies — even those who say they handle long-distance moves —provide service to or from Alaska. And when they do, it’s one of the most expensive moves you can make. That’s mostly due to the distance your goods will have to travel. It’s a 4,480 mile trip from New York City to Anchorage. If you move to Anchorage from Minneapolis, it’s still a distance of 3,167 miles. From Seattle, Washington, the distance is 2,358 miles. Any way you look at it, Alaska is far away.

There are a few ways to transport your belongings to Alaska. One is to rent a truck from a company like UHaul and make the drive yourself. If you’re moving the contents of a one-bedroom apartment, you can probably get away using a 10-foot truck and it will cost you about $3,000. If you’re moving a large household and need to rent a 26-foot truck, the price is close to $7,000. In addition, you’ll need to travel through Canada to drive to Alaska. Therefore it’s essential that you have a valid passport when making your move.

You can also move to Alaska by hiring a moving container company. Shipping containers can get your belongings to your new home faster than if you were to drive them yourself. Once you figure in fuel and hotel costs, moving via shipping container may even be less expensive than a DIY move.

You can also hire a standard moving company to move you to Alaska. One advantage of using a reputable moving company to move is that such companies offer some extra services you may want to use, including packing and unpacking and temporary long-term storage. Research the best interstate moving companies before selecting a moving partner.

To save money on your move, you may want to consider selling your larger, heavier belongings, including sofas, appliances and mattresses, before you leave. These are items you can purchase once you arrive using the money you take in by selling your used furniture.

Here are a few other important considerations to take into account when moving to Alaska:

Cold winters are an inescapable part of life in the upper reaches of North America. And as much as the midnight sun can make summers a joy, during the winter you’ll experience long hours in the dark. In fact, if you live in the northernmost part of the state, you may not see the sun at all for more than 60 days. The few hours of daylight in many Alaska’s cities can contribute to mental health problems.

Alaska is very remote. Services like shopping are few and far between. Even driving to the grocery store can be a major trip unless you live in one of Alaska’s largest cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Badger. And large is relative — Badger has a population of just over 19,000. Finding healthcare services can also be a challenge if you live in a rural area.

The economy in Alaska is largely supported by resource extraction. If you’re not trained to work in the oil or gas industry, forestry, or fishing, you may not have the variety of job opportunities you’d find in other states, where there are many, many jobs in the service sector, for example.

While many people move to Alaska to avoid the stress and hustle of big-city life and  enjoy a laid-back way of life instead, others may find America’s Last Frontier a lonely place. On the other hand, Alaska is known for its tight-knit communities. Small-town living is mostly what you’ll find in Alaska.

Housing is relatively scarce throughout the state. As a resident of Alaska, you may  wind up in temporary housing and others deal with overcrowding in their homes.

Some long-distance moving companies do and some don't. There are some Alaska-based moving companies you can contact to inquire about moving to the state. Some of the largest and best-known international moving companies, including Allied Van Lines, International Van Lines and North American Van lines can assist you with moving to Alaska. To save money on moving services, put decluttering your home and selling items you don't need at the top of your moving checklist.

Here are the key takeaways:

Alaska’s natural beauty is unparalleled. The state offers a stunning variety of landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts, from mountain ranges and a 34,000-mile coastline to volcanoes and umpteen interior water features.

The state is a haven for outdoor sports year-round, including skiing, hiking, fishing, kayaking and more.

Alaska is serious about preserving its natural beauty. There are 17 national parks and 16 wildlife refuges across the state.

Alaska’s winters are long and harsh. In its northernmost regions, you might see snow 12 months out of the year.

In parts of Alaska, the sun never sets during summer. Conversely, in winter, some Alaskans experience darkness all day long.

Services in Alaska are few and far between. Unless you live in one of Alaska’s largest cities, you can expect to drive long distances to access shopping, schools and medical services.

The economy in Alaska is based on resource extraction. Careers in forestry, fishing and the energy industry dominate. But the state’s medical and technology industries are growing.

Alaska offers a laid-back lifestyle and fosters a strong sense of community.

Moving to Alaska can be expensive but you have several options to consider, including moving yourself.

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Liz Jozwiak

Real Estate Agent  -  Realtor® - Accreditied Buyers Representative, Military Relocation ProfessionalSpecializing in First-time Home Buyers, Kenai River Luxury Properties, Single-Fam....

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