Skip to comments.Retiring to Alaska?
Posted on 10/18/2009 6:33:13 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
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Alaska can make or break a person, trust me on that. i have lived here since 1992. Best area to buy land and still be reasonably close to populated areas would be north of Wasilla and south of Talkeetna, land is affordable, or if you want farming acreage go to the Point McKenzie area.
Forget Anchorage, its a liberal metropolis with sky high rent. But it also offers more employment options, where I live near Wasilla its been a tight work season, I normally have from 2-8 drivers for my fleet of concrete mixers, yesterday we delivered 65 yards of concrete for a church with just myself and the owner, two trucks doing the job of at least three and normally 4 or more.
My self I look at living in Alaska with two opposite views, love the summer, hate the winter and I swear I too will find a way to hibernate like the bears if I could. lately the option of traveling to a warmer climate in the winter has gone out the window as the lower 48 is lost, it has succumbed to a Marxist State, Alaska will survive because its too tough and difficult to invade and control, its the weakened lower 48 states like California that will be the first to follow Obama’s Grand Plan.
And I may be sharing some of Sarah Palins view of the lower 48, they don’t or won’t help themselves so why bother trying to be a leader for them? I get so many worker wannabes lately, all they do is whine and complain and ask for a raise and break my equipment, my last driver was a total driving boob, broke every truck he drove.
You can come to Alaska but be prepared for some extended time before you get a well paying job. Work is seasonal here, myself I usually stop working from dec till april depending on maintenance issues needed at work. And I absolutely enjoy it this way, only thing better would be me retired but I am 52 and just not quite ready.
My advice, don’t come up here before may, have at the least enough funds to get you through 6 months or more of frugal spending, never rent unless you actually get lucky or become a house sitter in the winter. Lots of people can live in an RV through the winter, I did with some proper preparation.Near the big towns expenses are not too bad, fuel is high though, eating out is pricy, don’t be a tourist because half of Alaska preys upon tourism.
You want a decent job? a resume works but just walking through the door and asking for work often will get you something better, because of seasonal trades like mine we often work long hours during the summer and usually cannot get enough manpower. Any construction or driving skill is helpful.
I can admit some places are better in the lower 48 but you are still in close proximity of ever growing domestic situations that may get out of control, up here we have the distance acting as a shield, of course Anchorage gets its share of problems but I really avoid having to go there unless its absolutely necessary.
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life up here - in Southeast (Ketchikan), in urban Alaska (Palmer / Wasilla), and now up here in the Bush, where I don’t list my village because everyone will know who I am, and village politics being what they are, I don’t want them to know.
Alaska is like what the United States used to be like when I was a kid in the late 1950s. That’s the say people generally don’t mess with their neighbors, the government stays out of the way, mostly, and people still wave and say hello without the threat of a sexual harassment lawsuit or meeting an angry gangbanger.
A few ugly truths:
Things are expensive up here. It’s cheapest in and around Anchorage, but the local joke is that living in Anchorage isn’t bad because Alaska is only 45 minutes out of town. Where I am, the cost of everything is fabulously out of sight - milk at $11 per gallon, gas at $5.80 per gallon, a six-pack of beer for $12. Meat means whatever I’ve managed to kill during the season. Veggies mean what is in the root cellar.
The weather sucks everywhere. Ketchikan is the most beautiful place on Earth when the sun is shining - and then you have to put up with the other 300 days out of the year. One year it rained, literally, for more than three months straight. Rusted my car to the point where water collected inside and I had to pound holes in the floor to drain the water. The low gray clouds day after day is something to behold, in a Biblical way, like the Book of Job. Palmer had a nice summer, for about 100 days, then the wind coming down the valley was like your own private little Antarctica. Up here in the Interior, my garden experienced its last frost on June 4 and its first frost of the fall on August 19. It is awe-inspiring to realize that on some days of the year there is 110 degrees of difference between one side of the window and the other. You should also see what that cold does to every piece of machinery and building you own, too.
There is a thriving subculture of drunkedness and abuse. You can avoid living it personally, but you can’t avoid running into it.
Do not expect to sit back and relax. The environment is too harsh. I like to work hard, and I’m in a place that satisfies that need. Unless you’re a Native, don’t expect a hell of a lot of government assistance for anything.
Native people, by the way, are really cool to hang with, but you’ll get to see the cancer of the modern welfare state up close and personal. Most of the racists (the very few) I’ve met up here are Natives with bad attitudes about outsiders, usually “white” people, but often the race hatred extends in all directions pointing away from Alaska.
Remember that Southeast is also the northernmost suburbs of Seattle, which means fine coffee, effete liberalism, and dope-addled artists.
Now the good points:
People are generally really nice here. The one time I moved to California, I walked over to meet my neighbors. They told me to get the hell off the lawn. Every time I arrived back here, I had a dinner set with strangers welcoming me to town within the hour. Anchorage is the only place you’ll really find that cold-shoulder so common in the Lower 48.
It’s great to be able to build, grow, and generally do whatever I want on my property - a freedom that even extends to the sort of thing that I wouldn’t want to do, like grow weed. For instance, when I wanted to irrigate my garden, I just dug a trench across the road, asked the guy across the street if it alright to get water from the slough out back, set it up and watered away. No regulations, permissions, or anything.
My wife and I might retire down around Homer, which is pretty much the banana belt for Alaska - sort of a cross between Southeast and Southcentral.
All I can tell you is that every time I leave this place, I come back. Either you love it or you run screaming back to Seattle.
Good luck in your decision.
Yeah, I bet they love it. There’s no place on earth like it. It’s wonderful.
While leaving Alaska last trip, the taxi driver said that the depression is really high in winter.
LOVE ALASKA, but I also like Vitamin D (from the sun). Personally I couldn’t take it when it never gets dark or never gets light.
And don’t believe all this crap about “dark in the winter.” Because we’re way up north, the sun’s angle to the earth means that we have (up here) about two hours of dawn and two of hours of dusk - thus explaining the “midnight sun” - and also explaining that even on the most grim days around Christmas we still see about four to five hours of light each day. Southeasterns are further south, so they get more sun, but it’s also above 20,000 feet of thick gray clouds.
I forgot to mention the mosquitoes. Don’t believe the stories that you read. They rarely exceed eight pounds.
You know, I grew up around New York. In a wierd way, Alaska is like New York. Those of us who live here choose to live here. We love to share stories of hardship and tough efforts to survive - and end the stories by mentioning how beautiful the skyline looks at night, or the northern lights.
One more thing - everything up here is personal. After a while, once you get to the Alaska Airlines terminal in Seattle, you always run into someone you know. When we go shopping in Fairbanks, we run into old friends at the stores or the movies all the time.
Alaska is the world’s biggest small town.
By the way, that also includes the bad stuff, like crime. Much of the crime is intimate - husbands and wives, brothers feuding, friends falling out. That’s why I try to stay out of village politics, which can sometimes be vicious. (It’s also why I’m not worried about Sarah Palin, who cut her teeth in village politics - and in Alaska fashion, I’ve worked with her and when I went back to college, delivered pizza to her home. The Palins are good tippers.)
Good luck again.
I’ve been investigating colder climates on the ocean to relocate to.
I considered Alaska, but rejected it.
In addition to the reasons mentioned here, statistics I found show a much higher crime rate in Alaska than in the other places I looked at.
From what I could tell, it’s natural beauty is not as varied and overall as nice as other areas, too.
For example, the falls there are pretty dull from what I’ve heard.
Best part is no income tax and it has ocean and it’s not hot, but it is too cold.
>>>From what I could tell, its natural beauty is not as varied and overall as nice as other areas, too.
For example, the falls there are pretty dull from what Ive heard.<<<
You must be confusing us with Delaware.
I’ve been around the world twice and have found very few places that even approach my own Alaskan back yard - Nepal, the south island of New Zealand, southern Chile. On the other hand, I know people who love London and Rome, so it’s all personal taste.
The crime is so bad that the key to my truck is in the ignition right now and we leave our house unlocked when we go to work. We did have three burglaries in town about five years ago, and we found out who did and gave him a one-way ticket out of town. Look at the details in those statistics before making a blanket judgment.
Those golden fall colors, with the snow on the mountains and that crystal blue Arctic sky, could be dull to someone. Beauty is a feeling, not a description.
Like I’ve said, either you love this place or hate it. No middle ground here. Good luck in your journey.
Ketchikan crime rates compared to New York City:
I was the crime reporter for the Ketchikan Daily News, so I know what those statistics will tell you. The crime was terrible - often personal, almost always linked to alcohol and drugs. In Ketchikan, the crime rate in the Tlingit community was sad beyond words.
That still means you probably won’t be a victim of crime if you don’t drink, don’t go to the bars, don’t use drugs, and stay away from the endless party. And since I’ve actually seen the crimes and victims, I know that much of the crime is personal - friends fighting, domestic violence, family feuds. The crime rate is not the same as the way criminal behavior is expressed - and like I said, I know this because it used to be my job. There just isn’t the kind of random stranger-on-stranger crime you sometimes get in the lower 48.
It’s still a great place to live.
No, I live in Wasilla. Are you thinking of coming up?
What about burglary?
The statistics I posted for Ketchikan, for example, show it to be many times that of New York City.
I live alone, and I wouldn’t relish worrying whether my things will be there when I come home, especially if I’m away visiting friends and relatives in the lower 48.
Any insect borne diseases?
(The thing I hate most about the state I’ve decided on, is a small but rapidly rising incidence lyme disease and equine encephalitis.)
I love the outdoors—but something like that (lyme and eee are no joke—they’re much worse than most people realize) would take the fun out of it. I’d rather worry about very big bears.
And then there is Valdez. There is the anecdote about the phone call from an Alaskan to his relative in Valdez asking how’s the weather over there? “Clear and still” was the answer. “Clear” up to my neck and “still” snowing, that is.
Having lived here for over 30 winters, I can say that is no exaggeration. It’s not for nothing it’s called the snow capital of the US. Probably North America. Snow gets really deep here.
Alaska: HOME, SWEET HOME. I've been other places recently enough to know that this is where I have to be.
You need to come up and experience it for yourself, then. Sounds like you have been listening to gossip. It’s not for weaklings, but it is a beautiful, challenging, and rewarding life.
LOLOLOL!!! Yep! Hubby plowed snow in Valdez for 18 years, while I shoveled it off the roof. We used to say, "If you like snow, you'll LOVE Valdez!" Fifty feet was the average in the early 80's for a winter. Any change yet?
50 feet? You must be talking about the winter of ‘89. We set the record that year. Most winters its around 30 feet average.
Thank you for that great personal “look” at the real Alaska. I hope the guy who originally asked (Magical Mysterious Tour, I think) at least gives it a try. We’re living in Charlotte, NC after nearly a lifetime of Florida living and island cruising. I like it here very much and the seasons are truly beautiful. Seems like something is always blooming. The mums and pansies in winter along with the Japanese cherry trees in January and February. The Bradford pear trees, which are all over the place, start blooming in March. Then everything starts back over again. Crape myrtles are STILL blooming in places but we haven’t had a frost yet. Could be this week.
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post about Alaska and do plan to one day go there except maybe only by cruise ship. Come visit Charlotte sometime, it’s called the “City of Trees” and is starting to be in full glory right now.
>>>What about burglary?
The statistics I posted for Ketchikan, for example, show it to be many times that of New York City.
I live alone, and I wouldnt relish worrying whether my things will be there when I come home, especially if Im away visiting friends and relatives in the lower 48.<<<
There are 14,000 people in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. There are 8 million people in New York. I’ll bet I can go directly to the neighborhoods in Ketchikan where those 53 burglaries occurred, too. My uncle lives on 86th and Second Avenue in Manhattan, and he has never been burglarized - but go uptown 30 blocks and it’s a world of difference. Same in Ketchikan.
By the way, one of the years I was in Ketchikan there were eight murders - many times that of New York, too. All but one involved a family feud in Saxman, the Tlingit village south of town. One was a drunken domestic assault.
I hate to say this, but most of those crimes on that list took place in the Native community. Sad but true. The same is true in Fairbanks and Anchorage, too. Culture plays a part in these sorts of things. The sexual assault in the Native community is unbelievably high, and it is dealt with in the Native community with resignation. It would make you cry to see what I have seen.
On the other hand, I was never a victim of crime, ever, in Ketchikan, even though I was a young man and went down to the Marine Bar and the Arctic Bar more than once. Those who lived in Ketchikan in the 1980s will know what that means.
You might be amused by the personal fact that there was a place where I was almost murdered (in a robbery), my car was broken into multiple times, I was assaulted twice, and I was carjacked. That was in Salem, Oregon. It was the neighborhood I lived in that made all the difference. Alaska operates the same way.
Asheville proper is moonbat.
You’re here with me in Nashville aren’t you ?
I really enjoyed living in Alaska for four years. It is a beautiful place and everyone should visit Denali and the south central coast sometime in their life.
I suspect we may get to live there again one day when family is different (aging In-Laws).
However, it would be a hard life as I would get old. That much of the year with ice and snow is tough getting around when you get up in years. Lots of slips and falls are tough on the elderly.
It can be a great place, but not an easy place.
Also be aware that there are many great hard-working conservatives, there are many from the West coast that promote the liberal agenda as well. It is an interesting mix of hunters and protect the wildlife at all costs.
A mix of those that want to develop the resources and those that believe 100 million acres of parks and wildlife refuges are not enough.
No, I’ve been there twice but now am on dialysis three days a week and I hate to travel. IF I get a kidney and could find someone to go with me, I’d give it a lot of consideration.
You’re absolutely right about that! The “vortexes in the mountains” have drawn them by kajillions but it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the area and the “normal” folks who also live there.
“Alaska is the world’s biggest small town”
How true that is! I met people I had known somewhere in the lower 48 quite frequently.
Last time my parents went through there recently, my mother got panicky when she was downtown because of all the filthy hippies looking like homeless people all milling about.
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