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30 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Juneau

by ATJ Posted in The Alaska Experience Blog |

Things to Know About Moving to Juneau

Congratulations, you’re moving to Juneau! You’re going to have the time of your life while you’re here, and there are plenty of lessons you’ll learn along the way. Here are 30 tips and insights from ATJ to help you get ahead of the learning curve.

Culture

1. Russian Orthodox culture runs deep in Juneau. Some of the oldest buildings in the city are Russian Orthodox churches!

2. Juneau’s population swells by up to 6,000 people daily between the months of May and September, thanks to visitors from cruise ships.

3. Be ready for some alone time. The people who thrive in Juneau love exploring their own interests (indoor or outdoor) and don’t mind a little isolation.

4. Juneauites are above all practical. Jeans, boots, sweaters, and T-shirts are the uniform of choice, so make sure you pack accordingly!

5. Of course, you can also expect a few nights out—Juneau’s downtown lights up on a Friday night.

6. The number-one employer in Juneau is the government. Tourism is the second leading employer, but there are plenty of folks working year-round at the Capitol.

7. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to catch great shows in Juneau. There are free pipe organ concerts at the State Office Building on Fridays, the Juneau Jazz and Classics concerts during May, and plenty of open mic nights at local bars.

8. The first Friday of the month, all the galleries in Juneau open up and show art to the public. Take a stroll, admire local work, and sip some free wine.

9. The native people of Juneau are the Tlingit. Try to learn as much as you can about their culture and history, so you know fully understand the history of Juneau.

10. Are you “sporty?” You’ll enjoy Juneau a lot more if you’re excited about hiking, kayaking, skiing, or otherwise enjoying nature. Much of the culture to revolve around outdoor activities.

Nature

1. Juneau has mild winters and lovely summers. Unlike other parts of Alaska, the thermostat rarely drops below 20°F, and summer temperatures can climb as high as 70°F. It’s not the Yukon, so you don’t need to prepare for sub-zero temperatures.

2. Bring a raincoat! And some good boots. Juneau gets a lot of rain year round—it’s a rainforest, after all.

3. On the topic of rain, skip the umbrella—those are for tourists. Don’t be afraid to get your hair a little wet and rely on a good jacket and maybe a hat to protect you from the rain.

4. The longest day of the year is almost 8 hours of daylight (but the shortest day is only six hours long). If you move to Juneau, bring a sleep mask for the summer and some Vitamin D pills for the winter.

5. Juneau has more bald eagles per capita than anywhere in the United States. Be respectful of their habitats and their place of esteem in Juneau culture.

6. The Mendenhall Glacier is the jewel of the Juneau Ice Field, and it’s only a ten-minute shuttle ride from town. It’s free to access—no passes or fancy gear necessary.

7. Bears are common, so if you’re going to live in Juneau, learn some basics about how to behave during an encounter.

8. One thing you don’t really hear about much in Juneau is the wildflowers, yet they’re one of the most treasured aspects of Juneau’s natural landscape. The wildflowers are at peak in June but grow all over most months of the year. Learn a few of their names to impress your new friends.

9. Fjords are a big part of the landscape surrounding Juneau. Learn what it means. (Answer: a long, narrow channel of water between cliffs that is very deep.) More importantly, learn how to pronounce it. (Answer: fee-ord, not fuh-jord.)

10. Want to go whale watching? Fly in a seaplane? It’s very likely that the friends you’ll make in Juneau are operating much of the tourism transit. Buying someone a beer and making a new friend might be your ticket to a neighboring island!

Local

1. The downtown area is where most of the younger folks live. It’s small but bustling.

2. The other main neighborhood is known as the “Valley,” which is a little more suburban and quiet if you want to live away from the nightlife and tourism center.

3. The cost of living is high. Groceries, meals out, and drinks aren’t cheap in Juneau, but jobs pay well, and you’ll never have fresher seafood in your life.

4. Want to find out what’s going on? Pick up a copy of the Capital City Weekly, the local paper with all the Arts & Entertainment event coverage.

5. Juneau is very walkable! And if you want to get around Juneau a little faster, you probably want to buy a good mountain bike when you arrive. You’ll be surprised how far you can get with two wheels.

6. The Mt. Roberts Tramway isn’t just for tourists! Even long-time locals will occasionally use the tramway to scale Mt. Roberts. And it’s free for ATJ employees!

7. Do you like beer? Juneau sure does! Homebrewing is a popular hobby here, and the breweries are just as beloved. The famous, nation-wide Alaskan Brewing Company is headquartered in Juneau, but there are also great, strictly-local brands like Barnaby. Try them all!

8. People are very friendly here. If you’re from a big city, it might feel weird at first when folks nod or say “hi” on the street, but you’ll soon find yourself doing it right along with them.

9. You can’t really drive out of Juneau—it’s connected to other parts of the state through the Alaska Marine Highway System, which means taking a ferry if you want to explore the region.

10. You’ll definitely want to visit the Red Dog Saloon and walk its sawdust floor. But if you want to try a spot the locals prefer and visit a true Alaskan hole-in-the-wall, spend an evening at the Triangle Club. They’ve been owned by the same family since 1947 and make an excellent Moscow Mule.

Good luck in Juneau! If you’re friendly, curious, and ready for adventure, you’ll fit right in.

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