Adventure, natural beauty, remote wilderness, fresh seafood—these are reasons people spend time in Alaska. But that’s not all there is to the state. Do you think you’re suited for life in Alaska? Ask yourself these seven questions when you’re deciding to make your move.
Do you enjoy roughing it a little? Alaska has most of the typical creature comforts that the lower 48 boast. But some parts are a bit more primitive. For example, many residents of Alaska’s cities and towns actually live in dry cabins where they use outhouses and haul in their own water using jugs or tanks. It’s not exactly “Jeremiah Johnson,” but if you enjoy a simpler lifestyle, you might really feel at home there.
Can you handle long, dark nights and days on end with bright light? No matter where you are in Alaska, you’ll deal with long nights in the winter and long days in the summer, due to its high latitude. Most Alaska residents have figured out ways to cope with it. They enjoy the coziness of wood fires and candlelight in winter and get out for exercise no matter the weather. And they mark the seasons with all sorts of crazy celebrations to help get them through. Do you think you can survive that much darkness or light?
Do you flourish in rain and fog? When people think of Alaska, many of them imagine snow and ice. But because of its long coastline, much of its weather is fairly mild—and wet. That’s what makes it so vibrantly green. It also makes for moody ambience and soothing fog banks. Think Seattle or Portland. If you love the cool, rainy vibe of cities in the Pacific Northwest, you might fall in love with Alaska’s climate.
Are you OK with a high cost of living? Since the state has to import many of the products its residents consume, you’ll find that many things—from clothes to crackers—cost more in Alaska than in other states. But Alaska has the lowest sales tax of all the states, and is actually just about on par with Portland, OR, as far as cost of living. If a simple lifestyle spent enjoying the natural landscape and people around you sounds nice to you instead of shopping till you drop, you’ll be just fine.
Do you love wildlife? If you’d rather avoid run-ins with deer, bears, wolves and the like, Alaska might not be for you. But if seeing a moose on your way to work would be the highlight of your week, then you want to be packing your bags for Alaska. Even in the cities, wildlife sightings are a daily occurrence: deer crossing the roads, beavers scurrying down the creek bank, owls hooting in the trees. Anchorage—and Alaska’s other small metropolises—are like no other cities in the U.S. that way.
Can you deal with mosquitoes? The rumors are true—Alaska has ferocious mosquitoes, and lots of them. The good news is they’re usually only a problem if you’re in damp locations like soggy tundra and stagnant ponds. So if you’re cool with donning repellent and loose clothing to create a barrier between your skin and the swarming bloodsuckers, you’ll likely have no problem at all.
Are you OK with function over fashion? Even Alaska’s most style-conscious residents know that conditions sometimes dictate what you wear. But they don’t let the climate get the best of them or take away their fun. People will carry fancy shoes to a party, even though they wear big snow boots in the door, and simply swap shoes—no need to skimp on the glamour even if it’s below zero out there! Sure, you might have to bundle on the layers to get from place to place, but underneath the down jackets and wool sweaters, people in Alaska still let their personalities shine.
No matter how you look at it, Alaska has its pros and cons just like any other state. Doing a little research before you go will help you prepare for some of the parts that you might struggle with. And you never know, you might just be surprised and realize some of the “cons” are actually pretty cool.
Think you’re ready to make the move? Look for jobs on Alaska Tour Jobs.