Living in Alaska certainly has its unique challenges. I hear the same story far too many times about the family who moves up here and doesn’t last longer than a few years because it was not everything they hoped and dreamed. Here are five things to consider before packing your bags.
The sunlight in the summer is great, but for the other nine months of the year, not so much. The farther north you move, the worse it gets. Areas such as Prudoe Bay don’t see sunlight at all in January or February! There’s a phenomenon called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or a temporary depression during winter months due to lack of sunlight and outdoor exposure, that consumes a whopping 20 percent of Alaskans during winter. If you’re going to move to Alaska, you might want to invest in a blue light therapy box to help fight off those winter blues.
2. Cost of Living
Alaska is not cheap. Everything must be transported up here so there’s always an added charge for shipping. It gets worse for rural communities off the main road system. For groceries in Kodiak, the city I live in, the cost-of-living index was 149.1 (with 100 being average for the rest of the US) in 2011. I’ve heard rumors that village dwellers can pay up to $8 for a gallon of milk. Be prepared to for sticker shock.
3. “Excludes Alaska and Hawaii”
You may have never paid attention to this when purchasing something online before, but it will apply to you now. It is difficult to find a website that offers free shipping to Alaska , let alone ships anything period! Sometimes I like to add objects to my online shopping cart for fun just to see how much they’d cost to ship. A $150 crib was once going to cost me $400 to ship here. No thanks! Other things like a tube of mascara won’t ship at all because it’s listed as a “biohazard” (yet it’ll ship to an address in the Lower 48).
It’s more than just a frigid wasteland here. Places like Fairbanks can get hot, sometimes up in the 90’s, and extremely dry in the summer time. Wildfires are common. Move further south toward Ketchikan and be prepared for up to 13 feet of rain per year. Wind storms can be pretty brutal, too. In September 2011, wind speeds were clocked in at over 100 miles per hour in the big city of Anchorage.
These are some of the top considerations you should make before packing your bags and heading north. Do thorough research on the city you’d like to move to (city-data.com is great for this). Some of the things you might find may shock you. Alaska is a pretty extreme place, so be prepared.