Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Alaska

Aug 2, 2013


I will admit I knew nothing about Alaska prior to moving here. I mean what is there to know? It's cold, there are bears, Alaskan salmon, king crab....yep I think that covers the first things that came to mind. Chris assured me that everyone he knew that had been stationed here LOVED it, and it was going to be great. And to be honest it was here or Fort Drum, NY. So since there is insanely cold winters in both places it did not make much of a difference to this warm weather lover. But there are many things I wish someone would have told us before driving from Georgia to Alaska!

-High cost of living! We knew it was going to be quite the increase, but the spike in rent was a shock. If living off post, housing will cost you an arm and a leg! Rental properties are extremely limited as well. Or at least for us and our growing family. We moved here in November and there were literally 3 houses that could accommodate our family size, that were also within a reasonable driving distance to post for Chris. I would suggest starting your search very early, and if you find a house that you like, take it immediately because there are probably four other families looking at it as well. 

-Food!! We are a family solely driven by food. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on food a month. With that being said groceries are stupidly expensive here, $5-$6 for milk (shop around though, Fred Meyer, Target, Safeway) the commissary is not always the best buy. I know in other parts of Alaska it is higher but come on, you might as well buy a cow and milk it yourself. 

-Internet Usage. It couldn't possibly be any different from all the other places we have lived, right? Think again! In Alaska you pay for data plans. Pretty much like on your cell phone, except in your house. It is once again ridiculously expensive. And if you go over your allotted data you pay a very large fee, and if you go over a certain amount they just turn off your internet! Let me just tell you that we went well over our plan the first 24 hours we lived here, our bill was $460 FOR INTERNET. We called and fought it and pulled the "we aren't from here" card, which bought us a free pass. This also depends on what you are doing with your internet of course. We four iPads going on any given day, we stream movies, Chris and I both work on our computers a lot, so it really depends but we happen to use the internet constantly. 

-Sunlight or no Sunlight. If you have small children this is an issue, at first. When we first got up here the sun never came out. My house is positioned in such a way that the sun never makes it over the mountains. This takes a toll on you especially if you are pregnant like I was. I thought I was hormonal before, now I was hormonal and clinically depressed popping vitamin D pills like they were skittles. Then you transition to the summer and the sun just never goes down. The solution is blackout shades which we have in all the bedrooms, but your body does not feel tired. If you happen to be under the age of 4 and living in this house you have developed insomnia!


-The locals refer to anything south of Canada as the "lower 48". A term I have adopted into my vocabulary and my family and friends find it hilarious! 

-WINTER! Enough said...I am from Vegas we don't have winter. We have "oh it's not 110 out must be winter time, better put away the flip flops weather." Nothing could have prepared me for an Alaskan winter. But you adapt, and you get a great workout every morning just trying to get your car out of the driveway. 

Now there are many great things about Alaska as well, if you like the snow and cold weather there is a never ending list of things to do. My husband being one of these people thinks of Alaska as his playground. You will have no choice but to embrace the outdoors, if you don't you will go bat shit crazy like I did the first 5 months I lived here!

This picture is from when we lived in Arizona

-Guns...ya like guns? Come to Alaska! Guns are like toothbrushes here, you can get one anywhere, everyone has one or two, some people use theirs more than others! But a bear gun can be handy when on the trails. Bear spray will also become your most fashionable accessory!

I am still adjusting to life with three littles in the great outdoors. I am hoping that I can awaken the sleeping Annie Oakley in me and really enjoy the next couple of years here. 

*an update on living in Alaska after 2 years can be found HERE!

35 comments:

  1. I can't believe groceries are so expensive! Also, I couldn't imagine a life without sun! SUCH an adjustment!

    Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

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    1. Yes, sun is definitely the most shocking adjustment!!

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  2. Haha the comment about Vegas winter just made me laugh. It's so true!

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    1. Oh Vegas...send me some warmth please :)

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  3. I think I would only be able to VISIT Alaska the sun thing would drive me nuts! Hugs from Cali! xx The Golden Girls

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    1. I should have definitely visited before we moved here!! But there is a very unhealthy abundance of tanning salons on every corner in this place! haha

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  4. Beautiful pictures of the family. The kids are so adorable!

    Have a wonderful day.

    Kisses,
    Sofia

    stylishlyinlove.blogspot.com

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  5. Enjoy every minute of Alaska. I miss it every day and am still struggling with the decision to leave. I will be living vicariously through you, hope you don't mind.

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  6. Hi! Just found your blog and I was thrilled because I live in this great state, too! Love it!

    My blog is Everyday Alaska at http://everydayak.com

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    1. Hello fellow Alaskan! Can I call myself an Alaskan? I am a transplant…but my license plates say Alaska. Anyway, I am glad you found my blog :)

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  7. My friend lives in ALASKA and I live in HAWAII lol. She left hawaii years ago and we decided to send each other somethings. I'm trying to think of what to send her, have any ideas? She says she loves li hing mui seeds, but they're $9 in Alaska! like holy, they're only $2-$4 the most down here, so i'll be getting lots of those for her, anything else I should get? I haven't been to Alaska and I don't know much about it lol. I need help please :)

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    1. WOW! I need a friend like you :) haha! Umm...what to send, I would think any kinds of food, coffee, or what about lotions or soaps since shipping is so expense. Candles? I know I am a fan of a tropical scent or two! Hope that helps.

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  8. Hi! We just found out we're PCSing to Richardson (we're at Ft. Riley now) so I'm scouring the internet for information on what to expect. I have mixed feelings, my husband will LOVE it - the cold, the outdoor adventures - I on the other hand am super nervous since I HATE cold weather yet I'm excited for the adventure. Your post was super helpful - I would love any other tips you might have. I'm particularly interested in how to keep our little 4 month old son warm during those cold winters. What do people do with babies?

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    1. Hey Katherine! Happy you found my blog. I was worried about all the same things, I had very mixed feelings about coming to Alaska. I am NOT a cold weather person, but you learn to love it. haha! As far as kids go, we take our 10 months old everywhere with us. You do have to take extra precautions to keep them warm, but it is doable. We have a Osprey backpack that we take her out in. Also they make cold weather gear for infants and babies. Both my older boys love it here, and my husband can't get enough of this place! If you want specific items of have questions about PCSing, or anything feel free to email me and hopefully I can help!

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  9. My husband and I wanted to go to Alaska for recruiting duty in 2010, but, alas, they sent us to Cincinnati, Ohio... Where I am from and never wanted to return. We lived in Kentucky, right across the river so we didn't have to live in Cincinnati. My husband is from Kentucky and didn't want to return either. Now, he has been out, trying to adjust to civilian life for 2 years and lately we have both been talking about Alaska.
    We have 3 children; 7, 4, and almost 2. They would love the snow - Mommy would say it's ok for a while then start wishing it away.
    We already pay a little over $3 for milk here and we are big on grocery shopping as well.
    It certainly hasn't been easy getting out and adjusting to civilian life. How is the job market up there? I have read a lot that Alaska pays residents to live there, do you know anything about that?
    Having Data for internet must suck, I am used to paying monthly and using it when I please - like, everyday!
    Any advice you would have for me before we take the Polar Plunge?

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    1. Alaska is a very expensive state to live in, think like California, or New York for cost of living. Housing is expensive if you have to rent. It is a great place for families who love the outdoors! I wouldn't say that Alaska pays you to live here. You can get dividend if you qualify, but It is not enough to cover much. At least not for our family, I certainly can't speak for everyone. It is a big change, and a huge move from the lower 48. Definitely do your research on housing, jobs, schools. There was a lot we didn't know until we moved here. If you have specific questions feel free to email me!

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  10. Hello!! I just typed something out, but it didn't go through :( So to summarize, I was just wondering if your opinions of the place has changed much over the course of the last year. I as well am from Vegas, just near the Red Rock, but always hated the hot summers (though loved everything else about it). I visited Mt. Charleston ALL the time and view Alaska as one giant Mt. Charleston. That a pretty close idea? I was offered a good paying transfer opportunity to go work in a movie theatre up there, and I'm leaning heavily towards yes. Only have until 9/15/14 to officially decide. So basically, has anything changed from what you thought last August? Is it really THAT much more expensive, even if I'd only be renting an apartment? I appreciate your blog, it's awesome. Thanks!!!! -MJ

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    1. I can say that most of these things still hold true. The summers up here are amazing, like nothing I have ever experience in all the places I have lived. Winters are brutal, especially your first winter. But if you like winter sports then Alaska is your playground. Housing, food, internet, and heat are all expensive. My husband loves it up here, I am just not a winter/snow person. But I have many friends that can't imagine living anywhere else after being stationed here. I would say do your research. If you have specific questions I can try to answer them.

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    2. How much does electric bills usually run

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    3. Our house in the winter was between 300-450 a month for gas. Electric was around 125.

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  11. where is this milk?

    Safeway
    Lucerne® Milk
    3.49 Card Price
    Gallon. Whole, 2%, 1% or Fat Free.
    Price Valid 10/15/14 - 10/21/14

    about 30cents more then I'm paying in Dallas TX.....

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    1. When we first moved here we shopped at the commissary on base, where the milk is $5 a gallon. We have since found it a dollar cheaper at Target and Fred Meyer. But groceries in general are more expensive up here compared to other places we have lived like Georgia, and Arizona.

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  12. I am thinking about moving to Alaska. I have five children ages 7 to 14. My husband is in the Army National Guard and I am a stay at home mom. I don't even know where to start to look at housing or jobs.

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    1. The first thing we did was find a realtor, or a property manager. They were able to send us housing information while we still lived in GA, that way we have a list of houses to look at once we got to Anchorage. Housing goes fast here with all the military coming and going. As far as jobs, I really don't know. Being a stay at home mom myself I haven't researched that much. Best of luck though!!

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  13. This post is quite helpful for everyone romanticizing the life in Alaska, you know - the beautiful nature, etc. I'm planning to move there from Kentucky and I'm grateful that I've worked there for a little while, so I know what I'm getting into...

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    1. Thanks Heather!! Alaska is amazing with all its beauty and endless things to do outdoors. But it is a shocker if you have never visited, or even know what to expect. My first year was so hard adjusting. But now after almost three years, I know how to cope. I still miss my desert living roots, but Alaska has been a great experience for me and my family!!

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  14. I was so happy to find a recent post about living in Alaska. My only son and family were recently transferred to the Anchorage area. I am looking for a job and considering following them so I can be near my grandchildren ( and help lessen the blow). We are from Oklahoma and are fed up with the wind and the heat of the past 2 summers. Is it really any worse up there than when you are bored with where you are? They say the hardest thing is being away from family, not necessarily the weather etc. Are the earthquakes a big issue? Thanks.

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    1. I think the hardest part for us, was getting used to the winters. They are loooong! And with the limited sunlight it tends to take a toll. But the summers are nothing short of amazing. We have felt a lot of earthquakes in the three years we have lived here, but nothing damaging. Alaska is most definitely an adventure, and Anchorage isn't too different from other cities in the lower 48.

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  15. Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm moving to Anchorage in six months and I definitely know where I'm going and what I'm getting into, but it's always good to read others' experiences. After all I still know Alaska's the right place for me. Greets!

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  16. You are sooo right about the guns! These people love their guns! I moved in Fairbanks 2 years ago a I still don`t have one. Greetings!

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  17. I fail to see how guns is a bad thing.

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  18. Alaska is the best! People need to know how great it is. I came across this video of anchorage and thought it was a good video for Alaskans to be proud of. Here it is: https://vimeo.com/185419135

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    1. TOTALLY AGREE!! Which is why I wrote a follow up post to this one explaining how my family and I truly fell in love with Alaska in the years we spent up there. But, thank you for sharing that video!

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