15 Vital Things to Know Before Moving to Alaska

Moving to the beautiful state of Alaska is an exciting yet daunting decision.

As you prepare for this life-changing move, there are a few important things you should know to make the transition as smooth as possible.

From the unique climate and breathtaking landscapes to the diverse wildlife and rich culture, Alaska offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

However, it’s essential to be well-informed before making such a significant change. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know before moving to Alaska, from the weather and cost of living to the job market and recreational activities.

Key Takeaways

  • Climate: Be prepared for extreme cold temperatures and long, dark winters in many parts of Alaska.
  • Cost of Living: Alaska has a higher cost of living compared to many other states in the US, especially when it comes to housing, groceries, and utilities.
  • Access to Services: With Alaska’s remote location, access to certain services, healthcare, and amenities may be limited in some areas. It’s important to research and plan accordingly for these challenges.

Understanding Alaska

Clearly, before deciding to move to Alaska, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the state’s unique geography, climate, culture, and lifestyle.

Alaska is unlike any other place in the United States, and it’s essential to be well-informed before making the move.

Ensure to schedule at least one trip to explore Alaska firsthand, witnessing its wonders with your own eyes, and gathering insights to comprehend both the advantages and challenges of this unique destination.

1. Alaska is an expensive state.

Many things in Alaska are comparatively more expensive than in many major states. Here are some examples:

Expense TypeCost
Internet$150 per month
Dining Out$15-22 per person
Groceries$1000 per month (for two)
Average Home Price$345,231
Rental (Anchorage)$1,100
Rental (Fairbanks)$1,200
Safer Neighborhood$1,700 per month

2. Alaska is the land of untouched wilderness.

Alaska is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, from towering mountains to sprawling tundra.

The state is the largest in the U.S. by land area, but has one of the lowest population densities, meaning much of the land is untouched wilderness.

The climate in Alaska can vary significantly depending on the region. While the southern coastal areas experience a temperate climate, the interior and northern regions are characterized by long, cold winters and short, mild summers.

The state is also known for its extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.

3. The state of Alaska is home to a diverse population and cultures.

The culture of Alaska is deeply rooted in the state’s indigenous peoples and their traditions, which continue to play a significant role in contemporary Alaskan society.

The state is also home to a diverse population, including individuals who have chosen to make Alaska their home from all over the world.

In terms of lifestyle, Alaskans are known for their resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and love of the great outdoors.

Living in Alaska often means embracing a more rugged way of life, and being prepared to face the challenges that come with living in such a unique and remote location.

4. Alaskans buy locally.

Numerous retailers avoid shipping to Alaska, treating it like a distant land. Although Amazon and clothing stores usually deliver here, larger-item providers like Wayfair and IKEA often don’t.

While Lowe’s and Home Depot are present, their online offerings are restricted, limiting Alaskans to in-store purchases.

Legal and Administrative Considerations

After deciding to move to Alaska, there are several legal and administrative considerations you should keep in mind to ensure a smooth transition.

From residency requirements to taxation and financial implications, understanding these factors will help you prepare for your move and avoid any legal or administrative hurdles.

5. Making Alaska your permanent home means more benefits and services

When moving to Alaska, you will need to establish residency to access various benefits and services.

To do so, you will need to provide documentation such as a valid driver’s license, proof of employment or housing, and any other relevant documentation that indicates your intention to make Alaska your permanent home.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific residency requirements and documentation needed to establish yourself as a resident of the state.

Additionally, if you plan to change your residency from another state to Alaska, you will need to update your voter registration, vehicle registration, and other important documentation to reflect your new residency status.

6. Alaska doesn’t have a state income tax.

Alaska is known for its unique tax structure, including the absence of a state income tax and the reliance on other sources of revenue such as sales and property taxes.

You should familiarize yourself with these tax laws and understand how they will impact your financial situation.

Housing and Real Estate

Now that you have decided to move to Alaska, one of the most important considerations is finding suitable housing.

Whether you are renting or buying, there are some factors to keep in mind when it comes to housing and real estate in the Last Frontier.

Things to Know before moving to Alaska

7. Renting vs. Buying in Alaska

When moving to Alaska, one big decision you will need to make is whether to rent or buy a home.

Renting may be a favorable option if you are not yet sure about settling permanently in the state.

It gives you the flexibility to move around while getting to know different neighborhoods and areas.

On the other hand, buying a home in Alaska can be a good investment in the long run if you have decided to stay for an extended period.

8. Living in Alaska means experiencing extreme climates.

Living in Alaska means experiencing extreme climates, which can have a significant impact on your utility expenses.

Heating costs can be a major consideration, especially during the long and harsh winters.

You will need to factor in the cost of heating fuel, electricity, and other utilities when budgeting for your housing expenses.

Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the home you choose is well-insulated and equipped to handle extreme weather conditions to keep your utility costs in check.

Some areas in Alaska may also have limited access to utilities such as water and sewer, so it’s crucial to consider these factors when looking for a place to live.

SeasonTemperature RangeDaylight HoursWeather Conditions
Winter-30°F to 20°F (-34°C to -6°C)4 to 7 hoursCold, snowfall, limited daylight
Spring20°F to 50°F (-6°C to 10°C)10 to 16 hoursTransition, melting snow, increasing daylight
Summer50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C)17 to 24 hours (June)Mild to warm, longer daylight hours
Fall20°F to 50°F (-6°C to 10°C)10 to 15 hours (September)Cooling temperatures, foliage changes

Employment and Economic Opportunities

Not only is Alaska known for its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities, but it also offers unique employment and economic opportunities.

9. Alaska’s economy is driven by several key industries, including oil and gas, fishing, tourism, and the military.

The state is home to some of the largest oil fields in the United States, offering employment opportunities in drilling, exploration, and production.

The fishing industry also plays a significant role in the state’s economy, with commercial fishing providing jobs for thousands of Alaskans.

Tourism is another major industry in Alaska, particularly during the summer months when visitors flock to the state to experience its natural beauty.

From cruise ship jobs to positions in hotels, restaurants, and tour companies, there are ample opportunities for seasonal and year-round employment in the tourism sector.

Finally, with several military bases located in the state, defense and government-related employment are also significant contributors to Alaska’s economy.

10. Finding Employment Before and After Moving

Before making the move to Alaska, it’s important to consider your employment prospects.

Researching job opportunities in your field and making connections with potential employers can help you secure a job before you even arrive.

Many companies in Alaska are open to hiring individuals from out of state, particularly in high-demand industries such as healthcare, engineering, and education.

After moving, networking and utilizing local resources such as job fairs, career centers, and online job boards can help you navigate the job market.

Additionally, considering part-time or seasonal work in the tourism industry can provide income as you settle into your new surroundings and continue your job search.

Education and Healthcare

Now that you have decided to move to Alaska, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the education and healthcare systems in the state.

Both are crucial aspects of daily life and can greatly impact your experience living in Alaska.

Here’s what you need to know about education and healthcare in the Last Frontier.

11. When it comes to the educational system in Alaska, you’ll find a variety of options for your children as well as for adult education.

The state is home to a mix of public, private, and charter schools, each with its own unique offerings and teaching styles.

Alaska also has a growing home-schooling community, providing flexibility and personalized education for families who choose this route.

If you are considering higher education for yourself or your children, you will find several colleges and universities in Alaska, offering a range of degree programs.

The University of Alaska system, with campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau, is a prominent option for those seeking higher education.

12. While urban areas like Anchorage and Fairbanks have comprehensive medical facilities, rural areas may have limited access to healthcare services.

Access to healthcare is a vital consideration when moving to a new state, and in Alaska, the healthcare landscape may differ from what you are accustomed to.

The state has a mix of public and private healthcare providers, as well as tribal health organizations that serve Alaska Native and American Indian populations.

While urban areas like Anchorage and Fairbanks have comprehensive medical facilities, rural areas may have limited access to healthcare services.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the healthcare options available in your new location and understand how your insurance coverage may be affected by the move.

Transportation and Infrastructure

To fully understand what life in Alaska is like, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the transportation and infrastructure of the state.

From road conditions to public transportation, here’s what you need to know before moving to Alaska.

13. Alaska is known for its vast landscapes and remote areas

Alaska is known for its vast landscapes and remote areas, which can make getting around a bit of a challenge.

While major cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks have well-developed road systems, some areas can only be accessed by small aircraft or boat.

It’s important to have a reliable vehicle that can handle harsh weather conditions, especially during the winter months.

Additionally, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with snow chains and other winter driving equipment to ensure your safety on the roads.

If you plan on traveling to more remote areas, such as the Alaskan Bush, you may need to rely on small aircraft or boats for transportation.

Bush planes are a popular mode of travel in these regions and are essential for accessing villages and towns that are not connected to the road system.

14. Alaska may have challenges in communication and connectivity in some places.

When it comes to communication and connectivity, Alaska presents its own set of challenges.

While major cities and towns have access to reliable internet and cell phone service, more rural and remote areas may have limited connectivity.

It’s important to research and understand the availability of communication services in the area you plan on living in.

Satellite internet and phones are often necessary in remote areas, providing a lifeline to the outside world.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to have a backup plan for communication, especially during severe weather events or other emergencies.

This may include investing in a satellite phone or two-way radio to ensure you can stay connected when traditional means of communication are unavailable.

Keep in mind that the level of connectivity can vary greatly from one region to another, so it’s essential to be prepared for any scenario.

15. The roaming bears is a reality (so learn basic safety skills)

In Alaska, the presence of roaming bears is a genuine reality. The vast wilderness and abundant natural habitats make it common to encounter bears in various parts of the state.

It underscores the importance of wildlife awareness and precautions for residents and visitors, highlighting the coexistence between human communities and the untamed beauty of Alaska’s wilderness.

Preparing to Move to Alaska

Now that you’ve decided to move to Alaska, it’s time to start preparing for the big move.

There are several important things to consider as you plan and pack for your new adventure in the Last Frontier.

Planning and Packing for Alaskan Weather

When it comes to preparing for the move to Alaska, one of the most important things to consider is the weather.

Alaska is known for its extreme climate, with cold, snowy winters and mild summers. Be sure to pack plenty of warm clothing, including heavy-duty jackets, snow boots, and thermal layers.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a quality pair of insulated gloves and a warm hat.

Additionally, be sure to pack any specialized gear for outdoor activities you enjoy, such as skiing or snowboarding.

It’s important to be well-prepared for the harsh Alaskan winters, so take the time to carefully plan and pack for the weather.

Settling In: The First Few Weeks in Alaska

Once you’ve made the move to Alaska, the first few weeks will be a period of adjustment as you settle into your new home.

One of the most important things to do during this time is to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.

Take the time to explore your new neighborhood, find the nearest grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and other important amenities.

Additionally, be prepared for the adjustment to the daylight hours in Alaska, as the state experiences long summer days and short winter days.

It’s also important to take the time to meet your new neighbors and become part of the community.

The first few weeks in Alaska will be an exciting and challenging time, but with careful planning and an open mind, you’ll soon feel at home in your new surroundings.

Overcoming Challenges

Keep in mind that moving to Alaska comes with its own set of challenges. It’s important to be mentally prepared for the obstacles you may face upon arriving in the Last Frontier.

Whether it’s dealing with isolation, adapting to the darkness and light extremes, or simply adjusting to the rugged lifestyle, overcoming challenges is a crucial part of making a successful transition to Alaska.

Dealing with Isolation

Living in Alaska, especially in more remote areas, often means being isolated from the rest of the world. This can be a drastic change for many people used to a more connected lifestyle.

However, it’s also an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in nature and find solace in the peace and quiet.

To combat feelings of isolation, make an effort to get involved in the local community.

Join clubs, volunteer, or attend community events to connect with others who share your interests.

Also, staying in touch with family and friends through phone calls, video chats, and visits can help you feel more connected, even from a distance.

Adapting to the Darkness and Light Extremes

Alaska experiences extreme variations in daylight throughout the year. Summers bring long days with almost 24 hours of sunlight, while winters are characterized by long periods of darkness.

Adapting to these light extremes can be challenging, but it’s a part of living in the northernmost state.

During the summers, blackout curtains can be essential for getting quality sleep during the midnight sun.

On the other hand, investing in a light therapy lamp during the winter can help combat the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and improve your overall mood.

Embracing outdoor activities in the summer and finding ways to stay active indoors during the winter can also help you adjust to the light and dark cycles.

Making the Most of Alaskan Life

Unlike living in a big city, Alaskan life offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and experience the great outdoors daily.

Whether you enjoy hiking, fishing, skiing, or simply taking in the breathtaking scenery, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your time in Alaska.

Embracing Outdoor Activities

Living in Alaska means having access to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world.

From towering mountains to serene lakes and abundant wildlife, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Hiking trails can be found throughout the state, offering everything from short, scenic walks to challenging multi-day treks.

Fishing is another popular pastime, with opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater angling. If you’re a fan of winter sports, Alaska has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country.

Embracing these outdoor activities will not only keep you active and healthy but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.

Joining the Community

Alaska is known for its strong sense of community, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and meet new people.

Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity, joining a community sports league, or attending cultural events, there are countless ways to connect with your fellow Alaskans.

Getting to know your neighbors and becoming a part of the local community can greatly enhance your experience of living in Alaska.

It will also provide you with a support network and a sense of belonging in your new home.


With these considerations in mind, you are now armed with valuable information to help you prepare for your move to Alaska.

Remember that the weather and isolation can be quite challenging, so be sure to stock up on essential supplies and familiarize yourself with survival skills.

Additionally, the cost of living and job opportunities may not be as favorable as in other states, so it’s important to have a solid financial plan in place before making the move.

On the other hand, Alaska’s unparalleled natural beauty and unique culture make it a truly special place to call home. (Read: Alaska captions for Instagram)

The breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities make it a dream destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurous spirits.

But just as with any major life change, it’s crucial to be well-informed and prepared before taking the leap.


Q: What are the essential things to know before moving to Alaska?

A: Before moving to Alaska, it’s important to be prepared for the extreme weather conditions, high cost of living, and unique cultural and social dynamics of the state. It’s also crucial to understand the implications of living in a remote location and the potential challenges it may present.

Q: What is the climate like in Alaska?

A: Alaska’s climate is characterized by long, cold winters and short, mild summers. The state experiences a wide range of temperatures, with some regions experiencing subarctic or even arctic conditions. It’s essential to be ready for this diverse and sometimes harsh climate.

Q: How expensive is it to live in Alaska?

A: Alaska has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. Housing, food, and other necessities can be significantly more expensive than in other states.

It’s important to budget and be financially prepared for the higher costs associated with living in Alaska.

Q: What are the job opportunities in Alaska?

A: Alaska’s job market is largely driven by industries such as oil, fishing, tourism, and government.

It’s essential to research the job market and potential employment opportunities in your field before moving to the state.

Additionally, many jobs in Alaska require specific skills and qualifications, especially those related to the state’s unique industries.

Q: How does living in a remote location in Alaska affect daily life?

A: Living in a remote location in Alaska can present challenges such as limited access to goods and services, longer travel times, and limited social and recreational opportunities.

It’s important to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the potential isolation that can come with living in a remote area, while also embracing the unique beauty and tranquility of the Alaskan wilderness.

About the author

I'm Chloe Raley, the proud founder and curator of this travel haven. As an intrepid explorer and wordsmith, I founded this website to share my adventures.