America’s 49th state is famous for its natural beauty. No matter how long you live in Alaska, you’ll probably never take its natural beauty for granted. Even lifelong residents have their breath taken away by pink alpenglow on snow-covered mountains or by a field of fireweed in full bloom. Even if you’re moving to Alaska for a job and not because you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll still feel the state’s beauty.
- Plan your move during the summer, from May to early October. Depending on your location, spring and fall can be rainy and winters are cold and snowy.
- Alaska does not require moving permits and most areas have plenty of parking. However, if you are moving to a more populated area, such as Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau, check parking restrictions ahead of time.
- If you are driving, carefully map out your route. Check with the Alaska Department of Transportation to make sure all roads are accessible or call 511 for traveler information.
- Bring a well-stocked first-aid kit, toolbox and provisions, as well as a mobile phone and charger. It’s no fun to get stuck on the road or at home.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers and the nearest emergency services accessible.
- You can bring your pets with you by car, ferry or plane, but make sure to have a health certificate from a veterinarian prior to making the move.
- Consider using car transport and self-pack containers that allow for easy storage and shipping while you fly out.
- Make sure to have a source of income before moving to Alaska, as costs of living are high.
Change your address online. To make your move from California to Alaska easier, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and will ensure that your mail arrives to your new home with you.
Cities and Metro Areas
Moving to Alaska means living in one of the most challenging, but beautiful regions on the planet. Bordering Canada, Alaska is both the largest and most sparsely populated of all the fifty states. Icy cold in winter, and hardly much warmer in the summer, Alaska is famed for its diverse and beautiful landscapes.
Sitka is a really interesting place to live in terms of its rich history but it is the quality of the public schools and the family feel of the place that is the real attraction for people looking to live here. Crime levels in Soldotna are well below the national average making this town perfect for families. For parents looking to find a new home in Alaska, Juneau should be high on your consideration list for it offers the best public schools in the state. Anchorage is the most populated city in Alaska but still, proudly, retains its tight-knit community vibe.
Other notable cities/towns include Kenai, Kodiak, Palmer and Kalifornsky
Cost of Living
Although gas prices are high in Alaska, electricity is relatively inexpensive. In fact, utilities were the only cost of living factor in which Alaska ranked below the U.S. average. Food prices in Alaska are high despite the fact that Alaskans have access to a lot of great local food items. Alaska has no state income tax. It doesn’t have a state sales tax, either, though some cities impose their own sales taxes. The average effective property tax rate in Alaska is 1.23%, compared to a national average of 1.19%. Alaskans also pay a lot for healthcare.
The state of Alaska’s housing market has followed a different path than the contiguous United States. Alaska’s economy has had a significant number of job losses over the past few years, much of it related to the oil industry. Whereas the rest of the US has been on an economic upsurge for the past decade, Alaska has struggled to recover from the last real estate market crash over a decade ago.
Alaska’s median sales price as of Sept 2022 was $348,100. If we look back at Sept 2019’s median price of $290,600, we can see the increase in median price has only gone up 19.8% in three years, which is a yearly increase rate of 6.6%. The rate of price increases for the last three years is about ½ the rate of price increases nationwide and ¼ to ⅓ of what many metro areas have experienced in price growth.
The north and northwest coasts have a subarctic climate, with long and frigid winters and short summers, which remain very cool if not cold. This is the area of the tundra. Along the northern and the north-west side, down to the Bering Strait, temperatures are lower than in the western coast, especially in winter, both for the higher latitude and because the sea remains frozen for many months. In addition, this area is influenced by the frigid Siberian air masses, which can easily arrive here, moving from west to east.
All of Alaska gets a lot of snow and cold temperatures in the winter. Summers bring as much as 21 hours of sunlight, while winters offer as few as 4 hours. On the bright side, after moving to Alaska, you’ll have a chance to see the norther.
Overall, the quality of education is relatively high. In some areas, elementary, middle and high schools have as few as 20 students, while in more populated areas, schools can have up to 3,000 pupils.
Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to Alaska.
Top Elementary Schools in Alaska
- Aurora Borealis Charter School
- Bayshore Elementary
- Bear Valley Elementary
- Chugach Optional Elementary
- Watershed Charter School
Top High Schools in Alaska
- American Charter Academy
- Mat-Su Career & Tech Educational High School
- Nikolaevsk School
- Polaris K-12 School
- Steller Secondary School
Universities in Alaska
- Alaska Pacific University
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- University of Alaska Southeast
The State of Alaska Government has a user-friendly website with clear information about numerous aspects of life in this state, as well as resources for moving to Alaska.
- You have 60 days to register your vehicle with the Alaska DMV or 10 days after securing employment. Students and those in the military who actively maintain a registration in their home of record don’t have to register.
- You can use your out-of-state license for up to 90 days, but after that, you must obtain an Alaska license. Commercial driver licenses must be obtained within 30 days of moving to Alaska.
- Alaska doesn’t have excise taxes, but does impose a state property tax and a sales tax that’s collected by your local DMV when you register your car. You can find more information at the Office of the State Assessor.
- Alaska has one toll road that leads through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to the town of Whittier.
- Obtain voter registration applications at your local DMV, a voter registration agency or voter registrar, or use the Division of Elections’ online voter registration application form.
- Alaska Waste provides recycling for Anchorage, Wasilla, Kenai, Fairbanks and Kodiak. In all other areas, contact your municipality for information on waste management.