Making a home in the Frontier State
Planning a move to Alaska? You’re in for a new adventure in the largest, yet least densely populated state in the U.S. The northernmost state is divided into 5 regions — Far North, Interior, Southwest, Southcentral and Southeast — each with its own distinct qualities. While a job or educational choices might dictate a specific area, there are many different cities to choose from when searching for the right place to call home. Let’s explore some of them and learn what they have to offer.
Suggested reading: How to figure out where to live.
The best cities to live in
It’s a good idea to choose a city based on the lifestyle you want. Whether you want fast-paced living or a quaint town rich in native Alaskan culture, the state has plenty to offer.
Access amenities and more in Anchorage (Southcentral)
For those seeking a big city, the largest in Alaska is Anchorage. With a population of just under 300,000 according to the 2020 U.S. Census, the city is home to almost 40% of the state’s total population. Anchorage residents live near healthcare services, transportation, education, entertainment and wildlife, so it’s no surprise that some of the top job markets are in those fields.
Here are some top employers in Anchorage:
- Ted Stevens International Airport
- Providence Alaska Medical Center & Hospital System
- University of Alaska at Anchorage
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Is Anchorage not for you? Other cities in the Southcentral region include Homer, Palmer and Valdez.
Celebrate winter sports and warm summers in Fairbanks (Interior Region)
Fairbanks is a smaller city with close to 33,000 residents. Summers in Alaska’s Interior Region are warmer than in other places in the state allowing for lots of outdoor activities including exploring the Chena River State Recreation Site.
While winters are quite cold in the area, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy with winter sports like hockey, cross-country skiing and the Yukon Quest, which is an international 1,000-mile sled dog race.
Fort Yukon is located north of Fairbanks, and you can travel west to reach the city of Tok in the Interior region.
Enjoy smaller city life in Juneau (Southeast)
Only accessible by boat or plane, the capital city of Juneau is smaller than the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks with a population of around 32,000. At least one-fourth of the workforce holds jobs in the state government offices located in the city.
The weather is milder in Juneau, so many residents enjoy the surrounding mountains, forests and islands for outdoor activities and seeing wildlife. If you want some time indoors, you can visit the state capitol building or one of many museums dedicated to Alaska’s frontier history.
Communities closest to Juneau in the Southeast Region are Auke Bay, Douglas, Mendenhaven, Starr Hill and Thane.
View aurora borealis near the city of Nome (Far North)
Known for gold mining, Nome is located in the Far North Region of Alaska, making it among the best places to view the aurora borealis or “the Northern Lights.” Once the most populous city in Alaska, Nome now has a population of around 3,700. It has cool summers and long, cold winters.
Birdwatchers in the city rejoice during May and June when they can view around 200 different migratory species. For more animal history in Alaska, read about Balto and Togo, hero sled dogs who helped lead teams to deliver antitoxin for a 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome.
Want to venture farther north? Barrow and Prudhoe Bay are located on the northern Arctic coast of the state.
Take a wildlife tour in Kodiak (Southwest)
Often called an “outdoor paradise,” Kodiak is located on Kodiak Island. The city of around 5,600 people is a commercial fishing center for salmon and halibut. Wildlife enthusiasts enjoy touring the area for its Kodiak bear, elk, Sitka deer and mountain goat populations.
You can also check out the Maritime Museum, take a private charter boat tour or hike the trails that range from beginner-friendly to best for experienced trekkers.
Not wanting the island life? The Southwest region of Alaska is also home to Bethel, Dillingham and King Salmon, located on the mainland.
How to find a house or rental in Alaska
Once you’ve decided where to live, it’s time to start your housing search. Whether you’re planning to rent or buy, working with a licensed real estate broker is a good idea. The housing market moves fast in most areas of the state, and you’ll appreciate the help of someone who knows the area. If you’re reluctant to purchase a home without seeing it in person, consider a short-term rental while you search for a permanent place to live.
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation offers tips for renters and those who wish to purchase a home. There are also programs available for seniors, low-income families and individuals with disabilities to help with finding affordable and accessible housing.
Ready to make your move?
When you’re ready to relocate to Alaska, make sure you have an experienced mover to help. U-Pack® is a self-moving service where you do the packing, loading and unloading and then we handle transporting your things. Get your free, no-obligation quote online or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to a moving consultant. If you have any questions about U-Pack services or finding a home in Alaska, let us know in the comments!
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