Benefits of Retiring In Alaska (Pros & Cons)

David Bolton

/

July 28, 2022

General Retirement
Benefits of Retiring In Alaska (Pros & Cons) | Retire Fearless

Alaska might seem like a cold and desolate part of America, so then why do people want to retire there? What are the benefits of retiring in Alaska?

Have you ever been to Alaska? Contrary to what you might think, it is not a barren land of ice and snow. Even though Alaska is commonly known as the Great White North (which implies that it’s super cold there all the time), it is a wonderful place to live.

The pros of retiring in Alaska are the stunning landscapes, friendly residents, slow-paced and diverse lifestyles that you’ll encounter here, and no income tax. The cons, however, include high gas prices and the cost of living. The worst thing for most people is the dreadful cold.

In Alaska, you will find an incredible amount of beauty. The mountains, valleys, and glaciers are so magnificent that you will be left in awe. However, Alaska has all these amazing views because it is so far north. This is a major con for most people as they might not be able to handle the extreme cold, especially after retirement.

Having lived in Alaska for the longest time, we can tell you all you need to know about living in this picturesque state. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of living here to help you decide whether this is where you should settle down after retirement.

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Benefits of Retiring In Alaska (Pros & Cons)

Benefits of Retiring in Alaska

Alaska is a stunning state, and there are lots of reasons why one should retire here. Here are some of them:

Stunning Midnight Sun

Many of us have no idea what a midnight sun even is. When you shift from the southern to the northern US, you will find that the summer days are much longer. Even though the sun usually sets at 10 pm, midnight twilight is not a concept; neither is midnight sunlight.

Since Alaska lies in the far north, the sun is still shining during the summer season at midnight. This is also the case in the southern parts of the state. At the latitude of Fairbank, there is no concept of night. Instead, there is a kind of twilight that only comes for a few hours before the sun rises again.

The midnight sun is absolutely fascinating, even though it is no different than the sun being up in the sky. Think about how many things you can do at midnight, all in the daytime! It is almost like the day does not end.

Super Friendly Residents

When you move to a new state, you may find that people do not trust each other or like to keep their affairs private. In Alaska, it is completely opposite – individuals here are friendly and open to new residents. This is because the residents here are diverse, life is slow, and there is no hustle and bustle like there would be in bigger cities.

In fact, if you walk through a neighborhood for the first time, you will find that people are smiling and waving at you, even though they might have seen you for the first time. Even in villages by the southern coast and in cities like Fairbank, you will notice that residents are extremely friendly.

Of course, you may not always be having a good day and may not want to interact on your way to getting a coffee first thing in the morning. Don’t worry; no one will feel offended if you keep your head down. Residents in Alaska are different from the rest – they will welcome you with open arms, regardless of your good or bad days.

Life is Slow-Paced

Previously, we spoke about how life in Alaska is slow-paced. Even in Alaska’s biggest city, Anchorage, you will find that life is slower than it might be in other, more populated states.

In Alaska, you will barely find any fancy restaurants inhabited by powerful higher-ups meeting to talk about business every day. The establishments here are not expensive or overly fancy. In fact, Alaska does not have too many business executives living here, unlike in other big cities in the US. This is also a factor that causes the pace of life to be slow here.

Fairbanks and Anchorage have a number of big corporate chains, but these do not cause life to become hectic like in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Residents in Alaska believe in functionality over aesthetics, which is why they live a laid-back life where they do not have to constantly compete with each other.

Diverse

The people living in Alaska are very interesting. When you talk to them, you will find that they have wonderful stories to tell that will keep you hooked for hours. It doesn’t matter if you go into the town or in the interior parts of Alaska- everywhere, the people are the same.

The best part is that there are many cultures in Alaska that are not white. This kind of diversity makes interacting with Alaskans entertaining, especially because you get to learn so much about them and their culture.

Sweet Small-Town Charm

In Anchorage, there are 300,000 residents. Even though it is Alaska’s biggest city, 300,000 is not a huge number. Alaska’s capital, Juneau, has a population of 32,000, while Fairbanks has 31,000 people living there.

Even though these cities are huge, they have managed to hold on to their charm. Imagine how fun and sweet the small towns would be! Moreover, fishing villages found on the southern coast have a number of establishments and tourist stores that are a delight to visit.

Even though a large chunk of these stores are boutiques, there are also many unique stores hidden in neighborhoods where you can find some amazing souvenirs to take back for your loved ones.

Loads of Entrepreneurship Opportunities

As someone who has retired, you might want to start a side hustle of your own that will not take up too much strength or energy. This could be a passion or hobby that you have had for a while. Lucky for you, one of the benefits of retiring in Alaska is that it is easy to start your own business here. All you need to do is compile some articles of incorporation on a website, and within a few hours, you will get your ID number, along with any other important paperwork.

Even though you will have some inner-state competition, since Alaska is not a big place, the competition will not be from international chains. This means that your business has a higher chance of thriving rather than getting run over by competition before it even starts.

Lots of Available Jobs

Since Alaska has a number of gas and oil industries, you will find a number of job opportunities here. It doesn’t matter if you are not interested in working for the fossil fuel industry- you can find a job of your liking in the fishing industry so that you do not have to move out of your neighborhood and can continue living a small-town life that you have become so fond of.

You can also find multiple jobs in healthcare and construction, along with some in the military and within the US government. If you want to become a pilot, Alaska offers you the chance to become a bush pilot. Did you know that the pilots of Alaska are the most skilled? This is because they fly into isolated regions in the interior parts of Alaska with supplies. These regions do not have any airfields or airports.

Even though you might have retired, you might still want to pursue your dream, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! The retirement period is when you should think about fulfilling the goals that you were never able to fulfill because other responsibilities weighed you down.

There is No Concept of State Income Tax

In Alaska, you do not have to pay any state income tax, unlike in other states. Moreover, here there is no concept of sales tax either. The only thing residents have to pay is the federal income tax. This is a huge advantage of retiring in Alaska- you get to keep more money rather than handing it over to the state. Overall, this also means that you get to save and spend a higher percentage of your income.

However, keep in mind that residents of Alaska have to pay excise and property taxes. These taxes allow municipalities to earn an income. For Americans, the tax burden in Alaska is a little more than five percent. When you compare this to other states, many people pay 10 percent or more of their salaries in taxes. This makes Alaska a wonderful place to retire in.

Beautiful Scenery

Alaska is full of beautiful greenery. You will find green and dense boreal forests, along with gorgeous hills and river valleys. In Alaska, you will find beautiful mountains everywhere you go. Some popular places include the Chugach Mountains and the Denali in Denali National Park.

Moreover, Alaska has beautiful glaciers. These are awe-inspiring, and it is easy to fall in love with the state just because of the beauty that surrounds it. Even though some glaciers have receded lately, you will find a number of large glaciers that are still stable and magnificent.

Cons of Retiring in Alaska

Of course, you cannot always expect roses and unicorns. There are also some drawbacks of retiring in Alaska that you must be aware of:

Cold, Long Winters

The summers in Alaska are beautiful. In fact, the interior parts of Alaska can get extremely warm, even though the state is so far north.

However, as warm as the summer is, all good things come to an end. Such is the case for the short summers in Alaska. When the winter arrives, it is snowy, long, and often uncomfortably cold.

Usually, the temperature in the interior tends to fall below zero degrees. Unfortunately, it stays there for the rest of the winter. In the south-central region and the southern coast of Alaska, the temperature falls below 48, and it gets colder. This means that to survive the cold, you need proper winter gear.

Your car will also require an engine heater. The parking lots in Alaska have outlets that you can plug the heaters into, but if you forget to, you will not be able to start your car since it is so cold.

Cost of Living Is High

Even though Alaska’s population is extremely low, the cost of living here is higher than it is in the rest of the United States. Bringing necessities in the state is difficult, and the heating costs can rise a lot during the winter.

Moreover, since Alaska is in an isolated area, the prices across the market are extremely high.

Gas Prices Are High

We have already talked about the pipeline in Alaska, along with the oil extraction going on at Prudhoe Bay and the drilling operations here. Are you wondering how the gas prices can be high despite all of this in Alaska?

The truth is, there are no major refineries in Alaska. Because of this, as well as high demand and low supply, the cost of fuel can skyrocket extremely fast.

Lack of City Life

If you are someone who loves the hustle-bustle of a big life in the city, Alaska is not the right place for you to retire in. This is the case for Anchorage, as well as Valdez, Fairbanks, and other parts in the interior of the state.

Moreover, people here do not care much about the world. This means that they are mostly in their own thoughts and do not spend too much time worrying about others. If you are someone who likes gossiping or keeping in touch with the recent news, Alaska might bore you to death.

Wildfires

There is a “let burn” policy in Alaska, which means that if a wildfire erupts but it is not threatening settlements, it will be allowed to burn till it stops burning itself. Because of this, forests get burned out completely. Moreover, the wind directs all the smoke into residential areas, which can become a breathing hazard for some as well.

If you are thinking about retiring in Alaska, you must consider that the smoke can get heavy. Moreover, people might need to wear scarves or masks, or even stay indoors if the atmosphere gets bad.

About THE AUTHOR

David Bolton

With multiple family members currently in senior living facilities, David is in the trenches every week, learning the ins and outs of nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and general senior living.

Read more about David Bolton

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We love planning for retirement. It's somewhat of a hobby, and we want to share what we've learned with you. Over the years we've found the best ways to live, how to travel, take on new hobbies and give back. Happiness in retirement is the main goal, and having the right information allows us (and you) to achieve that.

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