Anchorage, Alaska

The Hanging Basket Capital of the World

The BUZZ

What's it like to live in Anchorage

What is it like to live in Anchorage, Alaska?

Planes are not uncommon in Anchorage (tons of neighborhood air strips with little grass fields and hangars in the back. Say about 1/100 is a plane owner or commercial pilot. So everyone knows someone that either flys or owns a plane.

Like a 1/4 of people are active duty military, retired, or military families.

Outdoor stuff: hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, mountain or road biking, boating, windsurfing/ boretide surfing, target shooting, camping, offroading, snow machining (you probably call these snowmobiles).

Tons of wilderness and trails. There is literally a ~half million acre state park on the other side of the mountains from Anchorage. Go 60 minutes south on the (only) highway and you will be in the middle of wilderness. 4 hours the other way and you will be in Denali National Park (don’t worry though there are plenty of others along the way).

In the summer, very long days (16+ hours bright sun followed by twilight) in the 50s to 70s with light overcast and occasional drizzle.

To put it in perspective, my cousins from California were visiting over the summer and towards the end of the day we asked him based on the sunlight what time he thought it was. 6:30, maybe 7pm was his guess. No, it is 11:45PM.

In town on summer solstice we have a baseball game that starts at midnight without any artificial lighting.

Winter is long twilight nights with overcast in the low 10s to upper 20s. Spring is wet and rainy, fall is cool.

Life in Anchorage

I’m from a big city. The crime is bad here. But it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. It’s new to Alaska. Stop listening to the SB91 crap. Do your homework. Politics are weird, too. So’s Alaska. Libertarians disguise themselves as republicans. It’s funny.

The commute from Wasilla or Palmer (aka the Valley) is an hour plus one way. In winter, it can be worse. There’s only one way in or out to about every place in Alaska. When goobers goof the turns, it shuts the whole place down. It’s cheaper there, but crime is also bad there. You’ll have to choose car time vs house payment.

We love it in Anchorage. Everyone is talking about the distance from “home”- yes. It’s not easy. But, you plan and adapt. It also keeps most people from just showing up on your door for a weekend without notice.

Winter is dark. But the snow and cold make it magical and no place handles it better. Alaska works better when it’s cold and snowy in winter. You go outside. There’s no bad weather. Just bad gear. Activity makes winter survivable and fun. We don’t get the huge winter winds like the Midwest or CO plains. That makes all the difference. It’s a dry cold. It’s not Minnesota or Montana.

Summer is amazing. Anchorage gets ocean and land influences and can be cloudy at times, sometimes rainy for stretches, but equally warm. Average highs top out in the mid 60s. It usually is “hot” for a week in the summer. We don’t do A/C up here. But unlike CO, the afternoon storms don’t always kick up and the sun doesn’t set to cool you down each day. There’s usually a run on box fans that week.

There are bike and hike and ski trails all over. The mountains call. People love their dogs, their salmon, their blueberries.

Come have a blast. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Alaskans make new family out of who’s here. There are only 2 degrees of separation up here. You’re welcome to join.

Edit: Homes with southern exposure are good for sun worries in winter. Check that if you’re concerned.

Guns are everywhere. It’s a hunting state. You don’t have to have a gun to hike and be safe, but you’ll need to learn animal safety and likely want bear spray at very least.

What is living in Anchorage, Alaska like?

Anchorage Alaska is unique. It is probably the most diverse city in the world, and certainly in the USA. Mainly because it grew after Federal law changed from mandating legal restrictions by race to forbidding them, and Alaska outlawed discrimination in housing and even in theaters long before the civil rights era. It has no majority population, and the highest rate of cross-ethnic marriage in the USA. It has the highest rate of promotion of women and minorities in government and private sectors in the USA. It has 110 different primary languages in homes of its school district, and offers more language immersion programs than any other city in North America.

The weather is moderated by the ocean. Its scenery is spectacular. At the same time, by Alaska standards, the mountains are not impressive - you can easily go see much more beauty. There is a Fjord within half an hour’s drive. The biggest mountain on the Continent can be seen on a clear day, or reached by driving or bus or train in about three hours. It is a nearly universally armed society - but it is rare to see weapons except on security guards or police. For that reason, it is a polite society - police assume you are on their side and vice versa - in partnership against any kind of trouble.

It used to be the law you had to help someone in distress on the road - now it is only the standard of behavior and tradition - because the courts struck it down when a woman argued she did not have to stop if she didn’t want to. In spite of these qualities - it has the highest rate of violent crime in the USA. Not the usual kinds of crime - this is pretty much domestic violence - which means you get to choose how much you are at risk by whom you choose to live with (unless, of course, you don’t - as if you are a child). Its other less than perfect quality is related to the transition from stone age to information age by Alaska natives - it has not been a perfect transition for all. Villages (usually with no police) export problem people (mentally ill, violent, addicts) by buying them one way tickets to Anchorage - so we get to service all the problems 285 villages can send. There are no gigantic squatter areas (like LA for example), but there are upwards of a thousand homeless (in a town of 300 thousand in winter and 400 thousand in summer). Efforts to reduce this are increasing, but likely not going to be 100% effective.

What is living in Anchorage, Alaska like?

The good:

  • Short commute times, even during rush hour.
  • Numerous Asian grocery stores.(Yes I am Asian and I’ve lived in towns where the nearest Asian store was two towns away which sucked). Everyone shops at those stores ,not just Asians.
  • The ethnic diversity. You grow up, go to school and will work with people from different parts of the world. You will hear a lot of different languages. There are a lot of interracial marriages because we love who we want to love.If you have a problem with that then you shouldn’t come here.
  • Frontier spirit- you can’t help but develop a can do attitude after years of having to battle the elements during winter in order to get stuff done. We don’t hide out in our homes during inclement weather.
  • The nature. You can drive ten minutes out of the city and go camping. Plenty of trails to hike, bike and ski, if that’s your thing. Plenty of places to fish as well.
  • Lack of competition. High demand for labor.Jobs are easy to get. It’s easier to survive here than in other parts of the country.
  • People are not as obsessed with race in Anchorage or Alaska in general as they seem to be in the lower 48. What I mean is that there is less stereotyping based on race. People care more about your skills, your work ethic, and how you treat them and aren’t going to pigeonhole you. You grow up believing that you can do anything and be anything you want. Probably due to #3,4 and 6. Of course I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist here. It does.It’s not overt as it appears to be in the lower 48 and generally discouraged. Probably due to #3.

The bad:

  • As a woman, the high rate of violence against women and rape.
  • As a kid, school would rarely ever get cancelled due to a snow storm or blizzard- only when the roads were super icy and slick. Calling in at work because there’s a blizzard will generally not be acceptable if you live in town.
  • Homeless are very visible.
  • Tourist swarming during the summer and driving like idiots.
  • Feeling cut off from the rest of the US sometimes.
  • The high cost of plane tickets. Seriously check it out.
  • The myopic point of view some people have. Some people have never left Alaska, even if they can. They think it’s the best place on earth and would rather travel around Alaska in their RV than anyplace else.They automatically discount the opinions on Alaska of anyone from Outside. Generally, they believe the future of Alaska is just in oil and gas and don’t really think Anchorage can grow much.
  • You will shop online a lot and you will either pay a lot for shipping it faster to Alaska or wait one to two weeks for your order.
  • Some stores that offer free shipping in the lower 48, will not offer it for Alaskans.
  • Lack of industries to work in.
  • Having to deal with transplants from the lower 48 who drive like idiots during the winter, carry their racist beliefs up here and generally act like idiots.

**10 Reasons Everyone is Moving to Anchorage, Alaska. **
Why is everyone moving to Anchorage? This is a question a lot of people from Anchorage wonder all the time.
In my experience, it is kind of rare to find an Anchorage local that is willing to give the city a glowing review.
The website area vibe gives a letter grade for how locals feel about where they live. Anchorage gets a D-. A D-. Chicago gets a C+
Anchorage has its problems but it still can be a nice city to live in.
In the 2020 census, they had their first decade where the population declined. It went down by .2%. Not a big drop but drop nonetheless.
But, since 2020 they have started to gain population. Anchorage has grown in population by 3.2% and it is expected to continue for at least the next 6 years.