Advice on Living in Alaska, the Last American Frontier

Advice on living in Alaska. Thought of as the last American frontier, the state has a problematic job market but inexpensive land ripe for homesteading.


| July/August 1982



076-083-01

Yes, Alaska is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world to live, and you can make a good life for yourself here. But no, it's definitely not the paradise that many people expect it to be.


PHOTO: MARK KOT

Here's some straight talk from an experienced "sourdough" with advice on living in Alaska. 

Advice on Living in Alaska: The Last American Frontier

Is Alaska truly the last American frontier, promising endless possibilities for wealth and adventure? Is that state still able to produce "gold rush" or "pipeline" get-rich opportunities for anyone who happens to move there? And is plenty of land that's just ripe for homesteading still available? The answer to all these questions is yes and no. Yes, Alaska is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world to live, and you can make a good life for yourself here. But no, it's definitely not the paradise that many people expect it to be.

My husband and I learned these truths the hard way when we quit our civil service jobs seven years ago with the intention of starting over in a new place. We wanted to go where there would be more chances for good jobs and inexpensive land . . . to a place (we imagined) like Alaska!

BOOM OR BUST 

It didn't take long to learn just how mistaken we were in our conception of the forty-ninth state. Our first dashed dream was the belief that we'd find an abundance of high-paying jobs. We didn't. In fact, when we got here, the unemployment rate stood at 12% (about twice what it was at the time in the lower 48 states). We could hardly believe it!

For the most part, you see, Alaska has a "boom or bust" economy that results in lots of jobs when big projects—like the construction of the giant oil pipeline—are underway, but an unemployment rate as high as 17% once a particular undertaking is complete and thousands of people are laid off. Then if you add in the seasonal workers who swell the winter unemployment lines, it becomes clear that the job picture in Alaska isn't as healthy as many people believe it to be.

shaga
3/12/2007 11:12:37 PM

interesting.






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