The 6 Best Places To Live In Alaska

Wondering where the best places to live in Alaska are?

Alaska is known for its vast, untouched wilderness, abundant wildlife, and native heritage.

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If you dream of waking up to views of snow-capped peaks and spotting wild animals like bears and moose regularly, Alaskan life may well be for you.

Aside from the breathtaking landscapes, the main draw of this unique US state is its well-paid jobs in the oil and gas industries.

In addition, you can enjoy zero taxes, affordable living costs, and the permanent fund dividend – where you essentially get paid to live there!

Of course, Alaska is not an easy place to live for many as the weather is freezing, it has extreme daylight hours, and it is secluded from the rest of the world. 

However, if that doesn’t faze you, you can quickly build your savings while enjoying a nature-rich lifestyle in Alaska.

Here are the six best places to live in Alaska for expats.

Alaska flag

Anchorage

Anchorage has a population of around 288,000 and is the largest city in Alaska, yet still relatively small compared to many US cities. Located on the Cook Inlet, it is close to many wilderness areas.

Plus, with the largest airport in the state, Anchorage is known as the gateway to Alaska. As a result, it is naturally a common first choice among foreigners moving here. 

One of the top reasons expats believe Anchorage to be one of the best cities in Alaska is the abundance of things to do. It is mainly known for its cultural sites, such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where you can learn about the area’s indigenous groups.

Anchorage also has a fab range of restaurants, bars, and breweries among the cozy neighborhoods. There are also excellent schools and the well-known University of Alaska, making this city a favorite among expat families living and working in Alaska.

Jobs in Anchorage are also plentiful. Both skilled and unskilled expats can find work in several industries, such as construction, manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, transportation, and security. 

Living in Anchorage is not cheap but undoubtedly affordable, as wages are the highest in the country. For example, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for around $1,500.

Anchorage

Fairbanks

Although Fairbanks is the state’s second-largest city, it feels like a small town as just over 30,000 people reside here. 

Fairbanks is one of the best places to live in Alaska for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, giving some of the best views of the famous northern lights between August and April. 

Other outdoor activities include dog sledding, boating, and fishing. In addition, the city has a thriving arts scene and regular sports events.

Located in the center of the state and sitting on the banks of the Chena River, Fairbanks is one of the coldest cities in Alaska, so it is not for the faint-hearted.

Moreover, there are 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and almost none in the winter. As you can imagine, this can be a challenging adjustment for many.

The unique midnight sun and stunning aurora borealis make Fairbanks a popular tourist destination; thus, there are many job opportunities in this sector.

The oil and gas industry is also thriving, where most of the city’s expats work. However, there are also managerial roles available in other sectors.

Rental and living costs are slightly lower here than in Anchorage, although larger houses are cheaper and more available. However, the average wage is also considerably lower in Fairbanks compared to Anchorage. 

Fairbanks

Juneau

Juneau is the state’s capital city, yet it has a smaller population than Fairbanks. As Juneau is the government hub of Alaska, expats working in this field tend to gravitate to this peaceful, charming waterfront city. 

One huge perk of living in Juneau is the breathtaking landscapes of the snow-covered mountains and deep blue waters you see daily. Moreover, despite its small size, Juneau does not lack life, as there is a vibrant waterfront and downtown full of restaurants, shops, and museums. 

Aside from being the administrative center, Juneau is one of the best cities to live in Alaska for those seeking work in the arts. Juneau is home to the state’s only professional theater company and a few small art galleries. 

One big downside of Juneau is its lack of accessibility. Juneau is not connected to any other Alaskan city by road as it is located in the Alaskan panhandle.

This means you have to take a boat or plane to travel elsewhere in the state. However, rental prices are pretty low, and state government wages are surprisingly high. 

Juneau

Wasilla

Wasilla is one of the best cities to live in Alaska if you want to live in a small town but close to a big one. This charming town of 10,000 residents is less than an hour’s drive from Anchorage.

As a result, it’s easy to commute to Alaska’s largest city, which is what most expats here do.

Another advantage of living in Wasilla and working in Anchorage is that the housing prices are much more affordable. In addition, there are some excellent schools and an idyllic community-centered lifestyle. 

Wasilla gives easy access to many nature spots and hiking trails, so it is popular among expats who want to make the most of Alaska’s great outdoors.

You can spend your weekends relaxing by the lakes, walking the nature trail, or learning about the famous Iditarod sled dog race, which was born here.

Wasilla Lake

Ketchikan

Ketchikan, located at the entrance to southeastern Alaska’s Inside Passage, is one of the state’s prettiest, most charming towns. 

The picturesque waterfront is lined by colorful wooden houses, giving it a historic and authentic look and feel. The historic town center also has some fab seafood restaurants and lovely stores.   

Ketchikan is close to the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate coastal rainforest, with some of the state’s best hiking trails.

Another famous nature spot is the Misty Fjords National Monument, offering epic views and wildlife spotting. Thus, it is another of the best Alaskan cities for outdoor lovers.

As a small town, job availability is not huge. Still, opportunities can be found in the education, fishing, and tourism industries.

In addition, because of its secluded location, you cannot drive to other Alaskan cities, so there may be better options for those who need to travel regularly.

Ketchikan

Kenai

The last of the six best Alaskan cities is Kenai, a small town with less than 8,000 residents.

One perk of living in Kenai is its proximity to Anchorage, which you can reach in 3 hours by car or 30 minutes by plane. Thus, although the town is incredibly peaceful, it does not feel secluded. 

Kenai is a fisher’s paradise renowned for its king salmon. It also has prominent gas and oil industries where many foreigners work.

Other advantages of choosing this small Alaskan town are its stunning surroundings, vast wildlife presence, and outdoor activities. 

One unique thing about Kenai is its architecture. Kenai was a settlement town for Russian explorers in the late 1700s.

Many buildings they constructed, including orthodox churches, are still there today. Therefore, Kenai has a very historical look and feel.

Still, the downside of this is the lack of modern amenities. 

Final Thoughts On Best Places To Live In Alaska

As the least densely populated US state, most of Alaska’s cities are like small towns with closely-knit communities. Still, the landscapes, atmosphere, and climate do differ between each.

Along with these considerations, choosing between these six best places to live in Alaska will depend on the career you seek and how you plan to spend your free time.

Not sure if Alaska is the right place for you? Read one of the following guides:

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