Alaska is by far the largest state in the USA. The state is so expansive that other large states like Texas and California look tiny in comparison. As you would expect from such a massive state, living conditions in Alaska are anything but homogeneous. Anchorage, the state's largest metropolitan area, and Juneau, the state capital, offer a typical mix of urban and suburban life. Regardless, living in Anchorage or Juneau is somewhat similar to living in similar sized cities in the lower 48. Alaska also offers small-town living in cities like Soldotna and Kenai, as well as vast areas of rural living.
The amount of money you need to live in Alaska depends largely on which of the state's myriad lifestyle options you choose to. Even among similar cities, towns and villages, the sheer size of the state leads to wide discrepancies in the cost of living. Averages help clarify the picture a bit, but chances are significant adjustments will need to be made to these averages based on your unique circumstances and especially where you are planting roots in Alaska.
The following figures give the average cost of rent, utilities, food, and transportation in different areas of Alaska. From there you can determine how much money you need to live as a student, professional and unemployed job seeker in Alaska. All statistics are from Numbeo. com as of November 2017.
Average rent in Alaska
Renting a one bedroom apartment in Anchorage, Alaska's largest metropolitan area, costs an average of $1173 per month. Kenai, a small city, is slightly cheaper, with an average rent of $837 for all apartments. The rental spectrum for rural Alaska is vast; supply and demand within a given region of the state determine how cheaply you can rent an apartment or house. Some areas have rentals for $500 or less, while others have a shortage of less than $1, 000 per month.
Average utilities in Alaska
Alaskans pay some of the highest electric bills in the U.S., especially during the state's long winter season when not only daily lows, but daily highs often don't reach 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Certain parts of the state, like Fairbanks, often see blistering summer temperatures along with cold winters. This prevents electric utilities from getting a reprieve on their bills during the summer.
In Anchorage, the average monthly electric bill is $247. Expect your winter bills to exceed this amount by a reasonable margin. Winters in Kenai are milder than in Anchorage, which is reflected in average utility bills, which are typically 5% to 10% lower. In places like Fairbanks, and even more rural retreats like Nome, expect to pay more to keep your home warm.Utility bills north of $300 are not uncommon in the colder regions of Alaska.
Average food costs in Alaska
Food is more expensive than average almost everywhere in Alaska. Generally, the more rural your location, the more you will pay for food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Transporting food to the more remote areas of the state is expensive, and that cost is passed on to the end consumer. In addition, the state's climate is anything but conducive to growing most food locally.
Anchorage offers the cheapest food in the state, though you can still expect to pay $4. 19 for a gallon of milk, $2. 89 for a loaf of bread, $2. 04 for a pound of oranges and $6. 38 for a pound of skinless, boneless. In Fairbanks, a smaller and more remote town, prices are similar, though higher for fresh produce: $3. 88 for milk, $3. 89 for bread, $3. 23 for oranges and $5. 40 for a pound of chicken. The cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant averages $15 per person in Anchorage and $22 per person in Fairbanks.
Average transportation costs in Alaska
Transportation costs are another cost that varies significantly by location. As a general rule, car insurance is very affordable in Alaska, while gas is more expensive than almost anywhere in the U.S. Public transportation is very limited even in Alaska's largest and most cosmopolitan city, Anchorage, so a car is practically a necessity.
Expect to pay between $80 and $130 per month for comprehensive insurance; premium varies by zip code, driving record and vehicle type. As of November 2017, a gallon of gas in Anchorage averages $2. 72 per gallon; In Fairbanks, a gallon costs $2. 80. Both prices are above the national average.
Living as a student in Alaska
If you plan to go to school in Alaska, you can live there inexpensively by finding roommates and finding a place close to campus. The University of Alaska's three campuses are in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau; Each city offers adequate housing options for students. If you share an apartment that rents for $1, 200 per month with three roommates, your monthly share drops to $300. Their utility share, assuming an average bill of $200, is only $50. Living near campus minimizes transportation costs, while a college student in Alaska should be able to live on a $400-a-month food budget. A monthly budget of $1,200 should cover your basic expenses as a student and give you breathing room for emergencies and incidentals.
Living in Alaska as a professional
Working people in Alaska need more money to live on than students do. For one, when you start your professional life, you're probably ready to avoid the college lifestyle of roommates and ramen noodles. In addition, your entire life is no longer contained within the confines of a college campus, which means that having a car, and using it liberally, becomes necessary.
These numbers are just averages, but you figure $1, 400 for rent, $200 for utilities, $500 for food, $100 for car insurance, and $150 for gas, which amounts to $2,350 per month.Therefore, an annual salary of 30 is equivalent to.000 dollars, which is 2. 500 dollars a month, your basic expenses with a little breathing room, but not much. You can live a more secure and comfortable life in Alaska if you have an income of $3.000 per month or $ 36.000 per year.
Living in Alaska as an unemployed job seeker
Unemployed job seekers face several challenges in Alaska. The state's unemployment rate of 7.2% as of September 2017 (the most recent data available) is the highest in the nation and nearly three full percentage points above the national rate of 4.2%. Because the state is so small in population, there are few jobs, but you also have less competition for employment. Finally, the state charges weekly unemployment benefits at $370. No matter how frugal you are or how well you budget, that's not enough money to sustain even a bare-bones lifestyle in Alaska.
A minimum of three months living expenses, and preferably six months or more, is recommended if moving to Alaska without a job. Based on the numbers above for professionals, that comes to a minimum of $7, 500.