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Anyone here from or live in Alaska? May be moving there..
Old 11-05-2015, 01:20 AM   #1
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Anyone here from or live in Alaska? May be moving there..

So I have an opportunity to possibly move from Arkansas to Alaska.
I'm debating the move, it would be better for my career and it would be a change of scenery. The only real negative I can see, is not being able to see family for 4 years unless we pay $16-1,800 for a plane ticket.

I'm active duty AirForce and looking to retire at 39 years old. This move would be for 4 years and it would put me at 18 years service with 2 years left to go till retirement. I'm married with no kids. After the tour looking to come back to the states and settle for good somewhere around TN.

As far as $$, I know the cost of living is probably higher in Alaska, but with extra housing and COLA I'd be looking at a $17K dollar a year raise with the move.

I've been reading online and have gathered a lot of information but I wanted to get the ins and outs from an ER minded person if possible.
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:36 AM   #2
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I have no personal experience, but my Mom recently lived in Anchorage for a year before moving back to the east coast. Her take was that it was beautiful, but the winter weather was very tough to get used to. The lack of sunlight in the winter was particularly difficult for her. YMMV.

Where in Alaska would you be stationed?
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:59 AM   #3
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Yeah I imagine that would be tough to get used to. I would be going to either Anchorage or the Fairbanks area, there are job openings at both but I've heard Anchorage is best if one could choose.
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Old 11-05-2015, 06:30 AM   #4
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I had two friends in the USAF who were stationed in Alaska. Both loved it so much they moved there permanently when they retired, and are still there (both in the Anchorage area).

I've only been there to visit a few times in the summer, but aside from the cost of living I really enjoyed it and could see myself living there.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:01 AM   #5
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Fairbanks gets long stretches of deep subzero cold in winter. Anchorage winter temps are more like the Upper Midwest. Weather will be sunnier in Fairbanks. In either place, summer days will be much longer and winter days much shorter than you're used to. By the end of this month sunset in Anchorage will be 3:53 p.m. In Fairbanks, sunset Nov. 30 will be 3:03. Sunrise? 10:16 a.m.

If you get depressed by long hours of darkness, it might be something to consider.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:08 AM   #6
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I was stationed at Ft. Richardson for 3 years and spent one December, plus many day and week-long trips, to Fairbanks.

Fairbanks is a hard place to live. Blanketing Mosquitoes in the summer and the winters are brutal. Probably 20F colder than anchorage on average during a 7month winter. The flora is also more plain: thin silver birch, stubby black spruce, and tundra and muskeg.

I loved Anchorage, but three years was enough. I've been back a couple times for vacations and I'll likely go back again in a couple years. Anchorage is a real cosmopolitan city and offers more options for everything, including visiting the wilderness: rivers, a variety of mountain ranges, and marine life. Some call it the banana-belt because it's so much warmer than the Alaskan interior during winter but it still gets cold, but not as brutal as Minnesota or N. Dakota.

I'd say Fairbanks is better for viewing the Northern Lights, their annual ice sculptures, and for bragging that you lived in the "real Alaska". But I personally wouldn't want to spend more than a long weekend there.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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I'm retired Air Force and did 3 separate years at the remote radar sites, (The Real Alaska) but did spend time in and knew lots of people who lived in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Personally, I couldn't live there permanently. However, to do four years at Elmendorf? I guess that's what you're talking about) Why not? That's one of the "charms" of being in the military anyway. The COLA offset will deal with the cost of living. You get to see a place most people aren't even sure is really there. And you can LIVE IT, not just cruise through. Maybe a Last Hurrah for exotic locales at Government expense.

As far as being good for your career? I guess that means you are an officer? If you plan on punching out at 20 and this tour will end at the 18 yr point you have already reached the point of diminishing returns career-wise. If you get another cookie for it, goodie. If not, your plans are already made so you haven't lost anything.

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The only real negative I can see, is not being able to see family for 4 years unless we pay $16-1,800 for a plane ticket
A mere bag o' shells. Split the difference. Only visit every 2 yrs instead of every year or whatever your regular schedule is.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:07 AM   #8
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If you go will you be an official resident? If I remember correctly every resident received about $1800 from the oil fund if they had established residence for a year. Not enough as an inducement to go, but would pay for a trip home anyways.


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Old 11-05-2015, 09:18 AM   #9
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We just retired (mid 40s) with no kids and are planning to head to Alaska for at least a year or two next year. If you can get paid to go there, I say do it!

Of course we have lived in Seattle, which is a world of difference from Arkansas as far as climate.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by razztazz View Post
I'm retired Air Force and did 3 separate years at the remote radar sites, (The Real Alaska) but did spend time in and knew lots of people who lived in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Personally, I couldn't live there permanently. However, to do four years at Elmendorf? I guess that's what you're talking about) Why not? That's one of the "charms" of being in the military anyway. The COLA offset will deal with the cost of living. You get to see a place most people aren't even sure is really there. And you can LIVE IT, not just cruise through. Maybe a Last Hurrah for exotic locales at Government expense.


As far as being good for your career? I guess that means you are an officer? If you plan on punching out at 20 and this tour will end at the 18 yr point you have already reached the point of diminishing returns career-wise. If you get another cookie for it, goodie. If not, your plans are already made so you haven't lost anything.


A mere bag o' shells. Split the difference. Only visit every 2 yrs instead of every year or whatever your regular schedule is.
Yep, I'm Air Force too, and both bases are on the overseas listing this time out. I figure with my circumstances I have a good shot at it, if I put in for it, just weighing the options. No, I'm not an officer. I'm a MSgt now and have been at Little Rock for 10+ years. Looking to make Sr before I retire and sitting at once place that long, well you know, never really looks that good for the boards.


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If you go will you be an official resident? If I remember correctly every resident received about $1800 from the oil fund if they had established residence for a year. Not enough as an inducement to go, but would pay for a trip home anyways.


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Yes I would change my residency to there if I moved. I pay $1800 a year now to a state I don't live in. I read that for military, if you receive the oil dividends and leave Alaska and don't return you may have to pay them back. Not sure if it's true or not.

As far as the mail situation...I have a side business where I sell small parts on my website, Ebay, and Amazon. All parts are small enough to ship USPS first class. Does anyone know how the mail situation is as far as mailing stuff out? Or getting stuff there? Would it be tough for an online only business to thrive due to slow shipping?
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:39 AM   #11
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D stationed in Alaska for 6 years in the CG. We has on Kodiak Island so was a much more temperate climate. Seldom snowed down at sea level. The biggest think to get used to is the changes in daylight hours. If you or yours, suffer from sunlight deprivation, think long and hard. It is a long Winter. If you love outdoor sports and activities, then Alaska is a wonderful place.


The oil subsidy only applies to permanent residents who intend on staying there. Some military file for it and later leave. The state has come after them to recover back payments. This is directly from the AK Permanent Fund Dividendwebsite
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Maintain Alaska residency at all times during the qualifying year and intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:54 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Hardatit View Post
Yep, I'm Air Force too, and both bases are on the overseas listing this time out. I figure with my circumstances I have a good shot at it, if I put in for it, just weighing the options. No, I'm not an officer. I'm a MSgt now and have been at Little Rock for 10+ years. Looking to make Sr before I retire and sitting at once place that long, well you know, never really looks that good for the boards.




Yes I would change my residency to there if I moved. I pay $1800 a year now to a state I don't live in. I read that for military, if you receive the oil dividends and leave Alaska and don't return you may have to pay them back. Not sure if it's true or not.

As far as the mail situation...I have a side business where I sell small parts on my website, Ebay, and Amazon. All parts are small enough to ship USPS first class. Does anyone know how the mail situation is as far as mailing stuff out? Or getting stuff there? Would it be tough for an online only business to thrive due to slow shipping?
Oh boy...10 years at "THE ROCK". I did my stint (6 years worth) back in the early 90's (62nd and then the 50th when they got the "brand new" H models). Most of the folks that I knew from the AF LOVED living in Alaska.

My mother moved up there in 1992 (Fairbanks) and stayed until about 2000 when she moved to Anchorage. I think to this day, she preferred Fairbanks, but she is an EXTREME hermit. She thinks Anchorage has too many people.

There is lots of good opinions already so I will keep them to myself. Good luck on making Senior...the AF "Hunger Games" have been brutal the last couple of years.

And I can tell you from personal experience that you can indeed RETIRE FOR GOOD after a good 20 years as an enlisted dude. It's not even that hard to do!

Oh, and as for shipping. It's pretty pricey, at least from what my Mother tells me. That has always been one of her chief complaints. Also, the airfare isn't TERRIBLE. She comes to visit me (in Atlanta) twice a year and she gets her tickets for around $400-500. Of course, if you are taking your DW and kiddos then well...that's a lot of $$$!
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:57 AM   #13
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If possible, spend at least a couple weeks there in the winter before making a commitment. Many people overestimate their ability to cope with bad winters.
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Old 11-05-2015, 12:52 PM   #14
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Yes I would change my residency to there if I moved. I pay $1800 a year now to a state I don't live in. I read that for military, if you receive the oil dividends and leave Alaska and don't return you may have to pay them back. Not sure if it's true or not.

As far as the mail situation...I have a side business where I sell small parts on my website, Ebay, and Amazon. All parts are small enough to ship USPS first class. Does anyone know how the mail situation is as far as mailing stuff out? Or getting stuff there? Would it be tough for an online only business to thrive due to slow shipping?

As long as your intent is to remain in Alaska while you are here, you are eligible for the dividend. The ones who get into trouble continue to claim the dividend after they've left the state. Be aware that it's a calendar year for eligibility. If you arrive in the state on January 2nd, you don't qualify until after your second year here.

USPS provides good service here. Mail might take an extra day to get there and to get here, but that is accounted for when they tell you the arrival time. UPS and FedEx usually ship 2nd day air.

Airfare may not be as bad as you think, especially from Anchorage. I'm flying out of SE Alaska to Baltimore for under $500 round trip. Delta Air is increasing service here, causing Alaska Air to be more competitive. You may need to plan an extra day each way for traveling east from Fairbanks due to flight timing and connecting flights. Anchorage has more flights headed east. Where I live, you usually overnight in Seattle, unless you're willing to take a red-eye flight (assuming there's one going where you need to go).

Winters are what send many packing. It's more the darkness than the cold. I find that taking high doses of vitamin D3 helps to keep away that winter funk. Summers can make up for it, but some can be grey and rainy for days.


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Old 11-05-2015, 05:12 PM   #15
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Ditto on akck reply, I spent 4 years working in Alaska, 2 years in Fairbanks and 2 years in Palmer with rotations to remote sites. I enjoyed all four years although I perferred Fairbanks, the minus 40-50 seemed easier to deal with as there was minimal wind as opposed to the Palmer area where it was warmer but stronger winds that made wind chill hard to deal with(one winter for a couple of days the wind was 40-60 knots with frequent gusts to 80). I also worked in some remote stations around the state were costs were higher but in Anchorage and Fairbanks areas the daily living expenses were slightly higher but heating costs in Fairbanks were significantly higher because most use fuel oil or wood while in Anchorage area natural gas was more readily available. Plenty of big name stores in Anchorage area with Sam's, Walmart, etc in both areas.
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Old 11-06-2015, 10:02 AM   #16
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Oh boy...10 years at "THE ROCK". I did my stint (6 years worth) back in the early 90's (62nd and then the 50th when they got the "brand new" H models). Most of the folks that I knew from the AF LOVED living in Alaska.

My mother moved up there in 1992 (Fairbanks) and stayed until about 2000 when she moved to Anchorage. I think to this day, she preferred Fairbanks, but she is an EXTREME hermit. She thinks Anchorage has too many people.

There is lots of good opinions already so I will keep them to myself. Good luck on making Senior...the AF "Hunger Games" have been brutal the last couple of years.

And I can tell you from personal experience that you can indeed RETIRE FOR GOOD after a good 20 years as an enlisted dude. It's not even that hard to do!

Oh, and as for shipping. It's pretty pricey, at least from what my Mother tells me. That has always been one of her chief complaints. Also, the airfare isn't TERRIBLE. She comes to visit me (in Atlanta) twice a year and she gets her tickets for around $400-500. Of course, if you are taking your DW and kiddos then well...that's a lot of $$$!
I really have enjoyed LR so far. Yeah the AF is getting pretty competitive nowadays, that's for sure. There are not many folks at least that I've ran into that can even grasp the concept of me wanting to retire for good at 38. I get alot of confused looks usually. It's good to see that someone actually has done it, especially enlisted. I think I'm set up and well on my way, but I'd be interested in talking to you more on that see what you think, you've been there and done it!

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If possible, spend at least a couple weeks there in the winter before making a commitment. Many people overestimate their ability to cope with bad winters.
I wish I could, but it's not possible. I actually only have till the 13th of this month to put in for the job, I have a good chance of getting it but it's still not a guarantee. Just weighing the options.

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As long as your intent is to remain in Alaska while you are here, you are eligible for the dividend. The ones who get into trouble continue to claim the dividend after they've left the state. Be aware that it's a calendar year for eligibility. If you arrive in the state on January 2nd, you don't qualify until after your second year here.

USPS provides good service here. Mail might take an extra day to get there and to get here, but that is accounted for when they tell you the arrival time. UPS and FedEx usually ship 2nd day air.

Airfare may not be as bad as you think, especially from Anchorage. I'm flying out of SE Alaska to Baltimore for under $500 round trip. Delta Air is increasing service here, causing Alaska Air to be more competitive. You may need to plan an extra day each way for traveling east from Fairbanks due to flight timing and connecting flights. Anchorage has more flights headed east. Where I live, you usually overnight in Seattle, unless you're willing to take a red-eye flight (assuming there's one going where you need to go).

Winters are what send many packing. It's more the darkness than the cold. I find that taking high doses of vitamin D3 helps to keep away that winter funk. Summers can make up for it, but some can be grey and rainy for days.


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I love the outdoors and think I would enjoy it from what I've hear so far. Thanks for the info on the mail. I've gotten to where I buy and sell a few items a month on Craigslist, repair them and sell them for profit. Usually, fourwheelers, boats, trailers, small trucks, stuff like that. Any idea what the market is up there for things such as that? Is it a hassle to deal with transferring titles and registration? In AR it's typically pretty easy.
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Old 11-06-2015, 12:28 PM   #17
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It isn't hard to transfer titles. There is a process to title vehicles with no title, but I'm not sure how it works. Yes, there is a market for those items, but don't expect to get many great deals on junk vehicles. On the flip side, you can sell them for more. Also, parts can be a problem if you can't get them locally. I've ordered items online, only to find the shipping charge costing more than the item. Takes a lot more time to find vendors that know how to ship to Alaska via USPS.


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