Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Alaska, Part II

So you’ve read, Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Alaska, but you’re still not sure if you should take the plunge. Here are some more things one should know before moving to Alaska.

1. Icy/snow-covered roads all winter

Anchorage does not use salt, so the ice and snow does not melt on the roads. They do use gravel with small boulders, so expect a lot of cracks in your windshield by March. Many people buy studded tires to put on their vehicles during the winter and most other people buy a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle for safety.


2. Down-scale fashion

Black tie event = business casual in Alaska

Business casual = casual

Casual = anything and everything: pajamas, dirty Carhartts, whatever floats your boat

It is true. People are very relaxed in their style of fashion. I even heard someone say that the products at our Nordstrom are rejects from Seattle.


Popular footwear: Xtra-Tufs (pictured above), Bogs, Danskos, Keens, Chacos

Coats: The North Face, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear

Other: Skhoop skirts, plaid, Carhartts

3. Alaskans are very proud of their state

Alaskans cannot understand why anyone would want to live anywhere else and get very offended when you talk negatively about their first love. They show their affection for their state by tattooing an outline of the state or the Big Dipper on their bodies, personalizing their license plate (which is also really popular), sporting sweatshirts with “Alaskan Grown,” and vehicle window decals with 907 (the area code). I agree Alaskans have very good reasons to love their state, but coming from outside of Alaska, I think there are equally great places in this country.


4. Jobs

Jobs aren’t too hard to come by. The downturn of the economy a few years ago did not hit us that hard. If you want a job bad enough, you will be able to find one. However, the job market is targeted towards oil-related jobs and health-care workers.

5. Fur apparel

Fur really only makes its presence known one time of the year—at FurRondy. Fur Rondy (fur rendezvous) is a winter festival that has its roots in the trading of furs. People break out their finest furs during these two weeks of the year for the start of the Iditarod, running with the reindeer, and carnival rides.


6. Igloos, sled dogs, and whale blubber

Anchorage is just like any other medium-sized city in this country and therefore we do not live in igloos, ride sled dogs to work and school, or eat whale blubber. There are tall buildings, a downtown center, chain stores, taxi cars, and shopping malls.


7. Garages are not for cars

It is more common for people to park their car on the street instead of in their garage. In garages you will find other recreational vehicles and equipment: campers, boats, 4-wheelers, camping gear, dad’s workshop, etc.

8. Winters are long and dark

There’s no other way to put it. Winter typically starts in early October and continues through the beginning of April—sometimes the middle of May if you are lucky like we were last year. The days are short 5 hours of daylight in Anchorage and less the further north you go. Even those 5 hours are dusky and the sun does not rise very high in the sky. These short days last from the middle of November through the middle of February.


9. Wildlife roams the city

Even though some say Anchorage is 5 minutes from Alaska, there are many moose that can be found in the city year-round. You may also spot bald eagles, bears, wolves, and beavers. Luckily most of the moose in the city are docile and used to people, but you still don’t want to take your chances.


10. Other random stats about Alaska

Alaska is #3 for the most dangerous state

No. 1 Worst Dressed City: Anchorage, AK

Alaskans are most satisfied with their standard of living than any other state

Anchorage School District: most diverse in the country


Feel free to comment below with additional things that make Alaska unique or ask a question regarding this mysterious state.


30 responses to “Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Alaska, Part II

  1. Don’t forget the terrible drivers! Our auto insurance went up quite a bit when we moved here due to the numerous hit and runs as well as drunk drivers. I also look both ways when the light turns green so I don’t get hit by a red light runner.
    I had Danskos before I moved here, they are popular in Colorado too. However, I’m not falling for the bogs, xtra tuffs or skhoop skirt.
    I feel like I’ve almost survived the winter even though it was a mild one. Only two more to go!

    • Oh yes–that’s a good one! I was so appalled at the driving when I first moved here (still am!). I haven’t bought Bogs, Xtra Tufs, or a Skhoop skirt either. Ugh, two more months. I think this is my least favorite time of the year.

  2. There’s a similar element of fashion and pride for my local area too. 707 (our area code) and Humboldt (often with some marijuana reference) shirts, decals and the like are everywhere. We also have a similar fashion sense, trending more towards what’s good in the rain (bogs, rain coats, heavy sweaters) but with a mix of California skateboarder in it too. It’s weird.

  3. Thanks for the info,I am from Florida, wouldn’t live anywhere that gets that cold but I want to visit or have second home there. My boys are going to be Pharmacist so they can move there and hunt, I will show them your blog…..good information, thank you for sharing.
    Bonnie Alexander

  4. My Niece and her fiance just left Alaska for Washington. They did love it there ut it was time.
    My parents have been several times and they loved it there as well.

  5. You have a great blog. I enjoy your posts. T hanks :o)

    1. Icy/snow-covered roads all winter
    Yea!! I hate salt on the roads! All sounded well until you brought up the “Small Boulders”

    2. Down-scale fashion

    I can live with that :o) Nice outfit…

    3. Alaskans are very proud of their state
    Love it!

    4. Jobs
    Capitalism at its finest.

    5. Fur Apparel
    Like it

    6. Igloos, sled dogs, and whale blubber
    Kind of sad, yet the American way

    7. Garages are not for cars
    I’ve never understood this. But I guess it makes a little more sense in AK. with all the ATV’s. In the 48 people use the garages for old furniture, junk etc… Leaving the $30K plus vehicle out to be attacked by the weather and climate.

    8. Winters are long and dark
    I can see how that would be a bit depressing. Do the amazing summers make up for that?

    9. Wildlife roams the city
    Not a good thing. I’m sure this is a challenge at times. Would prefer wide life stay in the rural and remote areas, but of course…

    10. Crime rate
    A consider Alaska to be a very patriotic state that has a strong belief in the Constitution.
    Just a thought …

    Freedom isn’t- has never been free. It comes at a price. Unfortunately in order to enjoy the freedoms we have in a free society you’ll always have those that take advantage of that. Some prefer giving up freedom and rights for safety, but as Thomas Jefferson said “Those that sacrifice freedom for security deserves neither and will lose both”
    I do see that Anchorage didn’t make the top 100 dangerous cities. A good thing :o)

    Have a great day….

    • I personally don’t think the summers are that great. They aren’t hot enough, there’s too much light, and they are definitely too short.

      • Amen! They really aren’t! I want to wear flip flops and a sun dress and never even think about a jacket but no such luck. We’re from the Midwest too (Ohio) and I can’t wait to get out of here! πŸ˜‰

      • Funny…I’m originally from Bowling Green, OH. A lot of Midwest people must end up in Alaska.
        I was heading that way until I ran into Michelle’s wonderful blog… Saved me! :o) Now looking at the Sheridan, Wyoming area or thereabouts. BTW- I made the bread… Love it! Thanks…

  6. Hey! My husband and I are spending 5 days in Alaska next month. Would love some advice πŸ™‚ We are flying in and out of Anchorage. We are big foodies. What would you say are your top three must go to restaurants!? Also, any tips for places to go running? I’d love to meet up with a run club if possible too! Thanks for your help!

    • Okay, I have to admit, my first thought was: “who comes to Alaska in April?” Ha! Are you coming for work or to visit someone? Great restaurants: Ginger, Fat Ptarmigan, Snow City Cafe, Middle Way Cafe, and Simon and Seaforts (old money classic, expensive, but great view). Places to go running: the Coastal Trail is the iconic trail (great view). There’s a pub run sponsored by the local running store (Skinny Raven) every Tuesday evening that is free.

      • Oh, and how could I forgot Bear’s Tooth and Moose’s Tooth–definitely two places that are iconic to Anchorage. Brewhouse is also good place to eat.

  7. Pingback: Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to Alaska | The Runner's Plate·

  8. I lived in Alaska for 10 yrs and rather live there than anywhere else. I have lived all over America. My daughter moved back to Alaska and we are moving back next year. I can not wait to get back. Personally I would not live in anchorage. You apparently do not fit the life style, maybe you should leave?

      • Well, you have to understand that my husband could sell sand to a sandman. I didn’t even consider the fact that we might stay since we had planned to only be here 10 months. We were going to move to wherever I got into grad school but that fell through. I also was too in love to think clearly.

      • That’s actually very sweet. Your new house looks really nice! Maybe try for more vacations (like Maui), though I know the flights are trΓ¨s cher 😦

  9. I leave for Alaska on Saturday. I’m going to be spending the summer in Healy, and working at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. When I choose to spend the summer in Alaska I didn’t really think about how much of a culture shock it was going to be. I accepted the job without giving it any thought. I’m really glad that I didn’t agree to spend the winter up there. I love the snow, but I don’t think I could last through an Alaskan winter lol. I think the hardest thing for me is going to be the different in prices on everyday things that I’m going to need.

  10. With all the oil coming out of the state I wonder why the gas is so expensive. surely, they could build a distillery in Alaska, right? “Save your $900 a year and just lower the price of gas.” Right?

  11. Hi Michelle, I just stumbled across your blog from Pinterest of course. My husband and I would love to move to Alaska someday. Your blogs have really helped me to put my love for adventure into perspective. I had a question…you linked to the article that had Alaska listed as the third most dangerous state…for rape and aggravated assault it also sighted a report that 37% of women in Alaska claim to have been sexually assaulted in some way. That is a really high percentage to me…do you feel unsafe? I have grown up in the Silicon Valley in California so I’m no stranger to big city’s and the way some statistics make places seem unsafe when really no woman should be walking alone at 2am down a dark street. Just wondering if you feel safe, running alone on trails or going about town? People either seem to love or hate Alaska so I’m finding the opinions quite all over the place.

    • Generally I do feel safe running. There are definitely certain areas I avoid altogether or at night/early morning. Honestly I’m not sure why the percentage is so high. This is the first big city I’ve lived in, so I’m not too familiar with how it compares to other larger cities. I know the villages/rural communities (who have a high population of Alaska Natives) have a lot of this type of behavior, so the percentage could be influenced by that.

  12. Hello Michelle,
    Love your blog. Thanks for all the info!! We are a Military family of 5 moving to Alaska this Summer!!! YAY!! For Adventure!! What does Anchorage have fun for kids?? Any suggestions on the best areas to live?? πŸ˜€

    • For kids there is a indoor waterpark, Bouncing Bears, sports teams and clubs, fine arts activities, and a couple of small museums. Anchorage (for its size) has a considerable amount of activities for kids. Best parts of town to live: south or west Anchorage. A LOT of military families live in Eagle River.

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