Why Anchorage, Alaska May Just Be the Perfect City for You
You’ve probably never considered moving to Alaska. Who would leave the comfort of their hometown for a freezing cold, isolated wasteland that’s dark 30 days out of the year?
Anchorage, Alaska is none of those things. In fact, if you love winter, the outdoors, and a small town feel without sacrificing the convenience of a big city, Anchorage may be a place worth considering for a move. Here are a few reasons why this subarctic city could be right up your alley.
Like the Outdoors? Get Ready to Be Overwhelmed
Perhaps no city in America offers better outdoor recreation than Anchorage. Indeed, the majority of the city consists of a half-million-acre park and almost 300 square miles of water. To be fair, it is the fourth largest city in the country by size and the top three spots are all held by other Alaskan cities. And that “park” is actually Chugach State Park, the third largest state park in the country.
Distant view of Alaskan glacier in Chugach State Park
Chugach provides recreation for just about any outdoors person including biking, camping, horseback riding, off-roading, and snowmobiling. Hiking fanatics will never get bored in the park where hikes range from 2-mile day trips to 20-mile treks along the old Iditarod trail.
Wildlife Literally in Your Backyard
In Anchorage, wild moose are about as common as stray cats in other cities and it’s not outside the ordinary to see them roaming your yard or giving birth in the Lowe’s parking lot.
Once you venture outside the city proper in any direction, you’re treated to a menagerie of wild animals including migratory birds, spawning salmon, and beluga whales. Alaska is also home to more than 98% of the brown bears in the United States, including the unique Kodiak subspecies.
Alaskan brown bear cubs
Alaskans care deeply about conserving wildlife, from whales to bears, so any wildlife lover will find themselves right at home in Anchorage.
A City for the Dogs
Anchorage is great for people who love domesticated furry friends as well. In many ways, modern Alaska was built on the backs of sled dogs and Alaskans’ love of dogs hasn’t really gone away.
And don’t forget about the world famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which kicks off in downtown Anchorage every year. Locals can tour dog mushers’ kennels, check out race day activities, and even try dog racing for themselves – if you’ve never sledded behind a furry butt, you haven’t lived.
Seeking Out a Winter Wonderland?
As a subarctic city, Anchorage has longer winters than any city in the lower 48. With a growing season around 100 days, winters come on early and are slow to leave. However, Anchorage isn’t far enough north that it ever runs into total darkness – the shortest day of the year is around five hours long.
The city also receives a fair amount of snow, but isn’t as inundated with snow as some cities in the Mountain West. Anchorage is perfect for winter lovers who like their winters long and cold, but don’t want to feel like they’re living in Siberia.
A Way to Get Away
Anchorage is the perfect place for people looking for a change of pace, but who may not be ready to give up city living entirely. Locals like to say that Anchorage is “only 45 minutes from Alaska” and they have a point – the city of 300,000 is big enough that you can easily forget the whole of the Alaskan wilderness is in your backyard.
Big city problems like traffic and crowds aren’t as common in Anchorage, whereas amenities like fast Internet can be much pricier ($175 for 1Gb speeds). Generally higher prices come with trade offs like no sales or income tax and an annual payout for residents of around $1,000 (Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend).
And while the city is definitely colder than many U.S. cities, it’s far from the freezing subzero climate that comes to mind when most people think about Alaska. People familiar with winters like Chicago’s and Detroit’s may find welcome reprieve in a comparatively mild Anchorage winter.
Anchorage certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you love the outdoors, wildlife, and your dog, it might be worth a visit. From great seafood to world-class camping, this subarctic city could be just what you’re looking for.