Anchorage: Retrospection and final evaluation


We always planned on visiting Alaska, but were a little uncertain about moving there. We thought it might be a place best seen in a couple weeks or from the security of a cruise ship, not a place to commit to for three months. Thankfully we chose to commit!

The difference between visiting Alaska and living there is similar to the difference between camp-site camping and backpacking. Sure, metaphorically we didn't hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. We didn't live there through a winter or visit any remote native villages. We're not residents or experts, but I feel like we got a really good idea of the area. 

For anyone considering similar options, I definitely recommend longer stays and cross-state RV trips. It's a lot more accessible and less scary than one might expect. The state isn't full of crazed mountain men and drunks. Plus, the service and experience you'll have will be much better if you're not in a group of three hundred other cruisers swarming off a train.

Even though we're no longer trying to decide where we want to live permanently, we're still rating each city-- just for fun. Here is how our evaluations work along with previous city ratings: Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Fresno, and Denver. Here is what we thought of Anchorage on this same scale:

Anchorage Rating 

Culture: 5
Environment: 5
Vegetarian Restaurants: 3
Cost of Living: 6
Transportation/Infrastructure: 4
Climate: 2
People: 3
Pass/Fail: Pass

Although, it's very unlikely we'll ever live in Anchorage longer than three months, I'm willing to be open-minded. The summer was great and the idea of hibernating in a house by the sea with a stack of books, fireplace, and stores of food, sounds appealing on certain days. It's certainly not like Fresno, a place we'd only want to live if we absolutely needed to.

The low numbers are expected for a place that is so disconnected geographically from the rest of the country. Anchorage and the cities around it offer wilderness and opportunity that isn't available anywhere else in the U.S.. That remoteness and wild is extremely valuable and doesn't show up on our ratings. A lot people have this urge to reconnect with their "roots" or "go off the grid". This is a place to make that happen.

Plus, Anchorage is surprisingly modern. It has enough to make it fun: live music, breweries,  theaters. Even though the art and music are more on par with a city like Dallas (a little predictable and tame) there is a solid art culture. As far as food, the comparison to Dallas holds. In place of Dallas's steak and beef culture, Anchorage has fishing and fish.

The cost of living wasn't nearly as bad as we feared. The cost of groceries was more on par with bigger cities, certain items had a higher premium, and they milk the tourists, but costs weren't outrageous.

Finally, coffee shacks! Even after living in Oregon, where they are are fairly common, there is no place like Anchorage for these awesome little coffee-serving huts with all their colorful variety of shapes and sizes. And, as we all know, coffee is what really matters when it comes to choosing a place to move to!

Other, more detailed posts:

Anchorage: First week of living in Alaska and the new apartment
Anchorage: Glaciers, reindeer, and hiking at midnight. The best and worst of our three month stay in Alaska