I imagined living in many different places, but if I’m honest, moving to Alaska
was NOT on my list. I always had this picture of what Alaska is in my head and since visiting here since 2013 and moving here earlier this year, one thing is clear: I HAD IT ALL WRONG. I have really really REALLY come to fall in love with this place and I have learned so much about what it is and what it isn’t. So whether it’s due to the military, school or to simply help boost the local economy, if you’re getting ready to move to Alaska, here’s what this Southerner thinks you should know:
1. No, it’s not winter is 24,7, 365.
In fact, the summers are beautiful! Over this past summer, I went fishing, saw whales, bears and moose, visited Denali (which is unbelievably stunning) and I did it all in maxi dresses, shorts, jeans and short-sleeved shirts! The temperatures can vary based on what part of Alaska you’re living in or visiting, but here in Anchorage, on average, the summer weather can range anywhere between the mid 70s to 80 degrees, making it not too hot, not too cold. As a matter of fact, you’ll get so used to the pleasant weather, that if you go back to visit family in the lower 48, you just might find yourself sweating bullets! I grew up in Georgia, so believe me when I say I LOVE heat. But when I first went back to visit my family during the summer, I almost passed out!! The longer you live here, the the more your body will get used to the cooler temperatures, so beware! You should also know that the summers can get pretty wet. It may not be Seattle, but it does rain here…alot. So, if you’re anything like me and don’t like your freshly-pedicured feet to get unnecessarily wet, invest in a cute pair of rainboots and you’ll be a-ok. 🙂
2. Yes, the time difference will throw you off.
.and your family will take MONTHS to get a hang of your time zone. I’ve been here for months and my mom and best friends still text me when they’re on their way to work on the east coast. If you’re from the east coast or the central United States, you will be 3-4 hours behind your family and friends, which means you might want to brace yourself for the text vibrations and ringtones going off at all hours of the night. At the same time, because you are so far behind, by the time you get home from work and are ready to wind down, may of your friends and family members may be asleep, which may make finding time to connect with your loved ones a little difficult. But while finding balance can be difficult, it’s not impossible. Moving to Alaska is a process. Not just for them, but for you as well. It will take time for your body to get adjusted to the time difference and the sun’s schedule. Some people think Alaska has less sunlight than other places, when in fact, the opposite is true. Averaged over an entire year, Alaska gets 10-17 minutes more daylight per day than the rest of the country, but it doesn’t feel like it all the time…especially in the winter. Yes, the summers are long and the sun is up into the wee hours of the morning and yes the winters are longer and there are times where you will feel Vitamin-D deficient, but allowing your body to adjust is essential. Invest in blackout curtains for the summer and a happy light in the winter. Trust me, they will save your life! You won’t experience this type of thing down in the lower-48, so if you feel a bit sluggish when you first move here, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s totally normal and it will get better. 🙂
3. Say No to Chicken….and Yes to Local.
That’s right, there is no Chick-fil-A!! And if you love good burger places like Five Guys…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…they aren’t here either. Yes I know…insert sad face and loud tears here! It’s so funny how I seem to crave Chick-fil-A the most when I can get it (I know I’m not the only one that would drive by a Chick- Fil-A on a Sunday and wimper a little), but I’m trying to find ways to cope. Though Alaska may let you down on the popular fast food front, it totally makes up for it in the seafood realm! Seriously this place has some of THE best seafood I’ve had!! Everything is so fresh and I love that you can even go out and catch it yourself! At any given time of the year, in rain or sunshine, you can find people out fishing and catching enough Salmon and Halibut to last you an entire winter. And if seafood isn’t your thing, there’s always moose, reindeer and caribou meat. Oh yea, hunting season is real up here. When I first heard of “moose-ghetti” I wanted to gag. But I will say…don’t knock it until you try it. Moving to Alaska will give you the opportunity to try some things you’ve never tried before and maybe even help you discover a new favorite meal! If hunting or fishing isn’t your thing, there are tons of cute and great local restaurants like Brown Bag Sandwich Company and Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria that I love. I mean sure, there are several great chain eateries here like Sullivan’s and Benihana, but if you’re moving to Alaska, trust me, you can’t go wrong eating local!!
4. Yes, invest in a coat…a GOOD one.
Matter of fact, just make that cold winter gear in general: gloves, scarves, If you’ve never lived in a place where winter exists, you’re going to be in for a treat. While it may not be a year-round winters here, when winter comes…it COMES. At the first sign of snow, most natives will say “oh it’s not that cold..it’s just a little dust,” but as an out-of-towner, you will see the snow and feel the cold deep in your bones. With that being said, cold-weather gear should be at the TOP of your list of necessary investments. The last thing you want to do is be out and about in Alaska wearing a coat that’s more fashionable than functional and get completely disrespected by the below-freezing temperatures and occasional winds. And don’t forget to keep emergency layers in your car. You may never need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Prepare for the unofficial State Bird
good GREAT thing about Alaska is that the bug life is practically nonexistent. Sure, we have bugs here and there, but the mosquito life in Alaska is UNREAL. There are 35 species of mosquito and all but a few will be more than happy to nibble on you. Mosquitoes are by far the most prevalent bugs, which is why they remain lord of the flies. I’m convinced that every summer their sole purpose in life is to torment us. They seem to only really be an issue from the second week in June to the last week in July, and even then, they’re not nearly as bad as myth would have it. But still, if you ever find your place where you surrounded by them, especially during the summers when you’re out and about enjoying everything that comes with moving to Alaska, remember the common rules and most importantly…repellant is your best friend.
6. Get ready for the best Scenery of your Life
…because the views here are out of this world! I have never seen so much natural beauty in one place and it reminds me of how great of an artist God truly is. This place is a MASTERPIECE. Seriously, everywhere you turn you see a view that belongs on a postcard!! Seeing moose roam the streets, bears frolic across the roads and reindeers is just mind-blowing!! Where else in the world can you actually go to the North Pole, feed the reindeer, see the Northern Lights and the humongous glaciers? Where else can you see a tree filled with Bald Eagles? There are so many places to hike, places to see on the Alaska Railroad and things to do that you can honestly never be bored here! Moving to Alaska is an adventure and while it’s not one I never expected to have, it is hands down one of THE best places I’ve lived so far!
Moving to Alaska is an adventure and each memory you make here will definitely be unforgettable! I really hope this helps you prepare for your big move here! When you get here, drop me line! I’d love to meet you and welcome you to my new home!