Friday, July 23, 2010

What it's like to live in Alaska--part 3

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Things people always ask about
Part 3: To love, or not to love
Part 4: Local Foods

"What do you like most about Alaska?"
The wildness, the closeness to nature, the freedom of living on the frontier...
I also love the 'come as you are' acceptance of people. The freedom to walk to my own beat because everyone else is walking to theirs.
And if you're not into that, one thing that everyone agrees is a perk here is the PFDs--permanent fund dividends. It's the oil money and once you are a permanent resident (have been here more than a calendar year) then each year you can file for a PFD for each family member (so we get 5 this year) and they tend to be over $1000. Last year it was $1305, the couple of years before that were closer to $ varies year to year because it's based on invested oil money and how much was earned in the year divided by how many people are getting it... Anyway, we are currently using ours to pay off debt, but in a couple of years we'll start socking it away to pay for missions for our 3 sons. ☺

"What do you like least?"
Traveling is expensive--it's $500 round trip to fly to Seattle, and more to anywhere else... Driving is about 2500 miles to the northern border of the lower 48, and if you push you can do it in about a week. Gas in northern canada is really expensive (think $6+/gal) so driving is cheaper than flying if you have a family, but it has expenses of its own... We decided that we will go down and see family every other year, and that's just how it goes. So that's a hard thing--not seeing family. We call and email and such a lot, but we don't get to see them very often because it is just so cost prohibitive both in time and money.
Traveling in-state isn't cheap either--if you're in Juneau, a flight to Anchorage is about the same price (and same distance) as a flight to Seattle. It's 8 hours of driving from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and that's only halfway up the state (although not a whole lot of people bother to go north of Fairbanks unless they work there).
The other thing frustrated me in the bush (though not so much here), and that was that it took forever to get things or to get things done. For example, we ordered internet...that was fine, but they had to mail out the satellite dish, then we had to find someone to install took two months to get it up and running. And when we had technical trouble we'd better hope it wasn't fishing season or the one guy in town who did that stuff wouldn't be able to come fix it for over a month... We'd order something online and they'll assure us that we'll have it "in two days" and "delivered right to our door." Sure we will. It will be over a week and I'll have to go get it from the seaplane office or post office. Never order perishable anything!! Even when my mom mails me a package, the postal worker there will tell her "it should be there in 5 to 7 days" and I get it two and a half weeks later. Just realize that things take longer to get here, and then you can be pleasantly surprised if they don't, but you won't be frustrated when they do!


Julie said...

Thanks for all of the info. It will certainly be an adventure if we decide to move that way.

Thomasin said...

This is silly to ask, since I suppose I could just go and look it up on the USPS website, but... does it cost more postage to mail things to Alaska first class? Or is it, say, still $0.44 to send a letter?

Mommy Bee said...

Letters cost the same. I believe all first class postage is the same... Flat rate boxes are the same (and they are the way to go if you want something to arrive quickly, because non-flat-rate priority mail is pretty spendy!) It's the overnighting stuff that will really kill you though...
Parcel post costs a little more but it's not too bad. However it is sloooooow...a week to seattle, as much as 4-5 weeks to the east coast. I used to mail my etsy stuff via parcel post because it was cheaper, but after a package that took a month to arrive, I decided I'd rather raise all my shipping charges, and now I mail everything via first class (if it's under 13oz, which much of it is) or via priority.

kimberlee said...

I've loved reading these.

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