Joint Base Elmendorf – Richardson Community
The Military Family’s Guide To Living In Alaska
Did you just get stationed at JBER? Maybe Fort Greely? Or Fort Wainwright? Looks like living in Anchorage, Alaska, or Fairbanks is gonna be your new normal for the next few years. Some people love these Alaskan postings, and others hate them (and each for good reasons). Alaska isn’t exactly like CONUS postings. There are a few things you should know beforehand about living in Alaska that’ll help make your transition to this unique state a bit easier.
Living in Alaska: Pros and Cons
When you get assigned to a new installation, we all know that you don’t exactly have a choice in the matter. Still, it can be beneficial to look over the pros and cons living in Alaska offers so that you can be prepared for the best and the worst of living in the Last Frontier.
- You’ve never been closer to nature.
- If you’re a snow lover, you’ll get all the snow you can handle.
- You can learn a bunch of winter sports.
- The entire state is full of rural charm (even in the city).
- You can save money with Alaska’s great BAH rates.
- You can experience wildlife you’ve never seen before.
- The summers aren’t unbearably hot.
- The Midnight Sun – you get a lot more daylight in the summer than the rest of the U.S.
- Most places in Alaska are at a high enough altitude to see the northern lights on a regular basis.
- The people are incredibly kind, and Alaska is well-known for the diversity of its population.
- It’s really darn cold.
- Earthquakes are common.
- Gas prices are higher than they are in CONUS states.
- The cost of living in Alaska overall is higher than in CONUS states.
- It’s pretty far from CONUS states (though this could be a good thing, depending on your outlook).
- If you don’t like snow, you better learn to. You’ll have to deal with it pretty much every day.
- The Midnight Sun – for nearly three months, the Alaska sun doesn’t set.
Why Doesn’t the Sun Set in Alaska?
For people who have never heard of this phenomenon, it can be a bit alarming to hear that there are nearly three months out of the year where the sun never sets on Alaska, leaving Alaskan residents bathing in sunlight 24/7 and making living in Alaska a bit of a challenge for newcomers.
The scientific answer to this question has everything to do with Earth’s axial tilt. While the Earth is spinning, it is also leaning toward one side (kind of like a Jenga tower that’s milliseconds away from falling). This tilt is what creates the seasons and is why the seasons in the U.S. are opposite that of the other side of the hemisphere. It’s also why Alaskans have to deal with nearly three months of continuous sunshine.
All of this is a bit difficult to just explain with words, so check out this site that has a lot of useful images and diagrams that better explain why the sun doesn’t set in Alaska.
How To Live in Alaska During the No-Sunset Period
Many people want to know, “What’s it like living in Alaska when the sun doesn’t set?” With every answer, you’ll notice that each person had an adjustment period of learning how to live with less sunlight. Here are some top tips from Alaskan residents to start prepping for your new, sunny normal:
- Try to see the bright side and enjoy all the opportunities granted to you thanks to the extra daylight.
- Focus on your windows at night. Tape up cardboard boxes, thick trash bags, or foil up to your windows. Keep the tape at the top of the window and roll or fold the window blocker upwards to make it easier to put on/take off the windows every morning and night.
- Invest in blackout curtains.
- Invest in good-quality sleeping masks – not the cheap ones from the local retail store.
- Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. The no-nighttime period can really mess up your body’s circadian rhythm if you don’t stick to a schedule. Make sure you’re going to bed around the same time and waking up around the same time every day, and be wary of oversleeping!
Do You Get Paid for Living in Alaska?
Yes! Because conditions in Alaska can be less than ideal for most of us, the government has allotted money to the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend Division, which offers permanent residents up to $1,100 per year. In some years, this payout has been as much as $2,000, and other years have seen payments as low as $800.
While this doesn’t have any effect on military personnel, as you won’t be a permanent resident of Alaska, if you end up loving this posting and wanting to retire here, it’s great to know that this is an option.
Is this amount of money worth it for living in Alaska? You can be the judge of that.
Living in Alaska Is a Great Opportunity
Whether you end up liking the posting or not, you won’t be able to deny that living in Alaska is an experience unlike anything you’ve ever had or are likely to experience again. There are so many unique aspects to living in the Final Frontier (so many that there have been tons of shows about living in Alaska created) that we think you’ll fall in love with the posting.
If you want even more advice and information on your next posting, living in Alaska Reddit pages offer great anecdotal information and advice from real people who live or have lived in the state before. Best of luck on your Alaskan journey!
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