I would like to add some more thoughts to the discussion of Alaska as a potential area for survival relocation. There are many drawbacks to Alaska that should be addressed, but ultimately I do believe Alaska can be an excellent and advantageous survival area for some people.
I was born in Alaska and left when I was 17 for military service. I spent nine years in the lower 48, living in New England, Washington State, and North Dakota, with plenty of travels to all the in-between parts of the U.S. and a few trips to foreign countries. I’ve since returned to Alaska, and I am happy to be here from both the preparedness and quality of life standpoints.
One of the first questions people ask me about Alaska is how bad are the winters? This is not a good question, because Alaska is such a large state that it really is many different places, rather than one place.
Alaska’s Regional Lifestyles
The lifestyles of Alaskans are varied, depending upon the region.
The Arctic Region
I’ll begin with the Arctic Region. This is where the stereotype of Alaska as a place of parka clad Inuits, polar bears, and igloos comes from. It also has the major oil fields, where many Alaskans work, though very few live there when off hitch from their oil jobs. This area is probably a non-starter for most survivalists. The only towns are native villages where newcomers are not welcome. These villages also have high rates of alcoholism and crime. Additionally, little private land is available for sale.
The Western Region
The Western Region is also fairly harsh, but there are a few “white man towns”, like Dillingham and Nome, where an outsider could move to. Many of these town are located next to rich salmon and other fish stocks that could very viably support the small populations in case of restricted food supplies. There is also enough timber in most parts of this region to serve as a viable energy source. Winters in this area, especially, away from the coast, can be extremely cold. Negative 50 degrees Fahrenheit (ambient, not windchill) are the norm and not the exception. Packaged food is extremely expensive there, with ***canned soda***amazon.com/Sprite-Soda-Soft-Drink-24/dp/B01C2EK0PG/ref=pd_bxgy_325_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=FEW4H7Q0Z0E74RFST66X costing up to $2.50 per can. This area is not accessible by road. The economy is driven by government, fishing, and some mining.
The Southwestern Region
The Southwestern Region includes Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula, and the Aleutian Islands. Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula are similar enough to the Western Region to be viable. The Aleutian Islands should be ruled out completely. They require imported fuel, and all population centers are either commercial or Native Alaskan. This area is not accessible by road. This area’s economy is driven by fishing, tourism, and government.
The Interior Region
The Interior Region includes the state’s second largest city, Fairbanks, as well as part of the Yukon River and its many tributaries, all of which are rich in salmon runs. This region has towns that a new family could assimilate into, as well as timber for fuel and the possibility of farming certain hardy crops, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and onions. It would be easy to acquire land in this area for a decent price that was far away from any ravaging hordes. Summers tend to be fairly hot by Alaskan standards, sometimes reaching the 90s, but with cold winters where -40F is not a cause for comment. This area is accessible by the road system, so food is priced fairly reasonably. Economic activities are oilfield transportation and staging, colleges, military, and mining. Communication systems in Alaska are actually very good, so if you’re lucky enough to do most of your work through the Internet, rural living wouldn’t be a problem at all.
The Southcentral Region
The Southcentral Region has the state’s largest city, Anchorage. Anchorage is like our own little piece of Los Angeles. I would avoid living or working in this city, if possible. A major earthquake would turn it into a nightmare in seconds. Besides that, there are pervasive drugs and rampant crime, just like almost any other city in the U.S. these days. Other parts of the Southcentral Region are much more promising, however. Winters in this area tend to be much more mild in coastal areas. Negative temperatures, while possible, are fairly rare and don’t last too long. Of course, as you move inland, the climate is much more similar to the Interior region. Summers are fairly cool, but this area can support hardy crops, including world record size cabbages, and it has many salmon streams. Many of the towns in the Southcentral region are located on the road system, so food and fuel are affordable. I believe that this area has the most potential for the aspiring Alaskan survivalist. While a life that is mostly similar to the lower 48 can be maintained, there is almost infinite potential for remote bug out locations, with land available for cabins and many places to hide. The economy in this area is based on residence for oil workers who are on days off, military, and some farming, fishing, and drilling/mining.
The Southeast Region
Last is the Southeast Region, which includes the state’s third largest city and the capitol, Juneau. Only three towns in this area are accessible by road: Hyder, Haines, and Skagway. The economy relies on fishing, and winters tend to be a slightly colder version of what you would experience in Western Washington. There is potential to do some real farming in this area, although the lack of flat land may present a problem. There is real potential for a bug out location accessible by boat here.
Here are the advantages I see to living in Alaska in the Interior, South Central, Southeast, and a few select areas in the other regions:
- Some of the most constitutional laws supporting the second amendment are found in Alaska. You will find few people in favor of gun control, and state law reflect that. This a wonderful advantage that is sorely lacking in many states.
- There is a wide availability of clean water, which is another necessity that is lacking in many states.
- You have the potential of having a truly isolated bug out location that rivals anything in the lower 48, especially when weighed against Alaska’s relatively small population of 700,000.
- Alaska has a large number of Christian, independent spirited, and serious people who would be unlikely to lose their heads. While there are plenty of trashy and other problem people, mainly concentrated in Anchorage, you can’t put a price on being surrounded by good people, and I believe that the “good” Alaskans are some of the best people you will ever meet. The best part is that, thanks to the more or less constant influx of people to Alaska over the last one hundred years, locals are not closed off to outsiders, which could definitely be an issue in some rural areas of the U.S. where you might try to relocate to.
- Alaska has a friendly attitude towards homeschooling, which is the ideal means of education for any preparedness-minded family.
I should briefly mention that it is mostly a myth that people are paid to live in Alaska. It is true that each Alaskan resident receives a check, usually about $1200/year from invested money from taxes on the oil companies. This is part of our “Permanent Fund” program. Since recent budget shortfalls, there is talk of doing away with these payments.
There are several disadvantage to Alaska that I must discuss, but all of them are surmountable with proper mindset, preparation, and planning.
Alaska’s economy relies on oil, meaning that there can be ups and downs. Correlated to this is the very large state government, which relies on revenues from oil taxes. This means that the state is hit twice in down times, with both oil workers and state workers being laid off. Like anywhere else, this threat can be countered with thrift, frugality, and recession proofing wherever possible. Short of a complete economic collapse, there will still be dollars to be had in Alaska.
Food could become a major problem in case of economic or natural catastrophe. Contrary to what you might think, game is fairly scarce in our arctic and sub-arctic climates. Fish populations could very well collapse if put under the stress of feeding thousands of people. Farming in this area will be possible but probably insufficient for all caloric needs. However, these will all be factors no matter where you live. That is why I believe a larder as deep as you can afford is an absolute must. Thankfully, the most important staples are inexpensive and nonperishable, like wheat berries, sugar, rice, and salt. These supplies will be a vital bridge to the next phase, whether that is self sufficiency or the end of the crisis.
The powerful earthquakes that rock Alaska every few years could also be an issue. While these may seriously affect our major population centers, such as Anchorage, a person in a rural area who is properly prepared will likely be unscathed. For this reason I will always try to live as close to work as possible, but I think that should go without saying for any prepper.
The long, cold winters and their accompanying darkness could be a problem for some people. However, if I have learned anything from working on oil rigs during one of coldest winters in living memory in North Dakota, it is that these things are largely a matter of mind over matter, assuming you are properly equipped, of course.
Transportation can be difficult in Alaska, with so much land and so few roads. Anyone who comes here should plan on buying a 4-WD vehicle and an ATV, as well as the fuel supplies to go with them. For people with the funds, a boat and even a bush plane would be ideal. As always, no matter where you live, the ability to carry large loads on your back over rugged terrain could be the difference between life and death.
Hopefully this gives everyone a picture of what relocating to Alaska would be like. It certainly has its hardships, but there are many advantages for the more adventurous prepper. It deserves a second look, if for no other reason than to take a trip to one of the country’s most beautiful states. If you’ll be a good neighbor, I look forward to seeing you up here!