Letter Re: Alaska as a Retreat Locale

Mr. Rawles,
As a long-time resident of Alaska, I agree in general [with your Retreat Locales page assessment] that it’s just not a viable survival location for most people. Someone wanting to move here should carefully consider whether it would work for them. Alaska is huge, with a low population. While 275,000 people live in the Anchorage area, only 400,00 live in the rest of the state, comprised of over 1/2 million square miles. But more than 99% of the land is off limits to settlement, because it’s owned by either government or native corporations. Even if land were available, most of it is inaccessible if you can’t afford a helicopter or float plane. Much of it is treeless, windblown, and covered with ice and snow more than six months per year. When the ice finally melts, the roads buckle and heave due to the cycle of freezing and thawing. This requires expensive maintenance that would not be sustainable if TSHTF.

The economy of Alaska is driven by oil income and government spending, both of which would cease if the U.S. economy collapsed. There is very little local manufacturing capability. Sadly, even most natives have lost the ability to live off the land, due to income from various government programs and business ventures.

Home heating is a huge expense in Alaska; $6,000. or more per winter for some households. Even if you have a source of wood and cut it yourself, it’s going to occupy a lot of your time.

On the plus side, there’s unlimited pure air and water. While wildlife isn’t as abundant as most people think, there are more than enough fish to keep everyone alive in a survival scenario. There are almost no insects to bother crops, and although the growing season is short, some vegetables do very well in the long daylight hours in summer. Alaska has one of the best concealed-carry laws in the country, and most prisoners are outsourced to other states, so they would not be a problem in a collapse. Alaska has a high concentration of military and former military personnel, who generally have a sound grasp of Constitutional issues.

Alaskans understand survival. Many who live in villages or in the bush have no running water. Some have no electricity. Alaska is a great place to practice survival skills. But you might not want to stay after TSHTF unless you’re in extremely good health, you tolerate cold well, and you’re prepared to do the hard work it would take to survive in a hostile environment. – K.L. in Alaska

JWR Replies: Thanks for those comments. I’ve updated the Recommended Retreat Areas page, accordingly.