My mom pointed this post out to me on the Fairbanks News-Miner’s Arctic Cam comments section, and I thought it was so useful that I’m reproducing it here. I don’t know this person, but it was nice to see that I had done many of these things before moving here, mostly because I *listened* to what long-time Alaskans were trying to tell me. IMNSHO, it’s a subtle thing about living here that maybe sometimes lower 48er’s don’t pick up on right away – all sorts of things about day-to-day living here don’t work here the same way they do everywhere else, so it’s best to come without a lot of preconceptions. Your acclimatizing will go harder if you refuse to dispose of those preconceptions. Things I didn’t listen to ahead of time? I came here with not enough in savings, and having already bought boots. Those boots of mine are *useless* at -25 or -30, when you’re standing in a parking lot helping tag and load 50 pound food bags. I should have waited. Yesterday I found some *almost* new heavy type boots with the thick removable wool liner (that mine lack) in Value Village for $3.50! I also didn’t listen about waiting to set up housekeeping. I should have done that. As a result, 18 months out, I’m still paying off debt. One more piece of learned experience: don’t buy any outerwear or outfitter gear that has a metal zipper. When it gets cold enough, the zipper will seize, and then you’ll have to take it to Apocalypse Design and have the zipper replaced with a heavy duty plastic one.
How to successfully become an Alaskan. – from alaskansheilah, newsminer.com arctic cam site
Unless one is military (they offer training, work, housing, allowances, and winter gear…a savings in the thousands or more. Starting off in Alaska the military way is almost traditional, and usually the best.)
I wouldn’t come to Alaska to live until spring, without less than several thousand dollars buffer (preferably about 10 in the bank, and tell no one except authorities about it) Do NOT set up housekeeping before; The first thing you’ll need is work. Have a job or at least 5-10 serious interviews to come to (if none of these pan out, at least you have the way to leave). Many are awestruck at the wages being so ‘lucrative’ at first…Understand this, if Alaskans are paid more, there’s good reason for it…this offers no “windfall”.
Next is housing. One can apply for the Nehemiah Loan for a zero down if you’ve never owned a home before. If not, you can usually get into something for 5-6 K. Owning however humble is the better way to go here for the price of rent is usually higher. Normally you can get your investment back if you sell or rent out.
Next is reliable transportation geared to withstand minus -65 degrees below zero (Do NOT purchase a vehicle with more than 45,000 miles to it- it will wreck your budget by piecemeal. If you can at all buy new do so.)
Next is emergency arctic gear. (One can buy used if need be.) You may not need it all winter…but not having it can kill you. Best quality and prices will be found at the Army/Navy surplus stores. If not in use, keep this (plus extra) in your vehicle along with other emergency supplies: food, tools, flares, road caution signs and medical kit.
Then you need to adapt to higher prices for essentials. You don’t have to like it, You do have to accept it. That way you can more realistically define what’s actually essential. Live like you’re desperately poor so you never will be. Keep that buffer for emergencies. Yeah, you’ll do alright! If I could make it 36 years, so can YOU.