Aurora lights in the North Pole

Average Salary in Alaska: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in Alaska?

Alaska and Hawaii were once among America’s most expensive locations to buy a quarter pounder with cheese. This was mainly because of the rising shipping costs, which raised the overall cost of living in Alaska. Housing prices, grocery, healthcare, utilities, and transport costs are well above the US national average.

However, Alaska is home to the highest concentration of millionaire households in the USA. Also, it has some of the highest-paying professions in the United States. The average salary in Alaska is approximately $65,265 per year. Keep reading if you are planning to move to this state, and you are wondering about the average rent in Alaska, transportation and utility costs, and other information about the cost of living in Alaska.

What to Know Before Moving to Alaska

Some of the things that come to mind when you think about Alaska include the northern lights and glacier cruises. However, did you know that Alaskans are paid to live there? These residents get a piece of this state’s oil royalties disbursed through the Alaskan permanent fund. 

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Alaska offers many job opportunities with a federal minimum wage of $10.34 per hour, which is higher than the national average. 

However, because this state features seasonal jobs and an economy that can be unstable, high unemployment rates can be observed from time to time. If you enjoy city life, consider Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and home to about 300,000 people. Not only does this city have plenty of job opportunities, but it’s the best place to live in Alaska if you like an urban setting. 

If you prefer living off the grid, you’ll find Alaska’s rural areas beautiful and rugged. Residents who choose this option prefer growing their own food since finding grocery stores can be a hard and expensive venture. If you prefer living off the grid, you should know this state is home to abundant wildlife consisting of grizzly bears, black bears, polar bears, moose, and bison. 

You should also know that the cost of living in Alaska can be high. Food, fuel, utilities, transportation, rent, and healthcare services cost more in this state than they do in many other states. However, you’ll get to build savings as residents don’t pay income tax or sales taxes. 

What Is the Cost of Living in Alaska? 

The cost of living in Alaska is $48,739 per year. According to a Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Alaskan residents spend $48,739 on personal consumption expenditures per year, including food, accommodation, recreational opportunities, and healthcare. 

Alaska’s cost of living index is 127.1, higher than the US national average, which is 100. This shows that Alaska is one of the most expensive states to live in. According to a Missouri Economic Research and Information Center report, Alaska’s cost of living index for 2021 was 127.1, which is significantly higher than Mississippi with an 83.3 cost of living index, as the cheapest state to live in. 

How Is Cost of Living Calculated?

The cost of living is calculated by tracking price change over a given time or by comparing prices in two different states or cities. According to the State of Alaska, you can use a single measure to track inflation using the consumer price index for urban Alaska. Or, you can compare the prices of different items in Alaska with other states or cities. 

If you are looking for a more personalized report to help you estimate your costs, you should consider a cost of living calculator. Such markers help you compare the city or state you currently live in with the one you plan to move to. 

What Contributes to the Cost of Living in Alaska?

Average Rent in Alaska

The average rent in Alaska is approximately $1,179, with residents paying a median rent of $1,172, $1,246, and $1,323 in Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star, and Sitka, respectively. According to a report published by the State of Alaska, about 40 percent of the total household income is spent on housing expenses. 

If you think that the average rent in Alaska is too high and you would prefer to buy a house, you should know that the average cost of a house in this region is approximately $371,671. However, housing costs in Alaska dipped by 1.9 percent in 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Average Transportation Costs in Alaska

In Alaska, you will spend approximately $2,086 on gas per year, even though the price of gas fluctuates often. Energy costs have significantly increased in Alaska since 2021, driving transportation costs and gas prices upward. Vehicle prices jumped by 14 percent from April 2020 to April 2021. You’ll also find used cars expensive, especially when compared to other states. 

Residents prefer using buses, trains, private transfers, and cars. Renting a car is more expensive than using a train or a bus. However, it’s less expensive if you’re more than three people. Public transport will cost you around $665 per year. You also have the choice to use Uber, which is one of the best transportation companies, if you want to travel within a city.

Average Food Costs in Alaska

The State of Alaska is yet to publish any official information relating to its average costs of food and groceries. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a household in a populous city like Anchorage spends around 14 percent of its yearly income on food. This is estimated to be about $1,000 per month. Because of Alaska’s location, its regular food supply and beverages have to be transported long distances, ultimately contributing to the high food costs. 

Average Healthcare Costs in Alaska

The average healthcare cost in Alaska is $673. Healthcare costs, particularly healthcare premiums, are high in Alaska. According to the State of Alaska, this region has the second-highest public healthcare premiums after Wyoming. Moreover, some of the best healthcare companies like CVS and the UnitedHealth Group are available for Alaskan residents.

Average Utility Costs in Alaska

The average utility costs in Alaska are slightly higher than in the rest of the US. In 2020 Alaska produced 31 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources. The electricity price for Alaskan residents in January 2022 was around $0.22 per kilowatt-hour, according to the US Energy Information Administration, which is one of the highest in the country. 

Given this state’s cold winters, utility bills that include electricity and gas can be higher than the national average. Moreover, Alaska is considered one of the most expensive states for cable TV and the Internet. Alaskans pay $148 per month for their Internet connection and cable service, according to the U.S. Cable & Internet Market Size and Household Spending Report 2021.

Other Expenses to Consider in Alaska

Alaska is one of the most expensive places to live in. Public transport isn’t great so most people do not use it. Grocery, gas, electricity, and utility costs are significantly higher than in most places in the USA. Also, snow removal is an expense that adds to the total cost of living in Alaska, as this state experiences higher snowfall levels than most locations in the United States. 

Should I Buy or Rent in Alaska?

It depends on how long you plan to live in Alaska, your credit rating, and your annual income. If you are looking to stay in Alaska for the long run, you should consider buying a house by taking out a mortgage. You’ll get to save a lot in interest and property taxes, so theoretically, the median home price is more affordable than in other states.

If you buy a house as an investment and decide to sell it one day, you’ll make huge capital gains as you’ll be exempt from the sales tax. The average monthly rent in Alaska is $1,179, which is way higher than the national average. For such reasons, buying a house as an investment might be an idea worth considering. However, renting might be ideal if you are on a budget and are planning to stay in Alaska for a short period of time. 

What Is the Average Salary in Alaska? 

The average salary in Alaska is $61,760 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This translates to an hourly rate of around $29,69. Below you will find the average salaries for some of the biggest cities in this state. 

Salary Comparison by City in Alaska

City Average Salary Per Year
Juneau $77,363
Kodiak $72,000
Ketchikan $63,683
Anchorage $62,484
Fairbanks $60,378

What Is a Good Salary?

A good salary will help you cover personal expenses in your area while motivating you to continue providing value to the best of your abilities. How much you earn will depend on the location of the company you work for, the job you do, your qualifications, and your years of experience.

The average salary in Alaska is $61,670 per year. Therefore, since Alaskan residents spend around $48,739 per year on utilities, rent, food, and healthcare, this salary is considered very good for someone residing in this state. According to the BLS, some of the highest-paying occupations in Alaska include management, legal, architecture and engineering, and healthcare roles. However, there is always the choice of finding a high-paying job while working remotely and residing in Alaska.

Can You Afford the Average Cost of Living in Alaska?

Yes, you can afford the average cost of living in Alaska if you make more than $48,739 per year. With that said, Alaska is one of the most expensive states to live in. Data from the US News and World Report rankings show that Alaska is one of the least affordable places to live in.  

Housing costs, healthcare premiums, energy, food, and utility costs are significantly higher in this state than in most states in the USA. Most people might not find this area affordable. Furthermore, if you have a family, you’ll need a significantly higher annual income to live comfortably in this region. 

Cost of Living in Alaska FAQ

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Alaska?

To live comfortably in Alaska, you’ll need to earn more than $48,739 per year. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Alaskans spend an average of $48,739 per year on personal consumption expenditures, including food, accommodation, recreational activities, and healthcare services. 

Is Alaska expensive to live in?

Yes, Alaska is one of the most expensive states to live in. Data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center shows that Alaska’s cost of living index for 2021 was 127.1, which is significantly higher than Mississippi, which is the cheapest state to live in. Also, the US News and World Report ranks this state as one of the least affordable states in the US, as it comes at 47th place out of the 50 states.

What are the cons of living in Alaska?

Some of Alaska’s cons include high real estate prices, high fuel costs, high gas prices, high healthcare premiums, a remote location, earthquakes, and a harsh Alaskan winter. Food items are also expensive because of this state’s remote location. 

Is it hard to find a job in Alaska?

No, it is not hard to find a job in Alaska. This state offers many job opportunities which pay more than the federal minimum wage. The Last Frontier offers employment opportunities in healthcare, oil, mining, transportation, timber, and fishing, mostly through the government. However, many jobs are seasonal.  

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