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Old 01-13-2013, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,605 posts, read 2,394,318 times
Reputation: 5937

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Hello.
My wife and I have been traveling the country for over a year now. She is a travel nurse (hence why we have been traveling the country) and I have an online business. It has been fun and a great experience, however we now have kids and would like to try and settle down so they can establish some roots and do normal kid stuff. We are very libertarian live and let live self reliant type people and feel we would fit in very well in Alaska. My wife has spoken to the hospital in Homer, Soldotna, and Palmer and with her Alaska Nursing license that just came in today is pretty confident she could land a job at at least one of the three. The job in palmer pays ALOT more. We don't want to commit to a certain hospital without seeing each one as this will not be a travel assignment but a permanent job. We are planning this move the end of march/early april. We already have done a lot of research, we have our milepost guide, a brand new 4x4 truck and plenty of money to get back to the lower 48 if for some reason we do not like it there. A few reasons we think we will like it there are (correct me if I am wrong)
1. A spirit of self reliance and the freedom that comes from that which really meshes with our lifestyle.
2. No notice homeschooling laws which we are leaning towards homeschooling at this point.
3. Great pay for nurses
4. I have my Wilderness First Responder, CPR, and wilderness first aid and there seems to be lots of seasonal jobs I can supplement my online business with that require exactly those things.
5. We love adventure and the outdoors, have extensive backcountry time in a lot of the best lower 48 national parks.
6. After moving so much we are very adaptable to new locations.
7. An oppprtunity to remove our children from at least some of the lower 48 cesspool problems.
8. The shear adventure of driving cross country through miles of boreal forest to finally arrive in arguably the most beautiful state in the nation.
9. The opportunity to learn completely new skills related to my backcountry hiking hobby/passion and possibly get paid for it.

So our plan is to drive up with everything we have (not much we are a very minimalist family) and stay in a hotel for a few days/weeks until my wife finds the hospital she feels most comfortable at in person. Our families think we are crazy but my wife is a very experienced RN and we have never had a problem with her getting a job as long as we do research before hand. As I mentioned earlier the hospital in Palmer pays the most and has the most openings. We prefer small towns and I am really interested in the Kenai Peninsula because of that. The houses seem to be more reasonable prices there probably why they pay less. We don't need Starbucks or big box stores and try to shop at local Mom and Pop shops whenever possible. We are not moving to Alaska to try to run from any problems. We have no debt right now, kids are young and have both decided that if we don't at least try we will never know and regret it later on in life, so know is as good of time as ever. We are both in our mid/upper twenties. I also have experience in HVAC and construction if for some reason I needed to work full time someday. Anyways sorry for my long post amd forgive me for any spelling/grammar issues as this was typed on my mobile phone.

I guess my ultimate question and the purpose of the post is if you were in our situation would you go with the Mat-Su Valley or the Kenai Peninsula and why? She also was offered a job in Wrangell but we are not so sure about living on an island if you have any thoughts on that.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:02 PM
 
Location: Palmer
2,518 posts, read 5,871,932 times
Reputation: 1365
Sounds like you have done your homework. You will probably fit in anywhere. As you have been able to deduce, Mat-Su Regional Hospital is in a larger area than Homer and kenai.

You should just come up and explore and see what fits. There are plusses and minuses to both.

Either way, you will be in Alaska.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Deltana, AK
857 posts, read 1,611,896 times
Reputation: 1149
Your family sounds like a very good fit for either Palmer or the Kenai Peninsula. One thought about Homer though: despite being one of the most beautiful towns in Alaska, all those big mountains are relatively difficult to reach. Personally I would find it frustrating to live there (I'm also a backcountry enthusiast). Kenai is pretty close to the mountains and has some nice coastline, along with some of the best fishing in the world. Palmer is in a flat valley bottom, but nearly surrounded by spectacular mountains. Endless high energy outdoor options.

As far as your concerns about the larger population of the Mat-Su, I wouldn't necessarily worry about it too much. The center of Wasilla, and a few of the busier roads do feel uncomfortably suburban, but Palmer is a small town, and most of the area is definitely still rural, particularly to the east and north. A friend of mine lives in a cabin out Buffalo Mine Road, maybe 20 minutes from Palmer, and it's full on gravel road, off the grid, woodstove, backwoods life out there.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,605 posts, read 2,394,318 times
Reputation: 5937
Quote:
Originally Posted by heathen View Post
Your family sounds like a very good fit for either Palmer or the Kenai Peninsula. One thought about Homer though: despite being one of the most beautiful towns in Alaska, all those big mountains are relatively difficult to reach. Personally I would find it frustrating to live there (I'm also a backcountry enthusiast). Kenai is pretty close to the mountains and has some nice coastline, along with some of the best fishing in the world. Palmer is in a flat valley bottom, but nearly surrounded by spectacular mountains. Endless high energy outdoor options.

As far as your concerns about the larger population of the Mat-Su, I wouldn't necessarily worry about it too much. The center of Wasilla, and a few of the busier roads do feel uncomfortably suburban, but Palmer is a small town, and most of the area is definitely still rural, particularly to the east and north. A friend of mine lives in a cabin out Buffalo Mine Road, maybe 20 minutes from Palmer, and it's full on gravel road, off the grid, woodstove, backwoods life out there.
Thanks for the quick replies. Its funny you mentioned buffalo mine road because I found a rental on Craigslist off that road. It probably won't be available come the end of march though. We are definitely excited for this move. Right now we are leaning slightly towards Palmer for the higher pay, but we will see when we get there. I was a little worried about the Mat-Su after reading some posts on here about it being strip mall suburban like but I am glad to hear there are still places off the beaten path. We definitely don't want anything suburban like. The entire lower 48 has turnes into a giant suburb controlled by HOA's that dictate what kind of trash cans you can have, what style mailbox you can have, what color your house can be. Hopefully Alaska has the last sliver of freedom left I am looking for.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:02 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,605 posts, read 2,394,318 times
Reputation: 5937
Also easy access to hiking/biking/climbing/backcountry is a huge plus to me
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:27 AM
 
Location: Dangling from a mooses antlers
6,905 posts, read 11,692,577 times
Reputation: 5564
If you're serious about moving up here I'd suggest you or your wife make a quick trip up here ASAP. See for yourself what each area is like in the middle of winter. Fly in, rent a car, drive down to Kenai, spend a full day, then drive back up to Palmer and do the same. It would be a lot better then trying to move sight unseen. Well worth the small expense.
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:43 AM
 
Location: Anchorage
96 posts, read 177,876 times
Reputation: 136
I agree, you should fly up and visit the towns before committing. It will be worth the expense and time. No amount of advice on here can replace that gut feeling you will have by putting boots on ground.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,605 posts, read 2,394,318 times
Reputation: 5937
I appreciate the advice and it is a very good advice to see a place before you move there. However that is not in the cards for us at this time. I really would love to visit first but my wife is in the middle of a good contract right now and alaska is a relatively difficult/expensive place to visit. The visit would cost close to 2k and that could pay for all of our fuel on a move there. I don't want to set back the move even further. We will have enough money to return if we do not like it. Also it isn't like we a buying a house right away, we are just going to rent. If we fail/don't like it we can put our tail between our legs and come back to the lower 48 but it is a risk we are willing to take. In a perfect world yes we would visit first, but flying to go visit first is a relatively new phenomenon and sometimes you gotta take chances and commit. Plus I think that adds a sense of adventure driving the Alaska highway cross country to a place we have never been before, gives you that sweet anticipation feeling. I know you guys are giving me sound advice and looking out for my best interests and I thank you for that.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:41 AM
 
Location: sitka, Alaska
228 posts, read 236,159 times
Reputation: 231
Default hmm

Myself and girlfriend both worked at Prov. in Anchorage. We are going back to AK. in April. We are both nurses. I do ICU/flight, she does med-surg. Combined, we got 35 yrs of experience. One thing you need to know--costs a lot to live there. Lived in the Mat-su and Anchorage. Personally, I would not go back to the Mat-su..getting too crowded. The Kenai is a great place. We are going to Sitka..don't want to shovel snow all the time. We are all about hunting, camping, fishing--Wrangell is a pick I would make, personally. We are doing Sitka for some decent job security and less snow but lots of rain!
We have worked in Maine, Montana, Arizona, Florida....Alaska is by far the best! As you've seen posted--you might want to explore a bit before committing. You don't know what you are getting into until you've been there. I'm guessing there might be a contract involved and you really might want to see where you wind up living for that amount of time. Providence is an awesome hospital in Anchorage--that is our personal feeling only.
Not trying to be rude but...just the money is not a reason to being a nurse. She will make a decent wage anywhere there. We are taking a pay cut to be back in AK. Alaska is just a great place with lots of really decent, great people.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:50 AM
 
Location: sitka, Alaska
228 posts, read 236,159 times
Reputation: 231
Oh! Also wanted to mention that we moved there in Feb. and took the ferry to Haines then drove to Anchorage--that was one whicked ride. Drove the Alcan down in the month of Sept.--that was also pretty wild. Have you checked into the ferry? Its gonna cost us like 1500 bucks--we got a dog and don't feel like doing the drive. The ferry is great, cost effective and you can drink beer, see great sights and not get a DUI! Almost ran into a bison on the Alcan near Whitehorse!
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