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Old 01-23-2014, 04:55 PM
 
10 posts, read 14,025 times
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My husband and I are in the early stages of planning a move to Alaska from North Carolina. I apologize if this has been asked before but we are interested in towns I have not seen much about on the forums. Our research has lead us to believe that Sitka, Kodiak, or Ketchikan may be a good fit for our family, and I was wondering if there are any posters from those towns that could give us some pros and cons of each place?
We would be moving from a city slightly larger than Anchorage but we do not want to live in a city. We would like a smaller community.
Also I know this is a long shot, but we are homeschoolers and if there are any Alaskan homeschoolers that could give us insight on acceptance of homeschooling, co-ops, homeschool conventions, etcetera, so that we might have an idea what to expect.
We are also interested in knowing about churches in each town and whether there is a variety, and how large the average church is.
Thank you in advance for your help!
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,557 posts, read 3,930,083 times
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Do you have jobs lined up in these towns? That's the biggest key. I would never recommend someone move to Alaska without work.
Here's my random thoughts. I've spent quite a bit of time in each town, especially Kodiak.
These towns are small and isolated. The cost of living will be much higher than what you have in North Carolina. All three can be reached by air via Alaska Airlines. Sitka & Ketchikan are in southeast Alaska, which is a temperate rain forest. Ketchikan especially gets a lot of rain. The Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) connects the communities of Southeast (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, etc). Ferry service extends down to Bellingham, Washington. Kodiak is in southwest Alaska. It's connect by ferry from Homer at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula.
Is it possible to visit before you move? Alaska is so unique that a visit is really the only way to really get a feel for it.
But the biggest factors you need to know now is that they are remote and expensive.
Lots of people in Alaska home school. You'll find active home schooling groups in each community.
Each of the towns you listed have a variety of churches. Attendance would number from 20 to 100 in each church. You'll find catholic, baptist, independent, pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc... Is there a particular "brand" of church you are looking for?

What attracted you to these towns? Again, they are isolated. Each has at least one grocery store. Kodiak actually has a large Safeway and small Walmart. Kodiak is home to a very large US Coast Guard base and that makes up a lot of the community. Fishing is the other mainstay of the economy.
Sitka is primarily a fishing town. Ketchikan has some fishing and quite a bit of tourism. Ketchikan is about 400 yards wide and 7 miles long. It sit right where the mountains meet the sea and goes straight up from the water.
Here's what I mean by isolated... Want a new dress, or some pants for the kids? You'll order online, pay more for shipping and wait 2 weeks to get it. Pay extra for overnight, next day shipping? You'll have it in five days or so.
Break your arm? There's a hospital or clinic in each community. Get a serious disease and need more intensive care? You are buying a plane ticket to Anchorage or Seattle.
Car breaks down? If you get lucky, someone may have the part. Otherwise you'll wait for it to be shipped in. Buy a new couch? You'll spend more on shipping then you did on the couch.

All three towns are in beautiful locations. But Ketchikan is famous for rain. In the winter it doesn't get as cold as it would in Anchorage or Fairbanks, but you can get a lot of snow.

Since all three towns are on islands, your Sunday afternoon drives are pretty limited. All three have excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. Having a boat is nice, if you know how to use one.
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:19 PM
 
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I agree having a job is first priority, we don't intend to move without one. We do not yet have one, we are still in the very beginning stages. Maybe if we were much younger and had no children depending on us we could, but not with little ones.
What attracted us to these areas was the relative isolation, and hunting opportunities. The pictures of the scenery are also amazing. They appear to be good places to raise a family, and I like the fact that even though they were small communities, at least according to their visitor information the populations are diverse.
As for churches, we belong to a friends meeting, which is a Quaker church. It is a very small denomination. When I tried to look it up there were none closer than San Francisco, which is a bit of a commute for Sunday mornings. We would be looking for a protestant church with a decent youth and children's program, but we are not picky about the denomination. I really just wanted to make sure they were large enough towns to have variety in denominations and churches.
Thank you for your reply!
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
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Hmm... Yeah, you probably won't find a Quaker church. But you should find something that fits.
What type of job are you looking for?
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:41 PM
 
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Currently I am a stay at home mom, but my experience is in office administration and I have worked as a paralegal. If I decide to work outside the home that is where I would be looking.
My husband is a trained truck driver with lots of experience, albeit in the lower 48 and lower Canada, but we are considering delaying the move for him to train in nursing through LPN, or as a paramedic, as there are so many health care opportunities now and nursing shortage everywhere.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:44 AM
 
Location: Interior alaska
6,381 posts, read 11,944,970 times
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Well there are trucks in those parts of Alaska, but roads are short and it is all local hauling around town. But having said that, if you are willing to work at odd jobs as you get into the town of your choice, you can make a living and as time allows, find your place in the workforce. Most people expect to do what they did before they moved here.

It is a good thing to have some money in your pocket before you come here, or have your husband come first and get set up before you drag up anchor and move here with nothing but you and the kids.

All the towns in Southeast are nice, but they do get a lot of rain and it can drive someone batty if they aren't expecting it. Others, it doesn't bother them at all.

Good luck on what you decide.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:23 PM
 
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Thank you Starlite9 for your reply. I don't think the rain would bother me, but it may drive my husband crazy. He said he had noticed that comment from a lot of people who had moved to either Sitka or Ketchikan in particular. He was trying to find a more temperate place for me as I am not as hardy as he is about the cold. We are currently reconsidering the outskirts of Anchorage as well. It seems there are more opportunities all around there with it being a larger city. I guess I know we have more work and research to do. I am not ready to give up on SE cities yet, but it may just be more feasible for work to move to a larger one. Thank you all for your insights.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:44 PM
 
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Maybe Homer would be a good fit.
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Old 01-25-2014, 02:05 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,557 posts, read 3,930,083 times
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The Matanuska-Susitna Valley or the Kenai Peninsula might be a good fit.
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Old 01-25-2014, 08:51 AM
 
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Homer is beautiful! It has the same feel as the other island towns.
AKStafford, is there a particular town in the valley that you would recommend over others? I looked at some videos about it and one of them said it was the size of West Virginia. That is a lot of area.
Thanks!
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