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Old 12-28-2016, 06:35 PM
9 posts, read 9,789 times
Reputation: 25


Hi, all! This is probably sort of funny considering I'm posting from Anchorage and have obviously spent time in all the areas I'm about to discuss. Here's the situation, a few months back husband and I were sure once his military commitment was done we'd be leaving Alaska and heading to Washington state. Olympia area, as we're both from north idaho. Well, that won't be happening as we absolutely love this state and would like to spend another 5 to 10 years here.

We currently live near base in Anchorage, we're in a safe neighborhood on the east side. We've been here 2.5 years, husband deployed for half that, and I've never had any issues. I know anchorage isn't safe, hell I've heard gun shots from our house at least two dozen times. But, I like to keep things in perspective and like I said, with common sense and a scary dog, I've always been left alone and felt safe.

But, we'd like to get out of the congestion of neighborhoods for some more room in a better area. We purchased this place because it worked for us at the time. It doesn't anymore. We'd also like to get out of anchorage as it's just too big for me. I like the occasional dinner out, and socializing, but I do.no.at.all like cities. And I don't like the lack of community feeling in Anchorage.

Husband is a Physician Assistant and I'll be going back to school on the GI Bill, so will have 3 years of a paid living allowance. Husband will be working on the slope providing medical care, and I'lll need to be in Anchorage 3 days a week but can travel at odd times (read: not during rush hour).

Right now, I'm most torn between Eagle river (Hiland rd, skyline, and eagle river rd toward the nature center) and most of Palmer/Wasilla, mainly: the area off farm loop road, and a lot of areas off fishhook-willow road. I like palmer a lot more than wasilla, so would rather be closer to that side of the valley.

I'm wanting to get feedback from those of you who have lived in either ER and the Valley, or both, as to what you think? We're having the absolute hardest time trying to decide between more house and land, and being farther out from anchorage, where a lot of our friends are, but getting our own little community and being closer to all the outdoor activities we love, or being closer to a bigger city but less house and land.

The areas in ER that I mentioned are, as of now, the only places I'd want to live in ER. I currently work in eagle river, and just am not crazy about the neighborhoods. They're too much like a combination of anchorage and on post living for me.

We've accepted an offer on our house in anchorage and we'll be moving out of it early march into a rental house, as we want to spend about six months really searching for the right place. We plan on owning our next house for a min of 7 years. We want to be in a good school district to make resale easier, and in case we end up staying for long enough to have school aged children. Currently we have two fur kids.

My concerns with both areas are: ER, it's overly inflated and when the economy drops in AK, I feel it'll be hit very hard. I love the fact that it seems like it could have it's very own feel, but with it being so close to anchorage I don't know if that's accurate or not. Most of the houses are close together, older built split levels, and don't have much character.
The Valley: It seems like drugs are a big issue, mainly meth. Do you guys think they're any worse than in Anchorage? I almost wonder if it's actually safer than anchorage... any opinions on that?

Also, we know we want to stay close enough to anchorage to make it a reasonable drive (which is why we aren't looking toward Kenai and homer). I train my SAR and Sport dog and need to be in town for that 3 days a week, and those days will coincide with my class schedule. My husband may look at doing 3 / 12hr shifts at the ER a week in one of the bigger hospitals once he's finished with the slope, so though it doesn't need to be a short commute (we're from an area that it takes an hour to get to an actual store) it needs to be doable. We love girdwood, but have ruled it out due to price.

I'd love any advice! Thank you!

Last edited by JamiChristine05; 12-28-2016 at 06:44 PM..
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Old 12-28-2016, 09:26 PM
Location: Back and Beyond
2,605 posts, read 2,400,058 times
Reputation: 5937
I lived in Palmer for a whopping 3 whole months so I am more than qualified to answer this question .

I'd chose Palmer and some acreage any day over Eagle River. Especially if I could afford land right off farmers loop. You'd be so close to Hatchers pass you could visit/hike regularly. Reed lakes trail is one of my favorite trails in Ak. More room for the dogs and still an easy enough commute into anchorage for only 3 days a week.

For me it would be Palmer hands down. I never felt unsafe there. I'm sure some people grow pot and smoke meth out there but they aren't living off farm loop road. And that pretty much describes 99% of Alaska anyways .

Eagle River has too many people and over inflated housing costs.

Whatever you choose, good luck to you.
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Old 12-28-2016, 11:44 PM
Location: interior Alaska
3,980 posts, read 2,969,746 times
Reputation: 11852
I haven't lived in any of the three towns you list, but having spent time in all three, I'd also go for Palmer, if it were me. ER just feels like an overpriced bedroom community of Anchorage these days. Palmer is beautiful, is a proper town, not a suburb, and you'll get more for your money than in ER.

Wasilla's not terrible but I cannot imagine anyone dreaming of living there, lol. I guess if you really like strip malls and property crime? Poor Wasilla.

Statistics only say so much when it comes to crime, as a person's own lifestyle, associates, and habits come into play, too, plus just luck...but Palmer has a lower crime rate than Anchorage or Wasilla. Plus, I feel like in a smaller community, all other things being equal, it's often easier to figure out how to make safe choices - the crime is less random and haphazard.
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:31 AM
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,560 posts, read 3,932,517 times
Reputation: 1918
Originally Posted by JamiChristine05 View Post
The Valley: It seems like drugs are a big issue, mainly meth. Do you guys think they're any worse than in Anchorage? I almost wonder if it's actually safer than anchorage... any opinions on that?
I've lived in Wasilla for 20 years. I know exactly zero people that do any sort of drugs. Yes, there's drug abuse in the Valley, but it's never had an impact on my living. And I know there was a mention of property crimes... I've never had to deal with that either. I think because of Facebook, it's just being reported and broadcasted now more than ever.
Of course, we do basic, common sense stuff. We lock our doors. I don't have stuff in the yard that someone might be tempted to steal. We use a P.O. box so we don't have an unsecured mailbox.
People criticize Wasilla as one big strip mall. And yes, if you never leave that Parks Highway, that's what it looks like. But I'm not going to judge all of Anchorage based on how Muldoon Road looks. But hatin' on Wasilla is the popular thing to do, so I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist over it.
Palmer is a great spot though. There's some great restaurants and a nice small town downtown feel. For me, the biggest downside to the Valley is the freakin' wind.
Good luck in your search!
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:31 AM
Location: Deltana, AK
857 posts, read 1,613,653 times
Reputation: 1149
I spent about a year and a half living out Knik River Road, about 20 miles from Palmer. I liked the area a lot because I got a strong sense of "entering Alaska" as soon as I turned off the Old Glenn. I think it's because the Knik Valley has a reputation for being really dark in winter since it's right in the shadow of Pioneer Peak, so it's seen less development than other parts of the valley. Some spots near the Knik River bridge go for almost half the year without direct sunlight (!), but it eases up a bit as you go up the valley, with most of the subdivisions getting no direct sunlight for a couple months or so. On the plus side, you don't get that cold wind blowing down the Matanuska Valley in winter, which makes much of the Palmer-Wasilla area much more uncomfortable than Anchorage or Eagle River.

Other areas out there that I've had a strong attraction to are the west side of the Old Glenn in Butte (the east side smells more like meth), and the Maude, Smith, Clark-Wolverine Road area, just across the river from Palmer. The Palmer-Fishhook, Farm Road, and even Springer Loop are really nice too, although you get the cold Matanuska wind.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:35 PM
80 posts, read 95,666 times
Reputation: 90
I lived in Palmer for four years, off Trunk Road and now Eagle River for three years. It's highly unlikely your friends from Anchorage will visit you in the Valley. There are pros and cons to both and it really depends on your lifestyle. I don't miss the drive or the wind, but you can get a lot more bang for your buck out there. I do miss the less traveled trails in the Valley. I drive quite a bit since I'm in real estate and spend quite a bit of time in Anchorage, so I'm much happier living in Eagle River. Wasilla, Palmer, the Butte, Eagle River, Chugiak and neighborhoods in Anchorage are all very different.
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