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Old 04-28-2017, 04:39 AM
 
Location: Maryville,TN
3 posts, read 1,501 times
Reputation: 28

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My husband is in the FAA (not military) and he is being relocated to Alaska. He has three options to choose from: Fairbanks, Juneau, and Kenai. We must take into consideration our children (age 3 and 1) and job opportunities for me (I am a Medical Technologist). ANY advice will be helpful! As soon as he picks a location (in the next 5 days) we will have about one month to one and a half months to move up there, so time is limited!

A few questions:

When driving to and from Alaska, do you need a passport/enhanced DL to enter Canada/Continental US?

About how much do we need to make to be able to provide for our children? We must take childcare into consideration (we are frugal people for the most part)

How are the driving conditions in the winter months? We own a Rav4 and a Mustang. Our mustang is 11 years old and we are looking into getting a new vehicle. Any recommendations on an affordable vehicle suited for AK conditions?

Being from AR I have more experience driving on ice than snow. Is there anything that y'all recommend for vehicle preparation?

We love to be outdoors with our kids, any advice on clothing/accessories will be most helpful!

Thank you in advance for all of y'alls help! I am very stressed out, because I have lived in south/central AR for 25 years and East TN for 2, and I want to be as prepared as I can be before our move!
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:02 AM
 
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
1,621 posts, read 2,122,688 times
Reputation: 2182
Post in the Alaska forum!
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Dangling from a mooses antlers
6,090 posts, read 10,489,130 times
Reputation: 4527
Juneau or Kenai would be my pick. Winter is over so no need to worry about that yet. Yes, you'll need a passport or passport card to cross the Canadian border. Sell the Mustang and get a four wheel drive pickup. Every Alaskan family needs a pickup for camping, wood hauling and general exploring. Juneau has a hospital as does Soldotna. Between Juneau & Kenai, the Kenai/Soldotna would have a lower cost of living.
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Old 04-28-2017, 08:31 AM
 
Location: SE Alaska
1,859 posts, read 772,877 times
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I would not sweat the preparation in the least. Sell the Mustang now and worry about clothing and another car when you get here. Your vehicle options are practically unlimited. Front wheel drive cars with winter tires do just fine in most places.

Juneau has the most mild climate of the three, but is overcast most of the time and rains a lot. Also, no access to road system if you like to take road trips. Fairbanks is sunniest and warmest in summer, but winters are quite long and temperatures can be brutally cold.
Depends on your priorities, for sure. I'm in agreement with stiffnecked, and would go for a coastal location.
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Old 04-28-2017, 09:24 AM
 
290 posts, read 71,541 times
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Hi, I was stationed at Fort Wainwright (Fairbanks) between 1987 and 1991. As far as driving, I drove from there back to the lower 48 (to NJ) in Nov 91 in a Jeep Cherokee with 4WD. British columbia roads can be pretty twisty through the mountains and if it is the fall or winter months you will have snow and some ice. However, it is not impossible. Other people did it with non-SUVs but I would recommend an SUV or a truck with a good set of tires, even if it is not winter.

You will also encounter wildlife such as deer and elk on the roads. You'll come around a corner and they will be on the road. You just need to make sure you are going slow enough.

As far as vehicle prep beyond that, normal maintenance for a long trip, cleaning equipment for the windshield. In BC on the Alcan hwy, the gas stations were few and far between at that time. So, you had to get gas when you encountered a gas station. No idea if it is better now.

For the winter months up there, once you get there, you can get the vehicle prepped. Most people have an oil pan heater and a battery blanket and sometimes an engine block heater. But, I would wait until you get up there as the locals know best what you need.

For clothing, the key is layers for sweaters and coats. The biggest thing you need to have especially for the kids is mittens and gloves and face masks for the extremities such as nose and ears to prevent frostbite. If you end up in Juneau or kenai, you may not need those as much as Fairbanks, but I imagine you will need them there also (I never made it to Juneau or Kenai keep in mind). A good pair of cold weather outdoor insulated boots are also needed. Don't go too cheap.

When I was in Fairbanks, it was a very modern town. Cable TV, Mickey Ds, movie theaters. Fred Meyer Department stores are similar to Target. I suspect they are still there and the town has expanded.

Let me know if you have other questions, but I suspect people who have been there more recently can tell you more.

Good luck, and I don't think you have much to worry about overall.
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Old 04-28-2017, 11:38 AM
 
Location: sitka, Alaska
175 posts, read 183,170 times
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Med. tech work no problem at all for you. Housing tough to get over there in Juneau. Stiffnecked gave you a good recommendation!
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Old 04-28-2017, 11:49 AM
 
Location: interior Alaska
2,559 posts, read 2,094,200 times
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All three have their pros and their cons. Fairbanks is probably the most polarizing - people either tend to love it or hate it. Personally I love the region. Juneau is a very cool little city in gorgeous surroundings but it's expensive, housing is in short supply, and it's inaccessible by road (ferry or flying only). Kenai is probably the most middle-of-the-road option of the three - less expensive and more connected than Juneau, and a much milder climate than Fairbanks. Too touristy for me personally, but there are upsides to that in terms of economics and infrastructure, so yeah.

I'd probably go for Kenai or Fairbanks just because in Juneau you're locked in to a small geographic area, which really limits your housing, employment, etc. options.
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Anchorage
32 posts, read 9,488 times
Reputation: 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantwells2011 View Post
A few questions:

When driving to and from Alaska, do you need a passport/enhanced DL to enter Canada/Continental US? You need a passport or passport card. You cannot have any handguns or criminal record. The Canadian government has websites that explain the requirements and you should read those carefully.

About how much do we need to make to be able to provide for our children? We must take childcare into consideration (we are frugal people for the most part)
Tough to answer and everybody is different. Figure on 30-50% more than where you are now to have a similar standard of living.

How are the driving conditions in the winter months? We own a Rav4 and a Mustang. Our mustang is 11 years old and we are looking into getting a new vehicle. Any recommendations on an affordable vehicle suited for AK conditions?
My wife and I swear by 4wd and studded tires. Lot's of people do fine with front will drive and good winter tires. A coworker commutes from the Valley (40 miles each way) in a Camaro. You would feel better with 4wd. Subarus are very popular up here, as are any of the small SUVs in 4wd. And of course, pickup trucks.

Being from AR I have more experience driving on ice than snow. Is there anything that y'all recommend for vehicle preparation?
Since you are moving up in summer, nothing special other than making sure they are in good shape for the drive up. Once you get here, you will want to install a block heater and get a set of good winter tires.

We love to be outdoors with our kids, any advice on clothing/accessories will be most helpful! Again, you will have time to figure this out after you are here.

Thank you in advance for all of y'alls help! I am very stressed out, because I have lived in south/central AR for 25 years and East TN for 2, and I want to be as prepared as I can be before our move!


I'd say of the 3 locations, Kenai would be where I'd recommend you pick.

Last edited by Northrick; 04-28-2017 at 03:21 PM..
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:17 PM
 
Location: At the end of the road
448 posts, read 518,575 times
Reputation: 353
I agree with those who say Kenai, as well. There is a lot do outside on the Kenai Peninsula. We do not get as cold and dark as Fairbanks. I have never been to Juneau but it is much more isolated. I have a 4WD car. I never put on studded tires, but I probably should. I do have a block heater but since I am down in Homer, I don't really need it and have never plugged it in. Up in Fairbanks, you would definitely want one. Definitely check the Canadian website for entry requirements. For the kids, you only need their birth certs for both Canada and the US.

As for clothing, think layers. The kids will need a warm coat, snowpants, boots, hats, mittens, etc. Just basic winter clothing. We do have all of that up here so I agree with waiting until you get here for that. Good luck deciding!
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:45 PM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,016 posts, read 1,610,319 times
Reputation: 4162
I'd pick Fairbanks out of those locations. Sunny and warm summers vs cool and rainy summers is a no brainer. Fairbanks also has a much bigger hospital than Kenai/Soldotna for job opportunities for yourself. Move up into the hills outside of Fairbanks and it really isn't even all that cold. The summers are more intoxicating and intense the farther north you go.
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