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Old 11-19-2007, 05:01 PM
1,252 posts, read 935,843 times
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Over the years all places change, in just the short three score years I have been watching, Alaska has and will continue to change.

Is it what I thought it would be?

It was, maybe something close to what I thought it would be like when I first judged it.

Is it close to that now? Not at all.

Will it sometime resemble what I had hoped? Not very likely that will be the case.

If I were considering where I might go to find what many here seem to be looking for, I would pay close attention to what has gone on in the recent past and what the projections are for the future.

Here are some recent headlines from the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Senior population in Alaska to triple by 2030

The fastest growing age group is those over 65, the tax base to support the care needed by older citizens is substantially higher, are you wanting to support that through the needed increases on your property taxes?

Report: Most fishermen in Alaska have other salary jobs

Gone are the days of making enough money fishing to spend the time off traveling around and enjoying leisurely winters living off the high profits of fishing.

Crowds almost overwhelm ski resort

This is in the winter, when we don't have the additional pressure of an influx of tourists. What limited facilities we have are being maxed out with the growing new resident population base.

With the Anchorage area expected to grow from about 350,000 now to around 500,000 soon, will infrastructure keep pace without an increase in the over-crowding we see now?

With Southeast's population declining at a rate of 7%, will cities in Southeast impose more and more costs on fewer and fewer people, or will these cities be forced to cut services?

Something to think about before staking a claim based on little more than wanderlust and yearning for something which may no longer be found where you hoped?
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Old 11-19-2007, 06:33 PM
395 posts, read 1,644,108 times
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Regarding the growing senior population. User2, are many of these seniors "locally grown" or moving in from out of state? If they are from out of the state would it not be generally true they are usually self sufficient and may actually help the local economy? I do agree, any seniors do have their own set of problems like health issues requiring more health facilities. And I do agree, it does appear Alaska, in general will grow simply from the fact there are infinitely more room to grow relative to most the lower 48.
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Old 11-19-2007, 06:40 PM
Location: Anchorage, AK
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The issue with seniors becoming a large population is not unique to Alaska, User 2. I believe it's the "baby boomer" generation hitting retirement?
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:07 PM
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To attempt to answer both of the above questions and comments, yes, some of the growth in an aging population is attributed to the overall aging of the entire population.

But if you pay attention to the demographics and the projections, you will see that much of the population changes in Alaska are much more affected by inflow and outflow of the different segments of that population.

Boomers, (baby boomers) obviously, were not a significant faction of the pioneers in Alaska.

On the other hand the other people described by a similar term, boomers, (those moving to seek a perception of high employment and high wages), were a most significant percentage of what drove our population increase from the late 70s and still to some extent today.

A closer look at the data will show that our resident young people, once experiencing schooling out of state, are not returning. That outflow is tempered somewhat with new arrivals, but our median age has risen, not because we are getting older, we are experiencing a larger, or imbalanced, so to speak, in-migration to the state of older age groups.

Two misconceptions are represented when you ask if older people are more 'self-sufficient', or when you ask if there isn't more room here.

What is driving the in-migration of seniors is simply that they can now draw their limited retirement wages here and not be charged an income tax. We also offer property tax exemptions to seniors. The cost benefit analysis is not going to show that the economy will gain from this, there will be economic activity, but those relatively low senior wages and pensions are not what is going to pay for the increased services needed. The generally modest housing supported by seniors, (remember, they are now on fixed incomes and they are not buying large houses or large tracts of land), will not keep pace when it comes time to look at assessed valuation for tax purposes.

Those increased costs, (and they are significant) will be borne, to a larger degree, by increases in property taxes and miscellaneous user fees, sales taxes. etc of other age groups.

To give you an example, I now a pay 60% tax on the registration of a vehicle. 100 dollars for the tag and 60 dollars additional for the tax on that tag. That tax has been added to cover the increased services that cannot be recouped through other taxes.

Such 'stealth' taxes and fees will rise, or we will have to re-instate an income tax, because property taxes cannot be raised indefinitely.

What happens if we institute an income tax? Suddenly those senior's fixed incomes won't cover what they thought and they will move to where the cost of living is not so high.

Who is left to pay for those hospitals and nursing homes we no longer have as much use for?

I'll give you one guess.

As to room in Alaska, we have very little of this state that is available for use as residential or urban use. The vast majority of our available land for that use is over utilized now. Available land is one of the largest limiting factors we have when we consider where to put all the in-migration of people.

Last edited by User 2; 11-19-2007 at 07:21 PM..
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Old 11-19-2007, 08:43 PM
25,004 posts, read 33,314,881 times
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I'll try...

is it what I thought it would be....I was born in Oregon, but both of my parents as well as other relations have a long history with the state. I can't recall ever expecting Alaska to be any sort of catalyst for change in my life or magic answer to anything, it just was. Most has been good and some has been bad but that's the way it will be anywhere. I guess what I am trying to say is that it never was a mystery to me.

The declining population in SE is of course indicative of the insidious kind of corrosion that infests communities with a bad case of overabundant touronism. I don't know what's more prevalent on the ferries going south in the fall, those clutching their summer carpetbags or those clutching their last dollar after living there for years.

I can remember when it was a big deal to see a cruise ship in Ketchikan. I can also remember when you couldn't help but find work there whether you were looking for it or not. I think it's still that way in the summer for the seasonal workers.

The best and the brightest of the young are of course leaving some thinking they'll be back, but...we know they won't. The one of their numbers that is nearest to my own heart has traveled the devastated streets of certain parts Eastern Europe, but he still he counts the Tongass as his first great disillusionment--or rather, what's been done here.

There is nothing for them anymore, and nothing for them to offer their own children, even though it gave them something that you don't often see in the children of the malls in the lower 48.

It's someone else's Alaska now, whose I can't exactly say, because I don't think it has a face anymore.

The future...the relentless touronism machine has eaten up Skagway and regurgitated some kind of generic Disneylandesque thing.

I also wish that people wanting to move here would closely examine their reasons. From a lot of the posts on this board, I see a lot of people externalizing their feelings of alienation from the societies in which they presently live, and look to Alaska as an answer to that. And there are a lot who seem to look at Alaska with consideration to what they can get from it rather than what they can give.

If you want to live an isolated lifestyle....try the middle of a city. You won't really find that here. We have less people, you'll have less neighbors...but you'll need them all about 1000% more--as they will need you, so you'd better be up to it.

Last edited by Metlakatla; 11-19-2007 at 08:57 PM..
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:42 PM
395 posts, read 1,644,108 times
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User, I will not spar w/you at this time since I do not all the facts in front of me or on top of my head. But here are some food for thots. There are a number of states that do not have income tax or tax rates so low only the upper to medium income people are affected. One comes to mind is Nevada. This state, especially in the city of Las Vegas, offers so much freebies for the seniors a person would need their head examined if they just want to exist. I think you will agree almost all if not all the lower 48 have cost of living that is much lower than the great state of Alaska. You, obviously, are the younger set who may not know the full climate tolerance of the seniors. Most seniors find their comfort zone much narrower than when they were younger. Just from that standpoint, that will eliminate many of the lower "fixed incomers" from Alaska. The housing is less expensive up there but the cost of others like food is more. That is another down side for the above.
Why would a senior go your way if they cannot find good health care except in the large cities. My understanding is a major injury or any specialized care cannot be handled or normally not done in Alaska at all. They are flown to Seattle, WA. or points South. You don't think some of the "import" seniors have not taken that into consideration?
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:11 PM
1,252 posts, read 935,843 times
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Let me just say that it would be best for you to continue this after you do have all the facts before you. If you care to go into it deeper, I'm afraid you have posed some fallacies thinking maybe they are the rule.

I haven't the time at this moment, but I will try to get you some demographic studies to look over.

I take it you did not read the Alaska Journal of Commerce article that I headlined above. Start there, and if you know what three score years represent, you'll then note that I am no spring chicken.

(I'm not chicken of much of anything but that's for another discusssion)

Read up and then we'll talk some more.
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:55 PM
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,603 posts, read 38,176,713 times
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If I was an "outsider" I guess this question might deem serious thought or discussion. But since I've lived here most of my life...yes it fits my needs precisely. The two times I did move out...I never made it a year and I was back here. Mostly due to the heat and humidity of northern Arkansas where I had made an attempt to live. I had plenty of work, cost of living was unbelieveably cheap, I lived in the country surrounded by natures beauty. And yet come spring it was just to dang hot for me. So after a second failed attempt...I caved in and followed my heart home to stay. I know for a fact I cannot live anywhere else in the US but Alaska. Or in the few other countries that host the Arctic Circle.

In my area the older folks that homesteaded are now dying off. Most are gone from the Sterling area...although their families remain. Many of them could have afforded to move outside or persue medical treatments in the more famous hospitals the lower 48 has to offer...but most chose to stay and die here where they spent their lives. I believe I shall spend my dying days here as well. I have a piece of paradise looking across the lake at the Kenai Mountains...and if that is the last thing I see before I die, I'll leave this world a happy man.

Last edited by Rance; 11-20-2007 at 12:03 AM.. Reason: Can't remember!
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Old 11-20-2007, 12:23 AM
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
1,677 posts, read 6,229,400 times
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Default Alaskan Life Choices

"Will Alaska fit your idea of what Alaska is?"

This is an interesting question with a simple answer. YES!
Possibly a more important question is can you live up to your idea of what Alaska is?
How close to nature do you wish to live? Do you wish to live off the land, off grid almost to the hermit lifestyle, or do you desire to live in the modern world with the occasional trip to the wild? All are available to you. Know that each has its own reward and cost. Plan accordingly.
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Old 11-20-2007, 03:42 AM
1,252 posts, read 935,843 times
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Here's a couple of few links for you.

http://www.alaskajournal.com/stories/111107/hom_20071111085.shtml (broken link)

http://www.labor.state.ak.us/research/trends/oct07pop.pdf (broken link)

Dependency ratios show how large a burden of support is placed on the working age population to care for the young and old, traditionally
non-working populations.

Each of these figures is expected to rise over the next 23 years.

The aged dependency ratio is projected to increase to 12.4 by 2010, then 21.7 by 2020, and 28.6 by 2030.

....there is strong certainty that the old-age dependency ratio will increase
dramatically over the next 23 years

Between 1990 and 2000 the number of Alaskans 65 and older was up 60%. Similar growth is expected in this decade and the next.

That’s four to five times faster than the U.S. average.

More are staying on, more are moving here, and the population is aging

...in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, south of Anchorage, more older people moved in than out in the late 1990s

Health-care spending per person for older Alaskans could nearly double by 2030, if current trends continue

In Alaska, growth in the older population is expected to be fastest among those over 85 and spending for people over 85 is much higher than for those under 75
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