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Old 04-03-2008, 07:41 PM
 
Location: Jackson, MI
28 posts, read 85,585 times
Reputation: 22

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My fiance and I are thinking about moving to Barrow after she graduates in 2 years. I had a few questions that some of the other forums didn't really answer.

She's going to be a teacher. Coming out of MI and from the school we go to, it pretty much means she'll call them and say, "Give me a job," and they'll respond with, "When can you be here?"
So the school system is where we'd be plugged in. We've done research on the school district's web site, so housing and insurance is no problem. The apartments are furnished with most necessities.

Now, the questions.

1) Can anyone give me an approximate shipping cost for, say, clothes, some appliances, a tv, cookware, stuff like that? Just say an even 200 lbs. or so.

2) We'd leave our vehicles in MI, and are thinking about getting an ATV. Would this be a good idea and an effective way to travel around Barrow?

3) I've gotten mixed reviews of the place. Some people say it's lovely and the people are really nice, others say it's the junkyard of the arctic and that there are a lot of problems (drug abuse, domestic violence, etc.). Which is more accurate?

4) Would there be work for a 25 year old (I'm 23 now, I'd be 25 when we move) with little experience in any industry other than customer service and 3/4 of a bachelor's degree? Heh.

That's pretty much it. We'd love to get in contact with some actual residents, not just tourists that have been there. If you have anything to offer, though, we'll take all the input we can get.

~Andrew and Brittany
Jackson, MI

Last edited by PolyphonicSpr33; 04-03-2008 at 07:46 PM.. Reason: Age clarification
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 6,990,854 times
Reputation: 1829
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
My fiance and I are thinking about moving to Barrow after she graduates in 2 years. I had a few questions that some of the other forums didn't really answer.

She's going to be a teacher. Coming out of MI and from the school we go to, it pretty much means she'll call them and say, "Give me a job," and they'll respond with, "When can you be here?"
You are in for a very rude awakening...
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
So the school system is where we'd be plugged in. We've done research on the school district's web site, so housing and insurance is no problem. The apartments are furnished with most necessities.
More rudeness is coming your way.... The school district administration here is rather anti-teacher at the moment. They will like you in one way only, as an inexperienced teacher they can pay you less.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
Now, the questions.

1) Can anyone give me an approximate shipping cost for, say, clothes, some appliances, a tv, cookware, stuff like that? Just say an even 200 lbs. or so.
Call an expediter and get a valid quote. Nothing the rest of us might guess is likely to be accurate.

I'd look at shipping it all Parcel Post via the US Post Office. And anything as large as a TV, leave behind and either buy a new one here or get one in Anchorage and have it shipped from there. Shipping heavy or fragile things halfway across the country isn't necessarily productive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
2) We'd leave our vehicles in MI, and are thinking about getting an ATV. Would this be a good idea and an effective way to travel around Barrow?
How tough are you all? :-)

Lots of people here ride around on 4-wheelers all year long. But you've probably never imagined what it is like at -40F with a 35 mph wind in your face. I'm not sure what that is for a chill factor, but figure -80F... close enough.

Which is to say, you probably don't really want to try that. The easy way might well be to ship a vehicle up by barge. If you are flush, ship one vehicle (it will have to be in Seattle early in the summer and will get here in late August or early September) and come up and buy a 4-wheeler to use for recreation and until the barge gets here. A 4-wheeler will run anything from $5k to $10k here, brand new. And yes you'll be able to sell it when you leave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
3) I've gotten mixed reviews of the place. Some people say it's lovely and the people are really nice, others say it's the junkyard of the arctic and that there are a lot of problems (drug abuse, domestic violence, etc.). Which is more accurate?
All of that is accurate. Nice folks, even the ones who use drugs and beat each other up when drunk! :-)

Ever live in a small town? You know everybody, and they all know you too. You get along, and don't worry too much about what they do to themselves. If you don't party with them, there is no danger. Unlike big cities where you have to worry about what's down a dark alley, here everyone you meet on the street is safe. It's your choice of people to party with that can put you in danger. Basically this is a very safe place if you choose it to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
4) Would there be work for a 25 year old (I'm 23 now, I'd be 25 when we move) with little experience in any industry other than customer service and 3/4 of a bachelor's degree? Heh.
Depends on how willing you are to work. You have several things that do not work in your favor here, and some that do. You will always be considered a transient, and any local will be given preference over you when it comes to most jobs... except some of the higher paying and/or technical jobs, where an outsider does the hiring (and will consider almost any transient to be "more qualified"). You might easily get a job at the AC store or at the school district. Your chances of being hired by ASRC for a local job are zilch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
That's pretty much it. We'd love to get in contact with some actual residents, not just tourists that have been there. If you have anything to offer, though, we'll take all the input we can get.
I've lived in rural Alaska for 40 years, and in Barrow for the past ten. I am, near as I can figure, the only non-Native Alaskan who has ever come here to retire. There are 2 or 3 others who are retired here, but they are married to the community too.

Do realize that the above clearly means that my view of the world is necessarily different than average... But frankly Alaska is a place for adventurous people, and Barrow is perhaps the most adventurous place in Alaska. If you want to have a new adventure every day, all day long, this is the place. If you want to find a nice routine so that you can be sure this week of what you'll be doing next week... run, fast as you can, from the idea of trying to live here.

Here's my web page, take a look at it:

Barrow and the North Slope in Photographs
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:13 AM
 
Location: Jackson, MI
28 posts, read 85,585 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
You are in for a very rude awakening...
More rudeness is coming your way.... The school district administration here is rather anti-teacher at the moment. They will like you in one way only, as an inexperienced teacher they can pay you less.
Hey, I'm just going by what she tells me. Michigan is ranked third for teachers, or whatever, in the US, and the school we go to is at the top in Michigan for something to do with teachers. Don't ask me what. *shrugs*
She won't have any experience other than substituting, which I'm sure doesn't account for much. If they're anti-teacher now, hopefully they might change their tune in a few years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
Lots of people here ride around on 4-wheelers all year long. But you've probably never imagined what it is like at -40F with a 35 mph wind in your face. I'm not sure what that is for a chill factor, but figure -80F... close enough.
With the kind of budget we'll have, it's really our best option. We'll just have to wear masks. :-/ Heh...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
The easy way might well be to ship a vehicle up by barge. If you are flush, ship one vehicle (it will have to be in Seattle early in the summer and will get here in late August or early September) and come up and buy a 4-wheeler to use for recreation and until the barge gets here. A 4-wheeler will run anything from $5k to $10k here, brand new. And yes you'll be able to sell it when you leave.
Like I said, we don't really have much money, nor will we in two years. If it's not too expensive to ship a vehicle up there, we might have to, but... as it is, an ATV would probably be our best bet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
All of that is accurate. Nice folks, even the ones who use drugs and beat each other up when drunk! :-)
Nice. :-P

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
Ever live in a small town? You know everybody, and they all know you too. You get along, and don't worry too much about what they do to themselves. If you don't party with them, there is no danger. Unlike big cities where you have to worry about what's down a dark alley, here everyone you meet on the street is safe. It's your choice of people to party with that can put you in danger. Basically this is a very safe place if you choose it to be.
Yeah, I read that the biggest crime deterent is shame, because everyone knows everyone. I suppose that's acceptable, we probably won't be doing too much "partying."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
Depends on how willing you are to work. You have several things that do not work in your favor here, and some that do. You will always be considered a transient, and any local will be given preference over you when it comes to most jobs... except some of the higher paying and/or technical jobs, where an outsider does the hiring (and will consider almost any transient to be "more qualified"). You might easily get a job at the AC store or at the school district. Your chances of being hired by ASRC for a local job are zilch.
I'm majoring in Youth Ministry. I have no "technical" experience whatsoever, lol. What I was counting on was some kind of local gig, like a restaraunt or something... so I guess I'll just have to pray that the AC store is hiring for something. Only other option would be a Youth Director position at one of the churches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
I've lived in rural Alaska for 40 years, and in Barrow for the past ten. I am, near as I can figure, the only non-Native Alaskan who has ever come here to retire. There are 2 or 3 others who are retired here, but they are married to the community too.

Do realize that the above clearly means that my view of the world is necessarily different than average... But frankly Alaska is a place for adventurous people, and Barrow is perhaps the most adventurous place in Alaska. If you want to have a new adventure every day, all day long, this is the place. If you want to find a nice routine so that you can be sure this week of what you'll be doing next week... run, fast as you can, from the idea of trying to live here.
The adventure is why we want to move there. I find it extremely exciting. We just want to feel welcome and not like the outsiders we'll be. I suppose that's kind of a concern.
Thanks a lot for your input.
Maybe we'll meet in a few years. ;-) Lol.

~Andrew and Brittany

Last edited by PolyphonicSpr33; 04-04-2008 at 12:45 AM.. Reason: Job hoodedoo
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:32 AM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 6,990,854 times
Reputation: 1829
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
Hey, I'm just going by what she tells me. Michigan is ranked third for teachers, or whatever, in the US, and the school we go to is at the top in Michigan for something to do with teachers. Don't ask me what. *shrugs*
She won't have any experience other than substituting, which I'm sure doesn't account for much. If they're anti-teacher now, hopefully they might change their tune in a few years.
I certainly hope the trend will head towards a more teacher friendly administration (it does appear to have started to change), but make sure that you check that out before you sign on. They should be looking for the best teachers, and your description of Michigan is probably accurate and would provide an edge... but they want cheap teachers, and to put it bluntly that ruins your edge.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
With the kind of budget we'll have, it's really our best option. We'll just have to wear masks. :-/ Heh...
...
...as it is, an ATV would probably be our best bet.
Let me be a little more emphatic: DON'T.

Either ship a car up here (by barge or by air freight), or buy a car here. Don't kid yourself about your ability to stay alive here your first winter. It's a steep learning curve. Go slower.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
Yeah, I read that the biggest crime deterent is shame, because everyone knows everyone. I suppose that's acceptable, we probably won't be doing too much "partying."
...
I'm majoring in Youth Ministry. I have no "technical" experience whatsoever, lol. What I was counting on was some kind of local gig, like a restaraunt or something... so I guess I'll just have to pray that the AC store is hiring for something. Only other option would be a Youth Director position at one of the churches.
Well, the church might be a good idea. If they pay you six months in advance you probably won't starve until the second month...

Hmmm... Let me be emphatic again, and perhaps a little brutal with a bit of honesty.

I like the sound of your attitude. You are either a little crazy or awfully naive. If you're crazy, you'll do fine. But you'll need to decide if it is actually naivety, and back off if it is. The bit about being adventurous is coming through loud and clear, and that is good. You also are clearly willing to take a little risk and barge ahead. That is good.

What is scaring me is the "Youth Ministry", and a couple other hints that you are a missionary type. I'll be honest and tell you I am biased as can be when it comes to missionaries, simply because we have a long history here, and everywhere in Alaska, with the evils of that mentality. Of course, they are not all bad people; and if you admit you are one, you'll no doubt assume you're the good one! You might be right too... but from my perspective the odds are not good.

So let me give you some grandfatherly advice: take huge doses of grandfatherly advice if you come to Barrow! If you think for even one instant that you're going to save anyone here from anything, don't come. You can't, because you'll need to stick around for decades to learn enough to keep yourself alive, never mind telling anyone else how to do it. Come if it suits you, but spend your time here learning from elders. (I'm in my early 60s, and still dearly love listening to people older than me, because they know so much!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
The adventure is why we want to move there. I find it extremely exciting. We just want to feel welcome and not like the outsiders we'll be. I suppose that's kind of a concern.
Thanks a lot for your input.
Maybe we'll meet in a few years. ;-) Lol.
See my problem, first you say "Youth Ministry", then you write a paragraph like that one, which hits the bullseye dead center.

Here's hoping the two of you are just a little crazy. Or at least not terribly naive. :-)
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:48 AM
 
Location: Jackson, MI
28 posts, read 85,585 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
Let me be a little more emphatic: DON'T.

Either ship a car up here (by barge or by air freight), or buy a car here. Don't kid yourself about your ability to stay alive here your first winter. It's a steep learning curve. Go slower.
I can survive in 110 degree dry heat, I'd like to think I have the capacity to learn to survive in -50... but I won't kid myself. We might just have to take your advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
I like the sound of your attitude. You are either a little crazy or awfully naive. If you're crazy, you'll do fine. But you'll need to decide if it is actually naivety, and back off if it is. The bit about being adventurous is coming through loud and clear, and that is good. You also are clearly willing to take a little risk and barge ahead. That is good.
Why, thank you. Lol. Mostly an adventurous nature, part impulsiveness, mabye a little naivette... but that's why I'm doing my homework. If I'm being naive on certain things, I want to correct that and continue to plow forward. I refuse to live my life with regret, and living someplace like Barrow is something I've always wanted to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
What is scaring me is the "Youth Ministry", and a couple other hints that you are a missionary type. I'll be honest and tell you I am biased as can be when it comes to missionaries, simply because we have a long history here, and everywhere in Alaska, with the evils of that mentality. Of course, they are not all bad people; and if you admit you are one, you'll no doubt assume you're the good one! You might be right too... but from my perspective the odds are not good.
I'm not a missionary... I probably never will be.
I just love kids. I can't help that I love God, too. I don't want to interfere with a culture or anything like that, but I want to help kids. That's where my heart is. If I get a job as a Youth Pastor and there's one kid that starts coming to my program in my time in Barrow, I'll have done my job (though some of my lower 48 colleagues would most likely argue about the quality of job I've done, lol).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
So let me give you some grandfatherly advice: take huge doses of grandfatherly advice if you come to Barrow! If you think for even one instant that you're going to save anyone here from anything, don't come. You can't, because you'll need to stick around for decades to learn enough to keep yourself alive, never mind telling anyone else how to do it. Come if it suits you, but spend your time here learning from elders. (I'm in my early 60s, and still dearly love listening to people older than me, because they know so much!)
It's hard for me sometimes to find a lot of respect for people who have wasted their lives. If you hit 70 and you haven't accomplished anything other than paying your taxes and maybe having a kid or two, then what is there to respect? Don't take that statement the wrong way, I know that even if you don't do much, life in general will teach you something, so a 70 year old would have 67 years of life on me... I get that. It's just... I don't know... I guess I just have such a zest for life that it kills me to see people... not.
Maybe that's just my rebellious, mid 20s mindset talking, but still...
Now, those who have hit 70 who have lived a full life, impacting those around them, teaching, experiencing many things, what have you... I will sit at their feet and hear them spin their tales till they're out of breath. Ony of the people in my life I respect the most is my grandfather, who is 85 this year. He taught me everything I know about my homeland, that is, Northwest Texas (don't get me wrong, I'm not a Native-American or anything, just born there) and I always love listening to his stories... though I've heard most of them. ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
See my problem, first you say "Youth Ministry", then you write a paragraph like that one, which hits the bullseye dead center.

Here's hoping the two of you are just a little crazy. Or at least not terribly naive. :-)
We're insane. :-P
Most of our friends think we'd have to be, to move to friggen Barrow, AK.
A toast to insanity, sir.
May life always lead down the more exciting road.

~Andrew and Brittany

P.S. Love your photographs. What did you do before you retired? Just out of curiosity.

Last edited by PolyphonicSpr33; 04-04-2008 at 03:55 AM.. Reason: Redundancy, clarification
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:48 AM
 
3,948 posts, read 10,548,290 times
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You know, you can always leave if you dont like it. You are young and there is a lot of life out there. Keep it as simple as possible. Have money saved to leave, and enjoy yourself.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 6,990,854 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
I can survive in 110 degree dry heat, I'd like to think I have the capacity to learn to survive in -50... but I won't kid myself. We might just have to take your advice.
Heh heh. You can take that easy, or do it the hard way. But I guarantee that in January and February you won't be riding a 4-wheeler very much! :-)
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
Why, thank you. Lol. Mostly an adventurous nature, part impulsiveness, mabye a little naivette... but that's why I'm doing my homework. If I'm being naive on certain things, I want to correct that and continue to plow forward. I refuse to live my life with regret, and living someplace like Barrow is something I've always wanted to do.

I'm not a missionary... I probably never will be.
I came to Alaska, alone, a few weeks after turning 22. With an attitude just about like yours!

I'll take your word on the missionary thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post

It's hard for me sometimes to frespect? Don't take that statement the wrong way, I know that even if you don't do much, life in general will teach you something, so a 70 year old would have 67 years of life on me... I get that. It's just... I don't know... I guess I just have such a zest for life that it kills me to see people... not.
Maybe that's just my rebellious, mid 20s mindset talking, but still...
Now, those who have hit 70 who have lived a full life, impacting those around them, teaching, experiencing many things, what have you... I will sit at their feet and hear them spin their tales till they're out of breath. Ony of the people in my life I respect the most is my grandfather, who is 85 this year. He taught me everything I know about my homeland,
What you'll find here (basically this is true anywhere in bush Alaska) is that anyone who manages to get to 70 years old, even if they never were smart and stayed drunk half their life, has to have learned a great deal of useful information. Either somebody trained them well, or they are a lot smarter than it appears.

Also keep in mind that your first decade or two in Alaska will be the last two decades of something special. It stopped with people my age, but those older than I am were raised in an oral culture, where part of what each person learned as they got older was how to explain what they knew to younger people. The elders were literally the community library! You will be part of the last generation which can take advantage of elders who grew up with that way of living. Everyone my age, and a little older, went off to school... and didn't learn how to teach or how to govern in the traditional way.
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Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
We're insane.
Apparently so!

You be sure to get back in touch with me in a year or so if this actually starts to gel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolyphonicSpr33 View Post
P.S. Love your photographs. What did you do before you retired? Just out of curiosity.
I worked on telecommunications systems for a company that is now called AT&T Alascom (AT&T bought it it 1995, much to my disgust), for 34 years. We built the telecommunications system in Alaska, from the ground up. It was fun! One of the most fun parts of it for me was spending time in villages. I lived in Aniak and Bethel (southwestern Alaska) for 10 years, in Salcha (near Fairbanks) for 20 years, and have been in Barrow for 10. I've visited, for periods of hours or months, in perhaps half the villages in Alaska (every river village on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers, everything close to Nome, every village in the Interior, St. Lawernce Island (but not Diomede), and every place on the North Slope.

Man, I've been having fun. That's why I live in Barrow now. I'm too physically feeble to go places that are exciting, so I just dropped anchor in the one that was the most exciting.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Atqasuk, AK
48 posts, read 194,898 times
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If you want I'll let you know about my experiences after I get there. I am a teacher and planning to work for the NSBSD next year. I will be moving not to Barrow, but about 60 miles south this July.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Jackson, MI
28 posts, read 85,585 times
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Originally Posted by MSgirlfornow View Post
If you want I'll let you know about my experiences after I get there. I am a teacher and planning to work for the NSBSD next year. I will be moving not to Barrow, but about 60 miles south this July.
That would really be beneficial. From what Floyd's saying, it sounds like the school district is a little underfunded... my fiance will be extremely marketable, I guess the school we go to is... I don't know what she's saying, it sounds like "N-Kate" certified. Which is apparently good. She's going for social studies concentrating on secondary ed, minoring in math and french.
We don't care about how much money they pay her (to a point; we'd love to be able to eat 3 square under a roof), so long as they hire her. :-/

Looking forward to hearing about it!

A & B

Last edited by PolyphonicSpr33; 04-04-2008 at 01:30 PM.. Reason: Oops
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,539 posts, read 6,990,854 times
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Originally Posted by MSgirlfornow View Post
If you want I'll let you know about my experiences after I get there. I am a teacher and planning to work for the NSBSD next year. I will be moving not to Barrow, but about 60 miles south this July.
Have you seen Atqasuk yet? I recall some graffitti I saw once...
"Atqa sucks".

I guess for some people it does. But it is located right on the Meade River, or actually between a huge lake and the river. The tundra is carpeted with salmon berries (thicker than I've ever seen anywhere, and I love salmon berries).

Atqasuk ("the place to dig the rock that burns") was once a coal mine, which supplied fuel to Barrow before the natural gas was discovered in the 1950's. The mine closed in 1958, and almost nobody lived there until 1970 when it was repopulated to help establish the North Slope Borough (formed in 1972). There are maybe 300 people there?

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the entire world... to my way of thinking.
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