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Old 08-04-2007, 10:38 AM
 
319 posts, read 454,432 times
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I've got a few questions about Anchorage. Any and all input will be greatly appreciated .

- Is Anchorage windy in the winter? Is it comparable to the constant January howls of Boston, New York, Chicago, etc?

- Is the city predominantly blue-collar?

- What are the major industries and employers in Anchorage? (I hear things about oil?)

- How is public transportation? Would one be able to do without a car?

- People tell stories about actually being PAID to live in Alaska. Is there any truth to that?

- What kind of food is available in Anchorage? Are there ethnic restaurants in the city?

- In any given winter, how low does the temperature go in the city proper?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:37 AM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
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I'm not from Anchorage...but we do NOT get paid to live in Alaska. Slap the next person that tells you that. We do have a permanent fund dividend which gives residents a small royalty bonus check once a year. But we do not get paid to live here.

Anchorage has every kind of food on the planet. And darn near every type of restraunt also.
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:03 AM
 
Location: Haines, AK
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Default answers about Anchorage

I lived in the Anchorage area for about 2-3 years, lived in Eagle River and worked at Merrill Field. Got some answers fer ya....

1. Windy? It can be. It's not all the time like some places but I've been there when they evacuated the Anchorage Airport control tower because they thought it would blow over! (winds topped 100mph in places that day). How windy depends on where you live. The "hillside" neighborhood really gets it in the winter. I know people whose parked van regularly blew across their driveway when it was icy, and had to nail down some of their roof shingles on all four sides. Down lower you miss a lot of the wind that howls down the Turnagain Arm in the winter storms.

2. Blue collar? Yes and no. There are a lot of corporate headquarters type jobs in ANC because its the largest city in the state (by far), it's also got the university, the hospitals, the museums, etc. That said, there are also a LOT of regular-joe type jobs out there since everyone needs a plumber or an electrician sometimes, and a lot of those are still union. I'd say it's a pretty good mix, not just one or the other. One thing you'll find is that there is certainly NO stigma about actually working for a living in Alaska. Some of the union linemen I used to fly back and forth made two or three times what I earned in a year, I was usually the lowest-paid guy in the helicopter no matter who I was flying around.

3. Major industries...all over the map. There's not one big employer like in Detroit or something. Anchorage is a thriving, robust, diverse economy with a lot of small companies in addition to the big corporations. As I recall, the biggest employer as far as the number of employees goes was either Providence Hospital or the university. Could have been the ANC school district, can't remember exactly. The oil companies are a big presence in the state, but most of the actual hands-on jobs are WAY up north on the slope or out in the inlet across from Kenai. The guy that hires you might have an ANC address, but unless you're a cubicle-rat type you're probably not going to be actually working there.

4. Can you do without a car? Sure, if you don't value your time wasted waiting on the bus, and like freezing your cojones off in the winter. Anchorage is a typical western-US city, built around the car and totally dependant on it. Yes they have a bus system. Yes, they have tons of parks and trails. Yes, it will definately "build character" if you decide to tough it out carless.

5. Paid to live in AK? Urban myth... with one caveat. What people are referring to is the PFD, the Permanent Fund Dividend. Years ago, some relatively honest and forward-thinking politicians (yes, there seems to have been some in the past) carved out a big chunk of Alaskas oil tax revenue stream to establish a state-run and owned investment account. It's got literally billions in it now, and by state law they regularly disburse a portion of the interest income to individual state residents instead of just pissing it all away on political pork. There are strict residency requirements to qualify; it takes about two years to get started for most. After that you can expect about $800-$1200 annually, not monthy. Good luck living off that, you're gonna need it. Does it beat paying state income tax? Sure...by a long shot. Is it enough to live on? Of course not...have you looked at what a house costs in ANC these days? Is it a good enough reason all by itself to move to Alaska? Not likely unless you've got a dozen kids, no job skills to speak of, and don't mind being poor and cold the rest of your life.

6. Food? Almost anything you can think of. Thai, sushi, Chinese, Mexican (of a sort), diners, the big chains (Chilis, Outback, etc.), little mom-n-pop places, pretty much you name it. I'd say thats the least of your concerns unless you just can't live with Uzbeckistani-Burman-hybrid-avant-guard-fusion-cuisine or whatever the latest ridiculous trend is these days.

7. Does it get cold? Of course it does (this IS Alaska, after all), but in all probability not nearly as bad as Wisconsen or the UP in Michigan. Even Chicago probably has worse winters on average than Anchorage. I was there for three winters and I never saw it get any colder than about negative 20F or so, and then only for a couple or three weeks. Most of the time it'll seesaw back and forth between zero and freezing, making a mess of the flying weather and the roads both. One day it'll be a foot of snow and the next it'll be raining. Come Jan and Feb it'll usually buckle down and give you at least a taste of "real Alaskan winter weather" but by then spring just around the corner. After the fifth season that is..."breakup". Thats when everything turns to slush and mud and the snows too nasty to ski on and the ice is too thin to go fishing. Thats when the "true Alaskans" go on vacation.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:26 PM
 
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rotorhead has it mostly spot on.

Wind...not much more than many other lower 48 cities, although the hillside (the area just to the east of the main city), can be horrendous.

Industry...the oil industry once was dominant, but now Anchorage is similar to most US cities....retail, hotels, the usual industries. However, there are more seasonal tourism jobs during the season.

Public transportation? Just busses. Not a bad system, but no mass transport beyond that.

Paid to live there? This is where I disagree. Yes, when the government issues you a check from the "permanent fund" every year, and some years it can be significant, the state does indeed pay you to live there. Add in the lack of state income tax, the lack of sales tax, and yes, there are huge tax advantages to living in Anchorage. However, it helps non-home owners the most.

Food...the mix of ethnicity in the area provides lots of choices.

Temperature. The last half decade has been warmer than normal, but normally you will see atleast several feet of snow every winter, temps not too extreme due to proximity of the water, and summers similar to downtown San Francisco. However, every year there is usually a week or two or -10 or -20 temps combined with clear skies.

My experience, (hopefully not grossing anyone out), was trying to take a walk in the middle of winter and my running nose froze on my upper lip. But I guess that could happen in Fargo or Buffalo as well!

Last edited by pw72; 08-05-2007 at 09:38 PM..
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
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I don't think we are paid to live here. We are paid because we live here. Not to live here. We don't want a stampede of mis-informed outsiders rushing in thinking they are gonna get rich for moving here!
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:11 PM
 
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Rance or anybody else, do you think there will be stampede for jobs for the new gas line from the north slope? Last I read (which was awhile ago) its going to be piped through western Canada to the midwest? Will there be a new PDF from the new project?
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:06 PM
 
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Personally, I will believe in the gas pipeline when it actually gets started. As far as the PDF, the money goes into the fund from the oil company royalties to the state fund. Gas line profits and royalties will more than likely be pumped into the same fund. One of the main sticking points on the gas line is that the state wants in-state workers hired before the "commuters". The slope still has a large population of workers from out of state, who receive their money and spend it all at home in TX, LA and OK when they return home on rotation.

My personal take is that the money made here, should be spent here and increase the jobs not located on the slope. Just an opinion, as I hope everyone here understands.
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:16 PM
 
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If I rent, and don't pay state income or sales taxes, and get a dividend check every year, I would say, "yes, they pay you to live there".

However, if one was to do a detailed study of other costs, (rent, groceries, etc.) it might not look quite as good.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:10 AM
 
Location: Naptowne, Alaska
15,603 posts, read 38,185,928 times
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I'd be first in line to rant about outsiders working here and not living or spending here. But for anyone that pioneers their way up here...beats the street and get's themselves a job...then settles in for the long run...I would give them the shirt off my back. Or anything else I could do to help. Those are my kinda people.
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Old 08-06-2007, 02:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rance View Post
I'd be first in line to rant about outsiders working here and not living or spending here. But for anyone that pioneers their way up here...beats the street and get's themselves a job...then settles in for the long run...I would give them the shirt off my back. Or anything else I could do to help. Those are my kinda people.
Hey Rance u sound like a good human being to know in AK...the "shirt off your back" maybe just the motivation a new-comer needs to finally make the move to AK. I have experienced southern hospitality, but I am glad to see that same kind of neighborly spirit in the "last frontier" too.
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