U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Alaska > Fairbanks
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Old 08-05-2015, 10:20 AM
Location: Skyrim
6 posts, read 10,346 times
Reputation: 11


Hi everyone,

My lifelong dream has always been to move to interior Alaska / Seward Peninsula / North Slope. Ever since I was 4-5 years old and watched a special about Susan Butcher and the Iditarod / Yukon Quest. I realize many people are naive about actually living in Alaska and thus they over romanticize it and show up only to fall apart, embarass themselves and end up returning to the lower 48. I'm 33 years old now, married and my mind is even more drawn to moving to Alaska than at any point in my life til now. My wife (we've been married happily for 12 years) as well, is in love with the idea...and her desire to move to Alaska was actually one of the things that drew us to each other.

Anyways, keeping all that in mind, I've made up my mind to move next year to interior Alaska. I have a 4 year degree with a double major in Biology and English Literature. I'd love to live somewhere around Fairbanks, though I'm open to places as far afield as Tok, etc. I'm also open to towns off the grid and only accessible by plane.

My question is this: what is the best time of year to find ample housing around Fairbanks? How about Tok? Is moving to a place like Fort Yukon / Nome / Kotzebue (even Barrow) out of the question or is it reasonably possible for someone with no hereditary or familial background in the area?

I'd really appreciate any information about the nature and average (I'm aware any estimate is just an estimate and could be entirely different when I'm actually there) cost of housing. I'm even open to dry cabins.

Mostly I just need some help finding any information about towns outside of Fairbanks and the housing situation in them...even if the information is merely anecdotal and/or pure speculation....I just cannot seem to find almost anything about finding apartments, etc, and rentals outside of town, in Tok, and bush locations.

If it helps, I'm not entirely naive to the sacrifices one would have to make to live in Alaska, especially areas north of the Alaskan Range. I've lived for the past 12 years in extreme northern Maine...we get 130-150 inches of snow per year and the average high from December to February is between 17 and 19 degrees. I've witnessed -40 to -45 degree temperatures over 5 different times and many other times with lows below -30 and highs below -15 to -20. Northern Maine is also fairly isolated, the nearest Wal Mart is 70 miles away. I know that's still nowhere near what to expect in Alaska, especially bush locations, but I feel like it's enough for me to make an educated guess that I'd appreciate a climate even more extreme and cold than that.

Again, thanks so much for any information anyone can help me with. To sum up again, I'm just looking for info about the prevalence and cost of housing in interior (both bush locations and Fairbanks/North Pole/Circle and Tok) as well as arctic/tundra Alaska...the cost of housing in those locations, etc and how to find specific information when I get up there.

These are the locations I'm particularly interested in moving to if it's reasonably possible:

Fort Yukon
Circle (pretty sure the town is basically empty, however)

on and on.
My dream location is a tie between Fort Yukon and Barrow.

Also, though I've never done it before, I'm considering becoming a teacher in Alaska. Like I said, I have a very good background in both English and Biology. I am also very well educated in History. The catch is that I'm not certified in teaching and never have been before. I love talking about history, English, biology and virtually every other topic I enjoy...so being a teacher would be something I'd love deeply.

How hard is it to become a teacher in Alaska? How about in bush and arctic locations?

~ Will

Last edited by William81; 08-05-2015 at 10:43 AM.. Reason: Grammar
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message

Old 08-05-2015, 11:56 AM
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,692 posts, read 4,583,598 times
Reputation: 2265
Here's the details on becoming a teacher in Alaska: https://www.eed.state.ak.us/TeacherCertification/
Just keep in mind... Alaska is in the middle of a budget crisis. Oil funds about 90% of our state budget and the recent drop in oil prices has destroyed the state budget. Severe cuts will have to come, including cuts in education - which will mean less teachers.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-05-2015, 02:21 PM
Location: Back and Beyond
2,992 posts, read 3,348,243 times
Reputation: 7131
I moved to interior alaska not too long ago... Don't know if any of this helps but here it goes.

I started off outside of Fox in a dry cabin way up on a hill, the temperature inversion (much warmer than fairbanks) and view was nice.

We bought some land in Delta junction and really like it here. It is a nice community, not too big, but not too small. Has most things you need, amazon prime is our friend.

I am intrigued by living off the road system but at this point in our lives for practical and logistical purposes the road system works best for us.

I don't know much about teaching jobs but have a few friends that are teachers here and seem to really like their jobs. I think Haolejohn is a teacher somewhere in the bush maybe he will chime in and give you more information on the bush communities and teaching in general.

You can get a pretty reasonable amount of seclusion in the eastern interior if that's what your looking for. Land is pretty cheap for the most part here. No one bothers me on my land, not one person has driven down my road except my neighbor in the 4ish months I have been here. No building codes, no property taxes, etc.

We love it. Have made some good friends, lots of good people out here. Wherever you can get a job, give it a go. Good luck.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-05-2015, 02:36 PM
1,929 posts, read 1,593,730 times
Reputation: 1617
More later but for now.

Get your certificate to teach. Find a rural teaching job and learn the bush that way.
I've been to McGrath and tried to move there, but the district based out of McGrath is in dire financial situation.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-05-2015, 04:17 PM
1,929 posts, read 1,593,730 times
Reputation: 1617
To the OP. Before you decide to move up here, make sure you have a job or are at least independently wealthy. Regardless of your Maine experience (which was way better than our Georgia experience) the winters in the interior are pretty harsh. You may hit weeks where the thermometer doesn't get above -40 without a windchill factored in. Heating is another concern. Many interior villages are Native villages with wood gathering restriction for non-shareholders, which you would be. Oil is pretty pricey. I am not sure of the cost since our oil was provided by the school district. Gas is about $7.50 per gallon or more in most villages in the interior. Milk will run you about $15/gallon. McGrath is a hub and get be accessed from Anchorage for about $420 RT on PenAir. Housing is available in McGrath but it will cost you about $1k a month plus everything else. Your heating bill will run about $500 month average. Good thing about McGrath is that you could get wood to supplement, but then you'd need a vehicle to access the wood. It'll cost about $4k just to get a car to McGrath since it is on the Kuskokwim and the only way to get stuff is via air freight. McGrath is a dying town. One of the local News did a special on McGrath. THe govt is pulling out to more affordable locales in the state and there really is no economy. That is common in interior villages though. Which is why I think the teaching route would be good.

True Story:
I worked for the Iditarod Area School District the past three school years. My job was merged with another job into one full time job. Of course we couldn't justify staying in an interior village on one income. The school district cut 5 positions plus lunch program to try and break even. It is rough. However as of a couple of weeks ago (all cut positions were still not funded). There are jobs there, just no one wants to go. Tread lightly if you move to a village. We wanted to stay where we were. Bought a 4-wheeler, snowmachine, canoe, and was buying a boat before we found out about our jobs.

If you just randomly move to an interior village you won't find a place to live. Most rentals are word of mouth. You'd also be looked at as being strange or suspect. Why did this person move here with no ties? By gaining certificate to teach, you would normally be provided housing that you'd have to pay rent for (though our current location doesn't provide). The good is that the housing is decent (though McGrath doesn't have teacher housing). Transportation isn't needed in most villages if you don't mind walking. By teaching though, you get a pay check. You get internet (at the school). You get decent housing. You also get tabbed as the rich person. You will be the outsider and that can be rough.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-05-2015, 07:17 PM
Location: interior Alaska
5,760 posts, read 4,081,413 times
Reputation: 18270
To be a teacher in Alaska you are required to have an Alaska teaching license, and to get a teaching license you must have already completed an accredited teacher certification program. This generally means a bachelor's degree in education or a 3-4 semester postgrad program (which may or may not include a M.Ed or MA, depending on the university and the program). As I understand it, Alaska used to have some alternative pathways to certification, but there is no longer a teacher shortage and they have tightened up.

The competition for teaching jobs is generally pretty fierce in big districts like Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage, moderate in road system school districts and the small handful of really well-run bush districts, and easier, but no longer a gimme, in the other bush districts. With the poor job market for teachers in much of the lower 48 you'll be competing with some experienced transplants with solid resumes, and you'll also be competing with new UA grads who have personal connections. And school districts here are small, and teacher retention is improving, so there's no guarantee positions will even be open in any particular district in any particular subject area in any given year.

Basically you're looking at at least 1.5 years to get certified, and significant tuition fees.

It is feasible, but requires significant effort, and finding a job is possible but may require you to go somewhere that is definitely not your first choice. I am not trying to be discouraging - quite the contrary. If you choose to do this, I am encouraging you to be very prepared and very flexible.

A caveat: I do not recommend going into teaching out of love of your subject area, but rather out of love of teaching. It can be very draining when you love something and your students don't, or when you love something and you have to do the See Spot Run version of it over and over again. I have seen one too many really bitter literature teachers in my time, as this seems to happen a lot with that particular subject.

Last edited by Frostnip; 08-05-2015 at 07:33 PM..
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-05-2015, 07:48 PM
1,929 posts, read 1,593,730 times
Reputation: 1617
I'd focus on the science job if you wanted a job. ELA and SS are two of the hardest areas to get a job. Another option might be long term subbing. I know we had a teacher that was hired without the certificate. All she needed was to pass the test. She didn't. So she was paid long term sub pay which is not that much, but it is better than no job and it would get your foot in the door. Regardless, if you follow the link provided earlier it lays out the initial certification process.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-08-2015, 05:02 PM
Location: In the middle of nowhere
426 posts, read 459,293 times
Reputation: 502
I am a Special Ed aid in McGrath. I am optimistic about this year, even with all the changes. The new Superintendent is very involved and I hope he will turn things around. Working as a teacher in the bush is very challenging. You would probably teach several grades and add that to the small town atmosphere (you are in a fishbowl) and not a "local" person, can be stressful. Shout out to Haleojohn - Hope you have a great time in DLG. It is a beautiful place.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-09-2015, 03:37 AM
Location: Skyrim
6 posts, read 10,346 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks everyone so much for the replies. Really helped me figure out the things I need to consider in order to prepare myself, etc.

Regarding going to a bush village out of nowhere...I have no intention of doing anything at all like that, lol. I know how much something like that would not only be frowned on...but would seriously cause me problems with people being, for good reason, suspicious. Even though working and living in a bush village is my biggest dream...the way I intend to approach it is to first move to Fairbanks, get myself established and become a resident of the state and then explore the job possibilities scattered around the bush.

I'm actually not certain that I'm going to teach...it's just something I've loved in the past. One of the things I did along my way to get my Eng Lit major was to do extensive teaching and one on one tutoring about the subject for students in grades 1, 2 and 3, as well as 9, 10 and 12.. As to the person who pointed out the way I may or may not get burnt out because I'm, for lack of a better word, having to dumb myself and my course plans down...that's actually no worry for me. I know that very few people share my interest in Lit...when I consider teaching it that is first and foremost in my mind. I want to evaluate the desired goal for the class I'm teaching and work my best with my students to overcome their boredom about the subject and, perhaps, interest them enough to actually do their homework, lol. I love adapting to the people I'm teaching or tutoring and tailoring my course to them. I specifically love that. Sure not everyone loves lit...but trying to get them to care enough to be prepared for later grades and even college is something very rewarding.

Beyond that, my main interest is Biology. I've put far more effort into that than I ever did in English Lit. Biology is likely the aspect of my degree I intend to try my best to make use of...whether as a teacher, research...or even getting a PhD.

Thanks again everyone.

Last edited by William81; 08-09-2015 at 03:46 AM..
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Old 08-09-2015, 03:50 AM
Location: interior Alaska
5,760 posts, read 4,081,413 times
Reputation: 18270
If you're wanting Fairbanks, then to transition to the bush: https://www.uaf.edu/advising/majors/...aryliscensure/
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Alaska > Fairbanks
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top