Buying land in Alaskagreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My family and I are thinking about moving to Alaska and starting over, away from the city and all of the people. So far, we have been unable to acquire any good, reliable sources of information concerning what land there is for purchasing and who to talk to when trying to buy it. We are interested in moving to the inland area, back into the forested regions. If anyone has any info, it would be greatly appreciated.
-- Richard Blankenship (email@example.com), November 27, 1999
Richard, For openers, try: www.matnet.com that will get you started with Alaskan realtors.
-- Bob Henderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 27, 1999.
Check www.alaskarealestate.com which is the alaska MLS public website. Also I found some properties on alaskan.com. Need any further help call me at 1-800-878-9727 and I can hook you up with an agent referral service.
-- Derrick Comfort (email@example.com), November 28, 1999.
Land in Alaska is just as expensive as anywhere in the lower forty- eight, often more so, even out in the boonies. Sometimes (infrequently now) the state will have parcels available to purchase, but most land in Alaska will have to be purchased from private owners. Since most of the state, large as it is, is tied up (and totally unavailable for homesteading) in federal and state lands and native corporations, it is harder than you might think to find rural land for sale. Unless you stay on the road systems, which cover only a small fraction of the state, you will find access to be a challenge, also. Because there is so much swampy ground, called muskeg, sometimes the best -- or least expensive -- way to get in and out of remote areas is to wait until the ground is frozen solid in the winter. Then you can use what is called a 'winter road', with snow machines, four-wheel-drive, or whatever.
I would urge you, if you are seriously interested in Alaska, to get all the information you can before you make the move, and, most important, either have a steady income or a job in hand. Jobs are scarce, especially in winter. The normal unemployment rate is about 13%, a lot higher than most places, and in winter it may be double that, especially in the more rural communities.
Make sure that you are ready for the hardships of living in the bush. It would be much wiser to start out in a town, even Anchorage or Fairbanks, where you could probably find work and slowly get acclimated. You'd have a base to do your land search from, and could go exploring to find the areas you liked best. Too many people have come up cold, gone out in the bush, and then gotten themselves killed or hurt through inexperience. I love Alaska, I was raised there and consider it my home (at least here on earth -- I have an eternal home in heaven), but it is not an easy or forgiving place to live. And it is not the lower forty-eight -- it is really a different culture, though that might not be immediately evident when you see Anchorage or Fairbanks. Living in the bush without endangering somebody's life requires a great deal of skill, and is also very expensive, as the climate and soils are not the best for growing all of your own food. You can grow a lot, I've seen beautiful gardens, and people do keep livestock and raise hay and barley, but again, it requires time to gain the necessary skills. Also, you mentioned "the forested regions". Are you aware that in most of interior Alaska, the trees are quite small? You would be doing very well to get a twenty-four foot log, most will be shorter in most places, and have a great deal of taper. In the Tok area, where my dad and brothers live, and where we lived when we went back to Alaska after my husband got out of the Air Force, the trees are not only short with a lot of taper, they also have a significant amount of twist. This means that if you build a log cabin using them, as they season and "unwind" they will open up cracks in the wall which you will have to caulk. Promptly.
Another consideration is, that one of the biggest problems a man will have when he desires to live in the bush, is his wife. (It is almost always the wife who can't take it any longer.) Unless she has real serious experience of what you would be getting into, I strongly suggest you try it somewhere cheaper for a while. In all honesty, there aren't that many women who can handle it unless they were raised that way. And even then it can be hard. The husband can help by trying really hard to take care of his family and make things easier for her. Too many men don't make enough effort in this area, dump too much on the wife, and wonder why she gets fed up and wants out. They went to Alaska so they could play, not work!!
Now, all that said, if you will listen and take the old-timers advice, you will do well and, I hope, be very happy with your decision. Alaska is a beautiful place, with awesome scenery and wildlife, and plenty of elbow room. Also, if you are out of the incorporated boroughs, you won't have any property taxes, but the areas where that is true are getting smaller.
-- Kathleen Sanderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 12, 2000.
you want alaska
if your marriage has any dents nicks or dings in alaska they will become grand canyons
if your leaving to start over why
alaska almost always creates more problems then it solves
how much stick to it ness when it gets rough do you just buckle down rethink and attack from another angle accomplishing the task or bail out
if you worry about crime and gangland bears go up over a 1,000 pounds and wolverines got a nasty disposition theyll destroy everything you worked years to accomplish because they just got a nasty attitude
when it hits 60 below your miserable what then
do you wonder why you plug your car into a electrical outlet at night youll find out in fairbanks
one screw up you could wind up dead and take your family with you
make sure you got enough money to return to the world if you want out and to get back to society
are you independent work alone well set tasks accomplish them
i second kathleen
people wind up dead but
if you got right attitude
then alaska can be the most rewardig most satisfying most exhilarating life change you can ever make
or it can kill you your dreams wreck your marriage make yoiu a emotional cripple for life
the choice is yours
come in look around inland may not bewhat you want take your time look around keep your mouth shut listen to experience
your checkoo your goona have to prove yourself
alaska i not candyland it aint leaveit to beaver it aint jack london
about who you are what you are
if you come welcome
but youll make it on your own
-- john flanagan (email@example.com), January 25, 2001.
I live in a small farming/military community in the interior of Alaska (Delta Junction) of about 3000 people. I only recently moved up here (last year)after taking a government job in the area and found the adjustment to be easy. I've met people of all sorts in this area. I have friends that participated in the Alaska state "homestead" program (i.e. free land, program has since been discontinued)who must boat/snowmachine on the river to get to work. I've seen earth-covered house with only a small propane heater and a few solar cells. I know "agribusiness" style farmers and organic vegetable growers. Though the local religious commune keeps to themselves, I understand they use only traditional, simple methods of living. And, of course, I know many, many people living tradition "on-the-grid" lifestyles complete with hot water, satellite tv, and the internet (myself included). Rural Alaska (at least, on the road system) is not as "primitive" (for lack of a better term) as people want you to think. In fact, lifestyles here are quite diverse.
Starting a homestead in Alaska, however, is no cheaper or easier than any other part of the nation. There is no free land left for starters -- it's all been bought up and everyone wants to make a profit off of it when they sell. Secondly, shipping goods increases the price of everything about 25%(?) over the lower 48.
Right now, land prices here in Delta are dropping due to the realignment of Fort Greely. Land goes for about $2000 to $2500 an acre where there is access to roads, phones, and electricity. The prices get cheaper the further you get from the road system -- although a lot of that land is simply not for sale, either in private hands (people holding large tracts) or, more commonly, in government hands. The state does offer land auctions once in a blue moon, but these are only open to Alaska residents (1 year residency) and prices are comparable to the open market in locations that aren't quite as good or require aircraft to reach them.
Most land for sale in the town's I've mentioned are not listed in the MLS and are rarely listed on the internet. You'll need to talk with realtors in each town. Lots of land is FSBO too. For example, I ran across a (poorly built) log cabin with electricity and phone on 3 acres for $40,000 that was FSBO by a Russian immigrant who wanted to go to the city. I've also seen an 80 acre farm with a "modern" home for $290,000 by owner. You'll frequently see cabins for sale from $20-60K without electricity or running water -- just a wood stove, and, if you're lucky, a propane tank.
I agree that a phased approach might be best, but not necessarily with the recommendation to move to Fairbanks or Anchorage. You could easily move to a small town on the road system such as Delta, Tok, and Glen Ellen to get yourself started with few problems. These are generally close-knit communities with strong religious components (churches, communes, etc) and lots of people with interests in homesteading. Though the local schools are good, homesteading (as well as the Cyber school) are popular.
Be prepared for a very different world from what you're probably used to -- but not one so very different from other small towns throughout the nation. Sure, Alaska has its nuisances -- some deadly -- including short days in winter, extreme temperatures, cold soils, and difficult growing conditions. But you can make it work with hard work and common sense. (In fact, I see a great many opportunities for a hard-working entrepeneur to make it up here as we haven't yet been invaded by big business. For example, a poultry grower could probably do well here in spite of heating costs as almost all poultry is shipped in from the lower 48.)
Hope this information helps. Feel free to email me with questions.
-- Michael Nuckols (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 05, 2001.