When we first heard that we would be moving to Anchorage, Alaska, I had very mixed emotions. Every person that I know who has lived here has absolutely loved it, so that was very promising. But, I wondered what I would truly be facing. I understood the weather challenges, but I didn’t really know what Anchorage would be like.
Would it be like a step back in time to a city that doesn’t have all the amenities and essentials I was accustomed to, or would it be just like any other small-ish city we have lived in?
Truthfully, we have been pleasantly surprised. We have pretty much every sort of major retailer you would expect (including a disproportionate amount of sporting goods/outdoors shops!). There are plenty of family friendly attractions, and loads of free or inexpensive outdoor resources for all seasons.
I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things I miss from the lower 48 and things that are unique and wonderful about Alaska.
What I Miss About the Lower 48:
- We don’t eat out frequently, but I do miss the comforts of having some of my favorite chain restaurants, such as Panera, Chick-fil-a, Five Guys, Chipotle, The Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang, and Cracker Barrel, available.
- Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees (this was specific to southern Ohio)
- Affordable groceries
- Large, full scale homeschool convention with mega exhibit hall
- Traveling anywhere within a several state region relatively easily. Traveling from Alaska to most places takes 10+ hours by plane and is very expensive.
What I Enjoy about Alaska that is unique to other parts of the US:
- The extremes in daylight and dark hours
- Coffee – really good coffee, too! Roadside coffee stands and coffee shops are abundant here. Anchorage has 2.8 coffee shops for every 10,000 people. Per capita, that’s more than any other city in the country – including Seattle!
- The plethora of unique outdoor activities (Iditarod, ice sculptures in the park, outdoor ice skating, winter outdoor sports, SO many hiking/camping options, glaciers, and so much more)
- The Aurora Borealis (yes, it is sometimes visible in the far northern tier of the lower 48, also)
- Interesting weather patterns (we have lived in a variety of climates and the hoarfrost and low lying frozen fog banks here astound me)
- Animals in the wild that you don’t see many other places. I’m not talking about your average squirrel, groundhog, raccoon, deer, fox, etc., we have seen moose, wolves, sea lions, coyotes, swans, porcupines, beluga whales, humpback whales, sea otters, bears, magpies, salmon, ravens. There’s also the potential to see musk ox, caribou, elk, other whales, and probably more that I’m forgetting.
- The freshest sushi ever!
- The fishing is exactly what you have ever heard it is like in Alaksa!
- The time current time difference (it changes with daylight savings) between us and Michael’s family in Australia is 20 hours. This means that when we travel over there our bodies only have to adjust four hours. This is incredible. It was devastating to our children in 2013 when we came home to the eastern time zone (flying east is always the hardest). We were adjusting 16 hours and it was the most difficult jet lag our children have ever faced.
While I don’t think I could live here long term, a 2-4 year assignment here feels pretty good! We have only been here 9 months and I already understand the love everyone I know who has ever lived here expresses. It’s a very unique place and has so much to offer, especially if you have an affection for the outdoors. You should come visit!