A thriving arts scene. Tons of outdoor activities. Milder winters. A friendly atmosphere.
Juneau, Alaska’s capital city has plenty to offer those who choose to call it home.
However, Juneau isn’t for everyone. It can be rainy. Winters can be long. It’s not accessible by road, and the cost of living isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Considering a move to Juneau? Wondering if it’s the right place for you? Check out our top 12 must-knows below, so you can decide for yourself.
#1: It’s Rainy—Really Rainy
If you can’t stand the rain, Juneau may not be the place for you. The area gets measurable precipitation (0.01 inches or more) on ~222 days out of the year—about 61% of the time.
And just how much precipitation does Juneau get? Almost four times as much as Anchorage and plenty more than other “rainy” locations in the Pacific Northwest, like Seattle and Portland.
Yearly Mean Precipitation
- 62.21″ – Juneau
- 16.21″ – Anchorage
- 37.34″ – Seattle
- 35.98″ – Portland
But those who live in Juneau don’t let the rain stop them—and they tend not to pop open umbrellas, either. Instead, if you want to greet the rain the way a Juneauite would, get an insulated rain coat, some waterproof rain pants, a pair of XTRATUF boots, and a set of merino wool socks. You’ll be good to go about your business.
#2: The Winters Can Be Mild
As a coastal city, Juneau experiences milder winters than other Alaska locations—average lows in the 20s and average highs in the 30s. However, the Juneau winters can be dark, with only about six-and-a-half hours of potential daylight around the winter solstice.
That said, people rave about summer in Juneau. In June, you’ll potentially see as much as eighteen hours of daylight, with highs in the 60–70s—perfect weather to bask in Juneau’s natural wonders. Those glorious summer days make the winters all the more worth it.
#3: The Cost of Living Is High
Overall, Alaska is an expensive state to live in. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) recently ranked Alaska the sixth-most-expensive state to live in, behind New York, California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii.
So it should come as no surprise that Juneau isn’t a cheap city to live in. In fact, Payscale.com estimates that living in Juneau costs 29% more than the national average.
That really comes into play in Juneau’s housing market, which many residents call “a landlord’s market.” In other words, demand is high, costs are high, and properties vary in quality. To give you a sense of what rentals are going for these days in Juneau, check out these average costs:
Average Rents in Juneau
- $1,783 – Craigslist Average
- $1,000-$1,300 – Studio
- $1,200-$1,600 – 1-BR
- $1,700-$2,400 – 2-BR
Note: It can also be hard to find pet-friendly rentals. If you’re planning on bringing a cat or dog with you, do your research before you set your sights on Juneau.
Want More on the Best Places to Live in Juneau?
Check out our guide to living in Juneau: where to live, what to do, and what to expect.
#4: You’ll Find Some Good Options for Employment
During the summer season, more than a million visitors set foot in Juneau. As you can imagine, that means a huge demand for seasonal workers. If you’re looking for a seasonal position, you’ll have a number of options in Juneau.
But what if you plan to live in Juneau year round? What can you expect? Juneau’s largest employment sectors include:
- The state government
- Natural resources and mining
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Leisure and hospitality (which tend toward more seasonal opportunities)
- Professional, scientific and technological services
In short, you’ve got a few areas to choose from when looking for employment in the area. Given the significant cost of living in Juneau, you might want to secure a job before you make the move—just in case.
#5: Juneau’s Got a Liberal Reputation—at Least Downtown
Although the state of Alaska tends toward conservative overall, you’ll find a small enclave of liberals in Juneau. In fact, the majority of the voters in the City and Borough of Juneau voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, 2012, and 2008. (In the 2016 election, the majority of the vote went to Republican candidate Donald Trump.)
Anecdotal reports from residents suggest that the more liberal members of the area tend to live downtown, while those in the Valley tend to be more conservative.
If you tend toward liberal yourself and you’re looking for like-minded people in Alaska, Juneau might be a good spot for you.
#6: Juneau’s Also Got a Great Local Arts Scene
Over the years, Juneau has been recognized by several national organizations for its vibrant arts culture, including the National Center for Arts Research and the Western States Arts Federation. When you look at what Juneau has to offer, you’ll understand why the city has received these accolades.
In Juneau, you’ll find two theater companies—Perseverance Theater and Theater in the Rough. The city’s galleries host a First Friday walk every month, which attracts plenty of residents to enjoy local music, wine tasting, and the diverse works on display. Speaking of music, you should also know that Juneau has its own Symphony Orchestra. The city also hosts the Alaska Folk Festival and the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.
Want to see what’s currently on tap in Juneau? Check out the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council’s Community Calendar or take a look at the events in the Capital City Weekly. They’ll give you a sense of what kind of cultural events and activities you’ll find in Juneau.
#7: Southeastern Alaska Is the Traditional Homeland of Three Native Peoples
Native peoples have lived in southeastern Alaska for more than 10,000 years. Specifically, the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples were among the first to make their home in the area. The Tlingit call the area now known as Juneau Dzántik’i Héeni—literally the base of the flounder’s river, but more loosely, the river where flounder gather.
Every other year, Celebration, Juneau’s most important Alaska Native cultural event, celebrates the heritage of these three cultures. Celebration brings more than 5,000 people to the area to enjoy dance, arts, canoe paddling, and traditional food. In fact, Celebration is the second-largest event sponsored by Alaska Natives in the state.
If you want to understand the full history of the area where Juneau sits today, make plans join Alaska’s Native people as they gather to showcase and preserve their traditions and customs.
#8: Plan to Get Outdoors—a Lot
There are lots of reasons people move to Alaska. Experiencing Alaska’s incredible natural beauty often tops the list, and you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to get outdoors in Juneau.
Residents enjoy everything from hiking to mountain biking, skiing, camping, kayaking, fishing, and more. In fact, you’ll often find outdoor activities at the center Juneau’s social scene. Additionally, getting outside can be a good antidote for the winter blues—or for the claustrophobia that sometimes takes hold of Juneau residents.
Some don’t-miss activities in the area include exploring the Tongass National Forest, visiting the Mendenhall Glacier (it’s free!), skiing Eaglecrest, or picking up a new winter hobby, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or hockey.
#9: Consider Getting an Alaska Airlines Credit Card
If you’ve got friends and family in the lower 48, you’ll likely spend a fair amount of time on Alaska Airlines. Consider getting an Alaska Airlines credit card. Although the card comes with an annual fee of $75, the perks may offset the cost.
In addition to a bunch of bonus miles for signing up, you’ll also get a yearly companion fare. Depending on the route, a travel buddy may be able to fly with you for as little as $121.
The card’s best benefit, though, is probably the free checked bag. Normally, this will cost you $30, so if you take just three flights, the card will essentially pay for itself.
While it’s not a must, an Alaska Airlines credit card is definitely something to consider, especially if you like to travel.
#10: Bear Safety Is Important
Although no serious bear attacks have ever been reported in Juneau, there are plenty of black bears in the area. As a result, it’s important to know the basics when it comes to bear safety:
Bear Safety in Juneau
- Garbage can attract bears. Don’t put your trash out until at least 4:00 am on pickup day. All other times, store it in a bear-resistant container or enclosure—like a garage.
- If you see a bear that’s simply eating natural foods or passing through, give it time and space. It will likely leave the area.
- If you encounter a black bear when you’re out and about:
- If the bear hasn’t seen you, give it wide berth and go another way, if possible.
- If the bear has seen you, stand your ground and talk to the bear calmly. Don’t run, but do give it space. If you remain calm yet firm, it will likely go about its business.
- Consider carrying bear spray. If, despite standing your ground, the bear keeps advancing toward you, you may need to deploy it.
- Finally, consider making noise as you hike—for example, by chatting with your hiking buddy. This will give any bears a chance to hear you coming and move out of the area, preventing an encounter entirely.
#11: You Might Want to Bring Your Car
It’s true that we often recommend downsizing before you move to Alaska. However, if you’ve got an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive car, truck, or SUV, you might want to bring it to Juneau with you.
AWD and 4WD vehicles often sell for a premium up here. Even when you take into account the cost of getting your car to Juneau, you might still come out ahead than if you tried to buy a car in the Juneau area.
If you decide to move your car to Juneau, you’ll have a few options:
- Using a moving company/car transport company to handle it entirely for you.
- Driving to Bellingham, WA and taking the Alaska Marine Highway System (a ferry boat).
- Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, driving through Canada to Haines, Skagway, or Prince Rupert and taking the ferry from there.
If you’re toying with the idea of driving to Alaska, know that it can be an extraordinary, incredible, rewarding, difficult, and dangerous journey. Make sure to check out our guide before deciding whether or not to drive to Alaska.
#12: Make a Visit Before You Move
One of the things that attracts people to Juneau is how different it is from what they’re used to. The idea of being surrounded by an awe-inspiring natural landscape that’s only accessible by boat and plane—far from the hustle and bustle of the lower 48—has its appeal.
However, life in Juneau isn’t for everyone. The rain. The planning and effort required if you need a change of scenery. The small-town feel. The dark winters. It can all be a little too much for some people.
Your best bet? Make a visit before you invest in a move. This will give you a much better sense of whether Juneau is truly the place for you—and it will save you a bundle if you decide another location in Alaska is calling your name.
Ready to Make Juneau Your Home?
After reading these 12 must-knows about Alaska’s capital city, you might feel like there’s an imminent move to Juneau in your near future.
If that’s the case, we’d be happy to help you get your belongings to Juneau! Our Anchorage-based team has moved families and individuals all over Alaska—safely, easily, and affordably. Just reach out for a free quote to get started.
Tell us about your move!