Location plays a big role in a happy and fulfilling retirement. It affects your finances, your social life, your health, and your overall quality of life. As you look for the perfect place to spend your golden years, the more you know about your future home, the better. 

If you’re considering retiring in Alaska, we’ll walk you through five areas that will shape the landscape of your life in the Last Frontier, including: 

Let’s get started by looking at the other retirees you’ll meet in Alaska.

Who Retires in Alaska?

Your social life will significantly impact your quality of life when you retire. In fact, a study from University College London showed that 60-year-olds who visited with friends almost daily were 12% less likely to develop dementia than those who only saw one or two friends every few months. i

As a result, it’s important to get a sense of the kind of people you’ll meet in Alaska. Additionally, knowing how other retirees spend their time can offer you a glance at what your life might look like.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what life might be like for retirees in Alaska, let’s talk about the big question that pops up next: How much does it cost to live in Alaska? 

What’s the Cost of Living for Retirees?

Alaska is a remote place to live, where everything has to be shipped in. As a result, the cost of living in the state overall can be expensive. In fact, Payscale.com estimates that living in Anchorage is 28% more expensive than the national average.v

0th
Most expensive state in the US

However, data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) shows that Alaska isn’t the most expensive state overall. In fact, it’s in seventh place behind Hawaii, Washington DC, California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon.vi

Let’s break it down by taking a quick look at a few categories of expenses in Alaska. 

Housing Costs in Alaska  

You might be surprised to learn that the typical home value in Alaska, according to Zillow, is a little lower than the national average, by nearly $8,000.  

Typical Home Value:
Alaska

$308,436 vii

Typical Home Value:
National Average

$316,368 viii

That said, housing costs will vary across the state. Homes in Anchorage and Juneau are typically more expensive than the state average. In contrast, in Fairbanks, you’ll find that the typical home value is much lower than the state average—only $248,831: 

Typical Home Value:
Anchorage, AK

$357,405 ix

Typical Home Value:
Fairbanks, AK

$248,831 x

Typical Home Value:
Juneau, AK

$436,9641 xi

In other words, if you do your research, you’ll find some good options for retirees in Alaska.

Healthcare Cost in Alaska

Access to affordable healthcare is an important consideration for retirees. Unfortunately, a study from the Kaiser Foundation and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed that Alaskans spend more per capita on health expenses than any other state—more than $11,000. In other words, you’ll need to budget carefully for this expense.xii

If you’re relying on Medicare, some Alaska residents have struggled to find doctors who will accept new Medicare patients.xiii Make sure to do your research to ensure there’s a doctor in your desired destination who is taking on new Medicare patients.

Finally, although you’ll find a number of highly rated medical facilities in Anchorage, access to specialists can be limited in the more remote areas of Alaska. Additionally, if you’re looking for doctors in advanced specialties, you may find yourself headed for Seattle. Decide if those kinds of trips are feasible before committing to retirement in Alaska.

 

 

Monthly Expenses in Alaska

Finally, let’s take a quick look at overall expenses in Alaska. This detailed report from Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development will give you a good run-down on living costs all over the state. A few highlights:

Weekly Groceries – Family of Four in Anchorage

$211

Residential Heating Fuel in Wrangell

$3.48
per gallon

Median Adjusted Rent Fairbanks–Northstar

$1,190
per month

Head of Iceberg Lettuce in Juneau

$3.04

Medium Cheese Pizza in Anchorage

$10.99

Salon Cut & Style in Fairbanks

$50.25

xiv

If you’re looking for some good news when it comes to Alaska finances, look no further than this next factor.

What Are Taxes Like for Retirees in Alaska?

Overall, Alaska is a pretty friendly place to retire, tax-wise.

There’s no state income tax in Alaska. If you decide to pick up a job, you’ll enjoy an instant boost in your paycheck. Plus:

  • Social Security income is not taxed at the state level.
  • Pension income, both from private and public sources, is not taxed by the state.
  • Neither are withdrawals from your retirement account.

Of course, you may still owe taxes to the federal government, but catching a break on your state taxes can really add up.

Additionally, there’s no state sales tax in Alaska. Even so, some municipalities charge their own sales taxes. (You can find a full list here.) Living in an area that doesn’t charge tax offers an instant cost-of-living savings of up to 7.85%.

If you decide to buy a home, Alaska also offers some relief from property taxes. The first $150,000 of the assessed value of a home are exempt from property taxes for all residents 65+.

And, finally, if you decide to make Alaska your permanent home, you’ll soon be eligible for the Permanent Fund Dividend payout, which was $1,114 in 2021. That check can offer a nice boost to any retiree’s budget.

What Are the Best Places to Retire in Alaska?

By now, you may have noticed a trend: Where you live in Alaska can have a huge impact on your retirement.

While you’re looking at places to live, consider things like:

Local municipality sales taxes

Access to healthcare, especially any specialized services you or your partner may need

Ease of getting around, including proximity to key amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies

Community and options for socializing with your neighbors and fellow Alaska residents

Each area of Alaska will offer a different experience across these categories. To kick off your research, we’ve got a short list of a few areas to explore:

  • Anchorage: Easily Alaska’s most convenient area, with easy access to plenty of healthcare facilities, but also its busiest
  • Palmer: A quieter alternative to Anchorage that’s about 45 minutes from downtown, with proximity to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center (just in case!)
  • Juneau: Offers several perks for seniors, including a sales tax exemption card for $20 and a free bus pass
  • Wrangell: Named the #1 spot for retirees by Homesnacks, with a median rent of just $844 xv

What Is There to Do in Alaska for Retirees?

Alaska is a rugged place where plenty of people live a vigorous and athletic lifestyle. Many Alaska residents regularly go hunting, fishing, kayaking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and more. If you’re looking forward to an active retirement, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to keep moving in Alaska and enjoy its incredible outdoor beauty.

You’ll also find activities in Alaska that come in a variety of speeds, like:

Birdwatching at places like the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary in Anchorage

Exploring museums, like the Alaska State Museum in Juneau

Wildlife parks, zoos, and aquariums such as the American Bald Eagle Foundation and Live Raptor Center in Haines

Train rides, like the summer service from Anchorage to Seward for the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

Stargazing, which may offer you the chance to see more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life, thanks to Alaska’s minimal light pollution (and don’t forget those Northern Lights opportunities!)

Road tripping through Alaska’s available roads, so you can enjoy the state’s sites at your own pace

In summary, whether you want to stay active during your retirement, or you’re looking for some slower-paced pastimes to get you out of the house, you’ll find a variety of options in Alaska.

In summary, whether you want to stay active during your retirement, or you’re looking for some slower-paced pastimes to get you out of the house, you’ll find a variety of options in Alaska.  

Establishing Your New Home in Alaska 

The Last Frontier can be an awe-inspiring home for people of all ages. However, when it comes to retiring, the key is finding a location that fits with your retirement goals. Now that you’ve got a much better sense of what it’s like to retire in Alaska, you’ll also have a sense of whether it’s the right pick for you, the kind of place where you can truly enjoy your retired years. 

Need some help making the move to Alaska? If you decide to retire in Alaska, we’d be happy to help move your belongings to the Last Frontier. Get started with a free quote from our Anchorage-based team. 

i https://www.healthline.com/health-news/staying-social-as-a-senior

ii https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-to-retire/18592

iii https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/02/20/the-best-and-worst-states-for-older-americans-ranked/111330264/

iv https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/02/20/the-best-and-worst-states-for-older-americans-ranked/111330264/

v https://www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator/Alaska-Anchorage

vi https://meric.mo.gov/data/cost-living-data-series

vii https://www.zillow.com/ak/home-values/; accessed 12/16/2021

viii https://www.zillow.com/home-values/; accessed 12/16/2021

ix https://www.zillow.com/anchorage-ak/home-values/; accessed 12/16/2021

x https://www.zillow.com/fairbanks-ak/home-values/; accessed 12/16/2021

xi https://www.zillow.com/juneau-metro-ak_r394730/home-values/; accessed 12/16/2021

xii https://akcommonground.org/high-health-care-costs-in-alaska-facts-causes-consequences-and-remedies/; https://www.adn.com/opinions/2020/07/12/tackling-alaskas-high-health-care-costs/; https://alaskapolicyforum.org/2020/06/report-health-care-costs-alaska/

xiii https://www.pacificresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/UA_RS14.pdf

xiv https://live.laborstats.alaska.gov//col/col.pdf

xv https://www.homesnacks.com/best-places-to-retire-in-alaska/

Tell us about your move!