If you’re thinking about retiring in Alaska, one of the first things to decide is where to make your new home. Alaska is a huge state, and each area offers a different experience. Your location can have a huge impact on your quality of life as a retiree, so you’ll want to choose carefully.
Below, we’ll walk you through eight prime areas perfect for retirees in Alaska. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, and it will hinge on what you’re looking for in your golden years. However, this list will get you started on figuring out what your retired life could look like in the Last Frontier.
A Few Fast Facts About Retiring in Alaska
Total Population of Alaska – 733,391
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 12.5%
Percentage of Residents 65+ in the U.S. Overall – 16.5%
Retiring in Anchorage, Alaska
Total Population – 291,247
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 10.5%
Typical Home Value – $357,716
Median Gross Rent – $1,320
To some people, Anchorage isn’t “real Alaska.” It’s a mid-sized American city that just happens to be located at 61 degrees north latitude. However, living in and around Anchorage can offer a number of benefits to retirees.
- First and foremost, there’s easy access to plenty of healthcare facilities, which isn’t always the case in Alaska’s more remote areas.
- Additionally, you’ll discover plenty of shopping opportunities in the area. In other words, it will be relatively simple and convenient to restock your pantry shelves, pick up prescriptions, etc.
- Finally, Anchorage is home to Alaska’s biggest airport, which means easier visits to and from your loved ones.
However, all that convenience does come with a downside: If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for, downtown Anchorage may not be the right fit. Consider looking outside the city—and perhaps as far as the Mat-Su valley to find something a little more serene.
In fact, you’ll find these next two suggestions fall right along those lines.
Retiring in Palmer, Alaska
Total Population – 5,888
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 10.6%
Typical Home Value – $282,580
Median Gross Rent – $976
A whole roster of record-setting giant vegetables have been grown in Palmer, including a 138.25-pound cabbage, a 42.75-pound beet, and a 39.5-pound head of broccoli. This gives you a sense of what’s big in Palmer, which got its start during the New Deal Era. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration gave parcels of land to 200+ families who had been hit hard by the Great Depression. Although few of those residents stayed, it kicked off the development of the Palmer area.
Today, Palmer offers a rural experience centered around a relatively small town. However, you’re only about 40 miles from downtown Anchorage, and you’ll also find plenty of amenities next door in Wasilla. For retirees looking for a quiet existence along with easy access to Anchorage, Palmer might be the right choice. Alternatively, you might also look at our next spot: Wasilla.
Retiring in Wasilla, Alaska
Total Population – 9,054
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 15.2%
Typical Home Value – $271,097
Median Gross Rent – $1,083
Located just 13 miles from Palmer, Wasilla has a reputation for being a bit more lively—but still much quieter than Anchorage. You’ll find bigger stores in Wasilla, including a Target, Walmart, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Home Depot, and Fred Meyer. If easy access to stores is high on your list, Wasilla might be a good fit.
One note about both Palmer and Wasilla: If you plan to hold down a job while you’re in Alaska, the winter commute to Anchorage from both places can get treacherous—and arduous. If you plan to regularly make your way into Anchorage, you might choose a closer suburb like Eagle River.
Retiring in Juneau, Alaska
Total Population – 32,255
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 12.5%
Typical Home Value – $442,547
Median Gross Rent – $1,310
Juneau offers several perks for seniors, including a free bus pass to get around the city, plus tax breaks on the local City/Borough of Juneau taxes. You’ll also find the Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, a healthcare hub for the region, so you’ll have access to medical treatment, should you need it.
The one major quirk about living in Juneau is this: It’s not accessible by car. You’ll either have to travel to the state’s capital by air or by boat, courtesy of the Alaska Marine Highway. For some retirees, this might not be a problem. For others who dream of exploring the state, this might prove a deal-breaker, especially if age brings mobility issues.
Retiring in Wrangell, Alaska
Total Population – 2,127
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 24.5%
Typical Home Value – $311,083
Median Gross Rent – $844
Wrangell was named the #1 spot for retirees by Homesnacks, and the proof is in the pudding: A whopping 24.5% of the population of Wrangell are 65+. Is it the affordable median rent? The low crime rate? The appeal of small-town life? The milder winters (or, at least, comparatively mild when you consider the rest of the state)? It’s easy to see that Wrangell offers plenty to seniors.
However, keep in mind that Wrangell is a relatively isolated community. If you’re looking for a place that will keep you active and busy, Wrangell may not be for you. Additionally, the Wrangell Medical Center is a relatively small facility with just eight beds. If you’re in fragile or questionable health, you may prefer to be closer to a larger facility to get the care you may need.
Retiring in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Total Population – 58,799
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 18.4%
Typical Home Value – $265,589 (Kenai) | $291,676 (Soldotna) | $298,948 (Sterling)
Median Gross Rent – $987
Like Wrangell, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has a fairly sizeable 65+ population, as do a number of its major towns, including Kenai, Soldotna, and Sterling. If slowing down to enjoy the scenery is on your wish list for retirement, the Kenai Peninsula will more than deliver. You’ll find breathtaking views of mountains, forests, as well as coastal views along the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet.
Plus, the Alaska highway system links the towns in the Kenai Peninsula and connects to Anchorage. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the peninsula (and beyond!) in your own vehicle. Finally, Anchorage is about three hours from Kenai, so a road trip to stock up also isn’t out of the question.
Retiring in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
Total Population – 95,655
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 11.2%
Typical Home Value – $257,279
Median Gross Rent – $1305
Fairbanks, as Alaska’s second-most populated city, and the surrounding Fairbanks North Star Borough can be a good choice for retirees looking to stay active during their golden years. In fact, the Milken Institute report on Best Cities for Successful Aging ranked Fairbanks as #10 on their list, citing the city’s community engagement, cultural amenities, and social organizations.
As the home to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, retirees will find some intellectual energy in the area, as well as a strong sense of camaraderie among residents. In other words, the Fairbanks North Star Borough has plenty to offer in both amenities and charm. Plus, the area offers some particularly spectacular views of the Northern Lights during the winter months—a clear perk for residents of all ages.
Retiring in Haines, Alaska
Total Population – 2,080
Percentage of Residents 65+ – 21.7%
Typical Home Value – $311,083
Median Gross Rent – $951
21.7% of the population of Haines can’t be wrong. Although this town, located on the northern end of Alaska’s panhandle, bills itself as the “adventure capital of Alaska,” it’s likely its other features that draw retirees. Maybe it’s:
- The road access to both Alaska’s interior and to the lower 48 (via Canada, of course!)?
- The breathtaking scenery, with plenty of wildlife and bird-spotting opportunities?
- The tight-knit community that draws people in and makes them want to stay?
Or perhaps it’s the slower pace of life in Haines that makes the area so appealing.
Either way, if you decide to move to Haines, just be aware that the medical facilities in Haines are smaller than you’ll find in Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. If you have significant or impending medical conditions, you may want to choose one of Alaska’s more populated areas.
Spending Your Golden Years in Alaska
Choosing a place to retire can be a big decision. There are a number of factors to consider: cost of living, distance from family and friends, access to healthcare and amenities, and more. However, when you choose the Alaska location that fits your lifestyle and your goals, you’ll set yourself up to enjoy your retirement to the fullest.
Retiring in Alaska? We’d be happy to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable move to your location of choice. Our Anchorage-based team has moved individuals and families all over the state. Get started with a complimentary quote from one of our Alaska experts.
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