Best Places to Live in Alaska
Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks are among many top choices
Alaska, nicknamed “The Last Frontier,” has several cities that are popular with residents as well as tourists who enjoy the amazing venues in this picturesque state:
Alaska’s most populated city is Anchorage, with 300,000 residents who make up more than 40 percent of the state’s entire population. Key economic sectors include the military, tourism and air cargo shipping, and citizens have a variety of cultural choices. Anchorage is also the starting point of the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
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As Alaska’s state capital, the economy of Juneau is largely dependent upon government jobs as well as tourism and fishing. The median income for a family is $80,000, and Juneau houses the University of Alaska Southeast along with Perseverance Theatre – Alaska's only professional theater. Healthcare needs are primarily met by Bartlett Regional Hospital.
Nicknamed “The Golden Heart City,” Fairbanks is only 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle and a stopping point for tourism cruise ships. Quality of life amenities include the University of Alaska Fairbanks (the state’s oldest university) as well as a botanical garden, symphony orchestra, several parks and multiple winter sports activities.
Named for the Ketchikan Creek that flows through the community, the economy in Ketchikan is largely based on government services, tourism and commercial fishing, and locals have nicknamed their community “Salmon Capital of the World.” Attractions include Misty Fjords National Monument and Tongass National Forest, and college students can attend the University of Alaska Southeast-Ketchikan.
Commercial fishing is the key industry in Kodiak, and the hunting of Kodiak bear, elk and black-tail deer also contributes to the economy. A University of Alaska satellite campus and a Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center serve residents, while the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard also have a major presence.
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The unincorporated community of Badger has a population of 20,000 and is located in the exact center of Alaska. The borough enjoys a median household income of $85,000, and home prices average $200,000. A good public school system is in place, and residents are only minutes from big-city attractions in Fairbanks.
Sitka houses beautiful sites like the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Saint Lazaria Island and Sitka National Historical Park. More local residents are employed in the seafood industry than any other sector, and Sitka (a series of islands) is only accessible by boat or plane. Amenities include University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka and two hospitals.
The city of Seward, population 2,700, is a lucrative seafood port with catches of about $70 million worth of fish and shellfish each year. Another major industry is tourism, and the city also houses a U.S. Coast Guard instillation. Residents can enjoy a good parks system highlighted by scenic Obihiro Park located along Resurrection Bay.
Part of the Fairbanks metropolitan area, College is a city of 13,000 residents whose median age is 30, and the average home price is $230,000. The University of Alaska Fairbanks campus lies within the city’s boundaries, and cultural attractions in College include theatrical venues and concerts.
With 3,000 full-time residents, Petersburg was incorporated as a borough in 2013 and features commercial fishing as its dominant economic driver, thanks to the prominence of salmon, halibut and cod. Tourism is a vibrant enterprise from May-September with cruise ship traffic, and Petersburg (an island) can only be accessed by air or sea.