I was born and raised in Alaska, and in this guide, I’ll point you to the absolute best places to live in Alaska.
The least densely populated state in America conjures images of log cabins deep in the woods far from civilization. Though, Alaska has several small cities and towns with all the comforts of modern life—along with such isolated locales.
The cost of living in Alaska is higher than the national average, and some places can only be accessed by air or sea. But this comprehensive post likely has an ideal area for you, regardless of your budget, preferred transportation, or ideal way of life.
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11 Best Places to Live in Alaska
The state’s second-largest city may be first on many people’s lists.
Fairbanks is the northernmost of cities in Alaska and has the subarctic climate that many associate with the state. The cold winters may seem off-putting at first. There are, though, great opportunities for winter outdoor activities, such as dog-sledding and cross-country skiing. Fairbanks also has some of the best northern lights “shows” in Alaska.
The city itself has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars. The cold, dark winters are also more than made up for with warm summer days of midnight sun.
The University of Alaska in Fairbanks offers excellent programs in engineering, geophysics, and other related studies. Fairbanks also ranks as the most affordable place to live in Alaska.
Alaska’s state capital combines urban comforts and natural beauty like few other places.
Juneau is another great place to live. The state’s third-largest city is tucked away in southeastern Alaska’s Inside Passage. It has a milder climate and lush forests. The Tongass National Forest and Mendenhall Glacier are two of many natural wonders here.
As the state capital, Juneau has job opportunities for work in government or other clerical careers. It also has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and other modern conveniences. Juneau even has a thriving arts scene, including its own professional theater company at the Perseverance Theater.
Juneau is only accessible by air or sea. This may be inconvenient for some, but one plus is that, unlike many places in Alaska, Juneau has direct flight connections to Seattle.
A cozy, classy town tucked between the sea and mountains in southeast Alaska.
Sitka is a small town that’s big on character, dubbed “the Paris of the Pacific.” It may be one of the best places to live in Alaska—if you can afford the higher cost of living here. Like the other communities in Southeast Alaska, Sitka is also accesible by air or sea.
Russian explorers founded Sitka as the capital of Imperial Russia’s American colonies. The town celebrates the United States’ purchase of Alaska with historical re-enactments and a period costume ball. Landmarks such as St. Michael’s Cathedral also preserve the simple elegance of those days.
The climate is mild, but often wet. The forests of the Sitka National Historical Park teem with spruce trees and totem poles. The schools here rank as some of the best in the state and Sitka is considered as one of the safest communities in Alaska.
📚 Related Reading: 27 Best Places to Visit in Alaska
Lush forests, great fishing, and lots of local charm.
This community on the Alaskan Panhandle is the best place if you’re looking for milder winters. It’s also one of the rainiest places in the state. Even this seeming drawback has the benefit of greening the area, which lies on the southern end of the Tongass National Forest. Another local highlight is the majestic Misty Fjords National Monument.
If you love fishing, Ketchikan is a real catch (horrible pun intended). You can even fish right off the boardwalks in the charming historic town center! Ketchikan is a great place to live if you want to find a house tucked away in the woods.
Ketchikan is a mid-sized city by Alaskan standards, but sees large crowds of tourists in the summer—the best time to visit Alaska. It’s also accessible only by air or sea.
Alaska’s biggest city has the most options for housing, job opportunities, and recreation.
In many ways, Anchorage is the most convenient Alaskan city to move to. Most flights to Alaska connect here. Anchorage has the widest variety of stores, restaurants, and local attractions, such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center. At the same time, prices here are often high and the city does have many of the same issues common to large US cities.
Anchorage is best for those wanting a balance of urban life and outdoor activities. There are plenty of hiking trails in and around the city. Chugach State Park has some of the most beautiful trails within a short drive of Anchorage. There’s also Alyeska, Alaska’s premier ski resort.
Anchorage has the widest selection of schools, both public and private, and is home to the University of Alaska Anchorage. In-state tuition is low and the school has a good reputation for computing, nursing, and business programs.
Close enough to Anchorage for convenience, but far enough away for peace and quiet.
Looking for something more laid back than the “big city” life of Anchorage? Consider the town of Wasilla, located an hour north. Many residents appreciate the serene, natural surroundings and also having the conveniences of Anchorage close at hand.
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate how spread out things are up here. Nearby wilderness areas are virtually in many people’s backyards. Housing prices here tend to be higher than in Anchorage, but for many, the tranquility and breathtaking scenery are well worth it.
Alaska’s Emerald Isle is a hidden gem!
For nature lovers, Kodiak Island is hard to beat! Over a dozen hikes in Kodiak are a few minutes’ drive away. You can also kayak the waters off the island, go fishing, hunting, camping, and much more! There are lots of things to do in Kodiak, especially for such a small town.
It also has a rich history and local culture. Two picturesque Orthodox churches preserve the memory of the town’s Russian heritage, and local museums preserve many fascinating Native Alaskan artifacts.
Fishing is the major industry here and commercial fishing jobs, in good years, pay extremely well. Even work in the local canneries, though not-so-glamorous, can bring in a solid paycheck to pay for housing prices and the overall higher cost of living that comes with being on an island.
👉 Don’t Miss: Read my guide on where to stay in Kodiak so you’re well-prepared for your scouting trip!
A great balance of small-town coziness and overall convenience.
Want a good balance of natural beauty, small-town vibes, and modern conveniences? The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to be. Soldotna is one of the best small towns in Alaska and lies three hours south of Anchorage.
The glacial waters of the Kenai River boast some of the best sport-fishing for king salmon in Alaska. Wild animals like moose and bears call this area home, and wildflowers of all kinds blossom in spring and summer. Local birch trees turn golden in autumn, and the winters often see snow.
Soldotna is safe and has a good selection of schools. Local festivals are often family-friendly and it feels like everyone knows everyone else here. Being on the mainland also makes Soldotna easy to get to and from.
Artsy vibes and epic views abound in this coastal community.
Homer sits at the entrance of Cook Inlet and is surrounded by the ocean and mountains. Gift shops, restaurants, and other establishments line the Homer Spit, a narrow strip of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay.
While Ketchikan comes close, nowhere else in Alaska has quite the waterfront charm that Homer does. Common jobs here include working in the fishing and tourism industries.
Homer has an artsy feeling to it, along with several local art galleries. The halibut fishing in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay is also the best in the state. Homer is one of the more expensive places to live in Alaska, but it’s also one of the safest.
A tiny town on Resurrection Bay with a lot of charm.
Seward may be one of the best places to live in Alaska if you love wildlife. The tiny town is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, where many of Alaska’s most famous wild animals live.
Seward’s also 2.5 hours from Anchorage, so you’re not too far away from major conveniences when you need them. In your free time, you can kayak the tranquil waters of Resurrection Bay or scale the heights of Mont Marathon.
A quiet seaside town boasting quintessential Alaskan beauty.
Valdez is another hidden gem of southcentral Alaska. The town is small but cozy. It lies at the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, so there are often openings in the petroleum industry here.
Valdez also has plenty of Alaskan beauty to enjoy in your free time. The majestic Chugach Mountains have many great hiking trails. The waters of Prince William Sound are great for fishing and boating. Valdez is an overall quiet place, but that is part of the charm for many residents.
FAQs About Living in Alaska
What is the best area to live in Alaska?
The best area to live in Alaska is Juneau, in my opinion. It offers the best balance of affordability, safety, conveniences, and climate.
Thanks for checking out this guide to places to live in Alaska. I hope you’ve gotten some good insights!
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