Get expert insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Skip to Main Content

Best Places to live in Alaska

Alaska is often called the Last Frontier, and if you’ve got a passion for adventure, it might just be the frontier you’ve been searching for. The state’s blend of majestic natural beauty, thrilling outdoor adventure and vibrant local communities make it a one-of-a-kind place to live.

From charming small towns to bustling cities, Alaska has it all, providing residents with tons of options for living, working and playing. One moment you could be sipping coffee in a cozy café in Anchorage and the next you could be taking in the awe-inspiring northern lights in Denali National Park—talk about epic.

The climate in Alaska is generally, well, cold. But if you’re thinking about moving there, you’re probably cool with that—you know, the cold never bothered you anyway sort of thing. Keeping that in mind, the weather does vary quite a bit across different regions.

Southeastern Alaska has cool, rainy summers and cold, wet winters. The southcentral and southwestern areas are warmer in the summer and colder in the winter, with moderate rain and snow. The interior is where you’ll find extreme temperature swings (hot summers and frigid winters) and a pretty dry climate. The North Slope, a huge stretch of harsh tundra, has short, cool summers and long, freezing winters.1

Alaska also experiences something called the midnight sun and polar night.2 In the summer, areas within the Arctic Circle can have 24 hours of continuous daylight—the midnight sun. On the other hand, winter brings on polar night, when the sun doesn’t rise for days or weeks. Areas outside the Arctic Circle also see long summer days and winter nights, but the length is less extreme. For example, the sun sets in Anchorage as late as 10:42 p.m. in the summer.3

The cost of living in Alaska can be high—about 30% higher than the national average.4 Basically, it costs more money to ship stuff there, which raises the price of things like groceries, housing and utilities. However, it’s worth noting that Alaska doesn’t have a state sales or personal income tax, which can help offset those costs a bit.5

So, pack those mittens! Today we’re exploring the best places to live in Alaska, each offering its own unique lifestyle, attractions and industries.

Alaska map

Fairbanks

Despite being the second-largest city in Alaska, Fairbanks still has a tight-knit small-town community feel. Here, you’ll find a rich cultural scene to explore, with tons of theaters, art galleries and museums, such as the Museum of the North (it’s dedicated to Native Alaskan cultures, natural wonders, wildlife, Alaskan art and much more).

Outdoor activities include basically everything you’d expect in an Alaskan city—hiking, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling and, of course, dog mushing. Also, be sure to check out Pioneer Park and the Chena Hot Springs Resort for some extra special experiences—aurora adventures at the north pole, anyone?6

If you’ve got a case of the hungries, hit up a few local favorites like Lemongrass Thai Cuisine or Jazz Bistro on 4th—a Cuban-inspired restaurant with live entertainment and award-winning food (be sure to try the steak churrasco).

Fairbanks also has a range of public and private schools and is home to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, a hub for Arctic research. In fact, the university is one of the area’s top industries, alongside the military, mining and tourism.7 The Fairbanks International Airport provides year-round flights primarily to and from major cities in Alaska and across the United States with occasional international charter flights.

Population

32,4968

Median Household Income

$69,9149

Median Home Listing Price

$310,00010

Median Rent

$1,60011

Unemployment Rate

4.0%12

*Data in all tables collected in June 2024.

Anchorage

Welcome to Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. Some see this city as the state’s cultural and economic hub—and for good reason. After all, Anchorage is home to about 40% of Alaska’s entire population!13 Talk about a hot spot in a cold state, huh?

See how much house you can afford with our free mortgage calculator!

Its economy is heavily driven by energy development—specifically oil and gas—but the military and tourism industries are also big slices of the Anchorage economic pie.14 Plus, the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport acts as a key cargo and passenger transportation center in and out of the state.

For fun seekers, the city offers a one-of-a-kind blend of urban and outdoor adventures. A vibrant culinary scene showcases local seafood and international eats. Be sure to visit Kincaid Grill for fresh favorites like Alaskan oysters and specialties like black cod. Outdoor adventurers can explore the city’s extensive hiking trail system and take in some of the best sights in the state—or spend a day fishing, skiing or dog sledding.

And guess what? We’ve barely scratched the surface of everything you can do and discover in Anchorage. Combine that with the Anchorage School District’s mission of educating all students for success in life as well as the presence of the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and you’ve got an extraordinary community to call home.15

Population

287,14516

Median Household Income

$100,75117

Median Home Listing Price

$495,00018

Median Rent

$1,80019

Unemployment Rate

3.8%20

Don’t buy or sell without an agent you can trust.

There are RamseyTrusted real estate agents all over the country who are ready to help you win.

Find a Local Agent

Juneau

Now, let’s embark on a journey to Juneau, Alaska’s state capital. And when we say journey, we’re not messing around—the city is only accessible via boat or plane!21 Even getting there is an adventure.

Once in Juneau, you can explore the city’s historic downtown and a variety of cultural sights like the Alaska State Museum and Sealaska Heritage Institute. Outdoor enthusiasts can check out awe-inspiring natural sights, such as the Mendenhall Glacier, or go whale watching and kayaking in the Gastineau Channel. Juneau also boasts a lively arts scene, with theaters, galleries and music festivals all contributing to the city’s unique charm.

Major industries in Juneau include government, tourism, fishing and education.22 The city also has a well-regarded public school system focused on providing its students with meaningful learning experiences that will help them be ready for a changing world when they graduate.23

So, don’t mistake Juneau for some dingy, remote location. The city is a vibrant showcase of everything Alaska has to offer its residents.

Population

32,10824

Median Household Income

$95,71125

Median Home Listing Price

$450,00026

Median Rent

$1,47527

Unemployment Rate

3.2%28

Ketchikan

Ketchikan is often called Alaska’s First City because it’s the main port for ships entering the state.29 Nestled on the southern part of Revillagigedo Island, the city is known for its rich Native Alaskan heritage, breathtaking nature and welcoming community.

Surrounded by the vast Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is perfect for hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing—a real treat for nature enthusiasts. Misty Fjords National Monument offers breathtaking cliffside views and pristine lakes, while kayaking and boating trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the Alaskan coast.

For major industries and job opportunities, tourism, fishing, government and timber drive Ketchikan’s economy.30 As for education, the local school district in Ketchikan really focuses on maximizing every student’s potential.31 And with the University of Alaska-Southeast Ketchikan campus nearby, there are plenty of educational and career opportunities to discover.

Overall, Ketchikan’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness and economic opportunities makes the city an exceptional place to live and a classic example of the Alaskan spirit.

Population

8,16832

Median Household Income

$73,51233

Median Home Listing Price

$449,00034

Median Rent

$2,40035

Unemployment Rate

4.0%36

Homer

On the shore of Kachemak Bay within the Kenai Peninsula, you’ll find Homer—a small city known as the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.37 This friendly seaside community offers residents and visitors a vibrant combination of a rich arts culture, tasty seafood, outdoor adventures and ocean-focused experiences.

As you might have guessed, the fishing industry drives a sizable chunk of Homer’s economy. Other big industries include tourism, marine trades, education and health services.38

With such a huge fishing culture, you’d probably expect some out-of-this-world seafood—and you’d be right! Local favorites, like Captain Pattie’s Fish House and Fresh Catch Café, offer locally sourced seafood dishes.

Homer is also home to an active arts scene with galleries to explore, museums to visit (like the Pratt Museum, where you can learn about regional natural history), or catch a flick at the Homer Theatre. Community events—such as the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival—also highlight the city’s tight-knit, lively spirit.

Outdoor lovers have a buffet of options in Homer. From fishing in the rich waters of the Kachemak Bay to hiking and wildlife viewing in the surrounding wilderness, there’s always a new adventure to take on. And don’t forget to visit the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5-mile-long gravel bar that provides access to beautiful beaches and kayak adventures.39 Pretty sweet, right?

Population

5,62340

Median Household Income

$69,75741

Median Home Listing Price

$645,00042

Median Rent

$2,00043

Unemployment Rate

5.2%44

Wasilla

Wasilla is a charming Alaskan city located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Since the city is a shopping and commercial hub, local retail and tourism drive a big chunk of Wasilla’s economy. Health care and industrial fields—like steel fabrication, agriculture and manufacturing—also play important roles.45

Wasilla is part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District—known for its commitment to quality education and preparing students for success.46 And at just 45 minutes from Anchorage, Wasilla is an ideal spot for commuters.

Culturally, Wasilla offers a range of attractions rich in Alaskan heritage. Check out the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters to dive into dog mushing history or visit the Wasilla Museum and Visitor Center for a snapshot of the region’s history and culture.

Popular dining spots include Everett’s at the Mat-Su Resort, known for featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and The Grape Tap, which offers a cozy atmosphere, upscale entrees and an extensive wine menu.

For outdoor lovers, Wasilla and its surroundings offer plenty to do. Hikers can explore scenic trails and panoramic views at Hatcher Pass. Lake Lucille is a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding in the summer and ice fishing and skating in the winter. There’s an adventure around every corner in Wasilla—and we think that’s pretty darn cool.

Population

9,26747

Median Household Income

$69,53448

Median Home Listing Price

$424,50049

Median Rent

$2,09550

Unemployment Rate

5.1%51

Kodiak

Last, but certainly not least, is Kodiak—a picturesque city resting peacefully on Kodiak Island, the second-largest island in the United States.52 Kodiak Island is also home to Kodiak bears—a subspecies of the grizzly that rivals the polar bear in size and can only be found in the Kodiak Archipelago.53

Unsurprisingly, Kodiak’s economy is heavily driven by commercial fishing, seafood processing and tourism.54 U.S. Coast Guard Base Kodiak also supports a big military community on the island.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Kodiak is a paradise of adventures. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge offers miles of trails perfect for hiking and wildlife viewing. And be sure to explore and fish the island’s various bays and rivers via kayak, boat or paddleboard. After you work up an appetite in the great outdoors, stop in at Henry’s Great Alaskan Restaurant—a local favorite known for hearty seafood and a friendly atmosphere.

Kodiak’s downtown area features a handful of local stores where you can find Alaskan-made crafts, jewelry and souvenirs. The community’s laid-back atmosphere makes its way into various pubs and bars, where you can enjoy live music, karaoke and socializing.

The schools of Kodiak Island offer a variety of programs to engage students and help them succeed, including gifted and talented education and extracurriculars.55 Pair that with strong community support, and you’ve got a great place to raise a family.

Population

5,58456

Median Household Income

$76,76557

Median Home Listing Price

$334,00058

Median Rent

$98559

Unemployment Rate

4.0%60

Ready to Move to Alaska?

If Alaska seems like the place for you, don’t start packing just yet. Before you make the Last Frontier your new home, you need an Alaska-based real estate agent who can help you find an area that’s just right for you. Luckily, we just happen to know a few.

The agents we recommend have earned the right to be called RamseyTrusted by always serving with excellence.

 

Next Steps

  • Decide where in Alaska you want to live.
  • Interview at least three local RamseyTrusted agents.
  • Choose one who’s right for you and start your moving journey.
See Alaska Agents

Did you find this article helpful? Share it!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

Related Articles

Best places to live in Delaware
Home Buying

Best Places to Live in Delaware

Are you looking to relocate to Delaware? Here are the best places to live in the "First State."

Ramsey Ramsey
Home Buying

Best Places to Live in Hawaii

Hawaii has it all: sunny skies, beautiful beaches, pleasant people. But what’s it like to live there? Let’s go on a trip to the Aloha State and see where to find the best places to live in Hawaii.

Ramsey Ramsey