1. I’m going to get paid for living there.
Yes, but no. The PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) is reserved for people who either are or intend to be Alaska residents long term. To qualify for consideration, you’ve first got to live there a minimum of twelve months.
2. I’ll get to watch the northern lights every night.
The cold, un-minced Alaskan truth is, “Good luck with that.” The reason? Science, of course. The northern lights (aurora borealis) aren’t ‘on’ 24.7.365. They only occur when the sun sends up solar flares and/or the solar winds blow. That aside, where exactly in the state you move to and the time of year it happens to be, this may or may not be possible. In fact, there’s a strong bent towards ‘probability zero.’
3. I’m going to catch a boat load of fish.
Fishing Alaska requires a certain finesse. Locals don’t easily give up the goods on their favorite fishing holes. Salmon and rainbow trout cannot be caught with bait in the rivers and only certain kinds of lures are allowed. In short, fishing for anything in Alaska is more craft and art. By default, there’s a learning curve. Don’t feel too down in the dumps on coming up empty handed, even the most skilled Alaskan anglers are known to come up dry on occasion.
4. I’ll still be able to order it online.
This line of thinking is fantastic until putting the theory to practice. The sad reality is, many establishments treat Alaska more like a foreign country than a full fledged member of the United States. It’s not uncommon to reach the end of an online ordering process and encounter the following message, “We’re sorry. At this time we only offer shipping to the continental US.” or “Shipping to Alaska and Hawaii not available, please choose another address or cancel your order.” Play your cards right with customer service on the “continental US” faux pas, and you may convince them to ship anyway. The technicality here is— Alaska is fully part of the continental US. It is not, however, part of the contiguous US. Annoyingly, most policy writers don’t realize the difference and thus oblivious to the Alaskans ire.
5. It won’t be THAT cold.
Uh… yes, it will. Just be sure to hold off on procuring winter gear and all the trimmings till you arrive in Alaska. The offerings in the lower 48 seldom do the job and when it comes to gearing up, Alaskans know best.
6. THAT expensive.
Actually, yes it is. The food, the housing, the gasoline, even (gasp) the internet. Heck, with the starting price of a gallon of milk in the $5 range, and internet service based on mobile phone style data plans, it’s no small miracle more people don’t have sudden onset heart attacks. The Alaska life means becoming a frequent sufferer of ‘pain in the pocketbook.’
7. THAT far.
One does not fully grasp the bigness of Alaska until they arrive. And sadly, no amount of reading, documentary viewing or youtube watching can help prepare for it. In Alaska, transportation time is measured in terms of hours and days, not miles or minutes. In short, “Yes, it is THAT far.”
8. Bears will be so cute to see in person.
Absolutely, while watching them through a pair of binoculars across the valley, from the third-floor bay window. The rest of time, not so much. An up close and personal bear viewing experience is not, by any means cute. There’s a reason Alaskans have weapons they call their “bear gun” and every other person you meet runs around with a can of bear spray “just in case.”
9. I will unleash my inner ‘mountain man’ and channel Grizzly Adams and Davey Crockett.
Unless your move means living on a homestead, in a cabin you build yourself that’s miles from everything, this is a pipe dream. The truth is much less sexy and will look more like a regular adult Any City, USA life. i.e. the bucket list length vs. time, energy, and funds available to do it are often grossly disproportionate.
10. I’ll get to meet Sarah Palin.
Most Alaskans have never met Sarah Palin. The likelihood of a new arrival running into her out of the gate is quite slim. Unless, of course, you happen to move in shared circles.