When picturing the ideal retirement community, most people don’t think of a place in Alaska. After all, it is the coldest state—with winter temperatures often well below zero. But when you consider that it has no income or sales taxes at all thanks to its oil revenues, suddenly Alaska doesn’t look so bad. Even better, Alaska’s Permanent Fund divides 25% of all oil and natural gas development revenue among its citizens—so you could qualify to earn a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars extra every year.
The winters might be cold, but the summer is absolutely stunning—and mild. It’s perfect for those who want to escape hot summers. And in some areas toward the southern end of the state—such as Juneau—have a slightly more moderate climate than what you’ll find in the interior, more comparable to Seattle than to the Arctic Circle.
In addition, Alaska has some of the most spectacular outdoor scenery in the country—with incredible mountains, unpopulated valleys, pristine rivers, and some of the best fishing and hunting to be had anywhere. If you’re sick of urban sprawl, Alaska is your place—its population was only about 676,000 in 2007—ranking 47th in population density of all 50 states.
Alaska’s tax climate might be fairly friendly for retirees, but cost of living here is higher than the national average—primarily because most goods need to be shipped in. Here are a few areas to consider when choosing senior housing in Alaska.
Juneau. Juneau offers a relatively mild climate for Alaska, as well as a thriving local arts community, community volunteer opportunities, and vast access to outdoor recreation. In addition, the area is near to the regional hospital—so its residents receive excellent health care.
Fairbanks. Fairbanks is located approximately 358 miles north of Anchorage. It’s the nearest metropolitan area to a wide range of small villages in Alaska’s northern wilderness, and it’s a base of operations for North Slope oil and gas development operations. It’s a thriving city, with an adventurous frontier atmosphere. It’s in close proximity to the Fairbanks International Airport, as well as several high-quality hospitals.
Anchorage. Surrounded by unspoiled wilderness, Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city. On one side, it’s surrounded on two shores by the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. The city includes easy access to high-quality health care, and is the site of two major universities: the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University. Anchorage offers outstanding public transportation, including a railroad with year-round freight and passenger service and a comprehensive bus system and carpool organization services. In addition, the AnchorRides paratransit system provides accessible transportation specifically to seniors and those with disabilities.
Homer. Homer is located on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. With surprisingly mild weather for Alaska, it’s a great place for retirement. Homer’s harbor offers space for approximately 700 commercial and private boats throughout the year, with more than 1,500 during the summer—and the area is known for its world-class fishing.
Seward. If you’re looking for a small town in which to find an Alaskan senior housing community, consider Seward. Located on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is one of the few towns with easy access to the Seward Highway—a National Scenic Byway offering stunning views. It’s accessible by boat and train, and it’s an end destination for Alaskan cruise ships. It’s also extremely bike-friendly, with well-marked bike paths and several guided bike tour companies.
If you’re looking for a senior housing community like no other, consider Alaska. It offers some of the most pristine, unspoiled wilderness in the country—as well as a decent economic climate for retirees and surprisingly cosmopolitan cities. Check out these Alaska retirement communities—and discover your perfect senior housing option.