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Old 01-12-2017, 12:36 AM
MontanaMEL MontanaMEL is offline
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Default Old knowledge - but, I'll share it freely.

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Started out working the N slope in 1968/69, before the first lease sale - life was interesting.... Moved into N Canada/Alberta/BC for nearly 2 yr while they sorted out the pipeline legal battle, came back (commuted from Central CA), then moved back up in 74-79. Came back north in 1986-7; all with different oil patch service companies...should NEVER have taken that "last" transfer outside! Alaska gets into your bones - it leaves you breathless - it pays back whatever you put into it - another Kodak moment is the way of life. Or, you can't stand "something", hit the airport and head South.

That suggestion that you should move to Anchorage and work a job there is well taken. This will allow you to sort out your different strengths and weaknesses - and, to correct those that are critical to your final plans/choices. In these days, a diesel tech would be a good place to start, and I second the comment that you should pickup welding along the never know "enough"... You should "learn" your trades in the lower-48...then move to AK - trainee slots are not that easy to land up there - but, journeyman are always welcome. Try to get a major mfg name on your resume - like CAT, etc.

Anchorage, being on Cooks Inlet, has a mild climate - compared to that of the interior areas and the far north. This means you have maybe 5 to 6 hr per day of "some light/sun" part of the time - with overcast the "normal" average. Temps are maybe -10 f to +10 f on most days, with maybe 2 to 4 feet of "total" snow, and winds from 3 to 5 mph on cold days to maybe 30-40 mph on warmer days during the winter. If you don't go outside your building for lunch, you won't see the light / sun that day. First snows are usually late Sept to mid-Oct, hard freeze and accumulating snows by mid-Nov to early Dec. Breakup comes in mid/late April with flurries into early May. Anchorage is a monster city of 300k, it peaked near 400k...when I first moved there, it only had 44k, and then 72k when I left for Canada. The cities in SE AK are too rainy for my likes - over 100 inches per year or more is common down there. The comment on Kodiak Island is dead on.

Until you are well (WELL) educated/informed about life in the "villages" - don't even think of living in such places. You will not be welcomed.

Remember: Any drug issues will make your life extremely hard - and, your employment may depend on your passing random tests, etc.

The Alcan highway use to be a real kick to, it's paved (mostly). It is long and boring for a solo drive - dangerous as hell during the winter months. (I lived in Ft St John, BC and worked all over the northland areas from there) One of the biggest dangers is hitting an animal - they will mess up your truck and leave you stranded. Don't try pulling an overloaded trailer all that distance - you will crater something sure as tooting... IF you can tap into some "nice" but "cheap" used ATV's - taking a few along will provide some barter goods for larger purchases once there.. The only boat worth taking north up the highway is a Boston Whaler or similar, 20ft long or longer. Take as new a motor with you as you can afford - 35 to 40 mph is enough, think weight hauling more than speed, and have plenty of "deep vee" and "free board"... Average salmon fishing line is 50-70 lb test, 100+ lb test for halibut. A "proper" aluminum river boat will cost you more than your truck!.. DO TAKE YOUR OWN TOOLS WITH YOU.. - for a diesel tech, that means 3/4" drive minimum.

And, take a decent camera with you and some way to download and store 1,000's of pic's... you'll understand why when you get there! Good luck and check-6...
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:03 AM
Backwoodsdreamer Backwoodsdreamer is offline
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Originally Posted by DesertDawn View Post
Unless you have a lot of stuff to move, consider an interim move to Wyoming, Montana or northern Idaho. They aren't quite as cold and dark as AK, and perhaps a bit less 'free' but you may avoid a huge mistake if you find you can't handle winter in the deep north.

I lived in New Hampshire and up on the Keewenaw in MI in my 20's, and wouldn't touch either with a 10' pole once I hit my 50's.
Originally Posted by longhair51 View Post
Why don't you find a remote place close to your present location and practice this lifestyle in a safer environment. If you find out that you are adept at living like this, then move to Alaska. In addition, you will have improved your skills in welding or diesel mechanics.

Moving to Alaska was a fantastic learning experience for me, but I had a job waiting for me when I got there. Alaska is not the place for someone with marginal skills and no job. It is a great place, however, to be cold and hungry with no place to stay if you come unprepared.
Only problems with these is I really don't wanna sink the money and time into something and end up screwing my chances of moving up there afterwards. Plus there's not much that's remote in my area. I'd rather sink the investment up there and if I'm not able to hack it come back down here. The anchorage idea sounds good. And I definitely don't plan on making that big of a move without a job already lined up. Got a kiddo to feed. Otherwise, thanks for all the responses so far. Even the more critical ones. Every bit of input helps.
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Old 01-12-2017, 10:25 AM
NY Yankee NY Yankee is offline
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I hope you like miserable, painful cold and fighting high snow piles for 6 months straight then the hoards of stinging, biting, bloodsucking, having to-wear-a-head-net-insects in spring and summer. Other than that it'a beautiful place.
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Old 01-12-2017, 10:54 AM
kraigwy kraigwy is offline
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The Grass being greener on the other side, I left Wyoming for Alaska in 1972.

Spent 22 years before I retired and moved back to Wyoming, realizing everything I went to Alaska for was better in Wyoming.

I spent the first two years in Healy, working the summers on the Railroad, and laid off in the winters. At the time there was no place to live in Healy except the Hotel. Not practical since I had a wife and two toddlers so I built a cabin on RR land in Lignite (3 miles north of Healy).

It was a small cabin, 12 X 18, was going to make it 18 X 24, but snow was coming down the mountains and alone I couldn't handle the 24 ft logs (actually you add about 2 ft for the logs. So the logs for the cabin were 14 x 20.

Best picture I could find.

Hunting, even back then was "so so". You had to get away from the road system. I would watch across the Nenana river, when I saw a moose, I would row across the river and track it in the snow until I found it. Sounds easy right? Wrong, they move. First one I shot took me three days to get it back to the boat so I could haul it home.

With no work, I survived on ptarmigan, rabbits and fish. Large game just isn't as easy as one would think.

I ended up in Anchorage, working for APD. Each year, until I retired and moved back to Wyoming, hunting got worse, more and more people crowding the limited road system and the rivers. Weekends, the road out of Anchorage are bumper to bumper, now they rivers are the same way.

I also spent 19 of my 22 years in the Alaska NG. That allowed me to spend a great deal of time in the bush. Mainly on the Bering sea where I was the Company Commander of an Native NG Company. Hunting was different for these people, they could harvest marine mammals , non-natives cant.

Be honest, living off the grid requires one to get totally away from the road system. Unless you fly that means living on the Yukon, Tanana or other rivers. But twice a years, freeze up and break up, you are stuck.

In the dead of winter, hunting, even small game, it ruff to say the least. The animals just don't move. You're going to spend most of your time cutting firewood, and thawing water. After break up you're gonna spend your time hauling supplies for the winter.

Finding land you can afford isn't as easy as one thinks. There is some, but its in the area where they are more people. Hunting is a rich man's game in Alaska. You have to fly out. You either have a plane, or you hire one.

You can do it, but again, it has to be off the road system, even away from the rivers close to population areas.

It can be done don't get me wrong. But its not for the faint of heart. There is going to be some hungry days, lots of them. Its not gonna be done of the cheap.

I wanted to live in an area where, if un-employed I could feed my family, and keep them warm, so I moved back to Wyoming. I live in the Black Hills, firewood is easy to get, free and plentiful. Hunting? Right now, between wife and son, we have two elk, 3 deer, and 5 antelope in the freezer. I paid $80 K for 29 acres, so gardens, chickens, or what ever are possible w/out effort. I live a mile from the highway on a private road so I'm not bothered by anyone.

I found everything I went to Alaska for is so much better in the place I left.

Before anyone invest into moving to Alaska, thinking they could live off the grid, take a trip up there, spend some time, read the state laws, hunting and otherwise, and see what its really like. Preferably, take two trips, one in the summer, and one in the dead of winter. On these trips, get away from town.

Anchorage, Fairbanks, etc. are no different then similar size cities in the lower 48. Check out the roads and rivers during hunting and fishing seasons.

I lift there in '94, it was bad then, I went back in 08 for a visit, a whole lot worse.

Yes, doesn't have many people, but the 600K plus, are all confined in a small portion of the state. Get away from these population areas, and away from the road system, its great, but you have to have a means to support yourself, there isn't any jobs.
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Old 01-14-2017, 03:18 PM
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Meeteetse Meeteetse is offline
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I appreciate and commend your wanting to get away from it all by moving to Alaska, but I would caution you about one thing; if you have never spent time in "really cold" and long lasting weather, I suggest as others have, that you consider one of the Rocky Mtn. states where winters can be cold but never as dark or as long lasting as in Alaska. My friends and relatives who once lived in Alaska now live in Montana and Wyoming again because the darkness and cold wear on you. Even at its worst, Rocky Mtn. winters have more light and breaks from the extreme cold. Try something more moderate before you commit totally to extremes. The cost of living is also much higher in Alaska.
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Old 01-15-2017, 01:13 PM
ppine ppine is offline
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There is a reason that so many people in Alaska abuse drugs and alcohol. It is a tough place to live. It is hard to make a living except in summer. Everything costs a lot. It is really dark. It wants to kill you.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:21 PM
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Alaskajohn Alaskajohn is offline
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I dreamed about moving to and living in Alaska since I first heard about Richard Proenneke as a Cub Scouts around 1970. I finally made it up here about 8 years ago in my late 40s. I took a great job in the Mat-Su valley and used it as a base to search for where I would ultimately homestead. It took a good 4 years of research and searching until we got lucky. We were able to purchase a great piece of property that was well laid out and developed, but somewhat run down. We purchase it from a couple who owned it for a few years, but they split up and ultimately couldn't make a go at it. As I scale back at the job that got me up to Alaska, we are able to spend about 50% of our time at our "homestead" growing crops in the summer and some trapping in the winter. It's a LOT of work, but we look forward to moving there permanently if a year or so.

Property on the road system is a more pricey. Off the road system prices drop, but access can be VERY difficult. There are so many different factors with life in Alaska and in remote living. And the weather is different up here and we get significant winds. Earlier posts talks about temps well below zero. Consider that with winds of 40 -80 mph. About a month ago it was -15 below and winds were 40 plus MPH blowing all kinds of snow and I had to change a flat tire. It took me good part of an hour as bolts were frozen and my fricken fingers were numb. Being unprepared can be fatal.

As others recommend, I strongly consider taking a job up here first while you see if you can adjust and to learn what you need to learn to make a smart decision. The is a stunningly beautiful and diverse state that can be very unforgiving. Good luck!
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