The largest and most sparsely populated state in the US may have a reputation for harsh winters and dark days, but it’s equally famed for its rich, breathtaking scenery, bountiful outdoor pursuits, varied wildlife, and vast, open spaces. If the thought of living in one of America’s last true wildernesses appeals, then you’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to resort to cuddling up to a grizzly bear in some shack in the mountains. Alaska’s towns and cities have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and you’ll find plenty of vibrant, welcoming communities to choose from. Here, we take a look at 20 of the very best places to live in Alaska.
20. Old Seward/ Oceanview
Up first we have the charming Old Seward/ Oceanview neighborhood of Anchorage. 10,325 residents choose to make the neighborhood their home, and for very good reason. With a safe, small-town vibe and plenty of amenities, recreational pursuits, and leisure facilities, it offers the best of the big city with very few of its pitfalls. The crime rate is low, the schools rank highly, and most residents enjoy a median income of almost twice the national average at $109,072. The housing may be on the expensive side (expect to part with around $316,274 for a single-family home) but it’s a small price to pay for the luxury of living in such a safe, welcoming environment.
Ester may be small, but its punching far above its weight when it comes to things like amenities, crime rate, and income expectations. The job market is diverse enough to support a median household income of $70,431, while the schools are all of a good ranking. Crime is exceptionally low, while the range of amenities and attractions is excellent. The creative, artistic vibe of the community is perfectly complemented by a varied schedule of local events (including a great fourth of July parade), while the abundance of outside pursuits makes it a hugely popular among nature lovers.
18. University Area
The 10,223 residents of University Area, a small neighborhood in Anchorage, are well served by a bountiful range of local shops and businesses, excellent public services, and some first-class wining and dining opportunities. Thanks to easy access to the prospering job market of Anchorage, residents enjoy a very respectable median household income of $74,938, while the average home price is a reassuringly affordable $239,460. Low crime rates and a good selection of local state schools complete the attractive outlook.
17. Abbott Loop
Move to Abbott Loop, a large neighborhood of 39,460 residents in Anchorage, and you’re in for some good times ahead. Housing is an affordable $238,652, while the range of amenities on offer provides plenty of opportunities for locals to splash their considerable $93,973 household incomes. Residents report a safe, welcoming atmosphere to the neighborhood, which is understandable considering its low crime rate. While nightlife may be limited, the quiet, relaxed vibe of the neighborhood makes it one of the best spots in Anchorage to raise a family.
16. Bayshore / Klatt
A friendly welcome awaits you in the Bayshore / Klatt neighborhood of Anchorage, as does an abundance of local businesses, some delightful shops and restaurants, clean, treelined streets, plenty of well-maintained outdoor spots, an upbeat local economy, a median household income of $109,765, and one of the lowest crime rates in Anchorage. The price to pay for such an attractive list of perks? $303,982 for a property to buy, and a whopping $1,511 for a property to rent.
15. Tudor Area
It may be small (just 1,735 residents call it home) but the Tudor Area neighborhood of Anchorage has the kind of assets a town 10 times its size would be proud of. Rent may be expensive (expect to pay around $1500 per month), but the average home price is relatively reasonable at $292,338. The median household income, meanwhile, is a very hefty $105,092, thanks largely to an easy commute into the main business hub of Anchorage. The schools are some of the best in the district (which no doubt explains why 41% of residents are families) and while the crime rate isn’t quite as good as certain other areas, it’s by no means terrible. All in all, a very desirable location indeed.
14. North Star
With a friendly, small-town vibe, clean, walkable streets, a reasonably low crime rate, and a variety of leisure and recreational pursuits on its doorstep, the small neighborhood of North Star makes its entrance at number 14. Offsetting the very reasonable home price of $240,500 is an above-average median income of $62,757 – a figure no doubt achieved by the great commuting access the neighborhood offers into the heart of Anchorage.
Making its entrance at number 13 is the frankly gorgeous little town of Kenai. Famed the world over for its salmon fishing, the town offers an abundance of jobs and an easy commute into Anchorage from the nearby Kenai Municipal Airport. Housing is a very affordable $226,600, while the median household income is slightly above the national average at $58,125. Warm, welcoming neighbors, a safe, pleasant vibe, low crime, great schools, and a fabulous range of outdoor attractions complete the very pretty picture.
12. Hillside East
“I cannot see myself ever living anywhere else,” one resident of Hillside East tells Niche, a sentiment we can understand only too well. Excellent public schools compete for top position on the neighborhood’s list of attractions against an unfathomably low crime rate (assaults number just 23 compared to the national average of 282.7, while there’ve been no other incidences of violent crime to report in the last year), a remarkably high median income of $84,575, an abundance of great amenities, and a flourishing community spirit. The winner, however, is the incredibly affordable property prices, which sit well below the national average at just $158,116.
11. Airport Heights
The 6,590 residents of Airport Height’s get to enjoy excellent access to a bountiful array of shops, restaurants, bars and leisure sites, a great range of local state schools, a median income of $75,185, a thriving job market, and some of the most affordable housing in Anchorage ($199,156 will get you a very comfortable family home with a good-sized garden). The only area that could be improved upon is its property crime rate, which, while by no means the worst in Alaska, is also far from the best.
10. Huffman/ O’Malley
Love nature? Then you’re going to love Huffman/ O’Malley. Surrounded by mountains and greenery, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Anchorage for sheer beauty. Accompanying the bountiful supply of outdoor pursuit are enough theatres, cinemas, shops, and restaurants to keep fans of the great indoors just as happy as their nature-loving neighbors. The flipside to all these great features? A median home price of a mammoth $421,015… although with most residents bringing home an average salary of almost three times the national average, you’re unlikely to hear too many complaints about the cost of living.
Basher… a place where the average household earns $161,161, the average resident has at least a bachelor’s degree, the average child has access to some of the best schools in the state, and where everyone (average or not) can enjoy clean, safe streets, an unfeasibly low crime rate, almost zero unemployment and poverty, and access to some of the best of Alaska’s extensive natural beauty. Fancy a bit of it for yourself? Then better start saving… the average cost of a property in this delightful part of the world is a stonking $552,200 (and if you think you can save some dollars by renting, think again… the average cost of a rental property is a mind-blowing $3501 per month).
As the Crazy Tourist notes, College’s population of 14,675 makes it far from one of the most populous areas of Alaska. However, its prime location on Route 3, easy commuting distance from Anchorage, great schools, low crime, amazing proximity to the Alaskan wilderness, high median household income of $77,341, and affordable housing does make it one of the best.
7. Mid -Hillside
A steady job market, stable economy, and low crime rate make our next entry, the small neighborhood of Mid -Hillside, one of the best places in Anchorage to raise a family. According to Niche, it’s also the number one best place in the city to buy a property- although with the average single-family home retailing for $466,047, you’re going to need some serious savings behind you before you even consider it. That said, you’ll probably have few regrets if you do. With a median household income of $159,013, a fabulous range of services and amenities, and the best of Anchorage on the doorstep, there’s a very valid reason Mid -Hillside is considered one of Alaska’s most desirable places to live.
The small but charming Girdwood makes it to our list at number 6. Only 2,340 residents call the neighborhood home, but those fortunate enough to do so enjoy one of the best places in Anchorage to raise a family. The median home value may be astronomically high (don’t expect to get much change from $440,671) but thanks to an exceptionally low crime rate (in fact, no crime rate – within the last year, there’ve been absolutely no crimes committed (or at least, reported) in the neighborhood at all), great schools, a steady job market, and a median income of $75,643, you’re unlikely to hear too many complaints.
Scraping a pass into the top five is Turnagain, a mid-sized community in Anchorage that offers a great place to live to 15,146 lucky Alaskans. “Turnagain is a safe, family-friendly, outdoor-oriented neighborhood by the sea. It has been my home for the past 19 years. It boasts excellent public schools, easy access to recreation, and a small-town feel with a tight-knit community,” says one reviewer on Niche – a succinct summation that says everything you need to know about this delightful neighborhood.
4. Rabbit Creek
The charmingly named Rabbit Creek scores high marks across the board. Its population of 8092 is welcoming, diverse, and friendly; its crime rate is exceptionally low; its economy is robust enough to support a median household income of $152,354; its schools rank among the best in the state; its streets are clean, walkable and safe; and its unemployment and poverty levels are minimal. The cost of living in such a desirable enclave? $560,879 if you want to buy, and $1316 if you want to rent. Better start saving…
3. South Addition
In at number three is South Addition, a remarkably peaceful little community that enjoys access to a great school system, a fabulous range of indoor and outdoor attractions and amenities, a strong job market, a median household income of $92,181, and a level of desirability that lets homeowners happily affix a $428,086 price tag to their properties.
2. Bear Valley
Great schools, a tiny but friendly community of 1,034 residents, the lowest violent crime rate in Alaska (along with a more than passable property crime rate), an economy strong enough to support a $125,781 median household income, great commuting links, and one of the most educated neighborhoods in Anchorage… with features like this, it’s no wonder property prices in Bear Valley come in at a whopping $543,400.
1. Rogers Park
Want to live in the very best place in all of Alaska? Then pack your bags and head on down to Rogers Park. With an average home value of $348,644, it’s certainly not the cheapest neighborhood in Anchorage, but with a low crime rate, a median household income of $91,643, first-rate schools, and the kind of recreational activities, shopping opportunities, and wining and dining options that are guaranteed to keep your spirits up even in the darkest days of winter, it’s certainly deserving of its #1 ranking.