I cannot believe it myself. After years and years of trying to get back… we're moving to Alaska!
And now it's going to be our home.
We are beyond excited that this is happening. It's happening F A S T though. Like, REAL FAST.
Our Family Of Four Is Moving To Alaska (From Texas)!
We are slated to be out of this house and moved into our new home in Alaska in the middle of December.
My husband's first day of work will be December 23rd.
And there's still A LOT to do on this house plus sell our cars andplusalso a MILLION other things to in the next ooooohhhh… six weeks.
Guys. I might die from it all but I'm going to live in Alaska again!
Our Move To The Last Frontier
I know that y'all must have SO MANY questions!
I'm going to try to anticipate and answer as many as I can but feel free to ask more in the comments.
WHY are you moving?
The short answer is because my husband got a new job up there.
The longer answer is that we've been trying to get back to Alaska for nearly a decade.
We loved life in Alaska and have wanted to live there again for years.
The main issue was that the cost of living in Alaska is really high and moving there is very expensive.
We were doing okay in Texas but our house and cars were really old and run down, we weren't able to put money aside for our children's educations, and we felt like we endlessly running on a treadmill and going nowhere.
So, we decided that the only way we would move to Alaska was if we'd be improving our quality of life.
That meant, a better home for our family, a better vehicle for our needs, money to invest and put in savings.
It also meant:
- no endlessly working on a house
- my husband needed to be working a physically/mentally less demanding job
- not stressing out about making huge amounts of money from my blogging so I could continue to work with who I wanted and not for whatever money I could get
- continuing to provide a quality education for our daughter (who has ODD and high functioning autism)
We didn't need to be millionaires and living in an enormous fancy house – we just wanted a nicer life.
After years of jobs that didn't quite meet our needs and jobs that did but fell through at the last minute – The Boy was offered a job that allowed us to have everything on our list and that he was excited about.
We could not be more happy and excited!
But you've been working on your house!
I know! It's crazy.
But look, we always knew that this house wasn't our forever home.
I'm happy with the work we've done and especially the tight budget we did it on.
That is going to help us a lot once we put this place on the market.
The good news is, that the sweat equity we've put into the house will allow us to have the fresh start we want in Alaska.
Is the house finished?
Like, there is SO MUCH LEFT TO DO.
We really had to sit down and prioritize what needed to get done to meet code (our house is forty years old and probably wasn't even built to code to begin with) and what we needed to remodel to get the biggest bang for our buck.
The biggest thing was we needed to rent dumpsters to remove the years worth of remodeling debris on the property.
Also, my husband is a bit of a hoarder so we need to do truckload after truckload of donations.
Remodeling wise, here's what we're doing/finishing up:
- Demo all the floor to ceiling wood paneling and replace with drywall.
- Mud, tape, texture, and paint drywall.
- Texture ceilings (we were going to do a cool beadboard treatment on the ceilings but it's not the smartest use of our time now).
- Replace remaining windows.
- Replace side yard door with new door.
- Trim everywhere (floors, ceiling, around doors, around windows).
- Paint trim.
- Replace remaining ceiling lights with new ones.
- Finish installing thresholds in bathroom and laundry room doorways.
- Remove old stovepipe in living room and patch hole.
- Finish painting interior of front door.
- Replace remaining outlets and light switches plus covers.
- Repair/replace missing exterior siding and trim.
- Paint exterior and exterior trim.
I know it doesn't sound like that much but, we're doing this entirely on our own sooooo – it's a lot.
Are there any special things you need to be aware of to cross the Canadian border?
My husband has a few hunting guns that he'll be transporting so we had to double check that those models were allowed in Canada.
We also had to fill out and print formal paperwork to cross the border into Canada with guns.
The guns that aren't allowed across the border will be safely and carefully packed in travel cases and checked as luggage on our scouting trip in a few weeks.
A friend will be keeping them for us until we move.
We also all got passports even though my husband will be the only one crossing into Canada.
It was just easier to do all of us at the same time.
Canada will not allow you across the border if you have a felony or even a DUI. So, don't bother trying.
Lastly, we had to get George's current vaccinations, a rabies shot, and a special international travel certificate from his vet that is only good for 10 days.
Don't you get paid to live in Alaska?
No. Honestly, WHO IS TELLING PEOPLE THIS?!?!
It is very, very wrong.
What DOES happen (and probably how this rumor got started), is that every year, qualifying Alaskan residents can apply to receive a Permanent Fund Dividend (also known as a PFD).
Basically, in the 1970's when the pipeline was being built, the governor negotiated to “rent” the land and oil rights to the oil companies.
The money is put into the stock market and now, once a year in October, residents get their PFD check – a portion of the invested money's interest.
It can fluctuate wildly but generally, you're looking at $800-1200 a person.
Which, to be honest, isn't THAT much considering the state's cost of living.
Are you excited to see the Aurora Borealis?
I mean… I guess?
I grew up in Alaska and while the northern lights are stunning – I've seen them A LOT.
I am excited for my kids to see them though.
What's the cost of living in Alaska? Is there an income tax?
The cost of living in Alaska is, in general, one of the higher ones statewide (Hawaii is higher).
Compared to major metro areas, some things are much more expensive while others are average.
You can check the current cost of living in Alaska by clicking here.
And no, as of right now, Alaska does not have an income tax (though several areas do have sales tax).
Where exactly in Alaska will you be living?
My husband will be working in Anchorage so we're looking in to live in a small town in the surrounding area.
We're not planning on living any further out than Wasilla though because that would make his commute insane.
What kind of house are you buying?
Hopefully, BRAND NEW!
I just want a brand new build that we don't have to do anything to make the house function properly when we first move in.
I like that our weekends will be spent hanging out as a family and not hanging drywall.
I do want to do some projects in our new house but they'll be more fun, cosmetic ones and less we-have-to-do-this-in-order-to-have-one-working-toilet-in-our-house, ya know?
Specifics-wise, we're hoping for:
- at least three bedrooms (four would be AWESOME)
- at least two bathrooms (2 and a half or three would be bank)
- an open floor plan (we don't like formal spaces)
- a two or three car garage (heated, obvs)
- an office (NOT a bedroom – an actual office for me)
- at least one acre
- a separate tub and shower in the master bathroom
- two sinks in the master bathroom
- gas oven/stove for the kitchen
- under one hour commute for my husband
- a family-friendly neighborhood
I also wouldn't hate:
- a gas fireplace
- a pantry
- a mudroom
- white cabinets in the kitchen
- a laundry room
- a nice deck and backyard area
- room for a king bed in the master bedroom
- tons of natural light
- a pretty lot with natural beauty (a view and/or lots of trees)
How are you handling moving Melanie to a new school again?
Man. This was the HARDEST thing for us.
Literally. We almost didn't do this because we love her new school SO MUCH and had such a nightmare experience with the first one.
The bummer part of this is that we don't have a reference for “good” schools in the area we're moving to.
We don't know anyone we can ask (my family is much further North in a completely different school district) so it's been tricky.
Basically, I've been researching what we love about her current school (studying it's national rankings, learning the right special needs phrases and terms) and then looking for those in the new area we're moving to.
I literally went on to Zillow and sorted housing areas by school ranking. I drew a circle around our favorite areas and we're working from there.
I reached out to three schools that were the same ranking (or above) as her current school and had specific special needs programs for her behavioral needs.
We'll be visiting the schools when we're on our scouting trip in November. I'm emailing them copies of her current IEP and initial assessment.
We're planning to ask some specific questions while we're there but also just see how we feel about the school's atmosphere.
While she doesn't have the final say, we will be asking Melanie for her thoughts and feelings about each school.
Are the kids excited?
They… will be.
Finn could care less so long as we're all together.
Melanie is having a harder time because she is finally in a school she loves and has a sweet little friend.
She's trying to wrap her mind around moving to Alaska full time and so quickly.
We had to explain that we'd be selling our house and buying a new one (she thought we were literally moving the house to Alaska).
She was excited to learn she'd be getting her own bedroom (no more sharing with her brother) and that she'd get to paint it any color she wanted (she picked pink).
She was also worried that we'd have to miss our Disneyland family vacation in May 2020.
We assured her that we were still planning on taking the vacation.
We did have to break it to her that, from here on out, we probably wouldn't be able to visit the Disney parks as much as we normally do and limit ourselves to once a year (instead of two or three trips annually).
What is the weather like there?
It's a lot more like the weather in Seattle than in Fairbanks (where I grew up).
We're planning for lots of snow (yay for sledding!) and lots of rain (hello, cute rainboots!).
50 degrees is a nice mild normal in spring and fall. 20 below zero is considered cold. Anything over 70 degrees is considered hot.
Incidentally, most homes in Alaska have heating systems but they do not have any form of air conditioning.
How are you actually DOING the move (flying, shipping your stuff, driving)?
As of right now (and this could change because, life), the kids and I will be flying out of San Antonio to Seattle a few days before The Boy.
We'll stay with a good friend for a week and explore the area.
Then fly to Anchorage the day before we move into the house/my husband is supposed to arrive in Alaska.
This is the plan but as they say about plans… it'll probably end up being a shit show.
Are you taking the cat?
Of course, we are! George is family and the whole family is going.
He'll ride in the truck with my husband to Alaska (lawd, help them both).
Let's be real, it's probably going to be an epic and awful road trip.
What's the Midnight Sun?
It's a phrase used to describe the fact that in the summer, the sun is up even at night. So, Alaska is called the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Yeah, it's a lot of information, right?
My head is spinning.
I cannot believe how much we have to do in such a short amount of time.