In September of 2014, I was offered a position in Fairbanks, Alaska and Mike and I decided to take the adventure of a lifetime.
We visited once during the onsite interview in July, but we truly didn't know what we were in for. After some online searches, talking to friends and some plain-old winging it, we found a few important things to make sure you do if you move there.
1. Winterize your cars
Trust me, you'll need to plug in your car. The lowest temperature I experience there was -60F. I've been advised to plug in my car below 10F, but I'm sure you can go lower without plugging it in, the car just does more work to heat itself up.
2. Buy some wool medium to heavy base layers. Tops and bottoms.
Layers matter oh so much. They are the difference between "I can do this for a few minutes" to "I need to get inside right now"
Also, buy them before you get up here (I support local business, but I can't bring myself to buy things I can get for half the price online. Try Sierra Trading Post - they are awesome!)
3. Apply for an Alaska Airlines Credit Card
Flying anywhere will get you loads of miles. It's not cheap to travel to and from Alaska (as you would know) but you rack up miles so fast that soon you'll be flying everywhere on miles! It's also fairly easy to get status on Alaska Airlines if you travel a bit, which is a nice perk.
4. Get Some Winter Hobbies
Fairbanks winter lasts as long as 9-10 months and it is pretty dark for most of the day for 6 of those months. Having a winter activity that you want to try or like is pretty key to surviving the winter. Many people snow machine, cross country ski or snowshoe, but it gets even too cold for that for a few months. Inside crafts or hobbies are just as important. I like to sew and needlefelt, which helped pass the day when it was too cold to cross country ski. We had a small garage where Mike worked on the cars and wood-worked to pass his time.
* Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): sadness or depression that occurs in the late autumn and winter due to lack of natural sunlight. Happy lamps are a real thing, and can seriously help reduce SAD.
5. Wait to apply for a job until you get there
If you don't have a job already taking you there, wait to apply for jobs until you get there. Many companies will only hire locals, and you can't be a local until you have a local address!
6. Get a Good Spare Tire
The road between cities is long and generally deserted. A good spare will get you to that next city to get a repair.
7. Invest in Remote Start for your Vehicle
This will pay for itself next time you have to drive somewhere when it's -60F and you don't have to get in a cold car.
Alaska is an amazing place, and I'm sure everyone's seen the pictures to prove it. It was certainly the adventure of a lifetime for us. We lived there for 2 years and while we no longer live there due to job changes, Alaska will always hold a special place in our hearts.
What other things would you add to this list??
Let's get lost moving to Alaska!