How expensive is it to live in Alaska?

It's not cheap to live in Alaska, although there are many metro areas elsewhere in the United States where the cost of living is just as high. The 1990s arrival of discount and chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Barnes & Noble brought Alaska's consumer prices closer to those found in the Lower 48.


Housing expense remains high. Balancing out some of the higher expenses, income in Alaska is above the national average.

Juneau and Anchorage have Alaska's most expensive average home price, $241,000. Juneau also tops the state in rent costs for a three-bedroom single-family house and a two-bedroom apartment.

In the table below, Anchorage includes Girdwood, Eagle River, Chugiak and Birchwood. Fairbanks includes North Pole. Kenai Peninsula includes the city of Kenai, Homer, Seward and other towns. Mat-Su includes Palmer, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Big Lake and other towns. These figures are for late 2003.

Location Average home sales price Average monthly rent
3-bedroom home
Average rent
2-bedroom apartment
Juneau $241,000 $1,490 $967
Anchorage Municipality $241,000 $1,389 $845
Bethel $205,000 NA NA
Ketchikan $212,000 $1,229 $864
Kodiak $192,000 $1,289 $898
Kenai Peninsula Borough $169,000 $950 $671
Mat-Su Borough $179,000 $1,163 $720
Fairbanks North Star Borough $172,000 $1,274 $811
Wrangell-Petersburg NA $856 $682
Sitka NA $1,325 $847
Valdez-Cordova NA $1,354 $866
Rest of state $186,000 NA NA

Source: Alaska Housing Finance Corp. and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Research and Analysis Section.
NA = Info not available.


Upon going to an Alaska grocery store for the first time you should expect some sticker shock.  For comparison, the same groceries would cost $94 in Portland, Oregon, a commonly used comparison city where transportation costs are much lower.

Here is what it would cost to feed a family of four, with two children age 6 to 11, in 18 Alaska cities and towns.  Understand that many goods must be shipped and flown in.  The farther north you go, the more expensive life becomes.

In this chart, Anchorage includes Eagle River, Chugiak and Girdwood. Mat-Su includes Palmer, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Willow, Houston and other towns of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Location Weekly grocery bill
Anchorage Municipality $107
Bethel $187
Cordova $163
Delta $132
Dutch Harbor $167
Fairbanks $120
Haines $155
Homer $144
Juneau $124
Kenai-Soldotna $128
Ketchikan $116
Kodiak $142
Mat-Su $119
Naknek-King Salmon $214
Nome $173
Seward $132
Sitka $128
Tok $117


Source: University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.