Living in Alaska · Moving to Alaska

My Alaskan Anniversary

Hi everyone!  Today is a very special day for me:  Exactly one year ago today, I moved to Alaska!

IMG_0426

In case you missed our moving story, my husband and I were looking for a change and were throwing around some ideas on places we would like to move to – and then while on our honeymoon to Alaska we realized that we’d found the perfect place.  While hiking in Denali I made the suggestion and we haven’t looked back since!

P1000433

At first it sounded totally insane.  Moving from Philly all the way to Alaska just for the pretty views and hiking trails?  That’s silly.  We had jobs and friends and family nearby, isn’t that enough?  But it wasn’t.  We were looking for something more, and Alaska had that for us.  We really couldn’t think of a reason to stay in a city where we weren’t totally happy in jobs that weren’t what we really wanted to do, especially when we knew that there were amazing places out there where we could live instead.  So after securing a summer job that at least would give us an income and a place to live in Seward for the summer, we packed up our belongings and set out  on the craziest adventure ever.

IMG_0470

Today marks the anniversary of the absolute hardest day of my life.  I’ve never seen my parents cry that hard.  I almost couldn’t make myself drive away from them and I literally spent the entire day crying as we drove across the midwest.  I cry just thinking about it  😦  And the trip only got crazier from there!  We spent 8 days driving through the US and Canada, crashing into snowbanks and blowing out tires, before reaching our new home.  And since getting here, it’s been a pretty crazy adventure!  We spent the summer in Seward trying to adjust to small town Alaska life while trying to take in as many new experiences as possible.  I had more than a few moments were I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to find jobs and an apartment in Anchorage when the summer was over, but we made it happen.  We survived the long dark (and non-snowy) winter, and now that we’ve made it to the one year mark I’m feeling so incredibly happy that this is my home.  Although to be honest, there hasn’t been a single day this year where I didn’t get a little bit homesick.  It’s been hard sometimes, but I’ve done so many amazing things since becoming an Alaskan:

-I saw more orca, fin, humpback, and beluga whales than I can count

IMG_0846

-I hiked giant mountains

20140723-232442.jpg

-I became semi-comfortable with seeing moose everywhere

IMG_4036

-I saw the aurora borealis!

DSC_0734

-I bought my first gun

IMG_3913

-I kayaked next to sea otters

20140820-235425.jpg

-I went dogsledding on a glacier

IMG_1625

-I saw some insane rainbows

IMG_2745

-I hung out under the midnight sun

20140618-005214.jpg

-I stood on glaciers

IMG_1115

-I survived temps around zero and almost nonexistent sunlight…and it wasn’t so bad!

IMG_3767

-I ran next to the ocean, under the midnight sun, through the mountains, and in more beautiful places than I could ever have imagined back in Philly!

20140731-203657.jpg

It was so incredibly hard leaving Philly, but living in Alaska is worth it.  We gave up a lot but got so many amazing things in return.  I love my new job, my new friends, my gorgeous new running trails, and the fact that my weekend plans are things that most people won’t get to do in their lifetime.  If you feel like you want to make a big move, DO IT.  Most people won’t understand it but you only get one life to live and it might as well be in a kickass place!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Advertisements

44 thoughts on “My Alaskan Anniversary

  1. Congratulations on your one year anniversary of moving! What a fabulous, courageous thing to do! When I was in college, I moved 500 miles away from my family, and it was so difficult – I can’t imagine moving from Philly to Alaska! But I have never regretted my choice, and it sounds like you are happy with yours as well. Beautiful pictures and experiences!

    1. It was so crazy hard – there were many nights where I cried and just wanted to go home. But honestly, it was worth it! Alaska is so amazing and it’s where I need to be right now! Glad you were able to move and enjoy a new place too!

    1. Yay for Alaska! What made you move away? I feel like it will probably happen someday but for now we’re pretty happy here. Also, Napa would be AWESOME!

    1. Maine was our #1 choice before we visited Alaska! But Maine just seemed to remote for me…too much driving to get to bigger cities and mountains. I like being in Anchorage since it has both!

    1. I still need to visit Oregon! It looks gorgeous! That’s a pretty big move so I feel like you can understand how I felt about being so far from family. I’m glad you like it there!

  2. I’m going to save this post. My husband and I keep talking about make a big move. We like where we live, but we want something MORE. It’s hard to think about leaving my cushy job and cute house to start over, but this post is such an inspiration! Congratulations on one year!

    1. Do it! I couldn’t even handle the thought that I’d regret not moving while we were young. It is really really hard – read any of my posts over the last year and you’ll see that it was a struggle to not get homesick constantly – but so worth it. Good luck and let me know if you ever want to talk!

  3. I am a Brazilian living in Belgium since 2001 so I can imagine what you have gone through. I found the first 6 months the hardest, but after so many years you get accustomed. I cannot imagine life in Alaska because of the cold temperatures. It seems to be quite an adventure indeed. And seeing whales swimming free… I can only dream of that. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Wow yeah that’s a big move! It’s not too cold here, and you get used to it pretty quickly. I could never tolerate warm temperatures and now I find that anything over 80 degrees is too much for me to handle haha!

  4. It sounds like you definitely made the right move! When I moved 1300 miles away from everything and everyone I’d ever known, I had no idea what would happen. Now I have a great house, an even greater husband, and the ability to go outside and play in great weather pretty much whenever I want. So here’s to throwing caution to the wind and taking that leap! 🙂

  5. Happy anniversary! Ever since studying abroad in college I’ve had crazy wanderlust and have been soooo tempted to move away from Massachusetts, but I just haven’t had the guts. Or the guaranteed employment, which is key! I’d love to move to Europe, even just for a few years, because it’s so much easier to travel around the rest of the continent once you’re over there, and I could visit so many cool places!

    1. Do it! I took a massive pay cut to live in Seward for the summer in the tourism industry where it was easy to get a job from out of state, but I found a place with cheap housing and that made it possible. While I was down there I looked for a full time job in Anchorage and eventually found it! Things strangely have a way of working out when you just take a leap. Europe sounds awesome and I totally support a move there!

  6. Yay!! So happy for you and congratulations on your anniversary. I have loved reading about all of your amazing adventures there. What a fantastic opportunity and experience for you two. I wish you many happy Alaskan memories!

  7. Hi!
    So I came across your blog online because I am currently living in Pittsburgh and my boyfriend & I are planning on moving to Alaska!! I was doing some research on people’s experiences and yours is so parallel, I really needed to leave a comment!

    Basically we are at a fork in the road where we are trying to decide what we want to do with our lives. I am 2 semesters away from graduating school and he has a few more years left at Pitt. We have some excellent people to network with to get really great jobs in the city here but are not sure if we want to go that direction…or a totally different one. It was in a brief moment we were like…what if we just picked up and moved to Alaska? Now that thought is starting to turn into a legitimate option for us.

    We don’t want to corporate jobs that our parents are urging us to pursuit. We are very free spirited and don’t want to get stuck in a mundane lifestyle. I feel like we may be nuts..but it seemed to be like a great decision for your!

    I still plan on finishing my degree and getting a job in my field (Human Resources) if we were to move. He plans on transferring schools to finish there (Engineering). To give you a little background on us…we are 24&25 years old – not really traditional students. Took us a little longer than it should. We met in CT and have known each other for 7 years; dating for 4. We relocated to PA and have been here for a little over 2 years now. I actually have been looking into jobs now and applied for a few at University of Alaska and thought that it would be ideal so that I can continue to go for my Master’s. Also..we plan on getting married eventually and figured if I did get a job there that I would be able to pay for the rest of our education.

    I guess overall I just really wanted to reach out to you for advice and perhaps support! My main question is about your transition. Realistically, how much money did you have to make this happen for you? That is probably going to be our biggest obstacle. I do have a nice job now that I make decent money, as does he, but that mainly goes to the bills and expenses that we are incurring now. It’s kind of hard to save up. Also, I don’t think our parents are going to support our idea so much….they really want us to follow in their footsteps and live the *corporate dream*.

    I do have a lot more questions but not sure if you will even get back to me! Regardless, this ranting and typing out my thoughts have been reassuring of what I want to do. I don’t know – I’m a very intuitive person. I just feel in my bones that this is the next chapter of my life.

    Hope to hear back! – Chelsea

    1. Oh my gosh Chelsea thank you so much for your comment! Making this type of move can be so scary and overwhelming. First of all, I know this post makes no mention of it but my husband and I are Pitt alumns! We met there and then ended up moving back to the east side of the state after we graduated. Small world! Like I mentioned, we were looking for a big change and wanted to find a small city near lots of nature. When we came here on our honeymoon we fell in love and decided that this was the place. But I’m not going to lie, the actual move was tough. No one took us seriously on job applications because that’s a huge move and I guess lots of people get swept up in Alaska’s awesomeness but don’t actually commit to moving. That’s why we chose to get summer jobs up here instead – it would give us an Alaskan address so we’d get calls back for interviews. Once you’re up here, it’s not too hard to find something. Alaska is a very transient place with the large military presence and the fact that lots of jobs up here are temporary, so when it came to finding a full time job it wasn’t too hard. If you want to try that route I’d suggest a nearby town like Seward (2 hours away), Girdwood, or Talkeetna (2 hours away) where you can experience small town Alaska but still be close to Anchorage for job hunting. Or you can find tons of temporary jobs in Anchorage but they probably won’t come with housing so you’ll have to find a place. Check out coolworks.com for that! When looking at a map keep in mind that Alaska is 1/3 the size of the lower 48 states so things that look “close” are pretty far. I’d recommend Anchorage to start because even living in Seward last summer was a pretty big culture shock after living in big cities my whole life. Fairbanks is much colder and snowier and has a lot less to offer in terms of mountains, oceans, and stores and probably has less job options too. I did a post when we visited if you’re thinking about moving there. FYI you can totally get a corporate job up here and live the “corporate dream” your parents want for you, and then spend your weekends and evening going hiking, kayaking, skiing, whatever! 🙂

      Okay so now it’s my turn for questions! Have you ever been here before? I’d highly suggest that you come up to visit, even if it’s just to scope out places to live ahead of time. I realize that’s so expensive but I think necessary to make sure you’ll love it (although let’s be real, you will!). Next, how would you plan on moving here? What we did was sorted out our options: drive up here (it took us 8 days from Philly driving 13 hours each day, and you can read our trip reports if you search “Alaska road trip” on my blog for the details) which could be done in just your car or with a trailer attached carrying all your stuff, drive with a moving truck and just buy a car up here (although cars – and everything else – are definitely more expensive up here), fly up with some suitcases and nothing else, or fly while sending your car and stuff up on a barge. It really depends on how much you want to bring with you and what time of year you’re going. We priced each option out and actually made phone calls to compare what it would actually cost. It cost us a few thousand dollars to drive up here – I think it was $1200 for the U-Haul trailer rental, plus money for gas, food, and hotels for a week. Everything gets more expensive the farther north you go when things get remote. We didn’t have savings but I had 2 credit cards and (not that I’d suggest this from a financial standpoint!) charged everything to that and just paid it off when we could. I’d only suggest driving if it’s the late spring/summer/early fall. We went at the end of April and got caught in some nasty snowstorms and actually crashed our car in one!

      I’d love to be able to answer any other questions you have! When we decided to move up here I actually found a blogger in Seward who I connected with, and they’ve been so helpful with our transition up here and we’re still really good friends! I’d love to be able to help you because Alaska is amazing but it’s definitely not easy getting up here. Like I said in my post, my parents were devastated and I’m homesick a lot, but I don’t think I’ll ever move back home. Feel free to email me at kristen.haufler@gmail.com with any more questions. Good luck!

    2. Hi there, just stumbled upon your post and I felt a huge urge to message you! If you are really thinking of moving here (permanently) do yourself and your boyfriend a huge favor and make a trip up here for a brief stay. NOT during the Summer months, try and get here late summer and have a stay that extends in the winter months. This is the only way to get a true feel for Alaska. I say this because it’s important to get a feel for the intense, isolated, frigid Winter months. No one can prepare you for them. Being here during Summer time is unbelievable beautiful, completely breathtaking! However the Winters can override the beauty Summer offers. There are many pros and cons to living here and I feel Summer time can be a beautiful blindfold to the true lifestyle of being an Alaskan. Not responding to be a downer, I just find it important to warn others with the truth of Alaskan before such drastic life changes are made! Once you are here it is hard to leave. Really allow yourself to get a true experience before making such a drastic move.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s