Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

Moderators: Johncn, Betty Walters, Toni McFadden, Damon Hargraves

Re: Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

Postby Darla Grediagin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:12 pm

Good afternoon,

Each district will be different due to whether the school district supplies housing or not. I am in Bering Strait School District and our rent is 925.00 a month and that includes utilities. Hopefully, others will put their housing circumstances.

There are other ways to purchase food up here. I use Amazon to subscribe to items. This allows free shipping of things.
SpanAlaska (http://www.spanalaskasales.com)will offer food. You have to buy in enough bulk that teachers will wait to order items as a group.
Fred Meyers and WalMart both offer mail out services from Anchorage. You can expect to pay an additional $30.00 + 10% for each 50 lbs. of your non perishable groceries for shipping, if you order from Fred Meyers or WalMart. This may go up with increases in US Postal Rates. You do learn to shop by weight pretty quick.

Good luck
Darla Grediagin
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Re: Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

Postby jen_sargent679 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:49 am

Hi Darla,

I applied for a job Savoonga. Is the rent and shopping the same on the island? I enjoyed watching the videos that BSSD put on the website. They have a great wealth of information for new teachers.

Have you ever used Mr. Prime Beef? Or is it better to shop at COSTCO for meat?


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Re: Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

Postby Darla Grediagin » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:06 am

Hi Jen,

Welcome to BSSD. The plus of Mr. Prime Beef over Costco is that they will package the meat, deep freeze it, and take it to the airport for shipping. If you use Costco, you will either be doing that yourself if you are in town or paying for a service to do that for you.

A lot of people will ship their clothing and take their meat as their baggage on the plane. This goes for fresh fruit and vegetable, also.

Darla Grediagin
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

Postby Johncn » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:50 pm


The cost of living is a very difficult thing to answer, as it depends mostly on location. Alaska is much, much larger than most realize, and has lots of different regions with different travel and transportation systems that are used for to move goods. That is the biggest determinate, so without knowing "where", it is hard to answering meaningfully.

The cost of things is slightly higher than, say, Seattle, in urban areas (Anchorage, Fairbanks, etc.). In rural Alaska it is high if you buy things locally, but that is misleading. Most teachers order the majority of there consumables by mail, or from regional hubs, and have them shipped in. Therefore, you don't often pay the high prices at the local store. We all buy SOME things locally, though...and everyone has their tips and tricks.

Like Darla said, teachers often travel with coolers as luggage, and ship luggage by mail, but bring fresh foods and perishables as "luggage" when they fly into the villages. Amamzon ships for free (there are lots of variations like Amazon Prime, and subscriptions to things you know you use lots of) that help make basic supplies not at all that bad. One thing that many forget is that it's also harder to SPEND money in rural villages, so in our family's experience, it mostly works out. ;-)

The cost of housing and heating oil are both quite significant in rural Alaska, so most districts in rural areas have subsidized housing where the teacher's union agrees on a fixed rate for rent that works as a payroll deduction. Some districts also include utilities in their rent, so look for that...it can really make a difference.

Hope this helps,

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Re: Average costs of living in Rural Alaska

Postby Darla Grediagin » Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:34 am

One thing to remember as you look at prices in Anchorage for buying things, is that we do have sales tax. It takes me by surprise when I go travel and my total is 6-10% more than I expected. New teachers here have the sticker shock when they look at prices, but there are no add on taxes and they have been pleasantly surprised when they go to the post office and it is cheaper to ship their boxes.
Darla Grediagin
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:55 pm

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