There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Alaska:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Alaska, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Last Frontier.
To do that we are going to look at places in Alaska that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the “deals”.
The best deal in Alaska at the moment? That would be Palmer according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Alaska for 2019:
- Palmer (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Kenai (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Wasilla (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Bethel (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Ketchikan (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Homer (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Juneau (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Anchorage (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sitka (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Fairbanks (Photos | Homes For Sale)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
For more Alaska reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Alaska
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Alaska
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Alaska
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Alaska for 2019?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Alaska. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Alaska with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2013-2017 and compared it to the previous vintage (2012-2016). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still “cheap” for Alaska with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 333 cities and towns in Alaska, only 11 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 11 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a “best place to buy” index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Palmer is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Last Frontier.
Read on for more on these places.
The first people to live in the Matanuska Valley, where Palmer is located, were the Dena’ina and Ahtna Athabaskans. They moved throughout the area, living a subsistence lifestyle and trading with other native groups. Their trade routes were along the Matanuska River. Russians came to Alaska in 1741 and brought the Russian Orthodox religious tradition to the indigenous peoples of the region. In the early 1890s, an entrepreneur named George W. Palmer built a trading post on the Matanuska River, near present-day Palmer. The town was later named after Palmer.
The city of Kenai is named after the local Dena’ina word ‘ken’ or ‘kena’, which means ‘flat, meadow, open area with few trees; base, low ridge’, according to the Dena’ina Topical Dictionary by James Kari, Ph.D., published in 2007. This describes the area along the mouth and portion of the Kenai River near the City of Kenai. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was first occupied by the Kachemak people from 1000 B.C., until they were displaced by the Dena’ina Athabaskan people around 1000 A.D. Before the arrival of the Russians, Kenai was a Dena’ina village called Shk’ituk’t, meaning “where we slide down.” When Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741, about 1,000 Dena’ina lived in the village. The traders called the people “Kenaitze”, which is a Russian term for “people of the flats”, or “Kenai people”. This name was later adopted when they were incorporated as the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in the early 1970s.
Glacial ice sheets covered most of the northern hemisphere during the last glacial period, between 26,500 and 19,000-20,000 years ago, until they disappeared between 10,000 and about 7,000 years ago. Early humans moved through the area and left evidence of their passage. The Matanuska-Susitna valley was eventually settled by the Dena’ina Alaska natives who utilized the fertile lands and fishing opportunities of Cook Inlet. The Dena’ina are one of the eleven sub-groups comprising the indigenous Athabaskan Indian groups extending down Canada’s western coast. The area around downtown Wasilla was known to the Dena’ina as “Benteh”, which translates as “among the lakes”. Near the mouth of the Matanuska River, the town of Knik was settled about 1880. In 1900, the Willow Creek Mining District was established to the north and Knik thrived as a mining settlement.
Southwestern Alaska was the traditional place of Yup’ik people and their ancestors for thousands of years. They called their village Mamterillermiut, meaning “Smokehouse People”, after their nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company trading post during the late 19th century, and had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census.
Tiller digs indicate that early Alutiiq people probably camped in the Homer area although their villages were on the far side of Kachemak Bay.
Long before European settlement in the Americas, the Gastineau Channel was a favorite fishing ground for the Auke and Taku tribes, who had inhabited the surrounding area for thousands of years. The A’akw Kwan had a village and burying ground here. In the 21st century it is known as Indian Point. They annually harvested herring during the spawning season, and celebrated this bounty.
Russian presence in south central Alaska was well established in the 19th century. In 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward brokered a deal to purchase Alaska from Imperial Russia for $7.2 million, or about two cents an acre. His political rivals lampooned the deal as “Seward’s folly,” “Seward’s icebox,” and “Walrussia.” In 1888, gold was discovered along Turnagain Arm.|Alaska became a United States territory in 1912. Anchorage, unlike every other large town in Alaska south of the Brooks Range, was neither a fishing nor mining camp. The area surrounding Anchorage lacks significant economic metal minerals. A number of Dena’ina settlements existed along Knik Arm for years. By 1911 the families of J. D. “Bud” Whitney and Jim St. Clair lived at the mouth of Ship Creek and were joined there by a young forest ranger, Jack Brown, and his bride, Nellie, in 1912.
The current name Sitka means “People on the Outside of Baranof Island”, whose Tlingit name is Sheet–k X’at’l.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross, where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River. The sight of smoke from the steamer’s engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Alaska for 2019
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Alaska. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 333 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Alaska reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Alaska