When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.
But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of Alaska.
But where exactly in Alaska? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.
To that end, we have tried to identify the places in Alaska that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.
What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Wrangell don’t mind us spreading the word.
Here are our top ten places in the Last Frontier to retire for 2018:
- Wrangell (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Seward (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Cordova (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Homer (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Palmer (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sitka (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Ketchikan (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Valdez (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Soldotna (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Kenai (Photos | Homes For Sale)
How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Last Frontier
To create our list of the best places in Alaska to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Last Frontier — 333 cities and towns.
We then narrowed it down to places with at least 2,000 people that weren’t townships. This left us with 20 places from across the state.
For these 20, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:
- Low cost of living as measured by rent
- Low crime
- Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
- Nice weather
- Distance to the closest international airport
- Other retirees (High median age)
We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 20, with the lowest number being the best.
Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Wrangell, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.
Population: 5,418Median Rent: $970
Distance to Closest Airport: 117 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,266
More on Homer: Homes For Sale | Data
Tiller digs indicate that early Alutiiq people probably camped in the Homer area although their villages were on the far side of Kachemak Bay.
Population: 6,572Median Rent: $943
Distance to Closest Airport: 41 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,951
More on Palmer: Homes For Sale | Data
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.
Population: 8,921Median Rent: $1,019
Distance to Closest Airport: 85 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,804
More on Sitka: Homes For Sale | Data
The current name Sitka (derived from Sheet?ká, a contraction of the Tlingit Shee At’iká) means “People on the Outside of Baranof Island”, whose Tlingit name is Sheet?-ká X’áat’l (here contracted to Shee).
Population: 7,551Median Rent: $899
Distance to Closest Airport: 58 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,880
More on Kenai: Homes For Sale | Data
The city of Kenai is named after the local Dena’ina (Tanaina) 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.
Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…
So there you have it, the best place to retire in Alaska goes to Wrangell.
If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:
For more Alaska reading , check out:
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Alaska
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Alaska
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Alaska
Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Alaska