Best Places To Retire In Alaska For 2020


We analyzed over 20 places in Alaska to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to retire in Alaska.

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What better place to settle down after tackling the last frontier of work than the Last Frontier state? If you like endless summer nights, Alaska might just be the best state to retire in.

Alaska is about as far away from the ever-popular retiree state of Florida as you can get, but that doesn't mean it's not just as good a place to retire. Between bears both polar and grizzly, moose, caribou, and countless other creatures, the wildlife on display in Alaska is unbeatable. With over 100 state parks, Denali National Park, Glacier Bay and endless other hotspots for nature lovers, you'll certainly never be left wondering what to do with all your newfound free time. And if you're into salmon-fishing, you've chosen the best place to retire. Just look out for hungry grizzlies who may want some salmon for themselves.

So just where are the best places for retirement in Alaska? Unsurprisingly, the cities on this list are concentrated in south-central and southeast Alaska, close (in Alaskan terms) to the major cities of Anchorage and Juneau. About half this list is cities located on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. If being too far north freaks you out, consider Ketchikan, the southernmost city in the state. Or if being near the epic Kenai Fjords for easy access to eye-popping boat tours sounds exciting, retiring in Seward might be your best bet.

So if living among the cold beauty of glaciers and fjords, while chowing down on some reindeer sausage and wild berry cobbler sounds like a good way to spend your retirement, read on.

Why did Wrangell take the top spot? And where are Juneau and Fairbanks?

Whether retirement is right around the corner or still a far-off daydream, keep these Alaskan cities in mind as the best places in the state to retire. Unsurprisingly, there was a good amount of overlap between cities on this list and our lists of best places and best places for families in Alaska.

If you're wondering how we selected these cities as the best for retirees, wonder no longer. We narrowed down where we looked to cities with a population of at least 2,000, which left us with 20 cities to rank. Then we pulled data from the Census, the FBI's Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights, and ranked each of the 20 cities by metrics like safety, affordability, access to activities and airports, and median age.

But which city was the stand-out best place to retire in Alaska? According to the data, Wrangell is the best Alaskan city for retirement in 2020.

Want to see how other cities in Alaska ranked as retirement destinations? Check out the complete list below.

For more Alaska state reading:

The 10 Best Places To Retire In Alaska For 2020

Wrangell, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,484
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Rent: $809
Distance to Closest Airport: 58 miles
More on Wrangell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The City and Borough of Wrangell is a borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census the population was 2,369. Incorporated as a Unified Home Rule Borough on May 30, 2008, Wrangell was previously a city in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area.

The primary industry of the city is fishing, and it is a tourist destination. The former large wood processing factory in Wrangell closed down some time ago.

Soldotna, AK

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 4,589
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $999
Distance to Closest Airport: 59 miles
More on Soldotna: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cordova, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 3,055
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $1,057
Distance to Closest Airport: 153 miles
More on Cordova: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cordova is a small town located near the mouth of the Copper River in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States, at the head of Orca Inlet on the east side of Prince William Sound. The population was 2,239 at the 2010 census. Cordova was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. No roads connect Cordova to other Alaskan towns, so a plane or ferry is required to travel there. In the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989, an oil tanker ran aground northwest of Cordova, heavily damaging ecology and fishing.

Seward, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,770
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $924
Distance to Closest Airport: 75 miles
More on Seward: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Seward is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2014 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 2,528. It was named after William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In 1867, he fought for the U.S. purchase of Alaska which he finally negotiated to acquire from Russia.

Mile 0 of the historic Iditarod Trail is at Seward. In the early 1900s the trail was blazed in order to transport people and goods to and from the port of Seward to interior Alaska.

Homer, AK

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,607
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Rent: $1,035
Distance to Closest Airport: 117 miles
More on Homer: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Homer is a city located in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is two hundred and eighteen miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the 2010 Census, the population is 5,003. Long known as The "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Homer is also nicknamed "the end of the road," and more recently, "the cosmic hamlet by the sea."

Valdez, AK

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 3,870
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Rent: $1,125
Distance to Closest Airport: 122 miles
More on Valdez: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Valdez is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valds y Fernndez Bazn. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered huge damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.

Palmer, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 6,978
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $951
Distance to Closest Airport: 41 miles
More on Palmer: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 5,937.

Sitka, AK

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 8,738
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $1,123
Distance to Closest Airport: 85 miles
More on Sitka: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The City and Borough of Sitka, formerly Novo-Arkhangelsk, or New Archangel under Russian rule, is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean, in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,881. In terms of land area, it is the largest city-borough in the U.S., with a land area of 2,870.3 square miles and a total area of 4,811.4 square miles ; however, it is the smallest of Alaska's boroughs. Urban Sitka, the part that is usually thought of as the "city" of Sitka, is on the west side of Baranof Island.

Ketchikan, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,224
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $1,107
Distance to Closest Airport: 1 miles
More on Ketchikan: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ketchikan is a city in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States, the southeasternmost city in Alaska. With a population at the 2010 census of 8,050, it is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and tenth-most populous community when census-designated places are included.

Review Of Ketchikan by HomeSnacks User

I love this place. It's a safe place to raise your children.

The prices of groceries is pretty high. Even though the cost of living is high, it's awesome to live here.

Kenai, AK

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,687
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Rent: $947
Distance to Closest Airport: 58 miles
More on Kenai: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Kenai is a city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 7,100 as of the 2010 census.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Last Frontier for 2020

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. You can download the data here.

Maybe You're Not Ready To Retire In Alaska 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:

  1. Nome
  2. Kotzebue
  3. Bethel

For more Alaska reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In Alaska?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Wrangell 2,484 $809
2 Soldotna 4,589 $999
3 Cordova 3,055 $1,057
4 Seward 2,770 $924
5 Homer 5,607 $1,035
6 Valdez 3,870 $1,125
7 Palmer 6,978 $951
8 Sitka 8,738 $1,123
9 Ketchikan 8,224 $1,107
10 Kenai 7,687 $947

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

One thought on “Best Places To Retire In Alaska, 2020

  1. I think whoever did this survey needs to go back and redo it again.. I am looking up important things like crime rate/dangerous cities/safe cities/ best cities/ expensive cities/best places to retire/miserable places/redneck places/poorest/ richest place..
    My question is this how can a city/town be on the most dangerous place to live and then also be on the best place to live /best place to retire. If it is such a dangerous place to live then why would it be on the other two list.. it does not make any sense.

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