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Whether it's on the side of Alaska's Denali or a quintessential bay town like Sand Point, the last state to join the lower fifty US states has an affordable place that will fit any budget. And that's where HomeSnacks comes in, folks. We took a look at the US Census data and cost of living data for The Last Frontier and created a list of the cheapest places to live in Alaska for 2020.
Now, just because these places in Alaska are affordable, doesn't mean they're not nice. Many of the cities on Alaska's most affordable list are also on its safest list. It's not rocket science, folks. When you save money on your cost of living in Alaska, you're usually in a better place to invest in your community.
If you ask any Alaskan, they will say, hands down, that their corner of the frontier is the best. But if you're the good people in our most affordable place in Alaska for 2020, you know you live in Alaska's best of the best. So, want to know where your income will go the furthest in Alaska? Where you can beat Alaska at their 'cost of living' game? Keep reading.
Did we mention the Alaska kick back? Yes, every Alaskan gets a certain percentage of the state's oil revenue--it's called the Alaska Permanent Fund. Probably why Alaska's statewide median income is close to $73,000.
So, want to know where the Alaska Permanent Fund will let you live like Exxonmobil's CEO on a fisherman's budget? The most affordable place to live in Alaska would be King Cove.
To see how your city compared, take a look at the list below. And if you don't find your favorite there, head to the bottom.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Alaska and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Alaska For 2020
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.6x (1st most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 86.5x (1st cheapest)
More On King Cove: Real Estate
Starting off our list of the most affordable places to live in Alaska is King Cove, a small city on the eastern coast of the Alaskan Peninsula. King Cove is the place where you'll find the third cheapest homes for sale in Alaska, with a median price of $116,700. Combining that with King Cove's median income of $75,000/year gives the city the best home price to income ratio in the state.
On top of that, King Cove earns the title of most economical place to rent in Alaska, with a median rent of $867/month. If you're into wildlife, look out for seals, brown bears, and puffins on the ferry ride to Cold Bay.
The median household income in King Cove comes in at $75,000 and the median home value is $116,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.2%.
Our second cheapest place to live in Alaska for 2020 is Valdez. Formerly a gold rush town, the economy of today's Valdez is primarily centered on oil transportation. We gave Valdez an 8/10 on our overall SnackAbility scale, with an emphasis on safe streets, good schools, and solid markets for both housing and jobs. Maybe that's why we named it one of the best places to live in Alaska.
Valdez has the highest-paid populace on this list, with residents earning a median income of $95,847/year. That's enough to offset a slightly higher median rent of $1,125/month and give Vladez the second best rent to income ratio in the state. And if you're buying a home in Valdez, know that you're spending the third least percentage of your income on housing anywhere in Alaska.
Thrill-seekers or just plain nature-lovers will enjoy an epic rafting journey down the Lowe River at Keystone Canyon.
The median household income in Valdez comes in at $95,847 and the median home value is $189,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 8.6%.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 65.7x (11th cheapest)
More On Sand Point: Real Estate
Located on Popof Island off the coast of the Alaskan Peninsula, Sand Point ranks as the third least expensive place to call home in Alaska. About half the population of Sand Point is Unangan, which you can celebrate and learn more about at the annual Culture Camp. Homes in Sand Point are the fourth cheapest in the state, going for a median price of $139,100. Even more importantly, folks don't have to hand over half their paycheck to get a decent place to live in Sand Point, because the city has the fourth best home price to income ratio in Alaska.
The median household income in Sand Point comes in at $69,063 and the median home value is $139,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.8%.
Turns out Santa Claus is pretty adept at financial planning, because North Pole is one of the most affordable places to live in Alaska. Volunteers in North Pole work to respond to around 400,000 letters addressed to Santy of them each year, so you know that the community spirit is strong here.
And, of course, the city comes alive when Christmas is close. As far as affordability goes, North Pole residents spend the seventh smallest proportion of their income on housing statewide, for both renting and buying. It's also one of the best cities for singles in Alaska, so looking for love has never been so affordable as it is in North Pole. We think even Scrooge would get over his hatred of Christmas for the savings on offer here.
The median household income in North Pole comes in at $79,301 and the median home value is $222,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.3%.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.3x (23rd cheapest)
More On Hooper Bay: Real Estate
People in Hooper Bay would have a pretty tough time believing that they're living in one of the most expensive states in America. You would too if you were paying $550/month for rent, the cheapest you'll see on this list and about a third the cost of the average rent in Alaska. Or paying the lowest prices for homes, with a median cost of $64,000. Hooper Bay also has the fifth best home price to income ratio in Alaska.
The median household income in Hooper Bay comes in at $31,528 and the median home value is $64,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 38.0%.
Next up on our list of mega-affordable places in Alaska is Seward, one of the prime jumping off points for trips to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. There are seriously way too many outdoors activities nearby for us to list them all, but a boat trip through Kenai Fjords is the most quintessential Seward activity.
With all these wholesome entertainment options available, it's no wonder that we named Seward the best family citiy in Alaska. While Seward does have the priciest homes on this list, at a median cost of $235,000, a median income of $76,410 keeps the city competitive in terms of relative cost. Not to mention that Seward is the third most economical place to rent in Alaska, with a median cost of $924/month.
The median household income in Seward comes in at $76,410 and the median home value is $235,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.6%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 50.5x (27th cheapest)
More On Chevak: Real Estate
We turn now to Chevak, a city that would rank much higher on this list if we didn't take the cost of rent into consideration. Homes in Chevak go for a measly $66,200, the second cheapest in Alaska. What's more, residents of Chevak spend the second smallest percentage of their income on homes statewide. On the downside, rent in Chevak goes for $758/month, and is the least affordable on this list when taken as a proportion of income.
The median household income in Chevak comes in at $38,250 and the median home value is $66,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 16.3%.
Known as the "Gateway to the Arctic," Kotzebue ranks as the ninth least expensive place to call home in Alaska. At $1,417/month, Kotzebue does have the steepest price on rent you'll see on this list. However, a high median income of $84,559/year keeps the relative cost reasonable. If you decide to settle down here, a home will set you back about $214,900.
While Kotzebue is the major economic hub of the region, you can easily get off the grid by heading to Noatak National Preserve; just don't expect to drive, because there are no roads here, only plane access.
The median household income in Kotzebue comes in at $84,559 and the median home value is $214,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 10.2%.
Rounding out our list of the most affordable places to live in Alaska is Wrangell, the only city south of Juneau to make the cut. Homes in Wrangell go for around $212,600 and rent for $809/month. It's slightly more affordable to buy than rent in Wrangell, as the city has the 20th best home price to income ratio in Alaska.
Don't worry that you'll be trading security for affordability here, because Wrangell is one of the safest places in Alaska. And between checking out spectactular animals at the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory and seeing 8,000-year-old art at the Petroglyph State Historic Site, there's no shortage of great stuff going on in Wrangell.
The median household income in Wrangell comes in at $57,583 and the median home value is $212,600 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.6%.
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.
The median household income in Palmer comes in at $60,350 and the median home value is $204,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 10.8%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Last Frontier For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Alaska to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 27 places in Alaska that have more than 1,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Alaska according to the data is King Cove. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Alaska Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Alaska, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Alaska for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Alaska according to the data:
For more Alaska reading, check out:
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Alaska
- Best Places To Buy A House In Alaska
- Worst Places To Live In Alaska
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Alaska