Alaska is America’s “last frontier,” and it carries a mystique that draws both long-term residents and tourists alike. But it’s no secret that Alaska is also one of the most expensive states in which to live. Healthcare and grocery costs in particular soar well above the national average, even in the state’s most affordable cities. But you may be surprised to learn that one-bedroom rents in many Alaskan towns are below the national average, and monthly expenditures in some locales can be kept at a reasonable level.
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To determine the most affordable and livable Alaskan cities for retirees, GOBankingRates sourced data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sperling’s Best and AreaVibes. Results are presented here in reverse order, with the most affordable city listed last. Take a look at what retirement will cost you in these Alaskan cities.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,431.42
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,192
- Livability: 72
Kodiak has a high livability score, but you’ll pay the price if you want to reside there. Healthcare costs are off the charts, running 31.1% above the national average, while groceries are 46.9% above national norms. Rents are relatively high as well, bringing total monthly expenditures to the highest among the eight on the list.
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- Monthly expenditures: $2,319.10
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,154
- Livability: 66
Grocery costs in Juneau are 34.4% above the national average, but that’s actually the lowest amount of any city on this list. Rents are relatively high, and healthcare costs are 26.8% above the national average.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,259.96
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $1,040
- Livability: 71
Sitka is a popular stop for cruise ships, but long-term residents also enjoy the city’s high livability score. Healthcare costs are relatively reasonable for Alaska, but one-bedroom rents are over $1,000 per month and groceries run 46.4% above the national average in Sitka.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,211.84
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $987
- Livability: 77
Cordova has one of the best livability scores in Alaska, and its one-bedroom rent runs less than $1,000 per month. At 24.9% above the national average, healthcare expenses in Cordova are also among the lowest in Alaska. However, the city’s grocery index is 150, meaning your trip to the market will run about 50% above the national average.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,193.31
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $919
- Livability: 65
Petersburg has relatively low one-bedroom rents, and its healthcare costs are about average for Alaska, at 27.3% above the national average. The city could have ranked higher if not for its extraordinarily high cost of groceries, at 58.8% above average.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,189.49
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $987
- Livability: 80
Valdez has the highest livability score of any city on the list, meaning it’s an extremely attractive place to live. With one-bedroom rents below $1,000 and healthcare costs just 24.9% above the national average, overall costs are affordable in Alaskan terms.
- Monthly expenditures: $2,046.70
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $800
- Livability: 69
One-bedroom rent is quite low in Haines, and healthcare costs are relatively reasonable for Alaska. However, the city’s cost of groceries is off the charts, running 52.5% above the national average.
- Monthly expenditures: $1,956.36
- 2022 1-bedroom rent: $789
- Livability: 65
Palmer’s livability score isn’t off the charts, but overall costs are relatively affordable for a state like Alaska. Rents are actually quite low, and the cost of groceries is just 34.4% above average, which is fairly low for Alaska.
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Methdology: GOBankingRates determined the cost of retiring in Alaska based on the (1) FY 2022 Alaska Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom apartment, as sourced from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Sperling’s Best to determine the cost of living index for each listed city, looking at (2) grocery and (3) healthcare index scores. GOBankingRates additionally used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older in order to find how much a person 65 and over would spend on groceries and healthcare in each city on a monthly basis. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery, and healthcare costs together. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, it must have (5) a livability score of 65 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of September 29, 2022.