Alaska

A glacier in Juneau, Alaska (Photo by Maddox Furlong on Unsplash)

From stunning mountain peaks to the wonder that is the Northern Lights, there’s a lot to love about Alaska. But while the state is by far America’s largest by area, it’s also the least populous. However, that doesn’t mean the state is low on great places to live. Alaska is home to many great cities and towns to call home. Some of the best places to live in Alaska offer endless access to stunning views and adventures in nature.

If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, there’s a big chance that you’d love life in Alaska. Summer sun lasts all day long in the Last Frontier State, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the many sights the landscape has to offer. In fact, a StudyFinds roundup named Nugget Falls Trail in the Tongass National Forest America’s best spot for hiking. 

Kids in Alaska also reap the many benefits of nature. A 2022 survey of 5,000 parents with children between five and 13 found that Alaskan parents tell their kids to play outside more than nearly anywhere else at an average of six times per week. And research shows that a love of nature is passed from parent to child, perhaps affording Alaskan children a greater chance at a lifelong love of the great outdoors. 

If you’re considering a move to Alaska, you’ll find that there are plenty of great places to put down roots. From the state capital of Juneau to smaller remote towns like the island of Kodiak, Alaska has more to offer than you might guess. To help make your decision, StudyFinds looked at expert rankings of cities to find the best places to live in Alaska. These are our top picks, but if we missed one, be sure to let us know in the comments!

The List: Best Places to Live in Alaska Most Recommended by Experts

1. Juneau

As the state capital, Juneau holds ample opportunities for career builders. “Juneau is a prosperous community that also benefits from strong tourism,” says Rent. “The competitive median income and diverse job market make it a great option for families and young professionals, Clever adds.

But outside of work, Juneau has much to offer. “As with any city in Alaska, nature is right next door,” Rent states. “There are too many epic outdoors adventures in and around Juneau to cover them all,” boasts HomeSnacks. “Some highlights include exploring Mendenhall Glacier, taking a boat trip down Tracy Arm Fjord, and an easy trek to Nugget Falls.”

calm body of water during daytime
Auke Lake in Juneau (Photo by Kayti Coonjohn on Unsplash)

2. Anchorage

If you’re interested in living in Anchorage, you are certainly not alone. The city is home to nearly 300,000 of Alaska’s 730,000 citizens. “Anchorage is known as the gateway to Alaska,” says A Broken Backpack. “You couldn’t ask for a better basecamp or jumping-off point,” Rent claims. 

But the size doesn’t take away from the charm and beauty of the city. “This location offers natural views of nearby Chugach State Park, Knik and Turnagain Arms, and Cook Inlet, in addition to a more urban feeling,” Zumper notes. “You can even go fishing or look for wildlife around the city. It’s the perfect combo of big city living with wide, open spaces,” adds Rent.

brown wooden house near green trees and mountains during daytime
Anchorage homes with Chugach foothills in the distance (Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash)

3. Fairbanks

Fairbanks is a city ideal for families and lovers of cozy communities. “Popular with young people and families for its affordability and compact size, Fairbanks is a mid-sized city near the middle of the state,” Rent says. “Although Fairbanks is the state’s second-largest city, it feels like a small town,” adds A Broken Backpack

With many cruise ships stopping to enjoy the scenic views and activities of Fairbanks, the city enjoys a healthy tourism economy. And with tourists comes plenty of perks for year round residents to enjoy. “Quality of life amenities include the University of Alaska Fairbanks (the state’s oldest university) as well as a botanical garden, symphony orchestra, several parks and multiple winter sports activities,” lists Livability.

Of course, Alaska is famous worldwide for its northern lights season. If seeing the aurora is on your bucket list, Fairbanks might just be the spot for you. “For nature lovers, Fairbanks also offers unparalleled opportunities to see the famous aurora borealis, the northern lights, between August and April,” notes Zumper.

landscape photography of forest during night time
The Northern Lights above Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks (Photo by Jo San Diego on Unsplash)

4. Ketchikan

The charming city of Ketchikan is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. “With its charming waterfront of colorful houses, Ketchikan is a bustling, beautiful little town to call home,” says Rent. “Located at the entrance to southeastern Alaska’s Inside Passage, it’s usually the first stop for tourism cruises.”

But despite its popularity with vacationers, it’s a surprisingly affordable city to make a home in. “Ketchikan’s median home value of $250,200 makes this city the most affordable place in our list,” notes Clever.

For lovers of an outdoor adventure, Ketchikan is sure to impress. “Ketchikan is close to the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate coastal rainforest, with some of the state’s best hiking trails,” says A Broken Backpack. “Another famous nature spot is the Misty Fjords National Monument, offering epic views and wildlife spotting. Thus, it is another of the best Alaskan cities for outdoor lovers.

homes bordering a river
Ketchikan homes bordering a river (Photo by Yuval Zukerman on Unsplash)

5. Kodiak

As an island off the southern coast of Alaska, Kodiak is only reachable via plane or ferry. But its separation from the mainland doesn’t take away one bit from the city’s thriving fishing and trading economy or its small-town charms. 

“Even with its isolation, you’ll still find plenty of things to do,” claims Rent. “A satellite campus for the University of Alaska is here, offering higher education opportunities. Bear watching, diving into the island’s expansive history and outdoor recreation are all popular pastimes.”

Ocean lovers will rejoice at the scenery surrounding Kodiak. “With the majority of the town spanning across the Gulf of Alaska, there are plenty of sea view properties in Kodiak,” says The Crazy Tourist. And when the opportunity presents itself, there’s plenty to do and see. “Kodiak offers activities for locals to enjoy, such as the Kodiak Maritime Museum, found across a bridge on Near Island, and Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, with opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming, and more outdoor recreational activities,” lists Zumper.

bear bathing in water surrounded with birds during daytime
A bear bathing in Kodiak Island waters (Photo by Brent Jones on Unsplash)

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.

About Anna Landry

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeremt says:

    No offense but Ketchikan is not the most affordable place to live on the list. I have lived here for awhile and the cost of house if you can find housing and the cost of living is not very affordable. If you do find a house that cheap expect to put another 200k into it

  2. Jason says:

    Please don’t write articles if you have no idea what you are talking about. All you did was look at articles from someone else and copy their information. These are just the big name cities of the state. Definitely not the best places. Fairbanks does not have have cruise ship tourism. They do not have a port. The fact is that most people drive up from Anchorage to Denali National Park and turn around and go back because it’s cheaper to fly out of Anchorage.