As our family prepares to move from the midwest to the great North, lots of questions are coming up repeatedly. I thought I’d take the time to answer them all in one place. After we’ve been in Juneau for a while, I plan to update it with other tidbits of info and add it to the blog menu.
For now, here are the answers to some things we’ve been asked:
Why are you moving to Juneau?
My Husband has accepted the position of Library Director for Juneau Public Libraries. I’m very proud of him, and he’s very excited to begin!
When are you leaving?
Leaving our house? Leaving Kansas City? Or leaving the “lower 48?” We have a loooong journey ahead!
The moving company is absconding (okay okay, we gave them permission, I’m just coming to terms with saying goodbye for now) with our belongings on January 30th. We’ll be staying with good friends while Rob completes his obligation here in Kansas City until February 9th.
February 9th we’ll start our grand tour of about half the continental US. We’re driving to WA via Colorado and Montana, staying with family and friends along the way.
On February 15th, we’ll catch the ferry out of Bellingham, WA and spend 2.5 days on the water. We’ll say, ALASKA AT LAST! on February 18th.
Can you drive all the way to Juneau?
I’m not sure we WOULD if we could, but no you can’t. There are no roads that connect the lower 48 to Juneau. You may have heard of the Alaska Highway that runs through Canada. It sounds fun (maybe when we have teenagers instead of toddlers), but it doesn’t have any connections to Juneau.
When we visited Juneau early this year, we flew with very little trouble (though I hear the landing in Juneau is sometimes tricky coming over the mountains). This time we’ll be taking the “Marine Highway” so that we can bring our car.
Aren’t you going to freeze?!
I’ve checked the temps in Juneau every day for the last month. There have been TWO days when it was colder in Juneau than Kansas City, and those were unseasonably warm days here.
Average highs for Juneau are between 30 and 65 year round. Juneau is part of Southeast Alaska, which is a whole different animal than the areas farther North. Remember that Alaska is HUGE! Since Juneau is right on the ocean, it’s very humid as well.
Is it dark/light all day long?
Nope. Because Juneau is farther South, the light isn’t as extreme, either. Definitely different than the midwest though! You can expect just under 7 hours of daylight in December, and a whopping 18 hours in June!!
Will you see the Northern Lights?
Maybe! Juneau is a bit South of where the Aurora Borealis is usually seen clearly, but when there’s a big geomagnetic storm, I hear Juneau gets a nice display. When the solar cycle peaks this Summer, with more sunspots than usual, I am crossing my fingers and camping out!!
How does the cost of living compare?
I’ve seen figures stating that the cost of living is about 15% higher in Juneau than Kansas City. While visiting, we noticed that difference primarily in housing costs. The house we bought here for 80k would easily go for 150-200k there! We’ll be paying double for rent than we pay on our monthly mortgage.
That being said, there are some pretty sweet incentives for living in Alaska! There is no state income tax! And after we’ve lived there a full calendar year, we’ll be eligible for Alaska Permanent Fund payments, which average $1,000 per person. We also plan to homeschool our children and hope to take advantage of the opportunity for reimbursement of educational expenses through IDEA.
Will you ever come back to visit?
Yes! Lord willing, we plan to come back every three years or more. If you miss us, come see us! We’d love to have you! :)
Are there many churches/schools/coffee shops/stores?
While visiting Juneau in early 2013, we made it our goal to visit the major residential areas, the gyms/fitness centers, COSTCO, the grocery stores, and I personally sampled coffee from four different shops. :)
We have heard good things about several of the churches. There are lots of schools. And there’s even a Walmart! Juneau is the state capital and a major tourist hub, so even though the population is just 35,000, there’s no lack of the usual establishments. Top that off with skiing, whale watching hiking, art crawls, and Native culture and I have no doubt we’re going to love it. :)