Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving to Alaska

A friend of mine called today to tell me that he has a job offer in Sitka, Alaska.  He wanted to go over the pros and cons of moving from Colorado to Sitka.  Being a California resident my entire life I wouldn't want to be in either place.  Then I started looking at Sitka to try to give an honest opinion. 

Looking at it from a survivalist perspective, it looks pretty good.  It's about as isolated as can be.  You can't drive there, although there is an airport.  It's a four hour boat ride on the ferry from Juneau, which is another place you can't drive to.  It faces the Pacific Ocean so I'm sure the wind blows.  The temperature surprised me.  During the summer it was cooler than Colorado but during the winter it was about 10 degrees warmer.  It usually doesn't go much below freezing during the winter, instead staying in the mid to high 30s at night and in the 40s during the day.  During the summer it gets into the 40s at night but into the 60s during the day.  That's too cold for me for summer as it's my ideal winter!  There are plenty of forests around so I'm sure there wouldn't be a firewood issue for heating the house. 

I was thinking about gardening.  With a greenhouse you could garden year round.  You'd have to get cool weather varieties but you could grow just about everything.  This is really good from a survival standpoint.

There wouldn't be a water issue.  They get around 80 inches of rain per year.  That's much more than the 12 he gets at his home in Colorado.  If he had several rain barrels to catch water for home use he'd not have to be on a well or city water at all.  Remember the formula for figuring out how much water you can harvest...1000 square feet of roof will provide 600 gallons for every inch of rain.  The driest month in Sitka averages 4 inches of rain.  That's 75 gallons per day to use if he captured it all that month.  And that's the minimum he'd have available all year.  Most months he'd have 200 gallons available each day. 

He hunts and fishes.  One of the main sources of income in Sitka is fishing, so from a self sufficiency standpoint that looks good. 

Is there a downside?  Prior to his Colorado move he lived in Idaho.  That was a really good area, although he was on a major highway going between Idaho Falls and Wyoming.  He could easily make a trip into Idaho Falls to do whatever kind of shopping he wanted to do.  We even went to the orchestra once.  Hunting, fishing, skiing and hiking were all just outside his back door.  Now he's at the edge of a city and has all the city amenities.  He fishes close by but goes to Montana and Alaska each year for hunting and fishing.  Since my opinion is slightly taken into consideration, would I talk him out of moving or tell him to pack his bags today?  I really can't stand where he's living in Colorado.  But I said that Sitka was not the place for him. 

Some people think they'd like living away from the city.  They have this wild dream of being in a secluded area and living like Jeremiah Johnson.  But get back to reality.  Many people do live far from large cities.  That's what we talk about when we think bug-out place.  I know lots of people who have to drive and hour or two for their shopping. If you are used to being near a populated area, is that really the type of life you can live in a "normal" world?  I understand wanting to get away when TSHTF but that's really not now for most of us.  So why did I try to talk my friend out of moving to Sitka?  There wasn't a Costco, Starbucks, or Barnes and Noble, three of his favorite places to be.  He's at Starbucks almost every day, Barnes and Noble twice a week, and Costco once or twice a month. 

If you are going to relocate you need to seriously consider your life now.  I would love to move to my bug-out place that I bought at the beginning of the year.  The downside is it takes an hour and a half to get into town from that property and now that grandkids live here permanently, it's not something that I want to do for the next ten years.  If TEOTWAWKI happens and we couldn't stay where we are at, then living an hour and a half from the city would be good.  We wouldn't be coming in to town a couple times a week in that situation anyway.  But it's not TEOTWAWKI.  I don't think my friend would make it in Sitka more than a year. 

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