The island of Kodiak Alaska might be most famous for the term “Kodiak Grizzly” referring to the stunningly big brown bears that can be found on the island. Kodiak is an island that offers so much more than huge bears or the abundant salmon and berries that allow them to grow to such huge sizes. Known as the Emerald Isle of Alaska because of the deep greens and sheer beauty, comparisons have been made to Kodiak’s beauty in the spring/early summer with the most stunning beauty of Ireland.
Kodiak is a very frontier style town, and the island offers stunning beautiful sites even by Alaska standards. While it doesn’t get nearly the attention many other parts of the state do, there’s a lot to love about what this tight-knit community has to offer.
So should you move there? If you’ve been caught up by the beauty, the magic, the people, and want more than a one-time tourist experience, what are your options? How easy is it to move to Kodiak and how could you go about doing it?
Read on to find out!
How to Move to Kodiak Alaska Cheat Sheet
There are many things that need to be considered when making a move like this, so here’s the quick cheat sheet or hit list for preparing your move to Kodiak Island.
- Plan well in advance. The sooner you start planning the details of this very large move, the better
- Get estimates on all major expenses like freight shipping, shipping vehicles, and then add 20% to be safe
- Determine how you will travel to get there
- Secure housing before you move if at all possible (even if it’s temporary)
- Reach out to and work with local specialists to help smooth the process out (including planning)
- Use a local moving company – trust me, you’ll be glad for the extra help
- Double check all your work.
- If you’ve been planning for months, in the weeks leading up to the move date call local businesses and services you’ve worked with to confirm you’re on the schedule and haven’t fallen through the cracks
- Enjoy the adventure
We’ll do over these steps in more detail down below.
The Biggest Challenge to Moving to Kodiak: Housing
There is one major challenge that sticks out immediately if you are looking to relocate or move to Kodiak Island, and that’s the fact you have an island with limited space and very limited developed (or approved for development) space. What’s that mean?
Well here’s a screenshot that brings the idea home:
Only 30-39 total listings, and going in on these pages showed several that were already sold. Considering that 26% of the residents of the island are under the age of 19, the demand for housing in the future from those who already have roots in the area is probably more than 30.
This Quora answer from a resident confirms that finding decent housing will be a major challenge. Prices in Alaska are expensive, and Kodiak is even further off the main shipping routes than the little built-in infrastructure of the state so it is even more so and that applies to real estate.
So prices can be high for a house that would be considered very modest another areas, so keep that in mind when shopping. You need to have housing set up ahead of time as even apartment space can be relatively sparse.
Housing is going to be both one of the biggest expenses and one of the biggest challenges for a move to Kodiak AK. Working with a realtor on the ground there can help to figure out what the realistic options are, which fit best, and to move on the opportunity when the right fit shows. There are a handful of options, so if you not vibe with the first one you contact you can shop around a bit.
Moving to Kodiak without housing in place is NOT advised.
Houses are in short supply, especially in good shape, and even apartments tend to be in very high demand. You want this particular need locked down before making that jump.
The Second Biggest Challenge to Moving to Kodiak Alaska: Moving Costs
Because of the limited methods of getting to the island, and getting large shipments to the island, the costs of moving can be extraordinary and not in a good way. Depending on how much you’re willing to bare bones starting up your new life in Kodiak, or how little you’re willing to sell off and leave things behind, that can drastically change just how large the moving costs are.
But make no mistake about it, even the “budget” version of moving to Kodiak is going to be costly.
While there are plenty of ways to save some money on moving expenses, budgeting ahead of time is still crucial because it’s going to cost money to move to Kodiak Island.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Kodiak Alaska?
One of the major first expenses to look at is vehicle. Are you going to be able to get around without a vehicle? Are you buying a vehicle there, or shipping an old one? As you can imagine, shipping a car to Kodiak Alaska can be an expensive undertaking.
- The average cost shipping a car from the Lower 48 to Alaska is $3,000 to $4,000 (source)
- $95-140 for taking the Car Ferry from Homer AK to Kodiak AK via the Alaska Marine Highway (source)
- Additional charges for insurance may apply
While these costs can tempt a person to drive consider:
- Those are some really rough roads, are you sure your vehicle can handle it?
- What’s the price of gas for a journey that huge?
- What’s the price of oil and checkups for a journey that big?
- Do you have the time and what’s the cost of housing (hotels) for that trip?
- What are likely repair costs you might incur?
When you do the math and consider the additional potential issues, it’s possible that $3500 for shipping then another $150 for the ferry might be a steal compared to the potential costs if you try driving all the way up to Alaska by road…which would bring you in towards Fairbanks where you would then still have to turn south back towards Anchorage.
And that’s just the vehicle costs for shipping to Kodiak.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship Freight to Kodiak Alaska?
Anything you’re not taking with you in person needs to be shipped and that’s where freight shipping costs to Kodiak Alaska become a major part of the cost equation. Alaska is considered a remote location by the United States Postal Service (and in fairness….yeah that’s pretty dead on) which means shipping will cost a lot.
A good guide on shipping charges can be found here in an excellent guide by Shipping School. They go over multiple options so you can figure out what you have to ship based on weight, number of packages, and major furniture that would have to go via freight and get an estimate on what everything you want to ship would come together to cost.
After doing the math with some estimate calculators many people find that those things they really don’t need or want get sold or given to family members, and even some heirlooms might stay behind with trusted family members with the understanding that you will get them back eventually.
Hiring the Help of Local Movers Kodiak Alaska
Choosing to go with some local moving specialists makes a lot of sense. Moving to Kodiak is a unique experience and having local movers who know how to handle freight off of a ferry, the unique challenges of moving large items from port to truck, and then still provide the basic moving services that professional movers in the lower 48 provide.
Being able to work with reliable Kodiak movers who know these challenges and are even willing to help plan the move before arriving, as well as setting up storage options for overflow during the moving process can be an enormous help.
There are multiple great options, though Royal Alaskan Movers is a name that comes up a lot when I ask about the best movers for helping with the whole process of moving onto Kodiak Island. Their page advertises full planning services, which can be a massive help for movers who are feeling overwhelmed by all the very real challenges of making a long distance move to Kodiak.
Kodiak Relocation Guide
There are many excellent resources for moving to Kodiak, so one you’ll want to check out is the Kodiak Relocation Guide. These are put out every few years by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce so finding the most recent one is a good idea as they talk honestly about local opportunities and challenges including housing, employment, real estate, local challenges/improvements, and more.
This is more a big resource guide as opposed to a step by step instructions for how to make a full move, but it is incredibly useful to get support from local professionals who can help make that transition as easy as possible.
Is Kodiak a Good Place to Live?
Questions like this are always a matter of opinion and like many places there are both pros and cons to living in Kodiak. As someone who has lived in Alaska, though not in Kodiak for full disclosure, a lot of these are going to sound familiar to me because moving pretty much anywhere in Alaska is a dream for some and nightmare for others, the challenges and benefits will also be the same or similar.
There are major pros and cons to living in Kodiak. We’ll go with the oversimplified pros and cons list before diving in a bit more deeply.
- Stunning beautiful natural scenery
- Plenty of hiking trails
- Some of the world’s best fishing
- Small town/small community feeling
- Good education
- Summers are heaven weather-wise
- High costs, even by Alaska standards
- There are some big, BIG brown bears on the island
- Very high crime rates
- Winters can be rough weather-wise (sheer lack of sunlight)
So how does this tie together when it comes to viewing Kodiak as a permanent place to live? If you are someone who loves nature, values beautiful natural landscapes and sights, and doesn’t mind a tough winter or a rural to rural-ish life style then Kodiak can be an incredible place to live and a place where you are likely to thrive.
On the other side of things, if you like a bit of urban life or being close enough to a small city to directly fly to a larger one, that’s going to be a strike against Kodiak as you will need to fly to Anchorage to get to a legitimate big city to city flight in the way most of us think of it.
How Can You Live in Kodiak Alaska?
This question is often a shortened version of “How can you live in Kodiak Alaska with such high prices?” or “How can you live in Kodiak Alaska when (blank)?” This is actually a fair question, especially for individuals who haven’t dealt with the extreme seasons of Alaska.
The truth is that Alaska has the modern amenities that you would expect. Phone service, internet, all that is pretty much the same in Alaska as it is elsewhere. The inside of a house is the inside of a house.
The community needs to be self-sustaining while keeping connections to the rest of the state. So it’s a stable area with all the businesses, public services, and basic amenities expected. There is an off-branch of the University of Alaska located in Kodiak which works with the community to provide a huge number of events throughout all seasons to keep busy and be active with others in the area.
If you love nature, living in Kodiak is even easier. The island is beautiful and dotted with a large number of hiking trails that allow you to see things up close and enjoy one of the truly unique places in the world.
Kodiak Alaska: The Basics
Kodiak is not only the name of the island, but also the biggest (and main) settlement of the seven that are found on the island. Generally, if you’re moving onto Kodiak Island you are likely headed to Kodiak or in the immediate surrounding countryside.
Kodiak Island is home to just over 13,000 people, while the “city” of Kodiak is home to roughly 5600 of those people year-round, though this can influx with seasonal workers coming in or leaving for seasonal jobs elsewhere.
The smaller towns and villages on the island tend to be very small and understandably rural by all definitions of the word while Kodiak the city has a lot of infrastructure, even more than you would expect from a town twice its size. This is due to tourism, seasonal fishing jobs/population, as well as having the Coast Guard base there.
The weather and seasons aren’t quite as extreme as some other parts of the state, but there is plenty of rain and the winters are still very, very long and dark.
That said, summers are heaven and Kodiak Island’s beauties are renowned even by Alaska standards. You are sharing the island with a large and healthy bear population so take all necessary precautions whether at home or hiking one of the many wonderful trails throughout the island’s parks.
Good Video Showing Drive into Kodiak “City” from Country
While moving to Kodiak Alaska can be expensive, and the move itself takes a lot of planning and work to pull off, the experience for many is life-changing in a wonderful way. There is a lot of help and support in place for those wanting to move from one part of Alaska to Kodiak or even from the Lower 48 up to Kodiak Alaska.
Common Kodiak Alaska Questions
There are several important questions to research before making such a big move to Kodiak Island. Here are some of the most common questions and basic answers to each.
How much is a gallon of milk in Kodiak Alaska?
Ah the classic “gallon of milk” question. This is often used to display how expensive Alaska is, and in some ways it’s true but keep in mind while milk might be ridiculously expensive, Alaskans also have access to salmon, wild berries, or hunters have plenty of moose or bear meat to help supplement their diets without destroying the budget.
That said at the Safeway in Kodiak, the main grocery store where most choose to shop, as of late 2020 a gallon of milk in Kodiak Alaska cost $4.43 for a regular gallon of milk (not organic). This makes the prices pretty comparable to the prices you’d find in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau, and a bit better than very out of the way settlements like Nome or Barrow.
Why is Kodiak crime so high?
Compared to the rest of Alaska, it’s actually somewhat within range of what’s normal (though admittedly on the higher end of that), but crime rates are higher in Alaska per capita than any other state. Kodiak is ranked as the 6th most dangerous city in Alaska (source) though property crime is much more likely than violent crime.
That said the combination of harsh seasonal conditions, a traditionally independent and rough-and-tumble type people, and rough industries with a high unemployment is a blend that can cause some problems.
Taking the proper precautions you would in any urban environment can help keep you safe.
How much does it cost to move to Kodiak Alaska?
Costs are going to vary with the largest expenses being based on freight shipping and whether or not you ship a vehicle. Moving even a modest household worth of furniture and a couple of vehicles can cost upwards of ten grand. On the other hand, if no vehicle is needed or minimal household items are shipped, then the costs can be as low as just a few thousand.
For most people the costs will be somewhere in the middle. Between shipping a vehicle, freight shipping, and tickets (plane or ferry or both), it doesn’t take much to get up to several thousand.
Is Kodiak Alaska a good place to live?
Again this depends on preference, but there’s a reason housing is in high demand and there are so many residents of Kodiak who love and are proud of their home island. If you have a good job and housing lined up Kodiak can be an amazing place to enjoy nature, experience Alaska, and have an adventure or build a life. There’s a lot to love about the area and both Homer and Anchorage are just a hop, skip, and flight (or ferry) away.
Kodiak is a magical place, even by Alaska standards, and while it might not get the attention of bigger places like Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, or Denali, but the views are undeniably beautiful and it’s a place that is easy to fall in love with. If you’re thinking about moving to Kodiak and have the job, finances, and housing to make it work then go for it!
It’s an experience you’re not likely to forget.
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