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Thread: Is Living in the Bush Really that Expensive Annually?

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    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    Default Is Living in the Bush Really that Expensive Annually?

    Good Day Everyone,

    I am in the early planning stages of relocating to Alaska and eventually settling in the bush. I am becoming fully aware of the astronomical cost up front to procure the gear and initial food. I wouldn't use such a strong word as naive, but maybe lacking knowledge when it comes to living up there, but I can't see where the budget required to maintain myself would exceed those costs you would see if living in the city with a mortgage and associated costs. I am sure that this subject has been beaten to death, but I couldn't find anything that matched my situation, I am alone and I have a steady income, that will increase significantly when I'm sixty and I get my military retirement. Thank you in advance for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

  2. #2

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    It's not necessarily that it cost so much to live in the bush. You spend more at one time and your expenses are different. We buy several months worth of groceries at a time and a years fuel at once. In town your expenses are more spread out.
    We live relative close to Anchorage, about a 45 minute flight from town, a 206 is $550 each trip out a beaver is quite a bit more. So when you do go to town you try to have a full plane both ways, when it comes to get you and when you return.
    Chuck

  3. #3

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    My observation's of Alaskans is that pretty much the standard's of living are matched evenly across the spectrum of locales. Excluding the very wealthy, everyone else enjoys the same things. What cannot be afforded is still available. Hurry on up here and get you some.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    I lived about 7 miles off the road for quite a while, was young and could do ALL the work myself,
    and the expense was nowhere near what it is living on the road system, even in a small town.

    The initial expense of setup included, it all depends on how much you "Think you need"
    and there is a very nice lifestyle available to those who are realistic in planning stage, and execution stage.

    In my opinion, the sooner you get out of town with your initial gear, the sooner you'll be saving money,
    less opportunity to see stuff on a shelf, think, "I need that," the sooner you'll be enjoying real life pleasure out in the woods

    Then plan to stay out there also, as soon as your back in town, you'll be fighting that, "Maybe I need that,..." thing again
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Grub up in Anchorage, get to where you are going and stay put. It is the food, fuel and travel costs that will cost you dearly.

  6. #6
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Much depends on what you call the bush. I have lived in three different villages. We would do a Costco or Sams order 3-4 times a year and mail the food out. Gas in Nulato was $3.50 a gallon back in 2001 with a 5-gallon limit.

    You need to do a LOT of research before making your decision. Where are you going to buy land. Everything here, like the L48 has an owner. Can you get there in the summer by boat and snowgo out in the winter for supplies. Charlie Boulding never owned a snowgo until 2001. He did everything by dog sled. We had dinner together at Old Womans Cabin up near Unakaleet that year. Very interesting man.

    How are your outdoorsman skills, hunting skills and medical skills. You just can't go out and shoot a moose because you think you need food. It doesn't work that way. You need food sources, year round and a source of energy to heat the cabin.

    Do a lot of research, a lot.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
    Cancer from Agent Orange - Aug. 25th 2012
    Cancer Survivor - Dec. 14th 2012

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    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone one for your replies. I honestly wasn't planning on buying land until I found something that had the right amount of woods, water for fishing, and not so swampy. I was thinking more on the lines of moving around from spot to spot, to get a feel for what I would be getting into. I do have some trepidation for what I am thinking of doing, because I know I don't have the answers for everything that may come my way. When it comes to my outdoorsman skills, I feel I can hold my own pretty well, but I do have much more to learn. My hunting skills, well I have never trapped or shot at game, to be brutally honest, I have only fired at paper targets and humans. My medical skills are what I am most comfortable with, I was a combat medic in the military, so unless I am unconscious, I should be able to help myself out. Since Alaska isn't the most bargain friendly state, I have been slowly procuring alot of my gear before I even get there. I hope to have just some miscellaneous things left to get when I get there. Please, I invite any constructive criticism or advice in regards to how I am going about this.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I know a couple of Vets up here that live for about nothing and call blue tarps home.About three years is the max to camp in one spot here.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  9. #9
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Buy a large Alaskan map so you can know where your research is going to take you. It will give you an idea of distances.

    Research the weather in the different areas. Fort Yukon has the highest and lowest temps in the state. So research will help you eliminate areas.

    There are a lot of Alaskan web pages out there to help. If I get time latter I can post a few. Research, research, research.

    You will probably need two modes of travel to any remote site. Winter and summer. There will be times when you just can't travel.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Hey Jeff, one bit of advice I would give,....

    "If you are a combat medic by experience,....throw out the trepidation thoughts, don't worry about the unknown stuff."
    Chances are really good you will be able to handle it all as it comes.

    I may be in a minority here but, am of the opinion that you can "overthink" the preparation and end up never getting started for the sake of "having everything dialed in first

    I'd bet most of the guys here "who have actually done it," what you are planning,... would agree,
    when they actually got started there were a lot of surprises or adjustments to the gear list.

    Might be a myth to have it all first,....??

    So, go for it sooner than later, and as a trained military guy, you have a huge leg up on the physical and mental prep already.

    what general areas are you intetested in settling on?

    Like Southeastern panhandle, or Deep interior (yukon etc.) Southcentral? maybe Aleutian chain ??(heh heh)
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Alot of expenses can be taken care of by your pown self.

    Gas where I live is 8.89 a gallon, and so is heating oil....soooooooooooooooooooooo.......we make th emosty of what we can.

    Bring basics and fill out your equipment according to where you are in the state. SE AK has Wayyyyyyyyyyy different climate/terrain/animals tha here inthe arctic.

    As well, buying stuffs down there and bringing them up is no different than useing the internet and shiping stuffs up....

    Personally I buy gas for my transportation and use it to obtain the bulk of my food, wood for heat and get me around the region. In the end, the family here is warm, well fed, healthy and ends meet, so I think you'll figure it out.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

  12. #12
    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    I'm sure I am not alone here, but I truly am operating on a miniscule budget. For that reason alone, it is more practical for me to slowly build up the gear before I head out. I'll give you an idea lol! I would need to save 2 months to get a high end jacket recommended for the temps I might encounter.

    @kodiakrain, I really don't know where in Alaska I want to be! I do know what I want around me though, maybe you could point me to an area once I list them lol! I definitely would like a more densely forested area, a lake or stream nearby, and most importantly, an area that is plentiful in small game. I am confident I can handle the temperature extremes as long as I can eat and drink!

    @strangerinastrangeland, I am absolutely amazed at what you and your family has done! I also envy the fact that you are able to craft some beautiful articles of clothing from the animals in your surroundings! I wish I could afford it lol!

    Thank you everyone for your time!

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

  13. #13
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsman View Post
    I really don't know where in Alaska I want to be! I do know what I want around me though, maybe you could point me to an area once I list them lol! I definitely would like a more densely forested area, a lake or stream nearby, and most importantly, an area that is plentiful in small game. I am confident I can handle the temperature extremes as long as I can eat and drink!
    What does "plentiful" mean to you? Being able to take 2 to 3 animals a day? If you review the small game forum you will see where guys had a great shoot one weekend and then nothing for the rest of the season in that area. If you are living in one spot you might run out of food on the hoof, in just a few weeks.

    Keep in mind that in the L48 States the extremely diverse agricultural system has created a huge amount of habitat resulting in an over abundance of small game critters. There is no system like that in Alaska so the small critter bio mass is significantly lower than the L48. Montana would have more small game bio mass than all of Alaska by orders of magnitude.

    Historically Alaska's population was along the cost and major rivers. Without the huge amount of marine life and returning salmon there was not enough wildlife to support the people. They lived where the most food was/is.

    Living off of small game will make for an extremely migratory lifestyle trying to find the next small chunk of habitat that holds enough critters that you won't starve.

    Most folks don't understand just how much of a barren waste land Alaska really is...until the salmon or caribou show up for a few weeks/days.

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    Member tabmarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiline View Post
    It's not necessarily that it cost so much to live in the bush. You spend more at one time and your expenses are different. We buy several months worth of groceries at a time and a years fuel at once. In town your expenses are more spread out.
    We live relative close to Anchorage, about a 45 minute flight from town, a 206 is $550 each trip out a beaver is quite a bit more. So when you do go to town you try to have a full plane both ways, when it comes to get you and when you return.
    Hello Chuck,
    Its sound like you are about the same distance from Anchorage that my property is. I just bought 9.5 acres in the
    Canyon Lake subdivision. Its about 6 miles west of Skwentna on the Skwentna River. Curious about how much fuel
    is a years worth? I assume this is all transported by air in Jerry jugs.

    What do you bring back in the Plane? Clean garbage ( Plastics, cans, beer bottles) ?

    The other thing I was wodering is How is the internet service in the bush. How do you get it and what does it cost?
    I currently hane Virgin Mobile Broadband.

    Do you grow a garden and can for the Winter or is permafrost a problem?

    Thanks for your help.

    Terry.

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    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    @AK Ray- I understand you might be a little taken aback by my naive thinking, but in earlier posts I had stated that I would be bringing food in and anything I could catch would "supplement" what I have. Like anyone with a trace of common sense, I would like to be in an area where I had some chance, be it remote, that I could indeed supplement what I brought in. Thank you for continued advice, it is helpful with all my decision making.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

  16. #16
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Akray makes a good point concerning small game reliability, the only country where I have seen numbers of small game worth considering in your plan as somewhat reliable to stretch your packed in goods, would be Fairbanks area woods, for the Grouse, Ptarmigan, and Hares.
    (tho they also fluctuate quite a bit,)

    Thus, something to consider, anywhere you focus, is the need for meat preservation as most of us are more tuned to a large game animal or two taken in fall, or a large stash of fish from summer, set up to ride through the winter months.
    Considering your area, that would factor in to your plan for buildings, (root cellar, canning/preserving, ideas, etc)

    Or, consider the coastal regions, and access to the ocean with a boat of a sort to continue harvesting thru the winter

    Fish of some type or another, are always available,......
    tho they are not as easy to take home as the Bunnies and Birds found on a stroll through the winter forest up north

    Depends a bit on your capacity for misery or fear control

    Coastal regions are mighty rich in protein availability but, unfortunately, the land cost and availability reflects this pretty clearly

    In reply to your "dream sheet" you almost perfectly describe, the Talkeetna woods where I spent my "woods years"

    I'd seriously consider that area 100 miles north of the big city, back off of either hiway going north
    mostly for the less expensive land and perfect climate

    but myself, I will never leave the coast now, addicted to the ocean
    Maybe you can do both,....??

    Welcome to the concept of "The Great Land"
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  17. #17

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    Jeff, You might tell us more about yourself. I am not meaning personal information that someone could use to get your identity. Maybe you have I just haven't seen it in another post yet. There are people up here that wouldn't even give you the time of day but then there are many people up here that would give you the shirt off their back to help you get going. Every one up here knows someone who knows someone, you know. I am sure there are a lot small areas where people live remote that would welcome a combat medic as a neighbor. You have a valuable skill to save lives past that of an EMT, you know what to do where there's no doctor for hours and sometimes days.

    We moved here over ten years ago not knowing anyone. We just picked up from Alabama and moved. We had bought ten acres here, site unseen, remote and that is where we live now. Our cabin isn't much but it's paid for, so for us in the Delta Area, it is much cheaper for us to live off the main drag. We do have to, atv, and boat to get back forth to our vehicle in the summer months. The savings of not having to pay rent, or mortgage in Delta more than covers the expense of living off grid and plus we grow most of all our own food, hunt, fish and trap. It all depends on how you want to live. If you want all the amenities of town living then get ready to fork out money. Average rent in Delta is anywhere from 600 to 1200 a month not counting utilities in most cases. I don't know about the rest of Alaska. I know a lot of people that are paying $400 plus a month for power. We run a gallon of gas every other day for our power in our Honda generator which charges our batteries for led lighting and 12volt water system. It takes a while to get set up especially if income is limited, which ours was when we first moved here. There were so many people that gave us stuff I can't even remember. It would be very helpful to get to know as many people as you can before you come. We are Christian and had it not been for our church family when we got here I really don't think we would have made it. Don't be afraid to accept help if it is offered but on the same note there are people here that would use you if there is some gain in it for them. We had that happen to us a couple times. Nothing serious, one was lazy and wanted my back and my skills for his own gain the others once they had used up all we could offer kinda dumped us for someone else that had more. It goes that way sometimes.

    You might find that you could work on the North Slope for good pay until you get set up where you want to be. The schedule is usually 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. The chances of getting a job up there may very well be increasing shortly. I here things are about to bust loose on a new shale lease.

    In the area we live the it's all forest except for burn areas. Lots of small game, rabbits, squirrel, grouse, ptarmigan, plenty of beaver, and a good amount of fish, burbot, pike, white fish and graying. The small game except for the squirrels(they're every where) do have population crashes and cycles. The salmon that come this far in are considered dog food. They are pretty hammered by the time they get here. We have one of the highest moose population density in the state. One moose would provide you meat for the winter plus it would stay frozen for the winter and longer if you built yourself an underground freezer, leave it open during the winter then close it when the spring thaw comes. We have kept meat frozen into July before we had to can the rest of it. A better built one may last even longer. Potatoes grow easily here as well as carrots. This year we made about 800 lbs of potatoes in a 40x50 area, it was not a good garden year. I did irrigate the garden with a water pump from the creek but the temps were cooler than normal for the last part of the summer.

  18. #18
    Member tabmarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chasing Bear View Post
    Jeff, You might tell us more about yourself. I am not meaning personal information that someone could use to get your identity. Maybe you have I just haven't seen it in another post yet. There are people up here that wouldn't even give you the time of day but then there are many people up here that would give you the shirt off their back to help you get going. Every one up here knows someone who knows someone, you know. I am sure there are a lot small areas where people live remote that would welcome a combat medic as a neighbor. You have a valuable skill to save lives past that of an EMT, you know what to do where there's no doctor for hours and sometimes days.

    We moved here over ten years ago not knowing anyone. We just picked up from Alabama and moved. We had bought ten acres here, site unseen, remote and that is where we live now. Our cabin isn't much but it's paid for, so for us in the Delta Area, it is much cheaper for us to live off the main drag. We do have to, atv, and boat to get back forth to our vehicle in the summer months. The savings of not having to pay rent, or mortgage in Delta more than covers the expense of living off grid and plus we grow most of all our own food, hunt, fish and trap. It all depends on how you want to live. If you want all the amenities of town living then get ready to fork out money. Average rent in Delta is anywhere from 600 to 1200 a month not counting utilities in most cases. I don't know about the rest of Alaska. I know a lot of people that are paying $400 plus a month for power. We run a gallon of gas every other day for our power in our Honda generator which charges our batteries for led lighting and 12volt water system. It takes a while to get set up especially if income is limited, which ours was when we first moved here. There were so many people that gave us stuff I can't even remember. It would be very helpful to get to know as many people as you can before you come. We are Christian and had it not been for our church family when we got here I really don't think we would have made it. Don't be afraid to accept help if it is offered but on the same note there are people here that would use you if there is some gain in it for them. We had that happen to us a couple times. Nothing serious, one was lazy and wanted my back and my skills for his own gain the others once they had used up all we could offer kinda dumped us for someone else that had more. It goes that way sometimes.

    You might find that you could work on the North Slope for good pay until you get set up where you want to be. The schedule is usually 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. The chances of getting a job up there may very well be increasing shortly. I here things are about to bust loose on a new shale lease.

    In the area we live the it's all forest except for burn areas. Lots of small game, rabbits, squirrel, grouse, ptarmigan, plenty of beaver, and a good amount of fish, burbot, pike, white fish and graying. The small game except for the squirrels(they're every where) do have population crashes and cycles. The salmon that come this far in are considered dog food. They are pretty hammered by the time they get here. We have one of the highest moose population density in the state. One moose would provide you meat for the winter plus it would stay frozen for the winter and longer if you built yourself an underground freezer, leave it open during the winter then close it when the spring thaw comes. We have kept meat frozen into July before we had to can the rest of it. A better built one may last even longer. Potatoes grow easily here as well as carrots. This year we made about 800 lbs of potatoes in a 40x50 area, it was not a good garden year. I did irrigate the garden with a water pump from the creek but the temps were cooler than normal for the last part of the summer.
    What area sre you in? Iam wondering if the Salmon in my area might be to tired for consumtion.

  19. #19

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    tabmarine, we live north of Delta Junction, in unit 20a close the the converge of the Delta and Tanana rivers. The salmon don't arrive here until October give or take. They come up the Yukon from western Alaska, maybe 1600 miles of silty river to get to here to spawn. They are pretty dull looking and beat up by the time they get here. You could eat them but there just not very good. Their flesh has turned a very dull pink and they cook up mushy. Some say you can soak them in some sort of brine and make them more palatable. If they were what I had to have to make it through a winter then I would be all over them to eat but I don't have to, not yet anyway. I have caught some of the silvers in the Clearwater river that didn't look to bad but didn't look to good compared to ones from the copper.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chasing Bear View Post
    tabmarine, we live north of Delta Junction, in unit 20a close the the converge of the Delta and Tanana rivers. The salmon don't arrive here until October give or take. They come up the Yukon from western Alaska, maybe 1600 miles of silty river to get to here to spawn. They are pretty dull looking and beat up by the time they get here. You could eat them but there just not very good. Their flesh has turned a very dull pink and they cook up mushy. Some say you can soak them in some sort of brine and make them more palatable. If they were what I had to have to make it through a winter then I would be all over them to eat but I don't have to, not yet anyway. I have caught some of the silvers in the Clearwater river that didn't look to bad but didn't look to good compared to ones from the copper.
    Thanks for the response. I would guess that where I am at on the Skwentna River is about is about 40-50 miles upstream
    from the mouth of the Sustina at the most. I would think we would have some good fish in them there waters based on what
    tell me.

    I never realized just how far some of these salmon travel. They probably make a decent Salmon Cake.

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