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Thread: Live in Anc vs. Eagle River?

  1. #1
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    Default Live in Anc vs. Eagle River?

    Hi everybody,

    I'm considering a move to Alaska from Oregon this summer for a job in Anchorage. Looking at buying a simple house 2+ bedrooms, 1+ bath, garage for boat and truck, workshop a plus, home brewery a double plus, maybe $250-350K?...

    I like the idea of living out of the city in a place like Eagle River. Probably more peaceful for me I'm thinking? and less crime perhaps. I'm a single man that enjoys fishing, home brewing, gardening, and home improvement projects. Would be great to get back into hunting as well.

    Any advice on where to live? Prices seem similar between Anc and ER, but seems like you get a little bit more for the $ in ER? I know the commute to Anc from ER would be 15-30 minutes depending on conditions, but that's not too bad. Are there other areas you can recommend to me? I'll check the neighborhoods out in-person before buying, but want to focus on some good places first.

    Thanks for any ideas!

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    Quote Originally Posted by salmonid View Post
    Hi everybody,

    I'm considering a move to Alaska from Oregon this summer for a job in Anchorage. Looking at buying a simple house 2+ bedrooms, 1+ bath, garage for boat and truck, workshop a plus, home brewery a double plus, maybe $250-350K?...

    I like the idea of living out of the city in a place like Eagle River. Probably more peaceful for me I'm thinking? and less crime perhaps. I'm a single man that enjoys fishing, home brewing, gardening, and home improvement projects. Would be great to get back into hunting as well.

    Any advice on where to live? Prices seem similar between Anc and ER, but seems like you get a little bit more for the $ in ER? I know the commute to Anc from ER would be 15-30 minutes depending on conditions, but that's not too bad. Are there other areas you can recommend to me? I'll check the neighborhoods out in-person before buying, but want to focus on some good places first.

    Thanks for any ideas!
    You're right on track. All of that is some really good thinking, and your numbers work out.

    Know that in ER you're usually quite close to your neighbor; some don't like that. Less crime yes, friendlier yes, great shopping and other services.

    If you're buying sans realtor, consider the physical bulletin board a the ER Carrs Safeway grocery store. There's always a house or two by owner there. And craigslist of course. And searching for foreclosures, of course. If you're going by realtor, choose carefully, they're not all cut from the same cloth. I went thru a few before I found one that was hard working, very smart about houses/structures/laws/common-sense, but most of all he worked for ME instead of just making a sale and moving on. I can shoot his contact info to you if you'd like.

    If you care to drive a little longer to Anchorage, consider North to Chugiak for more room around you, or South to Girdwood for lower prices and a funner town (but a dangerous hwy to Anchorage in the winter).

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    Eagle River is a good place to live. The highway is the biggest problem since its the only connection between the two places. There are a number of good neighborhoods in Anchorage that also fits your requirements. Bayshore, Bayshore West are two that come to mind. Its like anywhere, you look at different options and then buy. FM gives good advice aboout realtors. Some only care about the commision and as long as they get the sale, they don't really care about anything or anyone else.

  4. #4

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    Depending on what part of Eagle River you find a house that fits your needs in and what part of Anchorage your job is located in, 30 minutes could be a short commute time on a good day. It can take 20+ minutes just to get across town inside Anchorage not to mention the 10 miles to get there from Eagle River on the highway (which can be a mess in the winter due to the vast number of stupid drivers who seem to forget about icy roads every week). If your job has a flexible work shift or if you are just off the peak hours, it wouldn't be bad at all since the biggest issues are around rush hour, morning and afternoon.

    You will probably have an easier time finding a smaller size house and bigger garage/work space as you described in Eagle River/Chugiak than you will in Anchorage. When I was looking about 6 years ago, it took a lot of time to find a place in Anchorage that either had an oversize 2-car garage or had the space on the property to build one. They are available, but not always in the best locations unless you are willing to shell out the money.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Homebrewing, you say? Well...I think there's a house for sale right down the street from me!

    As an Eagle River resident, I'm obviously biased...but I would almost always suggest Eagle River over Anchorage. It's more peaceful, a bit friendlier with a tighter community, and it's located right in the heart of some awesome outdoors opportunities. The same could be said of parts of Anchorage, but I'll always prefer Eagle River. FamilyMan is correct that parts of Eagle River have small lots, but that's not the case for probably 3/4 of the town. Some newer developments were not planned well with regards to lot size, but there are plenty of areas with sizeable lots. I've got 3/4 of an acre and that is quite small by my neighborhood's standards.

    I'm also rather biased when it comes to realtors since my mother has been a local realtor for over 35 years, but the advice to choose carefully is sage. I've seen the field from the inside since I was a child and not all realtors are created equal.

    Let me know when you make it up this way. I'd be happy to help you drink your beer.

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    I've lived in Eagle River for 14+ years, all of wich I've commuted to Anchorage, first two years to the N end of town, the past 12 to midtown and a few month stint to the South end of town. As far as the commute, if you're getting into work at 8, and leaving at 5, then it's a 30-60 min drive. I've noticed the commute has gotten much heavier and slower over the past 3-5 years. If you get into work earlier and leave earlier, it's not so bad, but expect a solid 30min as a minimum, and every year you'll have a few days when it takes you 2 hours to get home.

    When we bought our house, ER was a good 10-15% less expensive than Anchorage, but today house prices have pretty much reached parity for the same size house. That said, I spent the last year and a half looking for houses in Anchorage as not only do I spend alot of time commuting daily, between kids activities, church, and recreation, we're driving to or through Anchorage once or twice a day, every day.

    What I did find after that search is that while prices are pretty much the same, what is available in the price range you are looking at is not the same. You can get a nice home, nice neighborhood and nice 1/4 acre yard in ER for $300-400k. When you look at Anchorage, you will have some sort of tradeoff. Either you'll get a newer home that you can reach out and touch your neighbor, or you can get a home built in the 60's or 70's that needs to be completely remodeled. We finally concluded that we like our neighborhood, like a decent size yard, like our views and if we're going to move we didn't want to trade off any of those. What we found is that to get a decent size yard, decent neighborhood and view in Anchorage pushes you into 3000+ sq ft $500k houses.

    So while I still wish I wasn't spending so much time and money commuting to Anchorage, I figured it was a better tradeoff than getting a fixer upper and spending every spare minute and $ over the next 5 years making it nice, which would co-inside with when all our kids would be out of the house and we wouldn't really need a bigger house anyhow.

    It's a balance of time and money, personally I'd rather have more free time, but it cost too much money to break into the house that would make it worth the effort.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Dang, This is more free advice than I could ever expect! I really appreciate the insight.

    I would love a 1/2+ acre lot, but I don't want or need to get a really nice house that costs the big bucks. Maybe Anchorage is out unless I can find an older home that needs some renovations, but then the neighborhood may not be as desirable either. I am seeing the tradeoffs, Paul H.

    The commute sounds worse than I had suspected. My job would have fairly flexible hours, so I could probably stay out of rush hour traffic on most days anyway. Still, a 30 minute commute doesn't sound fun, not to mention a 2 hour one on occasion!

    When the time gets closer, I'll seek you guys out for your preferred Realtors that are honest. Really great to have some local insight ahead of moving to a new place.

    yeah, I love to brew. Also to grow my own hops. Do you know if I can grow hops in your climate?

    Again, thanks very much for the info!

    My homebrew rig in my garage nanobrewery:


    Collecting the goods for fermenting, an oatmeal stout:

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    Quote Originally Posted by salmonid View Post
    The commute sounds worse than I had suspected. My job would have fairly flexible hours, so I could probably stay out of rush hour traffic on most days anyway. Still, a 30 minute commute doesn't sound fun, not to mention a 2 hour one on occasion!
    Very nice brew-corner you've got there. You'll get along just fine up here.

    Yeah, I must have blocked out that first snow of the year commute from Eagle River; those (approx) dozen miles to the corner of Anchorage can have as many ditch divers turned turtle as there are miles, some years.

    Think studded tires, 4wd, and extra care and you'll do fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by salmonid View Post
    The commute sounds worse than I had suspected. My job would have fairly flexible hours, so I could probably stay out of rush hour traffic on most days anyway. Still, a 30 minute commute doesn't sound fun, not to mention a 2 hour one on occasion!
    I wouldn't let the occasional slower commute be your deciding factor to live in Anchorage vs Eagle River/Chugiak. I love my 35 minute commute everyday, been doing it for over 10 years. The scenery is spectacular!!!!!!!

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    Also keep in mind that commuting from one part of Anchorage to another can be just as long. I work downtown and it takes about 30 min most days. Co- workers that live in south or hillside take as long as the ride to ER (and there are no traffic lights on the Glenn hwy)

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    At the risk of being flamed, I'll add don't rule out Palmer-Wasilla.
    I think where you work in Anchorge will play a part in this. If you'd be working on JBER, or the Northwestern part of the city I think its worth at least looking and considering. Espicially If you can avoid the rush hours. If your work is South East side (Diamond/airport) area, its probably less of a considerstion.

    Your commute absolutely will be 45 min to an hour. House and Land you will get MUCH more bang for the buck though. On average the traffic isn't that bad until you get to Chugiak and Eagle river. (City folk can't drive...lol) Scools are good out here too if you have kids. Not saying Anchorage schools are bad, just that valley schools are good too.
    Get a front wheel drive commuter car with studded tires and no issues and saves on fuel--that's what I do, both my 4x4's stay at the house. Alot of folks ride share a ride vans too.

    Yes cars will get high mileage and time is money, but I and most that live out that way and make the commute think the trade off is worth it.

    Here was my 1999 comparison, though its dated info so the numbers will be much higher now, the principle difference in price point remains the same (actually higher) today. Best as I can remember it.

    Anchorage: 7000SF Lot, 3 BR, 2 or 2.5 bath, 2 car garage that was under the living area--Price was 186ish. THis was in Muldoon area, so not a 'ritzy' part of town either.
    Wasilla: 1/2 acre corner lot (21500SF I think), 4 BR, 3 full bath, oversize 2 car garage attached but not under the living area--Price was 151K.

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    What part of Oregon are you coming from? My wife and I relocated to Alaska from Rockaway Beach this past summer. We love it so far!! We looked in Anchorage and actually ended up renting a house in the Valley for now. We are looking at houses to purcahse and have found that you can get WAY more bang for your money out in the valley!! My wife works in Anchorage and actually rides a commuter van into town everyday and she loves it. I think we pay around 130 a month for her to ride the van, it's a great deal.

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    thanks stanbiker,

    I hadn't thought about the in-city commute at all. I'll be working in the University area, if things work out. So, not as bad as working in the Southern part of the city with a home up North.

    Derby06, I had not considered living up in the valley until your post, so no flames from me! Looks like a doable commute, but not sure if I wanna drive that far? I'll go check out the homes up there online now though! Your comparison numbers sure look good enough to get me curious- thanks.

    Later,

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    Coming from the Southern Willamette valley, Aaron. I love the part of OR you were from, we got some nice big Kings out of the Nehalem and Tillamook bay this year.

    Another valley vote, so I'll check out my options up there. Do you know how much time the commuter van takes for your wife to reach Anchorage in the summer and winter. on average? That amount of money sounds very reasonable, although my job may not always have regular hours.

    Thanks much,

    in
    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    What part of Oregon are you coming from? My wife and I relocated to Alaska from Rockaway Beach this past summer. We love it so far!! We looked in Anchorage and actually ended up renting a house in the Valley for now. We are looking at houses to purcahse and have found that you can get WAY more bang for your money out in the valley!! My wife works in Anchorage and actually rides a commuter van into town everyday and she loves it. I think we pay around 130 a month for her to ride the van, it's a great deal.

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    It takes the van about 50 mins the majority of the time refardless of season. Of course there are days in the winter that take a bit longer. The longest trip so far has been 1 hr and 5 minutes. Speaking of kings, I got a text from my fishing buddy yesterday, 4 chrome kings in the Ghost hole by noon yesterday!!

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    Thanks for the van info. AaronP!

    I thought that the Ghost hole was about done for the season... well according to the i fish reports anyway. Funny that a guy can get better info. on tilly bay on an AK forum than an OR one, LOL. But, we're used to it down here.

    One of the best days fishing for me was picking up two mid 20# Kings at the ghost hole this past year. We caught more and larger ones elsewhere, but this bite was so fast and furious for us. Herring rigs trolled slow in that channel. One buddy and myself on my boat out at dawn with maybe 5 guide boats and 5 recreational boats around the area. We were the first to limit out the boat and it only took about 30 minutes after first legal light! Some 'atta boys but mostly stink eyes from the fleet at our success in a small boat. Ahh, Good times:




    Later,

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    It takes the van about 50 mins the majority of the time refardless of season. Of course there are days in the winter that take a bit longer. The longest trip so far has been 1 hr and 5 minutes. Speaking of kings, I got a text from my fishing buddy yesterday, 4 chrome kings in the Ghost hole by noon yesterday!!

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    Very nice fish!! Late November and early December is my favorite time to fish the bay. No people and there are a lot of fish still coming through!! All of the bay rivers get a good run of Winter Kings which not a ton of people fish on! Some of our best days were in December. A couple of years ago I caught a chrome king with sea lice on the Wilson while steelhead fishing in mid Feb. Last year while on a spawning survey on the LNF Wilson I found a freshly spawned out king in MAY and it wasn't a springer!! Couldnt believe it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by salmonid View Post

    Also to grow my own hops. Do you know if I can grow hops in your climate?
    Glad to see a fellow homebrewer moving to the area. Love the nanobrewery setup! Growing hops in south central AK... Well, they'll grow wonderfully, but cone development will be lacking. I researched this pretty heavily as I wanted to grow my own hops as well. Two problems working against you up here, not enough light / dark cycle to stimulate cone development and not a long enough growing season. By the time cones start to develop as our days get shorter we're into September and snow / freezing temps are just one cold front away. But, between online stores and Arctic Brewing Supply your homebrew needs will be covered. I know, just not the same as growing your own hops... Skookumchuck down in Juneau pulls off an occasional crop from his hops but he has a few more weeks on the growing season to work with. Best advice, set up a good exchange deal with your buddies in OR where they send up hops and you send down salmon or halibut

    Best of luck in the house hunt and move.

    Jeff

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