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Thread: Moving to Soldotna

  1. #1

    Default Moving to Soldotna

    Following many years of talking about it, my wife and I are moving to Alaska. I was recruited to the Soldotna area so my employment is secured. We have a house rented and are bringing almost nothing with us other than our clothes, and my wife's little terrier.

    My question here is; can anyone give me a general idea of what the drive might be like in early October? After selling much of our belongings and my truck, we purchased a new Toyota Rav. I did see where on board member has made the trip several times from Syracuse, NY, which is only 40 miles from where I currently live. I can't remember who that was but will look through the threads again.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Welcome to Soldotna. If you enjoy the outdoors, you will love our town other than in July! Its insane then. Think spring break at a beach. Insane. The drive will be fine in any vehicle. Just make sure its in good shape and take your time and enjoy the drive. It is a beautiful trip. Too often we jam up or jam back because of time constraints. Still nice. But some day I'd love to take a couple weeks to make the drive instead of jamming up the road in 3 days.

  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    October is the transition from fall the winter. I would be prepared for winter driving conditions. Temps will be somewhere between highs in the 50's and lows in the 20's. You could have wonderful clear late fall weather, or encounter a snow storm or two. Transitions seasons are the most unpredictable of our generally unpredictable weather. In 17 years up here our first winter it snowed the first week of October, and a few years back we didn't have snow until after Thanksgiving.

    Hopefully the car has good tires for winter conditions. We had a rav for several years and it got around pretty well.

    General advise for long winter trips is warm clothing, sleeping bags for everyone, a small snow shovel, and it's always a good idea to travel the Alcan with at least a spare 5 gal gas can.
    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.

  4. #4

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    Thank you both for the warm welcome and information. It was helpful. My wife did ask me a question for which I have no answer. She wants to know where we can carry the extra gasoline. We both cringe at the thought of t being inside the car with us but are not sure where else you could keep it. Is it possible to carry it in one of those roof top units if we had one installed? Is that legal? Any other suggestions?

    On a different note; I was curious about what locations are reasonable to look at down the road to purchase a home and still be able to drive to work daily in Soldotna. For example Kasilof in the area of Johnson Lake State Park, or Sterling? As a lifelong resident of upstate NY i'm no stranger to winters. Each winter I use a Ford 2120 with a loader to pile snow which by the end of the season is usually 12 to 15 feet tall hiding my small barn. However, after 2 1/5 years of driving an hour each way to work and home everyday I'm not interested in doing that again. LOL

    We really liked Soldotna itself, but as rural residents most of our lives we prefer to keep that lifestyle if it is possible.

    Again, thank you for your help!
    Last edited by NYHillbilly; 08-24-2014 at 07:13. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Sterling, kasilof, kbeach are all within 20 minutes of soldotna, and there are rural neighborhoods in between. Some areas do not have natural gas as an energy option, so keep that in mind. Welcome to the area.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

  6. #6
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I lived in Kasilof for 30 years and commuted to work in Soldotna. My wife did so as well. In fact most people that don't want to live in downtown Soldotna do. Depending on where, Kenai, Sterling, Kasilof, etc....plan on a 20-30 minute drive. Plenty of homes for sale now, and I heard on the radio not a few days ago that the housing market here is the best it's ever been. So I wouldn't worry about finding a house to buy.

    Oh and btw...... Keep an eye on that little terrier. A friend of mine nearly lost one to an eagle one morning....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  7. #7
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I don't know of any legal restrictions of carrying gas in a rocket box on the roof. I see plastic gas jugs strapped to the roof all the time. Personally I'd have a tow hitch installed and use one of these platforms for strap down the gas and any other items that don't fit in the car you don't want in the car.



    The caveat being anything on that platform will be coated with dirt and grime, but the upside is you'll probably get better mileage than hanging stuff on the roof.

    Soldotna is fairly rural by AK standards. Of course I would want to be off any of the main roads because come summer you have the hoards descending for fishing season. I'd spend a year renting to get a feel for the different neighborhoods.

    You'll probably be pleasantly surprised to find that you don't get as much snow as upstate NY. But you can get some pretty good cold snaps down there. If it was me, I'd look for a house on a lake. Something to said for wetting a line or paddling around a lake in your back yard.
    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.

  8. #8
    Member Andy82Hoyt's Avatar
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    I drove from Syracuse (Bridgeport) to Anchorage in February 2009. well I cheated I took the ferry from Bellingham, WA. to Haines, AK. Have a safe drive.

    Andy

  9. #9

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    Hey Paul, thats a good tip.

    I actually have one of those racks stowed away in my garage in its box unopened. It was a gift that I never got around to using. So there you go; my philosophy about keeping everything because you never know when you'll need it has just been validated. haha To the chagrin of my wife!

    And Andy, I looked at the ferry option and it looked promising until I saw the price. Wow...if I read it right it was like 3k to Homer from Bellingham, WA.
    It did look enticing though.

  10. #10
    Member Alaskanmutt's Avatar
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    How much is Fuel?
    How much is Lodging during the drive?
    How much is food for the days you will be on the road?
    Figure four or more days from Washington to Alaska in Decent weather
    (took me almost 6 days to do it in December of 1992)
    2000 Bayliner Ciera Express 2452
    5.0 Mercruiser Alpha 1

  11. #11
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    Get the milepost, it is worth it if you haven't done the drive many times.

    http://www.themilepost.com/

    It will answer many of your drive questions

  12. #12
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    Winter is much colder in Sterling, and there is a traffic jam every morning going into Soldotna.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

  13. #13
    Member DrB's Avatar
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    Welcome to Soldotna! Make the most of the trip . . . enjoy it.

    When my family made the move to Soldotna from the south back in 1998, we moved into town so that we could have the advantages of plowed roads and city water & sewer. After a few years we moved out of town and have never looked back. We traded a home on the Kenai river for acreage and privacy.

    I find it interesting how people down Kasilof way have negative things to say about living in Sterling. As one who resides in the Sterling area, I prefer it to most areas south of town. It seems like a good plan to live in town and explore for yourself . . . you will have a preference but I can't say what it will be.

    Soldotna is a great place to live. Once again, welcome to our version of paradise.

  14. #14
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Seriously guys, it's all very similar if not the same. There are no traffic jams in the Central Kenai. If you call waiting at a light for up to 2 minutes or being in a line of 10-20 vehicles moving at or near the speed limit a traffic jam, you should go up to Eagle River and then make your way from there to Anchorage on the Glenn highway at 7:30am on a Monday morning. Heck, even weekends in July are not nearly as bad as I hear people proclaim. So you have to park 100 yards from the entrance of Fred Meyer or Walmart. Like the extra 15 seconds of walking is gonna kill you.

    Personally, I would never reside inside the water districts of Soldotna or Kenai. Just don't have a taste for chlorinated water. The extra taxes you have to pay for that "luxury" make it a no-brainer to live on your own well. Septic isn't free by any means, but it's certainly cheaper than what you pay for city sewer.

    Speaking of water, before you buy a house, you must have the water tested. See if there is a filtration system and see if you can access the water before that point. Run it for a bit to check for rust and odor. Most water here will have some rust, but a steady stream of orange water is a problem. And if you're too close to a swamp and they didn't drill deep enough, you could get some nasty odors. All things that would indicate that they cut corners and went "cheap" on their well drilling.

    Sterling is flat land with lots of bogs and black spruce, dotted with lakes and some notable tracts of white spruce, cottonwood, and alder. It is surrounded on three sides by National Wildlife Refuge. Kasilof is rolling hills with more white spruce dotted with low lying black spruce bogs. It is the northern gateway into the Caribou Hills. If you are into snowmachine riding, you'll find that you want to live south of Soldotna rather than north or east. However, if you are not into winter 2-stroke consumption, but would rather spend your summer paddling a canoe around a lake or down a slow-paced river, then Sterling will be the calling.

    Of course, the driving time between either area and Soldotna is a matter of minutes, so distance and access to town are fairly irrelevant. You can live anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes out of town from either direction and still be in a residential sprawl or a mile beyond that have your private 10-acre retreat. It's all here.

    There is also Kenai (the other half of the twin cities) and the "north roaders" heading out to Nikiski. Now those people are downright weird. Just kidding; it's just another region that's not too different from Sterling, but has a lot of oil industry and large amounts of residential areas nestled between dozens of lakes. There are a lot of nice lake front homes and there are junky trailer parks. Kinda like everywhere else.

    So, it's a great idea to rent in town for awhile so you can get out and see things before making your decision. Visit all 3 directions out of town (Sterling, Kasilof, & Nikiski) and drive the roads to see what's out there. Most can't tell from a drive through on the highway, but our joint communities of Soldotna, Kenai, Kasilof, Sterling, and Nikiski hold a full-time population of something on the order of 30,000 people the last time I paid any attention to it. That population easily triples in the summer and there are several times more than that in the way of tourists just passing through.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  15. #15
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I agree with all that JOAT said. I think any of the directions out of Soldotna are great. We lived in Kenai for a few months and "downtown" Soldotna for a winter and liked the convenience, but not the lack of privacy. We now live between Soldotna and Kasilof, but identify with Kasilof. All the surrounding bergs are great. The area is changing and growing... becoming more city-like. I am thinking of moving to Ninilchik after I'm done teaching as it seems like I'm getting crowded a bit.

  16. #16

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    I very much appreciate all the input folks. I'm actually pleasantly surprised to find my approach thus far is supported by your words of advice. Although we will be living on the fringe of Soldotna for the first six months, my plans to purchase have been guided by my desire to limit myself to no more than a twenty minute drive each way to work and home. As I said before my days of being a road warrior have long lost their appeal. However, I still like to have some elbow room at home.

    Perhaps some of you could enlighten me a little about a question I have about hunting there. Here in NY I buy my hunting/fishing license every year and then go do exactly that, hunt and fish. While we do have tracts of land that are 1000's of acres immediately around my property, much of our area is overgrown or large still active dairy and crop farms, and I have never had a problem keeping my freezer filled with venison, turkey, rabbits, squirrels, and occasionally fish, although compared to what people catch there our fish are so small as to probably make you smile and raise your eyebrows.

    My question however is about what I keep reading (but not understanding) about drawing for tags. Please forgive my ignorance about this but I really have tried to understand what that means and cant get it. Does that mean that a person every year buys a hunting license but then cannot hunt unless they win some sort of game tag lottery? In other words; a person can buy a license and still not get to hunt?

    Thank you for your continued patience.
    Last edited by NYHillbilly; 09-08-2014 at 20:25. Reason: spelling

  17. #17

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    I very much appreciate all the input folks. I'm actually pleasantly surprised to find my approach thus far is supported by your words of advice. Although we will be living on the fringe of Soldotna for the first six months, my plans to purchase have been guided by my desire to limit myself to no more than a twenty minute drive each way to work and home. As I said before my days of being a road warrior have long lost their appear. However, I still like to have some elbow room at home.

    Perhaps some of you could enlighten me a little about a question I have about hunting there. Here in NY I buy my hunting/fishing license every year and then go do exactly that, hunt and fish. While we do have tracts of land that are 1000's of acres immediately around my property, much of our area is overgrown or large still active dairy and crop farms, and I have never had a problem keeping my freezer filled with venison, turkey, rabbits, squirrels, and occasionally fish, although compared to what people catch there our fish are so small as to probably make you smile and raise your eyebrows.

    My question however is about what I keep reading (but not understanding) about drawing for tags. Please forgive my ignorance about this but I really have tried to understand what that means and cant get it. Does that mean that a person every year buys a hunting license but then cannot hunt unless they win some sort of game tag lottery? In other words; a person can buy a license and still not get to hunt?

    Thank you for your continued patience.

  18. #18
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    If you think you are moving into a hunter/fisherman's paradise... I'm afraid you are seriously mistaken. That doesn't really exist in Alaska anymore (unless you can lay out a LOT of cash), and it certainly no longer exists on the peninsula. Actually New York seems to have far more accessible game opportunities than does the peninsula with its white tails and turkey. Yup, most Alaskans have to rely on a lottery system these days. And many range far and wide for their game.

    We have lots of red salmon!

  19. #19

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    Wow Sayak that is mind blowing to me!

    The primary reason for my move to Alaska actually was because I had dreamed of doing it since I was just a child. On my visit to the area and interview, I was impressed with everyone I met there. The people were pleasant and polite, neither pushy or standoffish. As a nurse practitioner I pretty much can find work just about anyplace, however I prefer spending my time and skills working in a rural area serving people I can identify with. My plan was never what or how much I was going to get from Alaska, but what I might contribute while living someplace I got to choose vs. having been born into.

    As far as laying out lots of money goes, that is certainly out of the question. lol I'll likely work till the day I call in dead and be helping my kids pay back school loans as they toss a shovel of dirt on my wooden box.

    It's all good though! If I find I fall in love with Alaska in reality as I have for so long in my mind, I guess I'll just have to be happy with my work there and save any and all my vacation time to fly back to New York to hunt. Thanks for the heads up though regarding the sad situation related to hunting there. I'll leave my firearms, bow and gear in NY.

  20. #20
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I think what sayak was getting at was the fact that although you can hunt big game here with just a hunting license and some free over the counter tags (once you gain residency)the success rate for moose and caribou(draw only) here is poor at best.
    The draw tags for specific hunts can give you access to hunt some areas that have higher success rates due to the limited number of other hunters etc.
    Flying out to a more remote hunting area ups the chance for success but also ups the cost substantially.
    Black bear hunting has better odds if you put in your time and effort.
    Small game can be had but they are currently at the low end of their cycle for the most part.
    Waterfowl hunting is also available but not as good as other areas of the state. A lot of the migrating waterfowl from northern Alaska turn east and follow the coast down before they reach us down here.
    Also be aware on moose there are antler restrictions. So you cannot shoot any bull moose you see. It must be a spike or over 50" or 4 or more browtines on at least one side.
    Most of us here still hunt these species but we go knowing the odds are not in our favor and pray for the day when our moose populations begin a comeback.
    Some areas also have restrictions on access because of the wildlife refuge. So geting into some of these areas is difficult for most weekend warriors with out a lot of time. It can be done but packing out your game for several miles is not easy.
    I would take your guns/bows but do so knowing the odds are slim on the Peninsula for Moose and some other species.
    Certainly not the same as living where getting a deer is common and where you may get more than one a year.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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