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Thread: New member from Maine

  1. #1
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    Default New member from Maine

    Hello everyone, I'm the new guy on the forum. Just wanted to let you know why I'm here so maybe I can learn more about Alaska in anticipation of relocating someday. My history with Alaska goes back to 1988 when I received orders from The Air Force that I was to be transferred to Elmendorf AFB. I remember not being at all enthusiastic about being so far from home. Although I was really in awe of the beauty of Alaska, I absolutely hated being stuck in a state that at the time I thought was just too remote for me. In addition to my Air Force duties, I worked part time at Sears, hoping to make the best of my situation while counting down the days until I left. I left Alaska in May of 1991 with no plans to ever return.
    In June of 2007 I decided to make a return trip. I had been in contact with a former bandmate who had been in Alaska since 1987. That first trip led to another visit during Thanksgiving. Since 2007 I have been visiting at least twice per year and hope to increase that to three times per year. Two years ago I realized that everything I disliked about Alaska as a younger man was what I really like now.
    The past two years I have been working on ideas on how to make my return visits into a permanent thing. Searches on real estate sites for land and researching cabin designs have occupied my time to say the least. I have done some traveling around the state trying to get an idea of where I'd like to build a cabin. I'm looking for 5+ acres and mountain views. An area with little to no restrictions would be ideal. One thing I have found peculiar is properties in Sutton and Chickaloon offer large parcels with great views, but significantly lower prices. Is there a reason for those areas to be so much cheaper than Palmer/Wasilla or Talkeetna/Petersville/Willow?
    I'm sure there is a ton of information available on this site and I plant make the most of it. Thank you for any suggestions you may have to offer.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maine2Alaska View Post
    One thing I have found peculiar is properties in Sutton and Chickaloon offer large parcels with great views, but significantly lower prices. Is there a reason for those areas to be so much cheaper than Palmer/Wasilla or Talkeetna/Petersville/Willow?
    I am not sure that the prices are actually better in Chickaloon, but a couple things to consider.

    1) Land near Talkeetna goes for a premium because of people who are attracted to the community of Talkeetna. If you aren't looking for the unique culture of Talkeetna, you might not want to pay a premium. Also, there is money to be made in Talkeetna in the tourist industry, and that edges prices upward.

    2) Palmer is a city. Land is going to be more expensive near Palmer because of that.

    3) Historically, the Susitna River area has had more fish, more game, more navigable rivers and more open terrain for snow machining than the Matanuska area. However, Chickaloon/Sutton has better backpacking and better whitewater. The former qualities cause the Su Valley to be a more desirable place to live for many.

    4) Be careful of lots on the Matanuska that are between the highway and the river. Many of those lots are subject to ongoing bank erosion.

    5) There may be lots for sale in Chikaloon/Sutton that would be heavily impacted by a proposed Coal Mine. I don't think this coal mine will go forward, but if it did I would hate to have my dream homestead located right next door.

  3. #3
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    Thanks HikerDan. Sounds like the Matanuska area might be more of what I'm looking for. Some of the views along the Glenn Highway up to Glenallen are just incredible. I'm not sure how far out from Palmer/Wasilla I want to be yet. If this search yields an opportunity quickly, I would need to be relatively close to Palmer/Wasilla for employment. I have at least another 15 years until retirement age, but I don't plan on waiting that long to make the move. I want to enjoy some years of hiking while I'm still in good physical health. So the sooner the better for a relocation.
    Another area I like is along The Turnagin Arm and into the Kenai Peninsula. Great mountain views, but it's a fishing and tourist mecca which I'm sure drives up the prices for property. There doesn't seem to be much land for sale there, at least on the real estate sites I've been looking at.
    I'll be in Alaska Labor Day Week and plan to spend the week driving around checking out different areas. Last year I spent a week mainly around Palmer/Wasilla. This year I plan to check out Sutton/Chickaloon and south of Anchorage maybe as far as Seward and Soldotna.

  4. #4
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    As I've said many times before, often times the least expensive land is the most expensive when you factor in the cost of developing the land and the cost of getting supplies to the land. View lots are wonderful, but you need to be even more concerned with what type of soil is on the lot, if there are issues with groundwater, if there are issues with well water, etc., etc., You might find a wonderful lot nestled in a valley with mountain views, but come to find that for 3-4 months those mountains keep your property in the shade. Most of land between Anchorage and Soldotna is park of forest land, so not many lots available. Land from Anchorage to Girdwood goes for a premium and I'd certainly want to be some distance back from the Seward to be shielded from the road noise.

    I highly recomend coming up and spending a year or two renting while learning as much as you can about various communities and finding out any potential issues with the land year round. You need to first figure out what is the right area for you, be educated as to what is good land and what to avoid, and then be in a position to get the right lot when it hits the market. Quality land that is realistically priced will sell quickly. Lots that have been on the market for some time generally have issues or are undesireable. Much better to sit on your money and get bummed about good properties you've missed than jump on one you can't use and can't get rid of.
    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.

  5. #5
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    Some friends who live in Glenallen did caution that Sutton/Chickaloon tend to be quite windy. I once stopped along the Glenn Hwy. to take pictures overlooking the Matanuska River, (maybe a half mile from the last stoplight in Palmer), and was amazed at how windy it was. I suppose it goes with the territory.

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