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Thread: Is it realistic to...

  1. #1
    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Default Is it realistic to...

    So as some of you know my wife and I are itching to move our family (2 sons) to AK... preferably in the Soldotna region. We have our house here in TN on the market and are downsizing everything we can to prepare for this move, whenever the good Lord allows it to happen. I've went over numerous scenarios in my head about the trip up, finding a job, finding a place to stay, etc. I really liked Cowboys plan, in a separate thread, of buying an enclosed trailer, packing it up and towing it himself. That made a lot of sense and seemed economical to me as we would like to drive and make a semi vacation out of the trip ourselves.

    Over the past few days I've been mauling over another idea... Since I'm still not sure where we would live when we got there at this point (other than renting an apt.), I thought about selling our 2 vehicles and buying a small (20' - 30') Motorhome. In addition, I would still buy a small enclosed trailer to pack all of our "home" stuff in and pull it up with our stuff as we came. This would allow us to stop anywhere there was a campground on the way up and stay, saving money we would otherwise spend on motels. In addition, we could camp in AK once we got there and until we found a place to call home (Apt., House, etc.). Once we arrived we could buy a small used vehicle to get around the area until permanent employment and housing were secured.

    Given this scenario I have a few questions I would like to ask...

    1.) What do you think about that plan? Pros... Cons... etc?

    2.) Is it realistic to think someone could live in a motorhome at a campground or other location in Soldotna or the surrounding area during the winter?

    3.) Are campground facilities open year round in that area?

    4.) Has anyone else made a similar trip and/or move?

    Please don't hold back, if you think this is the most absurd idea you have ever heard, I want to know that too. Better to hear you say it now than for me to think it when I get there.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

  2. #2
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Con would be possible repair issues with the motor home on the way up. Without a sag wagon you may be stranded for a few hours waiting on someone to help out (depending on what time of year with it not being and issue in summer). Then you could be stranded for a few days waiting for parts. Not a big issue by any means, just frustrating if you are on a schedule of some kind.

    Pro is that many people have done it this way since the road was built. You will be in good company based on history.

    There probably are not many RV camps open after mid September. They typically do not have freeze proof water/waste systems so they close up. However, there is no telling what you could find once you showed up and started asking around town. Kind of hard to plan that out.

    People live in single wide trailers in the winter so the motor home won't be much different. Just need to figure out the water and waste freeze proofing issue, and have a plan for not letting snow collapse the roof.

  3. #3
    Member Hayduke's Avatar
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    People "live" in tents in Anchorage during the winter. Doesn't mean they are living comfortably. People have all sorts of janky homes up here but I wouldn't do it. I would suggest you bring your vehicle. Tent camp along the way to save money. I don't know your situation but in my case I wish we would have made more trips up here in different seasons to really get a feeling for what we like and dislike. We felt like we made the right choices but the first year was touch and go. I would be worried about moving without a job as well. I don't know your trade but keep in mind prices are steep up here. We are lucky and make good wages but I can tell you we have much less play money in AK than we did in OR. I would bet that housing prices aren't even in the same universe in AK as TN. My suggestion to anyone wanting to move up is this. Make a trip in the Summer and one in the Winter. Rent a car and explore different communities you are interested in. Make pro and con lists for different cities. Talk to employers, depending on your trade you may find an employer willing to pay for your move (that's what we did). Lastly, manage your expectations. Sometimes the poetic notion of The Great Land masks the realities of day to day life up here. It's true this is an awesome place to live but it takes a good while and some work to enjoy the benefits.

  4. #4
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    A second con for the winter motor home issues is that dump stations typically lock up in mid September as well so you will have to figure out where to dump the waste tank. You could talk a local into digging out the top of their septic tank and dump into that. Sign of a true friend right there - unless they charge you too steep a fee.

    A third con for winter motor home living would be your kids. Being couped up in such a confined space while surely drive somone nuts. You want to save the cabin fever for February and start off at the end of the first week it snows.

  5. #5
    Member Derby06's Avatar
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    Default My .02

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    1.) What do you think about that plan? Pros... Cons... etc?
    Trailer space / weight limit would be limited towing with many motorhomes. Also hard to find a place to camp that will hold a 20-30' motorhome and another trailer behing that. I think truck and a trailer would haul more...but of course then you lose the camping part. What are your current vehicles-year, condition, reliability, etc... I am thinking big toy hauler trailer that gives you both and both the trailer and tow vehicle are useful forever up here...but you need a vehicle to haul it.
    Soooo many variables that will add and delete both pro's annd con's

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    2.) Is it realistic to think someone could live in a motorhome at a campground or other location in Soldotna or the surrounding area during the winter?
    Yes, but as already stated it would not be real comfortable, nor econmical trying to keep heated...but it is DOABLE, espicially if it was for a short time.

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    3.) Are campground facilities open year round in that area?
    Not sure about the Soldotna Area, but definately some around Anchorage. Buy a Milepost and call and ask some of the listed campgrounds. I am usre you can find a place though.

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    4.) Has anyone else made a similar trip and/or move?
    Pulled a 21' car hauler loaded to the gills up and down the ALCAN 3 times.. But not a camper or motorhome....

    Quote Originally Posted by G3_Guy View Post
    Please don't hold back, if you think this is the most absurd idea you have ever heard, I want to know that too. Better to hear you say it now than for me to think it when I get there.
    Gotta laugh at that..Some folks ask questions but only want to hear yea that is a great idea, wish I would have thought of that, do it...BUT when something other than that comes as an answer they get defensive....lol

  6. #6
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    G3

    Made the trip last winter with an SUV and an enclosed trialer. You should have seen the expressions I got when I told folks back home we were moving to AK in the winter, people thought we were absolutley crazy! Don't forget, the reason you are excited is because of the sense of adventure. You are going to get lots of advice from folks that have done what you are thinking of, and you are going to hear ideas that worked for people and others not so much. Forget your expectations and be comfortable with whatever system of travel you choose. Lots of folks up here can live with little to no creature comforts like blue tarps and walking shoes, others prefer the finer things like running water and such. You get the point i'm sure.

    Anyways, some pros to your thought, summer travel on the AlCan is beutiful and will be an adventure you will never forget. If time is on your side, camp as often as you can and enjoy the trip, you will see, you won't make much time up by driving fast due to severl factors like road conditions and rubber knecking at the wildlife. I liked the idea of the enclosed trailer because I could drop it if I needed to and it has great re-sale value up here. It is also very comfortable to camp in if packed correclty . A motor home will be comfortable, but in my opnion it would be a pain to deal with once your here. Don't be fooled with the size of AK. There is not as many roads and open spaces to pull a big motor home over as one would think. I now I was shocked to see how limited road travel is up here compared to the lower 48.

    Cons, winter is cold and dark my friend. camping even in a motor home in the winter is going to be hard and will test your marriage. I understand about a tight budget, my advice would be to plan on being in a place before the winter. Even it is a less desireable place, you will find a temporary roof over your head without out to much effort. My opinion, you are not going to save much money buy camping in an motor home vs. renting a little place when you consider heat, utilties and a place to park. Hoe this helped a little. Good luck with your adventure!

    TGJ

  7. #7
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    We have a neighbor that lived in his 5th wheel camper for one winter. He spent TWICE as much money to heat it than I did heating my 2500 sf house for the same amount of time. He'd been money ahead to rent a place.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Member G3_Guy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback folks! Appreciate all the responses as it gives me a little more incite into what I might be getting into.
    G3 Guy
    "...with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

  9. #9
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    1) I don't know what your current vehicles are, but a 5th toy hauler pulled by a truck might be more practical than a motorhome, especially as you'll have a vehicle you can drive around in when you park the trailer. Our experience moving up was pulling an enclosed trailer behind a pickup in mid April. We'd planned on camping out to save money, but were so tired after driving all day we ended up staying in hotels/motels each night, but pitching a tent and breaking it down each night is much different than piling into the rv or trailer each night. One plus of the rv would be the kids would have room to stretch out during the trip, and not having to constantly stop for pee breaks.

    2) You need to expect temps down to -30 in Soldotna, as such IMHO a motorhome or 5th wheel is not a practical form of housing in the winter. A former co-worker slept in her 5th wheel in her driveway while her house was being re-modeled and the experience was trying at best, running out of fuel in the middle of the night, frozen plumbing. Living in an rv is one thing for a week or two, but doing it month after month in the winter would really put a tax on any family.

    3) No campgrounds are open year round. That said you see people living out of their cars on the side of road in various pull outs. To me the only practical way to pull this off, if your funds allow, is to drive up in the RV or trailer, buy some land in Soldotna, live in the RV while you build a cabin, and have the insulated heated cabin done by the end of the summer. I'd think for land, cabin, well and septic you'd be looking at $70-100k.

    The best advice I've recieved concerning moving up if you don't have a job is having 3 months of living expenses (double what you think you'll need) and money for the return trip.

    God willing you're able to make your trip up and find a job up here.

  10. #10

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    Adventure or divorce? No way do you want to spend a winter in a motorhome in AK. I suggest finding a job before you make this big move with the whole family. Alaska isn't much fun when the money runs out.
    I didn't follow my own advice back in the 80s, but we had no children then either. And not near the "stuff" we have now.

  11. #11

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    I'd agree with the above posters. From my experience so far, -30f isn't something that most rv's are equipped to efficiently handle. You definitely get a lot of frozen plumbing. Throw a burst pipe into there and you've got some bad damage.

  12. #12

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    WILD CARD...Pickup truck with camper. Leave the family back, get established first then return to drive family and the remainder of belongings north. My wife would freak if she had to miss the daily pamper session (blow dryer, curling iron, etc).

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