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Moving to Soldotna

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  • 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
    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
      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
        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, 06:13. Reason: spelling


        • #5
          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
            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
              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
                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.



                • #9
                  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
                    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
                      Get the milepost, it is worth it if you haven't done the drive many times.


                      It will answer many of your drive questions


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


                        • #13
                          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
                            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
                              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.


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