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  • Retiring to a simple life in Alaska?

    It seems that Alaska has a lot of quirks (in the positive sense) and lots of people who are doing the sort of thing I want to do (live semi-secluded in a cabin in the woods), so maybe I wouldnít be too out of place thereÖ I mean, maybe I wouldnít be the weird single guy out in the woods; no, Iíd just be one of many weird single guys out in the woods. So thatís why Alaska appeals to me -- well, that and the incredible natural beauty. Iím not stuck on Alaska, as Iím also considering implementing my plan in Virginia mountain country, where I have experience. People seem to speak highly of Idaho, as well, for semi-remote cabin living. I have experience in northern New Hampshire, as well, which is another candidate.

    A cabin in the woods is my goal, with ongoing contact with civilization, i.e. I donít intend to ďdrop off the face of the earth and live off the land.Ē I donít get bored easily, donít mind my own company, and I enjoy simple things. I do love those Alaska shows and documentaries, but I realize most of them are not realistic, except maybe ďThe Last Alaskans,Ē but I know that Iím not Heimo Korth. I have zero fantasies about being a true mountain man. If I did this in Alaska, I would surely miss whitetails, but I like hunting black bear and moose, and Iím interested in trying caribou hunting if it were available wherever I settled down. I would miss Virginia coastal fishing, but Iím interested in river and lake fishing for Alaskan fish. As for why I want to live in a cabin in the woods, well, all I can say is I want my peace and quiet without having to work a job.

    I am 40 years old. I am an avid hunter (moose, whitetails, and black bear in NH; whitetails and black bear in VA). I want to get into fishing, but have never done much of it, except coastal fishing on the Virginia Eastern Shore. Other than that, I donít have many practical outdoorsman skills, nor construction skills. I have never built anything, donít know how to use most tools, and have never worked construction or anything similar. I went to college and have been in a white collar world since then.

    I want to build a one-story cabin (maybe 600 square feet). I do ďknowĒ a bit, as I have been reading voraciously about home building for a few years and even took a log-cabin building class, so I understand all the concepts (foundation, framing, insulation, etc.). I read the University of Alaska Fairbanksí ďAlaska Residential Building Manual 7th Edition,Ē as well as the Alaska Housing Finance Corporationís ďAlaska Log Building Construction GuideĒ and ďAlaska Housing Manual 4th Edition.Ē I havenít actually built a building myself, but Iím eager to try. I havenít decided on the type of cabin yet, but one option I am considering is a stick frame and spray foam. Iím also thinking of a log cabin, which I know how to make. I want electricity and running hot water. Some tradesmen would be involved in the build, for sure. So I will be on the road systemÖ hopefully at the end of it.

    In addition to the cabin, I want a garage/workshop/emergency shelter a distance from the cabin in case it burns down. That structure would also have plumbing, electric, and full insulation, just like the cabin, but would have a garage door for the truck. Thatís also where Iíll have my reloading bench, emergency supplies, etc. This would not be a huge structure -- just enough space for my reloading bench, a bunk bed, a toilet, and my truck. I mention the size because I know some Alaskans have ďshopsĒ big enough for a plane, complete with upper floor apartment.

    I do not need tons and tons of acreage, but a good view is very important to me -- something pretty to look at from my deck or porch -- mountains, valleys, a river, etc. I want to be on the maintained road system so that I can get out and get supplies without needing to use planes or having to ride a snow machine from a parked car, etc. But I still want some degree of remoteness, i.e. on the far fringes of the maintained road system somewhere.

    Iím not a youth anymore, but Iím still young-ish. I wish I had the skills and confidence of a man who had spent the past 20 years in the trades, forestry, etc., and could jump right into this, knowing how to solve problems and how to use tools, knowing exactly what heís doing, but I donít.

    Iíd like to take a multi-month trip when the weather is good to feel out towns and to view properties. Then I will come up during the winter months and rent a cabin to see what itís like for a few weeks. I cannot come this summer or winter, but I am thinking about June 2020 for the summer portion, and perhaps December 2020 for the winter portion. Oh, and no, I donít plan to bring California ideals to Alaska and ďchangeĒ it. Iím not from California, anyway. I plan to blend in (as much as possible) and adapt to that which exists already.

    I do have questions for those who have followed me this far, and they are as follows:

    1) Any suggestions on itineraries, towns I should look into, places I should visit, and real estate agents or firms I should inquire with, given my stated goals and the type of property I am looking for? Iíll make my summer trip a twofer: vacation and scouting.

    2) Given the type of thing I am trying to do and the type of home I am trying to build on the type of land I am looking for, what is a realistic cash outlay plan to get set up, i.e. to get the cabin and workshop done and buy land as I have described? Low and high ranges appreciated. And what sort of annual income would I need to generate to sustain myself indefinitely? Low and high ranges appreciated.

    Your suggestions and advice highly appreciated in advance, and thank you for reading my long post.

    I figure the first questions Iíll get here are ďWhat do you do?Ē and ďHow much money do you have?Ē I stopped working this year, so I guess you could say I was retired. We'll see how that works out. I have saved up $800,000, and I have no debt. The way the math is working out in my head is as follows: if I spend $100,000 - $200,000 getting set up, the remaining $600,000 - $700,000 would produce $30,000 - $35,000 per year to live off of. On top of that, I will receive $12,000/year in Social Security and $18,000/year in pension starting at 62 (22 years from now). Both are from the federal government, so Iím fairly confident in them, but who knows.

  • #2
    Yep.........many on this forum have been living it for decades. And it is wonderful. Even more on this forum have the same dream, but are not living it.
    "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller

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    • #3
      Thank you for your service. The one thing I can add, is that if you fall under the VA health care system you could not find a better state. The VA is Anchorage is fairly new, Fairbanks, brand new. Not having a dedicated VA hospital if something major happens you usually get to go to the provider you want. My last back surgery in 17 was covered 100% and I had the same doctor that operated on my back in the spring of 13 when I was covered by private insurance. Medications come in the mail if needed and they cover my travel. Fisher House of AK is an excellent place to stay on base if you qualify and you live more than 50(?) miles out. I'm 275 miles out and they let me stay whenever they have room and I have to go over. If you do think that you have qualifying medical conditions get a service provider like the VFW or the DAV. They can really help with the paperwork.

      Patriot Life Member NRA
      Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
      Life Member Disabled American Veterans


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Daveinthebush View Post
        Thank you for your service. The one thing I can add, is that if you fall under the VA health care system you could not find a better state. The VA is Anchorage is fairly new, Fairbanks, brand new. Not having a dedicated VA hospital if something major happens you usually get to go to the provider you want. My last back surgery in 17 was covered 100% and I had the same doctor that operated on my back in the spring of 13 when I was covered by private insurance. Medications come in the mail if needed and they cover my travel. Fisher House of AK is an excellent place to stay on base if you qualify and you live more than 50(?) miles out. I'm 275 miles out and they let me stay whenever they have room and I have to go over. If you do think that you have qualifying medical conditions get a service provider like the VFW or the DAV. They can really help with the paperwork.
        Hi Dave, many thanks for the quick and warm reply! I should state that I am not a veteran and have never served in the military.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mg4570 View Post
          Hi Dave, many thanks for the quick and warm reply! I should state that I am not a veteran and have never served in the military.
          I wondered how you saved so much money. Thought it was pretty good for military.

          Patriot Life Member NRA
          Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
          Life Member Disabled American Veterans


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Daveinthebush View Post
            I wondered how you saved so much money. Thought it was pretty good for military.
            I'm one of those other federal employees, the weenies in the suits.

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            • #7
              Some places that came to mind when you were describing what youíre looking for that might be worth checking out: Kenny Lake, Chitina, outside of Delta Junction and along the road from there to Tok (Dot Lake, etc), and also some of the small outposts outside of Fairbanks.

              I havenít done what youíre describing, so I could be wrong, but it seems like your costs for getting started might be on the low end. As for living costs, itís certainly possible to live frugally, but be prepared for very high energy bills in rural Alaska coupled with significantly more expensive groceries, etc.

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              • #8
                If you got 800 grand saved, you don't NEED to know anything! LOL...
                PM me, we'll get ya set up....:topjob:
                "Ė Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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                • #9
                  Thanks, lol! I've read enough of these threads (I think maybe all of them) to know that the least welcome outsiders in Alaska would be the following, maybe in this order: 1) know-it-all Californians, 2) runaway criminals, 3) drug addicts and dealers, 4) broke people who go on welfare or who get stuck and can't leave, 5) Christopher McCandless types. I'm none of those things, so I hope I might do okay. :topjob:

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mg4570 View Post
                    Thanks, lol! I've read enough of these threads (I think maybe all of them) to know that the least welcome outsiders in Alaska would be the following, maybe in this order: 1) know-it-all Californians, 2) runaway criminals, 3) drug addicts and dealers, 4) broke people who go on welfare or who get stuck and can't leave, 5) Christopher McCandless types. I'm none of those things, so I hope I might do okay. :topjob:
                    You forgot Alaskan Bush people.:whistle:

                    Patriot Life Member NRA
                    Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
                    Life Member Disabled American Veterans


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                    • #11
                      Political subdivisions in Alaska are boroughs rather than counties. Most boroughs assess a property tax, but there are communities in Alaska that are not in any borough. One such is the Valdez-Cordova Census Area. We own property in this area and are not assessed any property tax. We also get no services, but with a remote property none are needed.

                      For a permanent residence you may want to consider what fire protection services are available. The further out you go from a community the less likely it will be that someone can come to your aid in the event of a fire. It doesn't sound like you intend to finance with a mortgage, but if you do then the lender will require that the property be within a fire service area.

                      I think I would start the touring in the winter. Find out which places are too darn cold, have too much snow, or aren't maintained in the winter. Also winter road traffic drops by a couple orders of magnitude in some areas. That should tell you if a place is too desolate for your liking.

                      Plenty of folks have built their homesteads with little to no experience. You've probably got the ability to RTFM, which puts you ahead of many. I think you've got a great plan and should start scoping out likely locales. I'm guessing you can easily buy land and build your spread for well under $200k as long as you can do most of the grunt work.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mg4570 View Post
                        Thanks, lol! I've read enough of these threads (I think maybe all of them) to know that the least welcome outsiders in Alaska would be the following, maybe in this order: 1) know-it-all Californians, 2) runaway criminals, 3) drug addicts and dealers, 4) broke people who go on welfare or who get stuck and can't leave, 5) Christopher McCandless types. I'm none of those things, so I hope I might do okay. :topjob:
                        You can scratch number five off your list. We donít worry about those kind as they pretty much take care of themselves.

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                        • #13
                          Consider Sales Tax when locating property.

                          I now purchase nearly everything but Ice cream from Amazon.com and the nice people at USPS and UPS leave it at the bottom of the mountain.
                          "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AGL4now View Post
                            Consider Sales Tax when locating property.

                            I now purchase nearly everything but Ice cream from Amazon.com and the nice people at USPS and UPS leave it at the bottom of the mountain.
                            But you now pay sales tax on an Amazon purchase.....

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ChugiakTinkerer View Post
                              Most boroughs assess a property tax, but there are communities in Alaska that are not in any borough. One such is the Valdez-Cordova Census Area. We own property in this area and are not assessed any property tax. We also get no services, but with a remote property none are needed.
                              As long as you ae outside the Valdez City limits.

                              Patriot Life Member NRA
                              Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
                              Life Member Disabled American Veterans


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