Author Topic: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?  (Read 6798 times)

GoConfidently

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Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« on: May 24, 2016, 03:49:00 PM »
I'm going to give some general info and financial info, but any advice is appreciated.

I'm 34 years old, work in education as an administrator, make $77,000/yr, and currently have student debt to the tune of just under $30,000 from my master's program. I own a home here with about $30,000 in equity.  I'm on an aggressive debt repayment schedule since most of the student loans are at 6% interest. I have a job that I worked hard to get, and have been in this position for 1 year. I'm not in love with it. It requires quite a bit of daily travel and a lot of stress, and frankly I miss having students. I work all year (no summer break like teachers) but still get regular school holidays plus ten vacation days.

There is an opening in Alaska for a full time teaching position in my subject area and grade level, which doesn't open up often (not math or science, but an elective area). It's in a good location, a small city just south of Anchorage. I figure that even with the cost of living increases, I would save money by going to AK. One, I would be eligible for student loan forgiveness. Two, there just aren't as many places to spend money. Three, I would rent instead of own and could drastically downsize (I bought too much house but my house is smaller than average for my area). Unfortunately, Alaskan school districts don't publish salary schedules so I have no idea if the salary would be 40,000 or 75,000. It would likely be somewhere between those two numbers, and probably closer to the lower end.

Part of me thinks I should stick it out here for one more year and become debt free BEFORE making a big life change. I think it would look bad to leave admin after just one year to go back to the classroom. I'm good at my job and I don't want to look incompetent. But I love the idea of the adventure and the change of scenery. Deep down, I think I would love it. I'm an outdoorsy person and the city I live in currently is not outdoors friendly.

So, am I crazy to even entertain the thought? Should I just take a vacation and get over it? Or do I have nothing to lose by applying and seeing what happens? (I don't necessarily want my employer to know I'm looking, so any automated reference checks would flag them, which could be a downside to just applying.) Any Alaskan mustachians out there?

mozar

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2016, 04:08:22 PM »
You should definitely apply (ASAP) then you can think about what you want. I would assume that salaries would be high because its probably tough to recruit to Alaska. Have you visited?

human

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2016, 04:27:29 PM »
The kenai peninsula is beautiful, a little crowded but better than Anchorage. Can't hurt to apply you can then negotiate on salary. If your single what's holding you back? I bet it's going to be a competitive process . . .

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2016, 04:29:25 PM »
You should definitely apply (ASAP) then you can think about what you want. I would assume that salaries would be high because its probably tough to recruit to Alaska. Have you visited?

I have not visited Alaska, but have been close, in the spring/summer. I do think the first winter would be a difficult adjustment, but I also think I can make it. Plenty of people have transplanted to AK and done just fine, and maybe that's overly optimistic but I don't see why I couldn't as well. For what it's worth, the southeastern part of the state is less harsh than the north.

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2016, 04:32:40 PM »
The kenai peninsula is beautiful, a little crowded but better than Anchorage. Can't hurt to apply you can then negotiate on salary. If your single what's holding you back? I bet it's going to be a competitive process . . .

What's holding me back - family is all currently local, it would be a huge change in just two months so that makes me somewhat nervous, not knowing anything about the school or district or how I would fit in with their culture, and the general unknown. I've never made such a big life change and it's an exciting but scary possibility.

Telecaster

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2016, 05:42:28 PM »
Can't hurt to apply.   I understand teaching jobs are hard to get in Alaska because they pay good salaries up there.  But why not? 

I lived part of a winter in Anchorage (not the whole winter, but a decent chunk), and I was even working outside a lot.   I didn't think it was that bad.  Its cold but they have coats and stuff.    Spent a lot of time there in the summers too, which are great.   If you like the outdoors, which you do, it is tough to beat. 

The thing I don't like about Anchorage (I realize you won't actually be in Anchorage) is that is it basically a 1970s designed suburban strip mall hell.   Except for a sliver of downtown, the city is very spread out.  Geographically it is enormous.  There are some cool bars and restaurants, but they aren't next to each other. 

human

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2016, 06:00:53 PM »
All I can say is that I would be jealous of someone who lived in alaska and could take summers off. Just thinking of all the places to visit . . . denali state and national parks, lake clark, Iliamna lake, wrangell st.-elias and the gates of the artic. All within a days drive!

Edit: uh woops of course you can't drive to lake clark or Iliamna . . . Still close!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 04:22:29 AM by human »

Miss Piggy

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2016, 06:15:39 PM »
I agree with the others...nothing to lose by applying.

pbkmaine

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2016, 06:31:59 PM »
It would be an adventure. Why not try?

norabird

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2016, 06:46:38 PM »
Go for it, and read Allie's journal :)


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thd7t

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2016, 07:30:01 PM »
Is it Seward? My brother has lived there for eight years. It's an amazing place.

fishnfool

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2016, 07:50:22 PM »
Not sure?

Saw the Gov. of Alaska on the evening news just a few weeks ago saying they had no money and might have to shut schools down. Not trying to alarm you, but you might want to research that FYI.

Otherwise I think it sounds like a great chance to experience Alaskan life!

hankscorpio84

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2016, 10:50:42 PM »
I may be a bit biased as a born and raised Alaskan, but my answer to your question is yes, you should apply. If you truly love the outdoors and want an opportunity for a life that puts you in postcard quality situations all the time, do it.  It is true that the state of Alaska budget is currently a mess because of the low cost of oil, but plenty of people are still doing fine up here.  Do you have a contingency plan for potential budget cuts?  If you have any skills outside of teaching you will have no problem making a living, good help is truly hard to find up here.  There are great opportunities for teachers with summers off to work/side hustle as well.  DM me if you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to help.

nedwin

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2016, 10:09:33 AM »
My wife and I lived in Anchorage for three years.  Our plan was to be there for two or three years then move back to CO, which we did.  We loved it, but it was not without its difficulties.  These difficulties should be carefully considered before you commit to the state.   

1.  The winter.  This was the largest difficulty I faced in AK.  It wasn't the cold (south central AK is not much colder than the mountain west or upper midwest, if at all), it was the darkness.  The shortest days during the winter in Anchorage are about 5.5 hours.  The sun is only 10 or 15 degrees over the horizon, so daylight is not very intense.

2.  What I call the "Alaska Premium."  The cost of living was significantly higher than I was used to coming from Colorado.  My impression was that everything on average cost about 20% more.  The further away from Anchorage, the higher the prices went.  This applies to most everything - housing, utilities, food, gasoline, clothing.  There obviously are exceptions, but this seemed to apply to the majority of what we purchased.

3.  Distance from family.  For us, Anchorage was a six hour flight from our family.  This proved more and more difficult the longer we were there.

These are the most significant difficulties we faced while there.  Alaska is also facing a significant economic problem now with low oil prices and declining oil production.  The state government has a multi-billion dollar deficit and the economy is probably in recession or close to it.  If the current governor gets his way, there will be an income tax imposed for the first time in decades and Permanent Fund earnings will be directed to support government rather than paid to citizens.  I don't mean to talk bad about the state or your desire to move there.  Any move like this should be done with eyes wide open.  If, after considering these, you want to give AK a try, then do it.

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2016, 12:11:04 PM »
Thanks for all the replies. I put in an email to the state licensing board to see what my options are for getting a provisional teaching license since there isn't a reciprocity agreement with my state. Assuming that works out, I'll apply. I've been researching and reading Allie's journal and feel confident that despite the current budget situation, this district isn't in danger due to enrollment. I'm also dual certified and my second cert is in a core area, so I think job security is pretty good (although I prefer not to teach that second area, I could). I'm not getting my hopes up, but I'm going to throw my hat in the ring and see what happens!

frugaliknowit

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2016, 01:48:21 PM »
At this point, it's JUST an application.  I wouldn't think about it much until/unless there's some interest in hiring you.  Good luck either way!

westtoeast

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2016, 07:02:50 PM »
Had to chime in as I was raised in southeast AK. I don't have much helpful information about salaries other that the general knowledge that they are higher than average. Of course some aspects of cost of living are higher (groceries, for example). And I second the advice to check out how recent budget issues might affect your prospects.

Sounds like the town you are looking at is on the mainland, but if you end up looking for something in the southeast (which I highly recommend... winters are very manageable and the mountains/ocean combo is amazing) feel free to reach out!

Beriberi

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2016, 02:15:48 PM »
I work part-time in Alaska and have often thought of moving - but it doesn't work for my family. Another thing to consider (depending on where you are coming from) is lower taxes.  There is no state income tax and the yearly PFD can be substantial.

Also, I don't know if you are male or female  and if you have a partner.  Depending on how far you are from Anchorage, it may be quite difficult to date, depending on what you are looking for.

There is no risk in applying for the job - good luck!

moosestache

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2016, 07:37:55 PM »
Unless the position is in Girdwood, you will not be near Anchorage.  Seward is a 2.5 to 3 hour drive, it's 3 hours to Soldotna and it's 4.5 to 5 to Homer.

Those are amazing places to live, but nowhere close to Anchorage or the airport connecting you to family back in the lower 48.

moosestache

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2016, 08:28:53 PM »
 Even Girdwood can get shut off for awhile during an avalanche along Turnagain Arm.  Plus now that Aleska ski area has gotten uber fancy pants it's very expensive to live there in winter.  But good point on aSeward and Homer being kind of isolated in winter - and an even longer drive - if you want to get into Anchorage and beyond. But may e the OP is OK with small town life in a somewhat isolated area and wouldn't need to go to Anchorage or Outside (i.e. outside Alaska) very often.

ETA I think the OP might be talking about South Anchorage so different ballgame. As long as it's not Whittier ;-). OP ask Allie about Whittier. Bizarre place.
[/quote]

Why is it that people think you need a passport to go to South Anchorage?  It's a ten minute drive to downtown. :)

I think it would be amazing to live on the peninsula, but I don't know how enjoyable it would be if I were single and my family all lived out of state.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 08:33:30 PM by moosestache »

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2016, 10:47:46 PM »
The job is in Soldotna. I realize it's not just outside Anchorage, but 3 hours isn't much of a drive IMO for occasional flights or to stock up on supplies. Because of the traffic here, I regularly  drive 45 minutes just to get to one of my schools. And I'm ok with small town life, and tend to be sort of lonerish so I don't think the isolation would be a problem. I am female and single, and not necessarily looking. I'm not worried about finding a partner. That's another long story that I'll leave for another time and place. I'm not trying to downplay the difficulties, just explain that I've considered them. I do appreciate all the feedback and if I hear something positive about my application, I'll message some of you living in or from AK. Thanks!

moosestache

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2016, 01:53:27 AM »
If you don't need a lot of entertainment and like the outdoors, Soldotna is a great place to hang your hat.  I just wanted to make sure you had considered the distance to Anchorage and consequently the distance to get back out of Alaska, whether it's for vacations or emergencies, etc.  So many people see mileage numbers and think they can cover the same distance in the same time as in other places.  It just doesn't work that way up here.

It really is beautiful place and would make a great adventure. 

Ceridwen

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2016, 06:31:57 AM »
Wasn't there a TLC show not too long ago about being single in Alaska? If you are female, hetero, single and looking, I think you will be spoiled for choice!

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2016, 08:42:13 AM »
Gosh, now I'm going to have to get the job just so I can experience this wonderland of eligible bachelors I'm hearing about! ;)

BurtMacklin

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2016, 10:00:09 AM »
Do you anticipate that your home would sell quickly?

hankscorpio84

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2016, 11:03:36 AM »
You know what they say about the bachelors in Alaska:  The odds are good but the goods are odd.

moosestache

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2016, 02:38:19 PM »
I love that saying because it's mostly true.  Of course, I beat the odds and found a keeper up here so don't write all those Alaska men off.

GoConfidently

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Re: Should I apply for a job in Alaska?
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2016, 09:52:33 PM »
Do you anticipate that your home would sell quickly?

My mom is going to need a place to rent in the next few months due to a job change, so
I think I'll rent to her for the first year at least. Then if I hate it, I have a home to come back to.