FAQ's, Questions answered about Remote Properties in Alaska
So here we are! You are probably here because you are thinking of buying a remote property in Alaska. Undoubtedly you have seen the many Reality TV shows that glamorizes the remoteness Alaska has to offer. We here at Remote Properties Alaska, want to dive in to the subject of buying a remote property in Alaska. Do you think you have what it takes to not just live, but thrive on a remote property in Alaska? Lets dive into this interesting subject with a few FAQ's on this interesting subject!
Buying a Remote Property in Alaska, Think Twice or Think Ahead
Several times a day our phone rings and on the other end of the line is someone who is enquiring about a remote property we have listed. It is almost always someone from outside the state of Alaska. And you can tell the connection between what it is going to take to buy the property and physically be able to get to it, build on it, and thrive on it, has never entered their mind. So before you think about forsaking everything where you are currently at, and moving wife, kids, and dogs to a remote property in Alaska? Let dive into a few areas that you may not have thought about.
Self Assessment, Are you cut out to live on a remote property in Alaska
Before we get to deep into this important subject, now would be a great time to asses yourself and family and ask yourself. Will you be happy out in the middle of nowhere? What skills do you have or lack? What budget will you need to acquire those skills and tools or hire the work to be done? At the end of the process, even with a great looking cabin and well assessed land, you are going to be isolated. Some people enjoy the solitude and the "do-it-yourself" requirement. However, other personalities might find the silence of a remote home deafening and lonely, and some of those people might be your wife, kids, girlfriend or husband, meaning people that you think are going to go with you on this journey. Living remotely may also mean, for friends who want to visit but wouldn't understand the lifestyle, “no thanks; I'll come visit you in your city sometime.” If you are going to move to a remote location, it is likely that you will change more than the people you leave behind.
Never buy a remote property in Alaska sight unseen
Rule number one. As tempting as it may be. You should never buy a remote property sight unseen. The ramifications of this should be obvious but in the event that it is not, we will discuss this possible temptation you may have on the spur of the moment. There are so many good reasons not to buy a remote property sight unseen, but we will just talk about a few. The main one is this. Can you build on it? Or can you even put a tent on it? A lot of remote properties are such that the terrain will not let you build on it without leveling the land first. It may be very hilly with steep drop off and hills that would make it impossible to set up tent let alone build an off grid home or cabin. Getting a bulldozer into a property like this to level a building spot is never going to happen! Don't buy a remote property in Alaska sight unseen. Enough said!
How will you access your remote Property in Alaska
So this is another very VERY important subject. So you found the perfect piece of remote property. It is 45 miles from the nearest maintained road. Now what? You need to go look at it but how? There are no roads, or common trails that will get you there. Maybe you are lucky enough to buy a property that is on a lake big enough to land a float plane on. But if not, now what do you do? Start hiking? You want to visit your remote property but you have no idea how. This is where having a remote property can get very difficult and VERY expensive. If you are already from Alaska, you more than likely have this all figured out. But if you are not from Alaska, then here is where you will need to get your checkbook out. Keep reading!
The logistics of owning a remote property in Alaska
So you have purchased your remote property. Here are a few things to think about when you go to try and access it. First, lets break down the terrain in Alaska. Alaska is nothing more than a big swamp with 15-20k foot mountains sticking up out of it. The first hurdle you will run into is where do I park my vehicle? Well you have to drive your truck and trailer with all your ATV's and supplies somewhere to a point where you START out to your property. Where will you park? You can't park on private property unless you know someone who will let you. You can't park it on public land for fear of everything getting stolen or vandalized while you are out at your remote property. And this happens a lot! If it can't be accessed by float plane, you are going to need multiple ATV's. Why multiple? Because half of the terrain you will cross will be swamp and deep mud and trust me when I tell you. Getting stuck, no let me rephrase that, getting buried up to the floor boards on your ATV is not only likely, but guaranteed. You have multiple ATV's so when you get stuck, you can use the others to pull you out. And all this is just in the summer. It is actually much easier to access a remote property in the winter. And that of course would be by snowmachine. (We call snowmobiles snowmachines in Alaska) But the rule of thumb with multiples snowmachines, and safe parking remains the same. Keep in mind, all lumber, fuel, groceries, and just day to day survival things will need to be hauled in. This subject alone could fill a book. But I think you are getting the point.
Communication with your family and friends
Lets just say that this part of our journey should need no introduction. But in the event you are somewhat lacking in communication skills, we will cover this topic too. Do NOT buy a property without your wife seeing it first. If you do? Say it is the cutest little cabin 45 miles off a maintained road. You have endured getting stuck 5 times in the side by side. The mosquitos are at plague status and you forgot the bug dope. You are from Texas, and the wife is in a tank top and jeans. By the time you get to your cute little cabin, you know, the one with the 35 empty 55 gallon metal drums that smell like diesel fuel. And the two broken windows in the cabin where the squirrels and shrews have made themselves at home and have ripped out every stitch of insulation out of the roof and it is now laying on the cabin floor? I would say that the chance to make a good first impression has long left the building! Always clean things up as nice as possible before you show family and friends for the first time. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. This goes for your friends to. If you want their help to build or fix up your property? Give them a good first impression. Otherwise, there simply won't be enough beer in the world that will make them come out and help you. Have good communication, and make a good first impression!
Learn about the land and the best place to build your cabin
So suffice it to say this topic is one of the most important. You want to build a cabin on your remote property. Obviously the first rule of thumb is build on solid ground. And you want to make sure the rain and snow drains AWAY from your cabin and building site. As I stated before, Alaska is a big swamp. If you have that figured out then here are some very important things to consider. Where does the sun rise and set at various times of the year? Which direction does the prevailing wind come from? That also means what direction does the rain and snow come from? These are questions that will impact your activities. Your placement of porches, and the size of windows, the angle of your roof, where to put your garden, and what trees to cut down and what ones to keep. All important things to consider! Because one thing is for sure, you won't be able to move your cabin once it is done. By the time it's done? it will be to late to change anything.
The construction costs of building on a remote property in Alaska.
So now you think you have it all figured out. You have spent many evenings, hours upon hours putting pen to paper and you have a cost, a dollar figure of what you think it is going to cost to build on your remote property. If you don't remember anything from all the information this page has given you. You need to remember this. Take whatever number you have for the cost of building on your remote property. And TRIPLE IT! Why? Let me count the ways! You are now 100 miles from a Home Depot. 45 miles of it takes you 8 hours by ATV through the swamp. And by the way it will be completely dark when you are coming back through the swamp. The ever changing cost of materials. Lumber, fuel, machines, food. And then the sheer volume of things that just go WRONG! Vehicles and ATV's break down, multiple trips back to town because you got the wrong lumber package. Time is money and now you just lost an entire day of labor because you got the wrong nails for your nail gun. Meanwhile, friends and family are at a standstill back at the property. This is a common theme to building on a remote property. No matter what you think about your price for building on a remote property. You should definitely add a couple zeros to your price. Then you will have it just about right.
The weather, and how it will affect your construction timeline
To say the weather in Alaska can be depressing at times would be a grand understatement. Especially when it come to doing any kind of construction. There is a saying here in Alaska. There are two seasons in Alaska. Winter, and construction. Basically we have 8 months of winter here where it is just about impossible to do any kind of outdoor construction because the snow is 6 feet deep, and the ground is frozen. What usually happens is there is a scramble to get 4 walls enclosed during the short summer, then concentrate on the inside when it is to cold to work outside. You basically have 3-4 months to get your structure framed up and enclosed before the snow flies. Right now you may be saying, No problem! But hold on! It rains in Alaska. Did I say it rains? It rains in Alaska. A LOT!! Just know that you will be working in conditions that will slow you down. WAY down. It can start raining one day, and continue for 2 weeks without a glimpse of sunshine. It won't be a torrential downpour, it will be this non stop, all encompassing drizzle. Everything, and I mean everything gets soaked. This can go on all summer long. You may get two days of overcast or sunshine, and a week of rain. Here is the bottom line. You WILL be working in the rain. And more often than not, you will be working in the rain more than days its not raining. It can be demoralizing to say the least. At this point you might ask. Why would anyone want to live there? Because when there are days where it is sunny and warm? They are million dollar days. And those are the days where it is worth it all to be here!
The Mosquito's in Alaska, Are the Myths true, You better believe it
Lets say you have made it this far. You have read everything on this page up to this point. And so far you think that you are cut out for a remote property here in Alaska. Well I saved the best for last when it comes to just how difficult things can get. The mosquito's. They are legendary. No, they are biblical here. And by biblical I mean they can get to plague status. They can be so thick that you can't breathe without a head net on that completely covers your head. They can be so bad that even a spot 1/8 inch on your body that isn't absolutely covered in Deet will be assaulted mercilessly. There is no escaping them. They are a constant reminder of who is really boss out in the backcountry of Alaska. Every time you open your door, 50 of them come in with you. Every time your dog comes in it will have 100 hitch hikers just waiting to unleash themselves on you. And trust me they will. Usually they will find a safe spot in your home or cabin and wait till you are in bed. Then the real assault begins. All those mosquito's that managed to infiltrate your cabin during the day, are now biting you without mercy while you are trying to sleep. You spend many a sleepless night swatting endlessly at them. By sheer numbers they can wear you down and demoralize you. They are in the house, you go outside and they swarm on you. I heard them referred to as "living fur" by one person. So what do you do? Well, you walk around with this "glow." You have cases of Deet. And you cake it on like you are painting yourself. And then get on your knees. And pray for winter. Welcome to remote Alaska!