Homesteading Alaska

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Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:34 pm

This is not about a new reality tv show.

Or an announcement about free land.

I want to discuss self sufficient living in Alaska, and all the unique challenges and opportunities offered by that States climate, geography, culture and economy.

I'll start.....

Should a cabin in Alaska be occupied all year? What concerns should a non resident owner have about a remote cabin being unoccupied?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by LowKey » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:45 pm

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:This is not about a new reality tv show.

Or an announcement about free land.

I want to discuss self sufficient living in Alaska, and all the unique challenges and opportunities offered by that States climate, geography, culture and economy.

I'll start.....

Should a cabin in Alaska be occupied all year? What concerns should a non resident owner have about a remote cabin being unoccupied?
If it's homesteading*, then yes it needs to be occupied all year.
If it's not occupied then you have the concerns of wildlife breaking in(from bears to mice) looking for food and damaging things, fires (both wild and man made) burning it down, and homosapiens stealing your stuff.

I just spent most of June working on my property in Alaska and I won't be back again or about a year.



Homesteading in the sense of "free land" obtained by staking out and "proving" the land no longer exists. Homesteading in the sense of building and maintaining a smallholding with the intent of being as self reliant as possible is the definition I believe you're using, yes?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:30 pm

LowKey wrote:Homesteading in the sense of building and maintaining a smallholding with the intent of being as self reliant as possible is the definition I believe you're using, yes?

Correct
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by ineffableone » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:59 pm

Sadly as mentioned people in AK do scope out part time cabins and raid them for things to steal. As well as issues with wildlife and natural problems. Frozen pipes bursting is a common mistake part timers make. Not draining pipes fully and coming back to find they burst. Another common issue is tree limb damage. Snows can bring down limbs and crash into homes.

If you can make friends with a full time neighbor, you can often get them to check up on your place and make sure it doesn't have too many problems. Or if it does at least you get notified.

Do you have to be full time. Not at all, many folks don't do full time. But there are risks if your not there full time.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:12 am

ineffableone wrote:Sadly as mentioned people in AK do scope out part time cabins and raid them for things to steal. As well as issues with wildlife and natural problems. Frozen pipes bursting is a common mistake part timers make. Not draining pipes fully and coming back to find they burst. Another common issue is tree limb damage. Snows can bring down limbs and crash into homes.
I imagine the weight of snow on roof could cause problems without help from a limb.

Thank you Ineffableone and LowKey.

Next Question: Why Alaska? Why is Alaska the Mecca of modern homesteading? Is there an advantage to self sufficient living in Alaska as opposed to other states, if so what is it? Or is it just the romantic ideal of having a remote cabin in the woods of Alaska, hunting and trapping and hacking a life out of the last American wilderness that draws us?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:47 am

I live in a part of Alaska where a lot of people from the city have weekend cabins. Most of my family lives on the road system now, but most have also lived well off the road and my brother still does.

Break-ins and theft do happen. I think everyone gets something small stolen at one point or another. Some people never have anything major happen to them, other people get everything ripped off multiple times or even have their place burned down.

It's sad, as way back when people wouldn't lock the doors on their recreational cabins in case someone coming by needed to take shelter. I'm sure there was theft back then too, but not to the same degree, and if most people took something out of need they would do their best to make it right.

Theft can be a problem in rural areas even when you live there full time. We've had things stolen, but mostly small things. I think a lot of the time people have a real need for something and your place is the only pace nearby. So they take it, thinking they'll return it once they're done with it, but by the time they've got themselves unstuck or whatever they're exhausted and can't be bothered to bring back your shovel or strap, or they forget to mail you some money for the gas they took.

There's a special place in hell for people who steal snow shovels. That's what was stolen from our house more than anything. My brother lives out in the sticks, and hew would park his 4-wheeler on top of a couple 2x12s to keep it from sinking into the swamp. One day he found it flipped on its side with his boards gone.

A couple of times we had nearly full 300 gallon fuels tanks emptied. That hurt.

We've also had stuff smashed by vandals.

Even if it's your main house you'll probably leave for work, to go fishing, to visit a friend across the lake, etc. I think that's another reason why people steal just something small, they just grab something quick that can fit on their fourwheeler or snowmachine and are gone before you get back.

There's also a problem with local thieves knowing when you're gone on a vacation or on a job. That's when you can end up losing everything, because they'll show up with power tools and maybe even heavy equipment.

Like ineffableone said, the best defense is neighbors who will keep on the lookout for you. It's not fool proof, but it definitely helps. The best would be to have a bunch of nosy nosy neighbors living right next to you who are home all of the time and have dogs that bark at the slightest noise, but then you might as well just live in the suburbs. :lol:

They recently caught some thieves here using game cameras. Those might be something to consider.

If you aren't going to be there full time I would suggest doing your best to conceal anything valuable and/or critical. Locks are good, but if a thief knows they have all the time in the world they'll come back with power tools.

Bears are also a concern. Logs are good, as well as sturdy doors and window frames. Bears have ripped open doors and windows around here, and even ripped the walls off of flimsier construction.

I hope I didn't get you down, thieves just piss me off. It's something you will likely have to deal with, but if you enjoy rural living it will be worth it anyway.

I need to start a homesteading thread, but documenting stuff is a lot of work and I'm lazy.

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:04 am

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:I imagine the weight of snow on roof could cause problems without help from a limb.
A neighbor ours had his pole barn come down on top of a whole bunch of farm equipment. He sold his farm shortly after that. :(

A lot of remote cabins are very steep A-frames with metal roofs and closely spaced trusses.

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:08 am

Thanks Quazi, your input is always appreciated.

I'm starting to question the practicality of my 'work in the lower 48 and vacation / work on the land in AK for a couple of weeks a year until.... Well I'm not sure, probably when I get the cabin and a few out buildings completed' plan.

Any insight to that anyone?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by ineffableone » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:24 am

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:Next Question: Why Alaska? Why is Alaska the Mecca of modern homesteading? Is there an advantage to self sufficient living in Alaska as opposed to other states, if so what is it? Or is it just the romantic ideal of having a remote cabin in the woods of Alaska, hunting and trapping and hacking a life out of the last American wilderness that draws us?
Actually AK is no longer the Mecca of modern homesteading, in the last 5-10 yrs Idaho has become the Mecca of modern homesteading with MT a close second. But AK is still up in the top 3.

As for why folks do like to head to AK to homestead.

#1 the romantic notion of it. All other excuses aside, what tends to draw people is AK has been romanticized in literature, TV, and movies so much that people just can't get the idea out of their heads.

#2 a lot more open space and wilderness in AK than other states

#3 bragging rights. Along with romanticized notions comes the grueling stories of hardship, so if you can make it in AK then you can make it anywhere.

#4 there is still land available in AK. A lot of the country land just is a lot harder to find. Sure land is for sale, but often with serious flaws or heaps of junk on it or lack of basic necessities for a homesteader (water, timber, etc) AK still has massive amounts of land that have good potential for homesteaders.

#5 community. There is a lot of other homesteaders already there. You don't have to worry about people thinking your weird, homesteading is common and understood in AK. This is what has edged out AK from being the Mecca, Idaho slowly built up enough youtube homestead presence that more homesteaders started flocking to the area. MT edged into 2nd because one famous permaculturist who runs a permiculture forum set up his land there, and this drew a lot of new homesteaders to the region.

I am sure there are plenty of other good reasons, but that is likely the top 5 for AK.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by LowKey » Wed Jul 13, 2016 2:50 am

ineffableone wrote:
Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:Next Question: Why Alaska? Why is Alaska the Mecca of modern homesteading? Is there an advantage to self sufficient living in Alaska as opposed to other states, if so what is it? Or is it just the romantic ideal of having a remote cabin in the woods of Alaska, hunting and trapping and hacking a life out of the last American wilderness that draws us?
Actually AK is no longer the Mecca of modern homesteading, in the last 5-10 yrs Idaho has become the Mecca of modern homesteading with MT a close second. But AK is still up in the top 3.

As for why folks do like to head to AK to homestead.

#1 the romantic notion of it. All other excuses aside, what tends to draw people is AK has been romanticized in literature, TV, and movies so much that people just can't get the idea out of their heads.

#2 a lot more open space and wilderness in AK than other states

#3 bragging rights. Along with romanticized notions comes the grueling stories of hardship, so if you can make it in AK then you can make it anywhere.

#4 there is still land available in AK. A lot of the country land just is a lot harder to find. Sure land is for sale, but often with serious flaws or heaps of junk on it or lack of basic necessities for a homesteader (water, timber, etc) AK still has massive amounts of land that have good potential for homesteaders.

#5 community. There is a lot of other homesteaders already there. You don't have to worry about people thinking your weird, homesteading is common and understood in AK. This is what has edged out AK from being the Mecca, Idaho slowly built up enough youtube homestead presence that more homesteaders started flocking to the area. MT edged into 2nd because one famous permaculturist who runs a permiculture forum set up his land there, and this drew a lot of new homesteaders to the region.

I am sure there are plenty of other good reasons, but that is likely the top 5 for AK.
Also, many areas in AK do not have property taxes, or any taxes for that matter. Federal income tax still applies though.
Another thing is that in many areas you can qualify for "sustenance" hunting and fishing. Much larger limits on what you're permitted to catch.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:02 pm

Well the parcel we wanted on Kodiak sold at auction. Pooh!
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:13 pm

That sucks, man.

Were you looking at Kodiak in particular, or anywhere in Alaska, or just anywhere in general?

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:24 pm

quazi wrote:That sucks, man.

Were you looking at Kodiak in particular, or anywhere in Alaska, or just anywhere in general?
Yes and no.

Wife wants ocean front.

I'd be happy with a lake or river frontage.

Kodiak seems to be the only part of the state where ocean front isn't "oh my fucking fuck holes! You want how fucking much?"

Kenai is rediculous and Inside Passage is getting just as bad.

Haven't seen any where else. I think most every else is either Tribal or Federal land.

ETA: Yes, we are looking just in Alaska. Kodiak was also ideal not only for price but climate as well (Avg. Low 24.9 F in Feb., Avg. High 61.9 F in Aug.)
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by TacAir » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:37 am

LowKey wrote:
ineffableone wrote:
Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:Next Question: Why Alaska? Why is Alaska the Mecca of modern homesteading? Is there an advantage to self sufficient living in Alaska as opposed to other states, if so what is it? Or is it just the romantic ideal of having a remote cabin in the woods of Alaska, hunting and trapping and hacking a life out of the last American wilderness that draws us?
Actually AK is no longer the Mecca of modern homesteading, in the last 5-10 yrs Idaho has become the Mecca of modern homesteading with MT a close second. But AK is still up in the top 3.

As for why folks do like to head to AK to homestead.

#1 the romantic notion of it. All other excuses aside, what tends to draw people is AK has been romanticized in literature, TV, and movies so much that people just can't get the idea out of their heads.

#2 a lot more open space and wilderness in AK than other states

#3 bragging rights. Along with romanticized notions comes the grueling stories of hardship, so if you can make it in AK then you can make it anywhere.

#4 there is still land available in AK. A lot of the country land just is a lot harder to find. Sure land is for sale, but often with serious flaws or heaps of junk on it or lack of basic necessities for a homesteader (water, timber, etc) AK still has massive amounts of land that have good potential for homesteaders.

#5 community. There is a lot of other homesteaders already there. You don't have to worry about people thinking your weird, homesteading is common and understood in AK. This is what has edged out AK from being the Mecca, Idaho slowly built up enough youtube homestead presence that more homesteaders started flocking to the area. MT edged into 2nd because one famous permaculturist who runs a permiculture forum set up his land there, and this drew a lot of new homesteaders to the region.

I am sure there are plenty of other good reasons, but that is likely the top 5 for AK.
Also, many areas in AK do not have property taxes, or any taxes for that matter. Federal income tax still applies though.
Another thing is that in many areas you can qualify for "sustenance" hunting and fishing. Much larger limits on what you're permitted to catch.
News flash on that "No taxes" thing.

The Gov has raised taxes on Tabacco ($11/pack for buts) Booze, gas and has demanded a 6% income tax and a minimum 3% state-wide sales tax.

This is just the beginning. Prior to the oil money flooding in, Alaska had the highest taxes rates in the US. Folks that can read the tea leaves are booking out now, while they can still sell their homes and maybe make a buck.

A year from now, sellers will be lucky to break even, three years from now, they will lose their ass.

My son (Thank the good Lord) booked out 2 years ago for Texas.

It's 1985 all over again....
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:02 pm

That has been something that has been concerning me. Also part of the reason why I left my job at the University.

I don't currently own any property myself, and most of the land my family members own is paid off. Still, when the flailing starts who knows what will happen?

I wasn't alive in 1985, but I've heard lots of stories about people walking away from brand new homes.

On the other hand, do you think there might be an opportunity to get some good deals if the real estate market crashes?

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:08 pm

quazi wrote:On the other hand, do you think there might be an opportunity to get some good deals if the real estate market crashes?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:45 am

There's a bit of raw land that's off the road system that I'm looking at real hard. It's not in a super desirable location (to other people, it's in a very desirable location to me). I wonder if that would be less vulnerable to price swings than a place that has a house and/or is in a more desirable location?

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Tue Jul 19, 2016 7:40 pm

You would know the market up there better than me, but that makes sense.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Stercutus » Tue Jul 19, 2016 7:49 pm

Just out of curiosity what does land go for in an "undesirable location" per acre?
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:08 pm

Stercutus wrote:Just out of curiosity what does land go for in an "undesirable location" per acre?
I just asked my mom, who is much more tuned into real estate prices than I am, and she says undeveloped land usually goes for $2000-$1000 an acre depending on location. I didn't specify undesirable location, but I'm guessing that's the $2000/acre end of the spectrum. I don't know if those are prices for the Mat-Su Valley or all of Alaska.

I don't know all the details of the place I'm talking about, I've only heard about it through word of mouth. I've been told different acreages and prices, and I'm not sure where the property lines would be.

I shouldn't have made it sound like a really undesirable location, it is on a south facing slope and a creek forks around it but part of it is high enough that flooding is not a concern. It isn't highly desirable because it isn't on the grid or the road system, and it doesn't have frontage on a lake, the ocean or a navigable river. While there are fish in the creek, it's not a popular fishing creek with big salmon runs. The reason it is so desirable to me is that it is not that far from where I'm currently living with my relatives, and is right next to where my brother has his place. It is a ridge between two forks of a creek, and there's three lots on it. If we can get all three we'll "own" the entire hill, which I think would be pretty cool.

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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:30 pm

quazi wrote:
Stercutus wrote:Just out of curiosity what does land go for in an "undesirable location" per acre?
I just asked my mom, who is much more tuned into real estate prices than I am, and she says undeveloped land usually goes for $2000-$1000 an acre depending on location. I didn't specify undesirable location, but I'm guessing that's the $2000/acre end of the spectrum. I don't know if those are prices for the Mat-Su Valley or all of Alaska.

I don't know all the details of the place I'm talking about, I've only heard about it through word of mouth. I've been told different acreages and prices, and I'm not sure where the property lines would be.

I shouldn't have made it sound like a really undesirable location, it is on a south facing slope and a creek forks around it but part of it is high enough that flooding is not a concern. It isn't highly desirable because it isn't on the grid or the road system, and it doesn't have frontage on a lake, the ocean or a navigable river. While there are fish in the creek, it's not a popular fishing creek with big salmon runs. The reason it is so desirable to me is that it is not that far from where I'm currently living with my relatives, and is right next to where my brother has his place. It is a ridge between two forks of a creek, and there's three lots on it. If we can get all three we'll "own" the entire hill, which I think would be pretty cool.
.

I've seen these prices on remote land 'near' Anchorage, such as in Mat-Su and Kenai. Other places in the state you can find remote land for $500 an acre. But the old clichés apply. In real estate price is determined by location, location and location. And one person's hell is another person's dream.

ETA: SE Panhandle is 5k to 10k an acre for remote, non ocean front property. Ocean front is around 25k an acre.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Maast » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:39 am

When you say "homestead in Alaska" which Alaska are you talking about? There are four distinct "zones". Keep in mind how big the state is (you could cut it in half and Texas would be the third largest state)

1. Southeast; around Juneau. No roads to speak of - it's almost all ocean water access but there are a million little bays and harbors along the inside passage area. Rains like you wouldnt believe.
2. Southcentral; around Anchorage. "Banana belt" of the state. Winter is average of 15-20F, summer 60-65F. Most populated area, decent road network.
3. North (and far north) starts at Fairbanks. Some roads. Holy crap cold in winter. Summers get actually hot (75-85). Permafrost everwhere which makes building tough.
4. Aleutian islands and the peninsula leading up to it. No roads, period. Water access from open ocean only. Shag nasty weather in winter. Shag nasty weather in the summer too....

I lived in Anchorage for 8 years total, I wouldnt live in the 3rd and 4th areas if you paid me, unless the figure had about eight zeros in it... This from a guy who has lived in Iceland AND Greenland.
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Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by Benbrutal » Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:10 pm

As I recall, the trees stop a little north of Fairbanks. I worked in Barrow, AK for 4 years. I used to laugh at the ads I saw from the anti-ANWR drilling crowd, showing trees and waterfalls and deer and elk roaming around, when the reality is there isn't a tree in 300 miles, just thousands of square miles of frozen swamp (tundra).
Preparedness: The difference between can-of-food and cannibal.
The big feral hogs are only good for sausage, but the young ones can be made into bacon,
and once you have bacon, you win!

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quazi
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Location: AK

Re: Homesteading Alaska

Post by quazi » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:19 am

Depends on what you mean by a little far north. I think the trees go all the way to the Brooks range, which is a couple hundred miles north of Fairbanks as the crow flies. Maybe that's just a little north by Alaska standards. :lol:

I'm not speaking from experience. I haven't been much further north than Yukon River Camp. Some day it will turn out that just over the mountains is a tropical paradise and the pictures and stories are all part of a strategy to keep people out.

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