They Pay Me To Live Here

Posted · 32 Comments

Whenever I tell people from the lower 48 that I live in Alaska, I inevitably hear the same question:

“Don’t they pay you to live there?”

It’s kind of like saying, “Why the heck would you live in that frozen wasteland? Oh yea…that’s right…they pay you.”

They are referring, of course, to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which is doled out every October to each citizen of Alaska. It’s a throwback from the eighties, when oil money abounded and the population of Alaska was less than one person per square mile. It continues because no politician is brave enough to end their career by voting it down.

The 2009 check equated to $3.58 per day. That’s the price of ½ gallon of milk at the general store near my house. That’s also one gallon of heating fuel; a pound of apples; 1/3 a block of cheese or half a box of cereal. It will get me a cup of fancy coffee or a quarter-pounder at McDonalds. Yea, that’s why I live here…because they pay me.

Or it could be because…

In Alaska there are no crickets, no skunks, no raccoons and no smelly opossums. No deadly spiders, no scorpions or snakes. That’s right…I said no snakes.

I live here because there are no rules, no restrictions, no retaliations that I disagree with.

If I want to throw up a shack, on my own land, and cover it with a blue tarp, I can. There are no permits, no approvals, no inspections. It’s my land, my tarp, my life…and nobody cares.

In Alaska our beaches aren’t littered with garbage or lined with beach umbrellas and you can bet nobody’s nude. Ours are sandy shores, crashing waves and lines of fishing boats, waiting for the tide to bring them home.

I live here because every teacher knows my kids current grade off the top of their head and which missing assignments will keep them from playing ball. I live here because when the high school shop teacher asks someone to cut something, three kids whip out their pocket knife and nobody is afraid.

I live here because I can step outside, point myself in any direction, and in ten minutes I can lose myself in complete isolation. 

I live here because every ninth grader in Alaska knows who won the Iditarod last year, and most of them have never seen a gang member. They know what hard work is because they throw fish, like their fathers before them or are brought up around kids who do…and have seen their bank accounts.

I live here because when my kids look out their school windows, they don’t see skyscrapers or smog. They see three volcanoes, a beach and their family’s fishing vessels coming in with the days catch…their dads waving to them from the decks.

In Alaska, there are no traffic jams. There are no freeways. No forty-car-pileups. No circling the mall for parking. In the winter I don’t wait in line for anything—ever. In the summer, I meet the most interesting visitors, waiting in line.  After all, I’m not in a hurry…I’m already where I want to be.

Now that I think about it, I’m sure glad they pay me to live here.


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32 Responses to "They Pay Me To Live Here"
  1. Night Rider says:

    I’ve always thought that Alaska was a good place for cleaning the gene pool.
    You and yours are solid proof that I’m right.

  2. SerinaAnn says:

    I really need to add Alaska to my list of places to visit!
     

  3. Sarah Baker says:

    We get similar attitudes when talking about living in Oklahoma. Admittedly, I’m a really big liberal and that makes political life difficult for me but there are so many other things that I wouldn’t trade. Traffic is nothing compared to big cities, in fact when I go to visit family in the Dallas area I want to pull my hair out. We even moved from a busy part of town to a much more laid back suburb. I can 3x the number of errands in the same amount of time as our family can – our family was even mad because we moved “so far away” although we’re only about 20 miles further than we were before. 

    If I didn’t despise the cold so much I would love Alaska!

  4. J OR says:

    I am so happy we are planning on retiring there. Sounds like perfect!

  5. Sunni307 says:

    I’m moving to Alaska on March 31st

  6. Shells7pearls says:

    I’ll have to make time to read more of your blogs, they are very entertaining, and informative. 😀 Like I mentioned before, I was born and raised in Anchorage. The first time we moved to a tiny farming community in MN when I was 15, there were kids here that did not know that Alaska is part of the U.S.A., and they thought me and my sisters and brother were eskimo’s, and that we drove dog sleds to school and rubbed noses to kiss. they started calling my sister’s “Alaskan huskies”. They thought we were practically from another planet. LOL…. they also thought it stayed dark “all the time” in the winter, and daylight “all the time” in the summer….. such funny stories- and these were high school kids. It’s amazing how much people dont know about the great state of Ak. 😀 I still have plenty of family up there, it’s been a long time since I visited. Your blog makes me miss home!! 

    • I love all the questions people have…and they are no more assumptive than mine would be of other far off places! haha. I had a reader send me pictures of South Africa…because my vision of it is soooo skewed! ha

  7. Laurel says:

    Sigh!  Awesome!  :o}

  8. Drmnofsun says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting Alaska in 2007. After being to 6 of the 7 continents in the last 10 years, I can honestly say Alaska was hands down my favorite place. It is breathtaking–no matter which direction you turn! Of course, that was an amazingly warm June. I don’t think my wimpy self could handle winter up there!

  9. Nancy says:

    I remember living somewhat like that but it was growing up in the country way back when.. Yeah you have to be just thrilled to wake up to that every morning.. I’m telling you as I’ve said before, I’ll visit one day but in the summer… It’s to cold for me.. Did you get rid of any of the snow yet??

  10. Lks says:

    Keri, quit talking people into living here, it is already crowded enough dang it.  Remember to tell them that last month we had days on end at 25 below zero, we had avalanches close the road to Anchorage so people were stuck for days on either side away from home, that many many many people can’t find work, that apples cost as much as steak and every tourist wants to know what the elevation is way up here in Alaska…since we are on the BEACH!!!  Lol..i loved your story, just waiting for the book!

    • I know, I know…I think that every time I tell people who much I love it here! I should be saying, “Don’t Do It!” hahhahaa no doubt, a few weeks ago I was thinking that…but was too depressed to write!

  11. You made me miss home even more, which was hardly possible. Thank you for summing up all the reasons why I love Alaska in one tidy, beautifully written package.

  12. Guest1231 says:

    I already wanted to live there. Now I really, really want to live there.

  13. Oh reading this just sent me back to the days when I lived in Alaska.  Since leaving I’ve searched for somewhere that brings back the feelings I had while living there.  The small town friendliness, the safety and security oh the laughter we had when spotting a vehicle with “The Club” on the steering wheel – obviously someone not from around there. Then of course of my favorite, the ability to walk 10 -20 minutes any direction to find yourself lost in the woods with nothing but you and cascading waterfall.

    I’ve come close – but never hit the nail on the mark with the feelings, sights, smells and experiences I had while living in the last frontier.  Maybe one day I can convince my husband to go for a visit.  Once he does, I know…. he’ll never want to leave.

    • Oh my gosh…the Club! bwwahahaha….that cracks me up. I had neighbors a couple of years ago from out of state. They HATED that I didn’t have a key to my front door. Freaked them out! (wait, did I just advertise that I don’t have a key? Change that….my house is guarded by robots with machine guns…)

  14. Kristy K. James says:

    Do you have a spare room…or three?  I’ve been fascinated with Alaska since I did a book report on it in grade school.  My favorite book series is set in a fictional town in that state.  The only thing that prevents me from moving there is that all of my family is in Michigan.  But I sure hope I can visit someday.  You have a great state.  And I’m glad ‘they pay you’ to live there, too.  At least I get to learn more about that beautiful place.  And reading what Luke has to say is fun, too!  🙂

  15. Grincker says:

    You convinced me…after watching Palin’s Alaska, Air Alaska, Gold Rush and now reading your words, I’m ready to go North, North To Alaska!

  16. Nataschagleeson says:

    sold, now I want to live there

  17. I wish that I could have enjoyed northern Idaho more when I lived there from the age of 9 to 13 and then southern Idaho, until I graduated high school, but unlike your kids who have been freed from abuse, I lived with an abusive step father.  I am so glad there are people like you who help kids so that they can enjoy the beauty that surrounds them !  Thank you

  18. You make me want to move to Alaska!

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