Living in Alaska is more expensive than it is on average across the U.S. as a whole. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost 4.8% more than they do on average nationwide. Compared with all other states, Alaska has the 10th highest overall cost of living.
In general, living in dense, urban metro areas is more expensive than living in more rural areas. Alaska is home to two metropolitan areas. The most expensive in the state is the Anchorage metro area, where the cost of goods and services is 7.1% higher than the national average and 2.3% higher than the statewide average.
Alaska Housing Costs
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Alaska, the typical home is worth $265,200, $60,300 more than the national median home value of $204,900. Across the state, the median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $254,900, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $309,800.
The typical renter in Alaska spends $1,231 a month on housing, $208 more than the $1,023 national median monthly rent. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the state is $919, while the typical rent for a unit with five or more bedrooms is $2,144.
Across the state, 36.0% of occupied homes are rented, slightly less than the 36.2% national average and the 14th highest renter rate of any state.
Alaska Transportation Costs
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Alaska, 81.0% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. On average, the typical motorist in the state drives 7,460 miles a year. Taking into account average fuel economy and the average cost of gas -- regular fuel cost an average of $2.55 a gallon in Alaska in mid-2020 -- the average motorist in the state can expect to spend $786 on gas alone in one year.
Other transportation costs, like car insurance premiums, can vary by state. In Alaska, the average car insurance premium is $1,936, more than the $1,517 national average, according to data from Insure.com. And according to data from the EPI, the average single adult in the state spends $10,135 a year on transportation.
Alaska Health Care Costs
Out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums for health care -- assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage -- are relatively high in Alaska. Average health care costs for a single adult in the state total $9,399 per year, compared to the national average of $4,266. For a family of four, average annual health care costs total $28,389 -- $15,440 more than the comparable national average of $12,950.
Alaska Food Costs
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on the overall cost of living in an area. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from state to state.
In Alaska, a single adult spends an average of $2,931 on food annually, and a family of four spends $8,262 on average. For context, the nationwide average annual food expenditure is $3,240 for a single adult and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at home preparation.
Alaska Child Care Costs
For families, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. The average annual cost of child care for a 4 year old child in Alaska is $11,017, well above the national average of $8,903. Similarly, it costs an average of $21,053 to care for a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child per year in Alaska compared to the national average of $15,853.
Few expenses vary as much from state to state as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll, the average adult working in Alaska pays $7,004 annually in taxes -- above the national average of $6,542. Residents pay higher than average taxes despite living in one of only nine states that does not levy a tax on personal income.
Excluding federal taxes and incorporating state and local taxes such as property and sales taxes -- the state and local tax burden in Alaska is lower than the average across the U.S. as a whole. Per capita state tax collections in Alaska come out to $2,226 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
Cost of Living by County or County Equivalent
Just as cost of living varies from state to state, it also varies from place to place within states. In Alaska, Fairbanks North Star Borough, home to the city of Fairbanks, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four at $119,419 per year, above the statewide average of $112,674 per year.
Meanwhile, the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area is the least expensive place in Alaska. The average annual cost of living for a family of four in the area is just $91,582, $21,092 less than it is across the state as a whole. Fort Yukon is the most populous community in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.
Note that monetary figures are rounded to the nearest dollar and calculated differences may not always add up perfectly to the nearest dollar.
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