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Live Alaska Retirement

There are many reasons to head North to Alaska for the Golden Years. Whether you love adventure, or seek peace and quiet, Alaska has so much to offer. Rich in art, fresh local dining, hunting, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife, Alaska also has a solid sense of community. Retirees often miss the days where neighbors lend each other a hand, and in Alaska, that is still very much alive. The people are gracious and friendly and love where they live.

MW-AW174 RHNT H 20121110221958 MG     When most retirees think “beach,” they’re imagining places like the sugar-sand coastlines of Florida or the towering cliffs along California’s Pacific coast. But one of the most breathtaking beaches in America—the Homer Spit, a four-mile stretch of rocky land jutting out into the turquoise Kachemak Bay—is located in Homer, Alaska.  The small town of Homer sports not only that strand of beach, but also views of the glaciated, rugged Kenai Mountains and a plethora of wildlife (it’s well-known for its bear viewing, but you’re also apt to spot moose, whales, puffins, otters and foxes).Homer is also the headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge—a 3.4 million acre sanctuary established to save marine mammals, seabirds and other migratory birds—and the town and surrounding areas boast more than 90 miles of managed hiking trails running near the coastline. 

The town itself is artsy, dotted with family-owned shops offering local Alaskan handmade crafts, clothing, art and toys.  “There’s a freedom of spirit and a lot of natural beauty here,” says Monte Davis, the executive director for the Homer Convention & Visitor’s Center. Plus, “Homer is a small Alaska fishing village … that’s four hours to the big city, Anchorage.”  The restaurants here (there are 15 on the Homer Spit alone, and many more on Pioneer Avenue, Sterling Highway and Main Street) pride themselves on serving local foods: Freshly caught salmon or halibut are common, as are oysters harvested from the far side of Kachemak Bay.  Residents have a bit of an independent frontier spirit but are certainly willing to chip in and help a neighbor; there are over 100 nonprofits in town.

When most retirees think “beach,” they’re imagining places like the sugar-sand coastlines of Florida or the towering cliffs along California’s Pacific coast. But one of the most breathtaking beaches in America—the Homer Spit, a four-mile stretch of rocky land jutting out into the turquoise Kachemak Bay—is located in Homer, Alaska.  The small town of Homer sports not only that strand of beach, but also views of the glaciated, rugged Kenai Mountains and a plethora of wildlife (it’s well-known for its bear viewing, but you’re also apt to spot moose, whales, puffins, otters and foxes).Homer is also the headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge—a 3.4 million acre sanctuary established to save marine mammals, seabirds and other migratory birds—and the town and surrounding areas boast more than 90 miles of managed hiking trails running near the coastline.

The town itself is artsy, dotted with family-owned shops offering local Alaskan handmade crafts, clothing, art and toys.  “There’s a freedom of spirit and a lot of natural beauty here,” says Monte Davis, the executive director for the Homer Convention & Visitor’s Center. Plus, “Homer is a small Alaska fishing village … that’s four hours to the big city, Anchorage.”  The restaurants here (there are 15 on the Homer Spit alone, and many more on Pioneer Avenue, Sterling Highway and Main Street) pride themselves on serving local foods: Freshly caught salmon or halibut are common, as are oysters harvested from the far side of Kachemak Bay.  Residents have a bit of an independent frontier spirit but are certainly willing to chip in and help a neighbor; there are over 100 nonprofits in town.

Other pluses of Homer for retirees are a hospital and small airport, Homer’s (relatively) mild temperatures (the average high in January is 29.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average high in July is 60.9 degrees) and a somewhat forgiving property tax climate.  Although property taxes average $1,130 for every $100,000 in assessed value, people over 65 get an exemption on $150,000 in valuation from the city of Homer and on the first $300,000 in valuation from the Kenai Peninsula Borough. However, though the state levies no sales tax, the city and borough together levy a sales tax that totals 7.5%.
 

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    By the numbers*:
  • Population: 5,003
  • Median home cost: $221,000
  • Cost of living: 33.2% higher than U.S. average
  • Unemployment: 8.9%
**Excerpts from an article by Catey Hill

Financial security is always a consideration, and Alaska is one of the top ranked states rated for overall financial security for future retirees. Read more at "Here's why it might be a good idea to retire in Alaska" from PBS 2014.

 

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