Fairbanks--pros and cons?

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by BigE_50, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. BigE_50

    BigE_50 Been here awhile

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    Folks familiar with Fairbanks, please let me know your feelings about the city and surrounding area.

    I'm considering a job there, but I am torn because I'm happy in Wyoming. The job in Fairbanks would be somewhat more interesting and fun, but would pay less than my job here.

    So--what's it like to live in Fairbanks? Cost of living? Weather? Recreational opportunities?
    #1
  2. friar mike

    friar mike IronButtGruver

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    I don't live up in the part of Alaska anymore but All I can say is you better like the cold because its really cold there alot of the winter get use to the temp in the -0 to -50 alot and if you like to ride well you will not be able to for half the year. I won't go much further it has been a LONG depressing winter this year. the summers are great but for me living here for over 40 years I just don't like winters anymore. I would say to people wanting to do want you are talking about come up and try it for a year don't do anything you can undo if you don't like it.
    #2
  3. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    If I was to live in FBX again I'd be asking myself how much vacation time got and how much winter sports I could do. If you don't like the cold and can't leave often I'd pass but that's just me. I enjoyed the winter when I moved there and I adapted quickly but I don't do much winter stuff and the temps are really cold. Summers were hot and enjoyable. If it was a temporary move say 1-2 hers I'd jump on it coming from WY.
    #3
  4. Cubdriver

    Cubdriver Stampede Swimmer

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    You will get all kinds of opinions, and I suspect you are about to get a large number of them. Some people love Fairbanks, and others would not be found there willingly. I work part time up there and rather enjoy the community atmosphere that exists there, sort of like all of Alaska was 25 years ago. It gets extremely cold in the winter down to -40 or 50 without a blink, and the summer can reach 100. By and large it is much drier than the rest of Alaska like anchorage or the Matanuska Valley, where I live. Going back and forth every month, I would have to say I see more clear days up there than down here. The area is lacking in the spectacular beauty that much of Alaska enjoys, but it is a beautiful place. The mountains are not above tree line and look kind of like the mountains of the East around PA. There are no nearby big rivers or glaciers, you are a long way from the ocean, and the fishing in the immedeate area is limited to greyling, which are fun but small. For REAL fishing, people head down to Valdez or the Copper River Valley a few hours South. The town has a large Army base adjacent and an Air Force Base down the road a few miles, so you have that mix in the community. The University there is great and provides a lot of what makes up the culture of the place. Riding season is short up here, and the number of roads is a little limited. Lots of folks head south to ride in the US in the winter. Of course, the beginning of the Dalton Highway is right out the back door, but once is enough there. There are a few other good rides in the area, like the road to Manley and the Denali Highway. Denali Natl Park is about 3 hours away. Cruising down to Valdez puts you through some awesome country over Thompson Pass. If you hunt, it can be good there. The Brooks Range has sheep hunting and there are moose everywhere.

    Where do you live in Wyoming? My daughter is in Dubois but her hubby just got a transfer and they will live in Yellowstone at Mammoth Springs come May. We have done a fair amount of riding in WY and love it.

    Hope this helps. what kind of work will you be doing if you come? A lot of your happiness will depend on that. BUT MOSTLY if you are married or bringing a SO, what do they think of it? Many a lover of Alaska has been dragged out to America kicking and screaming rather than put up with the kicking and screaming from across the room. I agree with the opinion above that if this is a temporary move for a year or two, by all means consider it seriously. It will be unique and you could love it. The winters are long and dark and not for everyone. good luck in your decision. Dick
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  5. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

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    Less pay & probably a much higher cost of living than where you are now. Very long dark & cold winters. Sounds like a plan. :lol3
    #5
  6. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

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    Cub Driver's comments are spot on.

    There is an expression that sums up living in Fairbanks... No one lives in Fairbanks by accident.

    We just moved away from Fairbanks last fall after living there for 16 years. The town itself is nothing special and has many of the faults of any other small American city, but we loved our time there. Snowmachining and other winter sports are great. I once hopped on my machine in my driveway and rode it to Dawson City via the Yukon River and then back to Tok. Not many places left in the world where you can do that. The summers can be glorious. It is one of the warmest places in Alaska and the pace of activities in the summer can run you ragged. If you like hiking, camping and of course riding it is a great place to be. That being said, some summers can be very damp and cool.

    If you hunt, then you are heading to a hunter’s paradise.

    There is a very friendly riding community in the town and the sense of community in general is very strong. It is a hockey town, so if you like to watch or play you'll have your fill. There is still a sense of being a bit closer to the wilderness than in the more urban areas. There are many people who still live in dry cabins; no water, wood stove heat and an outhouse. Some of the inmates who post here lived in such a manner in their younger years, and many of the University students still do. A dry cabin can go for $400-450 a month. The cost of living is high, but probably not too much higher than many of the major metro areas in the lower 48.

    The university adds a great deal to the town in the way of the arts and entertainment. There is normally something going on if you wish to get involved in such things

    When we retired last fall my wife and I decided to move to the lower 48. It was a tough decision. Being an Army Brat and a retired Army officer myself, I had never lived in the same town for more than three years my entire life. I retired from the Army in Fairbanks and then spent 12 years working at the University and building many strong connections. Ultimately though we decided to move. We want to be closer to family, we want to ride much more than we had in the past, and we started to dread the long, cold and dark winters. We miss many of the friends we made, but it was the right move for us.

    When I was hiring people to come from the outside to Fairbanks I would give them a speech to see if they would run away... screaming. It entailed making sure I dispelled them of any notions they may have gotten from watching TV, impressing on them what the winters were like and making sure they knew that seeing family in the lower 48 would be a rarer and more expensive proposition. Some ran away, some came and soon left and some came and are still there building a life. You won’t know which group you fit in unless you give it a try.
    #6
  7. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

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    It will be a better place if you're being paid in high amounts. Like, really high.

    My brother has lived there for 20 something years and although he can move anytime he wants for some reason he stays. Don't see the draw myself but I'd agree with the one or two year stretch comment. It's not a horrible place by any means but I wouldn't move there myself.

    It's the only place I've ever been where I've seen a 100*f ambient swing in 24 hours.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. ADVBMR

    ADVBMR Polygamotorcyclist

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    If you want to experience Alaska, it's a pretty good place to start. I moved there in 1980 and stayed for 7 years. Summers were some of the best anywhere. Winters, as you should expect, are long, dark, and cold. Some people do okay with that, and some don't. As far as community, I thought it was well above average - pretty welcoming, friendly, good-spirited. As far as things to do, well, hell, it's Alaska. We may not have everything, but what we do have is pretty hard to beat.
    #8
  9. HouseofBeaver

    HouseofBeaver Dont harsh my mellow

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    I spent five years in Fairbanks one Semester!

    Fairbanks: People seem to love it, or hate it, nothing in between.

    I did not love it. For me, the dark was worse than the cold, and the isolation felt sever.

    But with that said; I'm glad I spent time there. The experience was worth while and I got to test my body's alcohol consumption limit...often...very often.

    Then...breakup...lots of nice sunny days.
    #9
  10. AKtracks

    AKtracks Kilted Fükengrüver

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    I've been here since '89, and began treating the year like one big day....go like hell all summer long, then kick back and take it easy during the winter. As long as you get yourself outside and interact with others through the winter, it's pretty easy to deal with the cold and dark.

    Riding season is usually in swing by mid-April and lasts into mid-October with snowmobile and cross-country ski season filling in the rest.

    There's a decent, well traveled brewery in town, and another on the horizon (you did notice the theme in previous posts about the local past time, right?).

    And as others have said...if you don't try, you won't know...and you'll always wonder.

    Out of curiosity, who's the job with?
    #10
  11. HayDuchessLives

    HayDuchessLives Loquita

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    Where do you live in Wyoming? I grew up in WY, mainly in Casper, and loved it. My mom was a teacher and she took us kids out camping and exploring and hunting for artifacts all over WY in the summers. I love WY's wide open spaces and beautiful mountains and still have family down there that I visit on a regular basis.

    One of my good friends, who is a very active outdoors enthusiast, lives in Fairbanks and absolutely loves it and keeps telling me I would love it up there too because of the numerous outdoor opportunities. However, she is a flight attendant and travels quite frequently and doesn't spend all of her time in Fairbanks.

    I love Alaska and am glad I moved here, but WY is probably the only state in the Lower 48 I could move back to and be happy. Good luck making your decision!
    #11
  12. subybaja

    subybaja Long timer

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    Very true.

    If you've got a garage for your Powerstroke dually, snowmachines, and GS, it'll be nice.

    If you're living in a rental cabin just down from the U, covering your KLR with a tarp, and driving a $1000 Subaru all winter...not so nice.

    Alaskans think of Fairbanks like New Mexicans think of Alaska.

    The day 20 years ago when I moved the hell out of FBX, it was -65f. Uhaul wouldn't rent any trucks because things spontaneously break when it's that cold. Sometimes we left the car running all night so that it wouldn't freeze solid. The tires went "thump-thump-thump" for the first 5 miles every morning, until the flat spots thawed out of the rubber. I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark every day- for months.

    Climate aside- Alaska is 15 years behind the US mainstream, and FBX is behind that! If you're a 'Grand Torino' kinda guy, that can be a great thing.

    Several years ago "How to Hide Your Assets and Disappear" was the highest-selling book title up there.
    #12
  13. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    All good stuff. ^

    I loved my nearly 3yrs up there back in the day. Very tight knit community. I was into moutaineering, x-c skiing, and hockey. No, there aren't any mnts close but I got big into ice climbing the Healy area 120mi south of FBKS most every weekend.

    I prolly loved it because I DIDN'T own a vehicle while there. A garage is a must or 3 plug-ins for you car, battery, oil, and water.

    I thought Anchorage was a dry cold till I spent the winter up there. Even today I hang my clothes around the room to humify the air in the winter and up there a pair of Levi's could be stone dry in 1/2 an hour it's so dry! Easy to dress for but hurts to breath and very tough on machinery.

    The University up there has been around the longest of any in AK and IMO it's well run.

    Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
    #13
  14. BigE_50

    BigE_50 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    I live in Laramie, with lots of wide open spaces, a university to keep things lively, a good job, and a family that loves it here, It rarely gets below -20 F, there is lots of sun, and I can get to high mountains, deserts and lakes with little effort and time.

    Laramie is another town that people either "love or hate" (wind is the big negative here) and I happen to love it. I think I would probably enjoy Fairbanks and the job (doing geologic mapping by helicopter and atv) a lot, but I'm not sure it's a smart move for the family. Again--all the comments are really helpful.

    Thank you!
    E
    #14
  15. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    :huh A questionable statement. Very questionable. :nod
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  16. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    Fairbanks is place of extremes. Ferociously cold in the winter, the ice fog they get sometimes is really miserable. Summers are hot and the long days of sunshine relentless. The bugs will drive you crazy.
    You also need plenty of money for toys like small airplane, jet boat, snow machine.
    Food and beer costs are higher than most places. They have great stores.
    There is a really great community of people who live there. But there are also plenty of drunk natives who keep law enforcement busy.
    The immediate countryside not very interesting, spruce forest and bogs, really good for bear and moose. The Chena river is the main redeeming feature, with some pretty good fishing.
    I got several friends up there and like visiting, but would not really want to live there.
    Fairbanks is a gateway to some really interesting places like Bettles, Kotzebue, Kaktovic, Ambler.
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  17. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

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    Plenty of drunk natives? :rolleyes
    Outnumbered by drunk white guys by about seven to one.
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  18. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

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    There is a large and robust native community in Fairbanks. The HQs of two large native corporations call the town home. Major cultural events include the World Eskimo & Indian Olympics and the Festival of Native Arts. The native community has its challenges, but it makes many positive contributions as well.
    #18
  19. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    yea they seem to congregate in downtown Fairbanks and guzzle ridiculous quantities of Canadian whiskey. The natives who drink really are bad drunks.
    When I lived out there I had a standing rule never to drink with any of them as things could turn really ugly pretty fast.
    The interior Athabascan around Fairbanks seemed worse than the Inupiat of the coast, though both are bad drinkers.
    #19
  20. ADVBMR

    ADVBMR Polygamotorcyclist

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    If you didn't drink with them, how would you know?

    I remember 2 street when it was lined with bars - only closed from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. The city bought out most of the bars and cleaned up the town in the mid to late 80's. The state's first murder 2 conviction for drunk driving came from Fairbanks. Guy was cruising the bars downtown and a cop saw him wasted getting into his car and warned him not to drive. After the cop left the guy drove away, ran a red light on the Steese and killed two people. One of the teenage girl's father came upon the scene to find his daughter had been killed. Look it up, State v. Pears. Since you've traveled to Kaktovik, Ambler, and the coastal communities, you should know there ain't no Pears living there.

    I've spent more than half a career in law enforcement in Alaska. (Yes, alcohol abuse is a big problem in this state. But Alaska is rare because we allow local option laws and over 100 rural communities have opted to go dry. Compare that to the alcoholism problem in Russia.) A person who is intoxicated and out of control, i.e., violent or otherwise dangerous, is just that. In my experience there is no basis to connect it to race.
    #20