This past week has held a little bit of angst. More and more we get a hint that it is time to start planning for a big move. There have been ideas on moving back to the ‘Lower 48,’ as it’s called here, for months now. It’s a difficult decision to make as it was for me to move to Alaska. Yes, it’s gorgeous, yes, there are many available opportunities that we wouldn’t have elsewhere. Mainly the scenery and wildlife we are exposed to here in the southeast. The big question we are facing currently and aiming for the next 6-10 months (possibly sooner) is; should we move or stay.
Currently my husband has a reliable steady job, we have a roof over our heads and a few family and friends in town. The pushing factors now becoming that my husband is finding it more and more difficult to tolerate the workplace politics, much as I had when I was fully employed. There are many political factors with our recent Governor switch that have played into state positions seeming to become less and less hospitable. Where once we both loved our jobs, knowing we made a difference and appreciation for our dedication was shown there is now much more finger pointing, lack of communication along with budget cuts as well as a possibility in pay cut. Please don’t take this as a whine, we are both very aware of workplace issues and just like any person, family, or workplace in general there are issues. No one place or person is perfect.
The second pushing factor is well while we do have a roof over our heads it is paid for with a nominally large rent. The housing market is not amazing anywhere but in southeast Alaska (especially Juneau) it is relentlessly difficult. There is an extreme lack of available housing and those that are available tend not to be family friendly for a lack of better words or cost and arm and a leg with no utilities included. We would personally love nothing more than to set down roots in a place to call our own where we can pick paint colors or be able to tell the kiddos they can get that cat they’ve been asking for. I’m guilty on that one and my daughter continues to hint that we should get one when she visits. But really I’d have rather have sunk $64k into a home we own rather than into a stingy landlord’s pocket.
Some of the pros for staying is we have a good portion of hubby’s family here, the scenery and wildlife, learning experiences, general mentality, and (what I consider a pro) is lack of fast food options. The family we have in town, however have been debating for a while to move as well, either for similar reasons or to be closer to the older generations who have headed south. Recently even my own sister has taken to head back down to the ‘Lower 48.’
The scenery and wildlife are amazing and they in themselves are wonderful learning experiences. We do have to be mindful for bears and porcupine more than most. There are several places to get away for a hike or fishing or even simply enjoying the weather and views. We’re merely minutes from a glacier and towering waterfall. In the summer the kids love to go fishing with Uncle C to try their hand at catching a salmon and often end up reeling in flounder or halibut. Towards the end of the summer they get to learn about the cycle of life for Salmon at the hatchery and witness the spawning up stream at local creeks and rivers.
Then to top it all off we’ve managed to take advantage a couple times to get out on a boat to do some whale watching. Some highlights of those trips were being able to witness humpbacks bubble feeding or seeing an orca pod teaching how to hunt. Towards the middle of the trips we were able to see the stellar sealions hanging around on boueys or the beach rocks. On days we take it easy and head to what the kids call the ‘Disney’ park (because of the castle like structure not because of any relation to Disney) can watch the bald eagles fishing in the lake while having a picnic in one of the pavilions.
Alaska is truly amazing. I’m personally more partial to southeast as it’s been where I’ve lived the last 3 years, but also because the temperatures are much more moderate than the interior. In the summer we may get into the 80s and some days I wish we had AC but we get by and enjoy the sun. and in the winter it tends to hang around the 20s and 30s rather than the -40 degrees that Fairbanks is familiar with. I think the two big things I lack from my Alaska adventure is seeing a brown bear or moose. I’m okay with that. I feel blessed to be able to call this home. But it still doesn’t fill that home sick feeling.
Of all the reasons to move, however, is while I moved to force a change to try and make my children’s life more positive as well as my own, I know I’m much farther from my oldest two than I’m truly comfortable with. Like any mother I think of my children often and with the distance I make a point to call often. Plane tickets are in truth getting more and more expensive to travel back and forth. Since I’ve quit my job to stay home with our youngest and the possible layoffs and paycuts coming to state employees I’m fearful of not being able to afford the travel. Moving back south we may lose out some on the lifestyle we get to take advantage of here but travel will be much less difficult and would possibly a lot even more time we could make.
The idea is bitter sweet. There are many pros and cons to weigh in on, but ultimately I believe we already know our answer. As sad is it will be to say good bye, it will also open doors for new adventures. I will say though I’m not looking forward to snakes, fleas, and ticks again. But it is a small price to pay for working a step forward to finding ‘Home.’