There are some great things about living in Petersburg and some things that took some more adjusting. The pros are pretty obvious:
- People here tend to be pretty chill and laid back and easy to get along with. Many of us relocated here after growing tired of fast paced deadline oriented life, so we’re happy to be a cool little community. And many of us were born and raised here and were never prisoners of modern expectations. There’s a lot to learn from those people! That said – it’s a fairly homogenous population here. I’m native Hawaiian and definitely the most melanin-ed person I know personally.
- Legal weed. Need I say more?
- In the summer we have very long sunny days. It feels great to be so productive. However, the long dark cold nights of winter are their antidote. It does feel nice, as a mammal, to have a built-in hibernation period!
- The isolation of living on a small island in Alaska is some days perfect and ideal and some days torture. Get ready to deal with both!
Yes, it is challenging to have so little entertainment.
But luckily, we have fairly good cell and internet service here so when I’m looking for some visual entertainment that’s better than watching humpback whales breach from a kayak, I can turn my attentions to Netflix or Hulu. That said, I would venture that I spend fewer than four hours a week seeking any sort of deliberate non-natural entertainment.
With the internet, it’s really easy to stay up to date with far-away friends and family, keep up on trends and news, and see movies and hear music that appeals to me. But the longer I’ve stayed here, the less tethered I’ve felt to the modern trappings of city life.
I also later my winter accessories. Upon my head I wear a silk base-layer skull cap and then a knit fleece-lined hat. Upon my hands I wear one knit pair of gloves followed by leather fur-lined chopper mittens. I wear at least two pairs of wool socks under my boots. I have a face cover for the really windy days. And for the days too cold for any of my accessories, coats, and boots – there are about three of these per year – I work from home and lounge and light a fire and read and smoke legal doobies.
Like I said – life is good here!
You can buy every puffy down Canada Goose coat on earth before getting here but likely you’ll notice that rather than one big warm coat, you’ll want several layers of outerwear because of how much temperature can fluctuate in a given day.
Before stepping out on a cold day I usually put on one base-layer cotton tee shirt, a thermal long sleeve, a thin wool sweater, a thick wool sweater, and a light raincoat. Layers are a little more flexible, less bulky, and even have a *fashion* element if you do it right!
I do have one great down floor-length winter coat and I keep it on my neighbor’s boat as that’s really the only time I ever need to wear it. For the most part, they’re just too bulky to wear for more than an hour or two at a time.
The quickest way to suffer in the elements is to go out in insufficient footwear and the quickest way to learn about effective footwear, is to spend one day in fashionable or trendy boots. I’m happy but somewhat apologetic to share that splurging on a pair of unattractive but well-insulated boots will improve your life in Petersburg tenfold.
So look for mid- to high-calf boots with a waterproof exterior and a fleece or fur lined inside. They should go higher up than you ever expect to wade in water. You’ll want to size up at least an entire size so that you can layer wool socks beneath the boots. I suggest pull-on boots because they have fewer points of potential water entry than a comparable lace-up boot would offer. But before visiting or moving here, you may want to invest in two pairs – a wading pair and a walking pair. Wading boots often lack the ankle flexibility you’ll want if you’re going hiking or strolling while hiking boots lack the water protection offered by the wading boots. Get both! Your feet will thank you!
Some of the costs of living here are higher simply because good need to often be shipped in. But some of the costs of living here are very low due to low demand. It more than balances out and you’ll definitely spend less to live here than you would in almost any city on the mainland.
If you love convenience industry tools of major cities – rideshares, grocery/meal delivery, public transit, etc – you will likely not love living here right away. But part of the appeal of living here is retraining your system to understand that you may not in fact need those things.
That said, there are at least a half dozen people every year who move here expecting to love the small town isolation vibe and leave after a month or two. We understand that Alaska living isn’t for everyone and wish these folks well on their way outta town!
Petersburg is a little human enclave surrounded by the forested inlands and mountains of Alaska’s remarkable Inside Passage. There are about 3000 of us living here amidst the Tongass National Forest. Most of us are fishing folk, wildlife enthusiasts, environmental activists, heavy drinkers, or all four!
We may not be Chicago or New York or Los Angeles, but there’s a ton of stuff to do here for the outdoorsy folks. It’s nearly impossible to avoid wildlife spotting. We have a local history museum at which many of our friends and neighbors take on volunteer shifts. Our boat harbors host over 400 vessels – many of which are fishing crafts, some of which are sport vessels. Big cities may have Lyft and Uber, but Petersburg has a pretty generous “if the keys are in it, take ‘er for a spin” philosophy.
There is a beautiful city walk to Hungry Point – where the Wrangell Narrows and Frederick Sound meet and the sea birds, river otters, bears, orcas, and porpoises often show off for viewers. We have parks, public art, and a few thriving downtown businesses – a book/gift store, a few bars, some corner stores, and more bars.
I personally work for about thirty hours a week at a bank and spend the rest of my time hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, fishing, and cooking. It’s a real easy life here, if not counting the elements. I earn a Chicago salary and live a small town life. I event spend about four hours a week as a Microgreens Farmer.
What started as a couple-year plan to earn the money for a down payment on a big city condo has become more of a longterm lifestyle plan. I cannot possibly imagine leaving here!