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United States of America (USA) - Alaska

Alaska, the 49th state, is the largest state in America and covers an area twice the size of Texas, but it is also the least densely populated. Alaska does not border the mainland US, and is actually closer to Russia than it is to the US mainland. Situated on the west coast of Canada, Alaska is separated from Russia by the Bering Strait.

The state capital of Alaska is Juneau but this is not the largest city. Anchorage has that distinction. The cost of living in Alaska, particularly the major cities and extremely rural areas, is high. This is due to poor transport links, cost of shipping and the lack of home grown produce. The majority of job vacancies are found in Anchorage, and this is most likely where expat work will be found. The cost of living in Anchorage is reasonable compared to the state average thanks to the introduction of low cost food outlets such as Wal-Mart, making prices much more affordable.

Alaska - Employment

The supplies of natural oil and gas in Alaska help to keep the economy strong, although job opportunities in this area are now rare. At one time this was the main employment sector in the area, but due to the decline in production redundancies have been necessary. That said, for those with necessary qualifications and experience there may be the chance of employment but workers are no longer in demand. The oil production of Alaska accounts for approximately 20% of all US oil production.

The same applies for the fishing industry. Despite the fact that it was once one of the main Alaskan exports, fishing has also seen a decline in production. Seasonal workers are often required as labour shortages in summer are great, but those looking for a permanent employment opportunity in this area may struggle to find what they are looking for.

Teaching staff tend to be in demand within the state, and the number of vacancies is always greater than the number of applicants who want to fill them. To obtain a working visa in America an individual must be sponsored by an employer, so theoretically any expat will already have a job offer before arriving in Alaska. Those looking to set up their own business also need a visa to do so, and must guarantee the employment of a minimum number of local citizens and also have a minimum amount of savings (bank statements as proof may be necessary). These minimum requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before arriving in Alaska.

Alaska - Property

The Alaskan property market has managed to maintain itself well during the downturn felt by many other states. While house prices are reasonable when compared to other states, waterside properties are still fetching high prices, just as they do in other states. The housing market in Alaska is stable with an equal percentage of supply and demand helping to keep it steady.

Property in the capital of Juneau is expensive when compared to the mean income for the area. Quite often people find that renting in the city is much more affordable. The same can be said for most cities in Alaska, including Fairbanks in the interior. Fairbanks properties often come with acreage, including trees and streams. The views are idyllic and as such come at a premium.

There are many smaller log cabin style homes to be found, often at a very reasonable price, although they may have just one bedroom. Location is everything, and those needing to work may find that, for the short term at least, renting is a better option than buying in Alaska.

Anchorage is the place to be in both terms of housing and employment opportunities. Although property prices are high, both to buy and rent in the area, this is where the majority of the jobs can be found. Property outside the city will be lower and is ideal for those who do not mind commuting to work.

When considering commuting it is worth bearing in mind that transport links are not the best with very few main roads. Short distances between towns can often mean long journeys along winding roads, or even travelling to another town first to pick up the road to the final destination.

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