Well, those of us who live here know it's true, but now it is official.
Unalaska second most expensive place in AK
KUCB News (2009-07-01)
UNALASKA, AK (kucb) - According to a recent study commissioned by the state, Unalaska is the second most expensive place to live in Alaska, right behind Kotzebue. The study looked at geographic differentials and compared costs in different communities to costs in Anchorage. The McDowell group surveyed more than 2,500 households, including 51 in Unalaska, to find out the cost of housing, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, and other expenses. They found that Unalaska is 58 percent more expensive than Anchorage. The Aleutian Region as a whole is 50 percent higher. Kotzebue is 61 percent more expensive. Robert Pearson, with the state's Department of Administration in Juneau said that given margins of statistical error, it evens out to be about the same.
"Some communities might have a different mix of things that are really expensive, but it kind of evens out that they end up with one number."
What makes Unalaska so expensive is the cost of transportation. Using Anchorage as a comparison point of 1.0, the study says transportation in Unalaska is 2.35. In state travel is ranked at 3.78. Housing is also expensive with utilities that are more than 3 times those in Anchorage. In comparison, the costs of food, clothing, and household furnishings drive up the overall differential in the Arctic Region. In Kotzebue, everything is expensive, especially food. Their food differential is 1.84 whereas ours is only 1.43.
This is the first geographic cost differentials study the state has completed in 23 years. In 1985, the study was completed by looking at voting districts. Looking at the Aleutians Island region as a whole, prices have gone up by 23 percent since 1985. However, Pearson notes that the survey was done during a period of higher than average oil prices. The state commissioned the study to help set wages for state jobs, but it has not been codified into law. It's available for all public and private use.
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