Living in the Mat-Su Valley

With 30 years in Alaska, Russell Joyce has extensive knowledge about life on the Last Frontier. Alaska is a growing frontier state with limited infrastructure and private land. Here we cherish our lifestyles and freedoms as do most Americans with added Alaskan touches; Savoring the beautiful scenery everywhere you go; enjoying the recreational opportunities that abound; and providing for our families from the bountiful harvests found in Alaska. Where you choose to place yourself in Alaska’s vastness is your choice. Many of us choose the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in SouthCentral Alaska due to it’s proximity to that listed above and much more, as well as closeness to Anchorage for work, entertainment, and travel.

Our Mat-Su Valley, as it is known, is the size of West Virginia and stretches from the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mtns. on the South and West to the Alaska Range the with Denali National Park on the Northern Border and as far as East as Lake Louise and Nelchina.  Recreational activities for all seasons is on the menu with summertime fishing, camping, hiking and climbing, ATV riding and much much more.  Fall hunting and fishing are the main theme before giving way to winter skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and snow-machining (there is little snowmobiling here and until you experience Alaska riding you won’t know what I mean) and tons of other cold climate activities.  We all look forward to spring with an awakening of the hours of light and the combined activities late winter and early summer as it all starts over again. Mentioning the amount of light we experience from March to September is as wondrous as the amount of activities we try to include in our long daylight hours.  The opposite must be said about the fall and winter as the limited daylight leaves little time to accomplish those activities we look forward to doing when the snow flies.  This time of short days are just as enjoyable when the awesomeness of our land is brightened by the Aurora.

Alaskan living is much the same elsewhere in the state, except that here in the Mat-Su our young community is growing and vibrant. We are spread out with subdivisions that typically enjoy 1/2 to 1 acre lots around central communities with an ample mix of local shops and national chains for shopping and dining.  Schools are well placed within the communities and more are planned and in the process of getting built.  Jobs are continuing to be added in our area, although Anchorage will always have a substantial number of commuters from the Mat-Su Valley. Those that commute see a continual progress in the infrastructure that allows them to work in Anchorage and enjoy the rural lifestyle associated with the Mat-Su Valley.  Around the central areas of Palmer and Wasilla are the more distant communities of Big Lake, Willow, and Talkeetna to the North as well as Sutton, Chickaloon, and Matanuska Glacier to the East.

All of these areas stretch beyond the typical commute areas, although there are some whom drive from these communities as well.  Home price ranges are at or slightly above the national averages and Alaska wages are well above national averages.  Our nearest neighbor, Anchorage, has home prices that average 30% to 40% higher for the same home on less land, which explains the growth we experience and will continue to experience in the Mat-Su Valley. Population grew from 60,000 in 2000 census to a little over 80,000 in 2010 census. Growth has it’s pitfalls but also comes with opportunity. Development of our resources in the Mat-Su Valley is on the verge of expansions with a new Port at Point McKenzie and soon a rail line extension to that port.

Resources are why Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 and why it was admitted as a state in 1959.  However, resource development in Alaska is minuscule given the size of the state and barely visible here in the Mat-Su Valley.  We welcome responsible development of our resources within the context of preserving the intrinsic beauty and wonders that are inherent in Alaska. That is not to say other residents share my view and political divisions are generally split 50/50 on development, so most are slow to happen.  Given these checks and balances I believe the Mat-Su Valley is an ideal place to live with lots of economic opportunity and a lifestyle not found in most areas of the country.  If you find any of this of interest to you please visit my website often or send me an email or give me a call, I’d love to share what I can about life in the Mat-Su Valley and on the Last Frontier.