Alaska, or The Last Frontier, has piqued the interest of settlers throughout American history looking to head west. The state’s unique relationship with homesteading and its distance from the bustling mainland live rent-free in the dreams of many, except for, maybe, commercial real estate investors.
The problem with buying land for sale in Alaska is that most of it are owned by the state, the federal government, indigenous groups, and other parties who are not looking to sell. Moreover, any land that is auctioned off by the state in annual, sealed-bid land auctions is available only to residents of Alaska.
Businesses and non-residents who are interested in buying are offered the leftovers from those auctions as well as anything else the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to sell on an over-the-counter basis at fixed prices. Not all parcels available are appropriate for commercial use (nonetheless permitted commercial use by zoning laws).
That said, let’s take a closer look at buying land for sale in Alaska.
Many Available Parcels in Alaska Are Remote & Rugged.
Another obstacle you’ll face when looking for land for sale in Alaska is just how remote and rugged many of the available, over-the-counter parcels are. Many are “Muskeg,” or arctic swamps. They don’t call the state “The Last Frontier” for nothing.
On top of that, many of the parcels the Alaskan DNR is selling are in the Alaskan Interior and Susitna Valley, quite a ways away from anything that remotely resembles civilization, and many don’t have road access. These parcels often require transportation via aircraft to reach.
You really need to have an established, well-constructed plan of action for the land you purchase in Alaska to make the purchase worthwhile, and you should be prepared to endure the overhead that will come with building anything at all on the land you acquire.
Private Land Ownership Exists, But Is Extremely Rare.
Even with the Alaska Land Transfer Program underway, a very small percentage of the land in Alaska is currently held in conventional, private ownership. In 2009, it was less than 1%.
The Bureau of Land Management was tasked by the Trump administration in 2016 to begin transferring millions of acres of federally owned land in Alaska to state and private ownership, but the transfer is not yet fully enacted and the acreage that has opened up so far has been purposed for mining.
Economic Opportunities Are Limited.
Not only is the purchase of undeveloped land a long-term investment, but the remote and rugged nature of much of the available land for sale in Alaska detracts further from its long-term economic feasibility. While Alaska’s tourism industry continuously sets visitation records year after year, these tourists tend to visit the already developed, commercially saturated areas of the state, like the city of Anchorage.
Many tourists arrive by cruise ship while others arrive by air and ferry. Very few are highway visitors. Most have their tourism schedules created before they arrive and have a solid grasp on what their stay in Alaska will look like. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for new investors and businesses to break into the Alaskan tourism industry.
And Don’t Forget About the Alaskan Climate.
Summer temperatures in Alaska reach about 60 degrees Fahrenheit; lows are as low as 40. The summer season in Alaska is between June and August. The harshest winter months are November through March. Average winter temperatures in Alaska range between 0 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. By and large, the weather in Alaska is predictable and dependent on the area, but not as comfortable as the weather you might experience on the mainland.
The overall climate of The Last Frontier greatly affects the state’s overall seasonality in tourism and other commercial activity that might benefit businesses in Alaska. And let’s not forget about the varying hours of daylight: Anchorage alone, in the summertime, sees about 19 hours of daylight on average per day; in the winter, it sees about five.
Nevertheless, Always Do Your Due Diligence.
If, after reading this list, the idea of buying land for sale in Alaska still interests you, you probably have well-established reasons for doing so. As with any land investment, you always want to make sure you examine…
- Zoning laws;
- True lot size;
- Access to utilities & amenities;
- Financing options;
- Commercial practicality;
- Distance from civilization.
…before signing anything. Conduct the proper environmental tests, request zoning changes if you need to, and line up the services you’ll need to clear the land of any debris or vegetation you’re looking to get rid of. This article was written and researched by The Text Tank, a premier copywriting service for websites, blogs, social media profiles, and more.