Kodiakans often complain about the high cost of living here, and the latest issue of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development publication “Alaska Economic Trends” shows the complaints may be justified, at least on the housing side.
The publication stated as of early this year, Kodiak is Alaska’s most expensive city, according to a Council for Community and Economic Research study of 250 cities in the U.S.
Still, there are 11 other cities in the U.S. that top Kodiak for high cost of living including Manhattan, Honolulu, and Washington, D.C, according to the C2ER study.
Another study by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, stated Alaska is the fourth most expensive state. That data is based on the costs only in Anchorage, Juneau, Kodiak and Fairbanks.
Another study mentioned in “Trends” by the Kaiser Family Foundation says Alaska has the highest health care premiums of any state as of 2013.
But despite the costs, Alaska prices didn’t rise as much as they have previously. “Trends” said the cost increases in 2014 were the second smallest in a decade with prices increasing 1.6 percent compared to 3.1 percent in 2013. Additionally, transportation costs decreased resulting in a lower overall increase.
Kodiak does have some of the highest housing costs in Alaska.
The Kodiak Island Borough tops the list of areas in Alaska with the highest rent, according to the publication.
A two-bedroom apartment in 2014, including utilities, rented for $1,420 in Kodiak compared to $1,331 in Anchorage, and $1,306 in Juneau. Lower on the list was the Kenai Peninsula Borough with a cost of $923 and the Wrangell Borough-Petersburg Census Area at $863 for a two-bedroom.
However, Kodiak is slightly lower on the list coming in at number three for the cost of buying a house. The average price in Kodiak is $292,713 compared to just under $361,000 in Anchorage and about $352,600 in Juneau. Those two high numbers result in Kodiak being slightly under the average price of buying a home in Alaska, which is $306,042.
Kodiak also ranks third on housing affordability. The publication “takes housing prices into account and factors in the number of paychecks needed to buy one, using an area’s average annual wage.”
Bethel tops the list at 1.64 paychecks, with Juneau second at 1.51 and Kodiak at 1.5.
If you plan to build a house, however, Kodiak again ranked at the top of the list of expensive supplies.
Shipping supplies from Seattle costs $35,659 compared to $35,226 in Fairbanks and $35,124 in Kenai. Buying supplies locally costs $30,826 here compared to a little more than $29,000 for Ketchikan and Kenai who are second and third, respectively, on the list.
One place where Kodiak didn’t even rank was in the cost of fuel. Rural communities took up the vast majority of that list topped by Arctic Village, which paid a whopping $11 for residential fuel and $10 for regular gas in January of this year.
But despite the costs, commissioner Heidi Drygas stated in her “Trends” introduction that “Alaska is very competitive in terms of consumer prices in the context of Alaskans’ wages.”
Julie Herrmann is a staff reporter at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at 486-3227 ext. 627.