Cost of Living

Several studies are conducted periodically to try to determine the comparative living costs of Alaska and Juneau to other communities. Generally, Juneau is 30 percent more expensive to live in than the "average" US city, and 11 percent more expensive than Anchorage.

In 2008, the Alaska Department of Administration and the McDowell Group conducted a comprehensive study comparing the cost of living in Alaska communities using Anchorage as the base community. The overall cost of living in Juneau was 11 percent higher than the cost of living in Anchorage, largely due to the higher costs of housing in Juneau, which were 14 percent higher.

Three national cost of living price indexes compare the cost of living in Juneau to an "average" US city, including the Runzheimer Plan, the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, and the US Military Cost of Living Index. According to these studies, Juneau is generally 30 percent more expensive to live in (30 percent, 31 percent, and 28 percent, respectively). Again, it is housing that plays the largest role in inflating Juneau's overall cost of living.

Runzheimer data are designed to show how much it would cost for a family of four to live in different cities while maintaining the same, relatively low, standard of living of $32,000. According to the study findings, it costs 30 percent more to live in Juneau than a standard U.S. city. A household of four that was able to get by on $32,000 in an average U.S. city would need $41,616 to maintain the same standard of living in Juneau. Juneau residents pay lower taxes, and similar transportation costs in comparison to an average U.S. city, but housing costs are 49 percent higher.

Similar to the Runzheimer Plan, the ACCRA Cost of Living Index provides a useful measure of living costs among different cities, but the index reflects cost differentials for professional and executive households in the top income quintile. According to the index, it costs 31 percent more to live in Juneau than a standard U.S. city. Professional and executive housing is 64 percent more expensive in Juneau than an average US city.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks' Cooperative Extension Service surveys communities in Alaska to determine the cost of low-expense food items that meet the minimum recommended levels of nutritional needs. The survey uses an identical market basket for each community.

According to the findings, in 2009 it cost 11 percent more to feed a family of four in Juneau than in Anchorage. In Sitka, it cost 38 percent more. Food costs have increased at a greater rate in Juneau and Southeast Alaska than in Anchorage or Fairbanks.