That question is a popular topic of conversation and where you live can tell someone a lot about you.  For example, if you live in Mt. View there’s an 80% chance you’re a renter paying somewhere between $800 and $900 per month.  That’s on the low end of the cost of housing scale, according to Alaska Economic Trends, a publication put out by the Department of Labor.  At the top of the housing scale is the hillside area where the median cost of housing is more than $1,900 per month.  However, you might be surprised to learn that Eagle River shares the top spot with the hillside when it comes to expensive housing.  That’s because Eagle River and Chugiak have nearly tripled in population since 1980, creating a dramatic need for new housing which is always more expensive than an older home.

     Are you an aging baby boomer?  Then chances are you live west of the downtown core area, near Bootleggers Cove, Westchester and around Turnagain or in Rogers Park or along Tudor Road.  However, recent trends also point to senior populations increasing in South Anchorage.  Don’t be surprised to find retirement type condos and townhomes popping up in that area in the near term.  Despite the city’s well intentioned efforts to bring population near downtown and midtown by advocating for mixed use, young families have and continue to move to the hillside and Eagle River area, according to the report.   

     The good news for all areas and population groups is that the average commute to work for Anchorage residents is fairly short, around 18 minutes.  Anchorage residents don’t have traffic jam nightmares from the Los Angeles 405 where the average commute is 29 minutes.  And who knew Seattle is now almost as bad as Los Angeles with an average commute time of 25 minutes?  But for those of you who regularly get stuck on the Glenn, you’re right up there with LA and Seattle with an average commute time of 30 minutes.

     Owner occupancy rates vary greatly across Anchorage from 80% in the Hillside, Turnagain, Eagle River area to less than 20% in Mt. View and Government Hill, two of the oldest areas of Anchorage and where redevelopment has not occurred to the point where it has had a noticeable impact on home ownership.  Homes built post WWII were in the Government Hill, Bootleggers Cove/Westchester and downtown core.  Then, in the 1960’s, Spenard, Woodland Park and Turnagain area began to grow.  In the 1970’s, a lot of building occurred in East Anchorage, both in the single family and multi-family categories.  During the 1980’s, the lower and upper hillside areas along with Chugiak and Eagle River saw rapid growth.  Since then, the majority of growth has occurred in the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage residential development has been left to smaller five and 10 acre in-fill sites farther out of town.  However, those opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer and, thus, more costly, creating increased pressure for more affordable and work force housing throughout the Anchorage Bowl.