When compared to other communities in the state, some commodities cost less on the Kenai Peninsula while others cost more.
Clarion file photo by Phil Herma
The Kenai Peninsula has a reputation for having a diverse economy, but how does the cost of living compare to other areas of Alaska? Is the peninsula a cheap place to live like many believe?
The answer isn't a simple yes or no since it involves many variables, such as the cost of housing, food, utilities and fuel.
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Apartment Rental Costs and Vacancy Rates Survey for 2004 in which 10 areas were surveyed and compared for the study the highest average rents were reported in the Valdez-Cordova census area, with averages of $1,011 for a one-bedroom, $917 for a two-bedroom and $1,047 for a three-bedroom apartment.
The lowest average rents were found in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area at $548 for a one-bedroom, $633 for a two-bedroom and $635 for a three-bedroom apartment.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough scored second to lowest with average rents of $618 for a one-bedroom, $640 for a two-bedroom and $776 for a three-bedroom apartment.
Each year the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service conducts a "Cost of Food at Home for a Week in Alaska" survey. It selects certain items and compares how much it would cost to purchase those items at 21 locations, 20 of which are in state, with Portland, Ore., being the one exception. Comparisons such as these often play a big role in relocation decisions.
According to the third-quarter findings of UAF's 2004 survey, for a family of two, ages 20 to 50, the most expensive places to purchase a week's worth of groceries were Atka at $167.25, Naknek-King Salmon at $128.94 and Bethel at $116.90. In Kenai-Soldotna the cost was figured at $75.08 per week, up from the year before when it was $72.09 per week during the same time period.
The cheapest in-state areas were Anchorage at $69.28, up from $62.16 last year, Fairbanks at $69.98 up from $66.42, and the Matanuska-Susitna area at $71.19.
For a family of four, with children ages 6 to 11, the most expensive places to purchase a week's worth of groceries were again Atka at $283.75, Bethel at $198.33 and Naknek-King Salmon at $218.76. The cost in the Kenai-Soldotna area was $127.38, up from $122.39 per week at the same time the year before. The cheapest places were Anchorage at $117.53 up from $105.54 last year, Fairbanks at $118.73 up from $112.77, and the Mat-Su area at $120.77.
The UAF survey also gives a breakdown of utilities, fuel and lumber. The most expensive area to receive 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity was Atka at a cost of $417.80. Kenai-Soldotna was $121.35 to receive 1000 kwh up from $113.80. The cheapest locality was Juneau at $88.62.
For a 100-pound refill of propane, the most expensive location was Bethel at $132.25, while Kenai-Soldotna was $51.92, up from $48.14, and the cheapest area was Fairbanks at $43.90.
To buy 55 gallons of unleaded gasoline, Atka was at the top of the list with a cost of $203.50, while Kenai-Soldotna was at $115.50 up from $103.68. The cheapest area to fill an automobile was the Mat-Su region at $114.95.
According to the UAF survey, the most expensive place to purchase a 2-by-4-by-8-foot piece of lumber was Dutch Harbor, with the cost being $7.10. In Kenai-Soldotna, the same piece of lumber cost $3.54, up from $3.42. The cheapest place to purchase the wood was Ketchikan at $3.33.
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