Fairbanks Vs. Anchorage: Which City Is Better To Live In?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Comparing two cities from the same state is tough on a good day but even more tricky when the cities are pushed to the northern bounds of the country. Both Anchorage and Fairbanks have similar living conditions and quality of life, making choosing a clear-cut winner tough.

Anchorage, however, is the better city when compared to Fairbanks. Not only does Anchorage offer more to do and a more diverse culture, but it offers more opportunities for residents. If you can get past higher housing costs, residents will enjoy a higher median income, a better school system, and better weather for much of the year.

Fairbanks has some attractive features, like lower crime rates and a cheaper cost of living. For the best opinion on which city is better, try to talk to the chamber of commerce in each town, asking specific questions about what matters most in your everyday life, which will help you determine which city is best for you and your family.

Which City Is Better: Anchorage or Fairbanks?

Comparing two cities is complicated and must always include measurable metrics and intangible qualities about each town. Not only must you afford your city, but you have to be able to enjoy it. For our comparison, we are concerned with how the average person will work and live in each city to make our final decision about which city is better.

Quality of Life

Being able to enjoy the city in which you live is just as important as being able to afford day-to-day life. When it comes to the quality of life, Anchorage is the clear winner. Although the cost of living might be higher, Anchorage gives residents more purchasing power. There is also a much better climate and less pollution.

Not to be overlooked by any means, Fairbanks boasts a much lower cost of living and an easier commute with less time spent in traffic. Further, this town can offer better healthcare options to its residents.

Winner: Anchorage

Cost of Living

Living costs in a city can largely dictate what you can do and how much buying power you will have. Overall, Fairbanks is the cheaper option and is about 12% cheaper than Anchorage. Expect to pay about 26% less in housing and about 28% less in transportation.

Although housing might be more expensive, Anchorage is cheaper in some areas of day-to-day life. Food is 8.7% more affordable in Anchorage than in Fairbanks, and utilities are about 24% less. The high cost of living is one of the cons of living in Anchorage.

Winner: Fairbanks

Housing Costs

Although these two cities are relatively comparable to one another, one of the most significant differences between the two is the cost of housing. Interestingly, purchasing a house in Anchorage is nearly $100,000 more than Fairbanks, but apartment rent is slightly cheaper. It makes sense then that 61% of the population owns a home in Anchorage, while in Fairbanks, only 36% of the population owns a home.

Affordable housing is part of the low cost of living in Fairbanks.

Median House Price$343,300$246,700
Average Rent 1 Bedroom$1,320$1,388

Winner: Fairbanks

Job Market

Neither Fairbanks nor Anchorage have a solid outlook for the job market, but Anchorage is projected to fair slightly better. Anchorage has a higher unemployment rate but also more potential for the future. Residents of Anchorage have both a higher median salary for an individual, as well as for a family when compared to Fairbanks.

The main industries in Anchorage are oil and gas, military, and tourism. The main employers in this city are Providence Alaska Medical Center and the Ted Stevens International Airport. Fairbanks, on the other hand, specializes in retail trade, healthcare, and mining operations. Their main employers are Alyeska Pipeline Service and Banner Health.

Projected 10-Year Growth5.7%5.5%
Median Household Income$84,928$62,602
Median Personal Income$41,415$29,375

Winner: Anchorage


Anchorage is one of the oldest cities in Alaska and is home to over twenty different languages from the indigenous people. Much of the culture is influenced by native traditions, and whaling, hunting, and crafting are still held in high regard. This town is home to several artists and musicians and features a creative and thriving culture.

Fairbanks also has strong indigenous culture from the Native Americans, including the Athabascan Indians and the Inupiaq Eskimos. This city’s culture is driven by tradition and has a keen understanding of the environment and climate.

Winner: Anchorage


Both Anchorage and Fairbanks offer plenty for the outdoor enthusiast to enjoy. Both cities have fantastic wilderness areas and access to National Parks. Anchorage is close to the Chugach, Kenai, and Talkeetna nature areas. This city is also home to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which features crafts and dance performances.

Fairbanks also has plenty for people to see, and a popular attraction is the Running Reindeer Ranch. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is a beautiful opportunity for people to learn about and connect with the strong Native American influences throughout the city.

Winner: Anchorage


For being in the far northern reaches of the country, Anchorage has a well-developed transportation system. There are extensive highways throughout the city, and much of the city is reachable through a bus system called the People Mover. The system has significant hubs downtown, stopping at several popular locations. There is also a developed carpooling system as well as an international airport.

Fairbanks, comparatively, just recently paved all of their major highway systems. A Metropolitan Area Commuter System helps connect parts of the city via bus, but the system is somewhat limited and has few stops. Fairbanks, however, is home to another international airport.

Winner: Anchorage


Anchorage has a very young population, with most residents between the ages of 25 and 34. About 14% of these people have a Master’s degree, 22% have a Bachelor’s degree, and 34% have had some exposure to college or hold an Associate’s degree. 66% of the population self-identifies as White, 5% Black, 8% Native American, 8% Hispanic, and 8% Asian.

Fairbanks, in an almost identical demographic spread, has a 65% White population, 10% Black, 10% Native American, 9% Hispanic, and 5% Asian population. People are generally older in Fairbanks, with most of the population ranging from 25 to 55. In Fairbanks, nearly 39% of the population has an Associate’s degree, 18% has a Bachelor’s degree, and only 9% hold Master’s degrees.

Winner: Tie


When it comes to education, Anchorage is the clear winner. This city has a great public school system that offers excellent academic and athletic programs for students. There are private schools available, but these schools do not rank as well as the public options. Higher education facilities in Anchorage include the University of Alaska, Alaska Pacific University, and Charter College.

Fairbanks is a little more limited when it comes to education. This city has strong public schools but has minimal private options. Although the schools are good, they aren’t quite as good as what Anchorage can offer. Higher education is also limited in Fairbanks, with only the University of Alaska – Fairbanks location available for college students.

Winner: Anchorage


These two extremely northern cities see a fair amount of snow and cold weather, but periods can be quite pleasant throughout the year. Anchorage has summers that average around 60 degrees F and winters that only dip to about 25 degrees F. This city sees an average of 78 inches of snow every year.

Fairbanks, for comparison, has a much more broad range of temperatures. Summer will break into the low 70s, with winters averaging 4 degrees F. Although the temperatures are much more dramatic, this city experiences less snow. Fairbanks receives an average of 61 inches of snow every year.

Winner: Anchorage

Crime Rates

Crime is a major issue in both Anchorage and Fairbanks. Violent crimes in Anchorage are far higher than the national average. Assault is four times the national average, murder is almost double, and rape is an extraordinary five times higher. To follow suit, property crimes are also high. Burglary and theft are higher than the national average, and motor vehicle theft is about double.

Although not quite as bad as Anchorage, Fairbanks’s crime statistics are not much better. In Fairbanks, assault, murder, and rape are all double the national average. Similar to Anchorage, burglary and theft are slightly over the national average, with motor vehicle theft about twice what the rest of the country experiences.

Winner: Fairbanks

Related Questions

How dark is Alaska in the winter?

It is long believed that parts of Alaska have endless periods of darkness through the winter. In reality, darkness is not nearly as dramatic as some think. The further north you are, the longer darkness will progress. In Barrow, the most northern city in Alaska, darkness will last for about two months. Comparatively, in the summer, the sun will go up to 82 days without setting.

Is crime a problem in Anchorage?

The answer to this question is really who you ask. If you ask locals or even the police force in Anchorage, they will tell you the city is 100% safe, and there is little crime in the area. In reality, though, this city reports some of the highest violent crimes in the entire United States, with cases more than 55% higher than average.


Comparing these two northern cities is difficult, but ultimately there can only be one winner. Anchorage is a better city because it can offer more to residents. A more developed transportation system, a more robust school system, and a diverse population make this a desirable city. Although the cost of living is slightly higher than Fairbanks, the higher median household income and personal income amounts help offset the high prices.

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