Is Alaska Land a Good Investment?

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Is Alaska Land a Good Investment?

Bart Waldon

Alaska's rugged beauty and pristine wilderness have long captured the imagination of people across the globe. Yet many don't realize that the Last Frontier also presents a potential goldmine for savvy investors - nearly 60 million acres of raw, undeveloped land within its borders. According to a 2021 survey by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, a staggering 90% of this magnificent state still remains untouched.

For the intrepid souls willing to take it on, taming Alaska's expansive wilderness represents a chance to stake one's claim on the frontier. But make no mistake - between taxes, development costs, regulatory policies and extreme conditions, only the strong and pioneering stand a chance at realizing returns.

When exploring investment potential here, wise prospectors carefully assess many factors. Accessibility looms large in the remote reaches of the Alaskan wilderness. So do specific county and borough regulations around land use. Any site's intended purpose - be it resource development, commercial space or residential - informs costs. Just as crucially, its ecological preservation status will dictate development possibilities.

After weighing variables like these against expected profits, Alaska's lands emerge as diamond-in-the-rough investments. They glitter with potential riches for builders tough enough to withstand the ride. But journey here without thorough planning at your peril - because while Alaska's lands promise fortunes for a select few pioneers, the naive stand more likely to walk away with little more than fool's gold shining through their frozen fingers.

Why Consider Investing in Alaska Land?

There are several compelling reasons why investing in Alaska land could pay off over the long run:

Tourism Growth

Alaska's natural beauty and attractions like Denali National Park draws over 2 million visitors per year. As more cruise ships and travelers visit Alaska, tourism is expected to keep expanding. Owners of strategic plots of Alaska land in high traffic areas may be able to profit from this rise in visitors.

Oil and Gas

While oil production has declined from the 1980s peak, Alaska still possesses substantial oil reserves and actively drills for oil/natural gas. As pipeline capacity expands and new fields/techniques are developed, Alaska's oil and gas industry presents opportunities for landowners through leasing land for exploration or ancillary services.

Abundant Natural Resources

In addition to oil, Alaska also has reserves of precious metals like gold and zinc. Mining investments continue growing as commodity prices rise. Those who own mining claims or mineral rights on Alaska land can benefit through leases to mining companies.

Strategic Location

Alaska's proximity to Asia and Arctic shipping lanes is strategically valuable. As maritime traffic increases along the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage, Alaska's port infrastructure is set to expand. Land owners near future ports and related transport/logistics development may profit.

Wealth of Wildlife and Fisheries

From salmon to crab, Alaska possesses immense fishing resources. Land ownership near prime fishing grounds allows leasing that access to commercial fishermen. Abundant moose, bear and other wildlife also makes Alaska land desirable for hunting/outfitting leases.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Alaska Land

While Alaska land investment can be enticing, there are also downsides to evaluate:

Challenging Climate and Remoteness

Much of Alaska has a subarctic climate with long, bitterly cold winters. Mountainous and wet terrain with hundreds of rivers and streams presents obstacles for development or accessing/using remote land parcels. Lack of roads and infrastructure hampers livability for settlers and transporting goods/equipment.

Stricter Regulations

Environmental regulations in Alaska are stringent, especially protections for wetlands and wildlife. Developing land for commercial use often requires permits and compliance costs that reduce profit potential. Laws also limit roads that can be built through remote state land.

Native Corporation Land

Following the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, around 44 million acres of land were granted to Native regional/village corporations. This included prime real estate and resource rich sites. Much of this corporation owned land remains unavailable for individual purchase or leasing.

Volatile Oil and Mineral Prices

Fluctuations in oil and commodities like zinc/gold that drive much of Alaska's economy can impact land investment returns. During periods of low oil and mineral prices, leasing or sale opportunities may decline reducing ability to profit from land holdings.

Best Areas to Purchase Alaska Land

While risks exist, some regions of Alaska still present attractive land investment potential including:

Southcentral Alaska

Areas surrounding Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula host the majority of Alaska's population and benefit from more moderate temperatures and infrastructure. Rising southcentral tourism makes land ownership near attractions like Chugach National Forest or Seward a long-term investment.

Matanuska-Susitna Valley

The Mat-Su Valley north of Anchorage has affordable land prices combined with spectacular views and access to outdoor recreation. With families relocating here for the lifestyle, Mat-Su offers steadier development demand from settlement compared to remote regions.

Fairbanks Region

As Alaska's second largest city, Fairbanks serves as the main hub for central and northern Alaska with connections to remote mining/drilling operations. Investing in vacant land around Fairbanks can pay off through eventual commercial leasing or facilities development to support more mining/oil activity.

Coastal Regions and Islands

Despite higher costs, coastal land near fisheries or along channels remains desirable for tourism operators and maritime companies. Key deep-water ports will strengthen transportation links making adjacent properties strategic assets. Islands host sport fishing/hunting lodges drawing visitors.

Tips for Buying Alaska Land Wisely

Succeeding with Alaska land investments requires research and partnerships:

  • Thoroughly inspect parcels before purchase - verify easements and uses given remoteness challenges
  • Consult zoning maps to identify parcels designated for future commercial development
  • Partner with brokers familiar with Alaska's complex land regulations and native corporation policies
  • Be realistic about true market demand when estimating a parcel's investment potential
  • Plan for extended timelines to resell or lease remote/undeveloped land profitably
  • Account for infrastructure installation costs if developing raw land for settlements/facilities

Key Takeaways: Is Alaska Land a Strong Investment?

In summary, Alaska land investment arguments exist on both sides:


  • Rising tourism brings long term development demand, especially near national parks and coastal regions
  • Oil and gas will continue playing a major economic role translating to leasing opportunities
  • Remote parcels offer rewards through mineral rights and strategic links to Arctic shipping expansion


  • Harsh winters and challenging terrain raise ownership/maintenance costs
  • Isolated areas suffer from inadequate infrastructure deterring settlement

Alaska will remain alluring to investors seeking both lifestyle and financial gains. While the realities of development costs and volatility exist, strategic land investments around key tourism markets and resource zones still promise strong income potential. As with any real estate purchase, rigorous research and trusted partnerships are vital to navigate Alaska’s complexities.

Final Thoughts

When weighing the potential returns versus risks, Alaska offers a rather polarizing prospect for land investors. Harsh climate and isolation severely hampers livability, development capacity, and access to markets across much of the state. Yet amid these negatives lies immense natural resource value and strategic positioning as the climate warms. For savvy investors focused on tourism zones, mining regions, and transportation corridors rather than lifestyle settlement or agriculture, Alaska land may still provide outsized yet volatile long-term rewards compared to land plays in the lower 48 states. Careful research, regional expertise, and patience to ride out pricing swings are prerequisites to succeed. While rarely easy money, strategic stakes in Alaska's vast frontier can diversify a portfolio – as long as you enter informed about both extreme costs and opportunities inherent across the state's varied terrain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is land cheap to buy in Alaska?

Land prices vary greatly across Alaska. In remote, undeveloped areas land can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars an acre. But tracts near cities or recreational areas sell for up to $10,000 per acre. Coastal parcels can fetch over $100k per acre.

What taxes and fees come with Alaska land ownership?

Property taxes, insurance, maintenance and improvement costs are the main carrying charges. Remote parcels often have minimal taxes. But developed areas assess up to 1.5% tax on assessed value. Land leases also incur taxes on lease income. Buyers pay title/closing fees up to 4% of purchase price.

Can I build and live on a rural Alaska land parcel?

Zoning restrictions apply based on borough/classification. Much Alaska land prohibits permanent settlement but seasonal cabins may be permitted if environmental impact is low. Residential builds require access, proper permitting and costs for infrastructure like utilities, septic and bringing materials.

Is financing available to buy Alaska land?

Financing for Alaska land is challenging as many remote parcels lack viability for banks to foreclose if defaulted. Most purchases require cash or 50%+ down payment. Broker owner-financing sometimes offered but interest rates typically 8-10% with short 1-5 year repayment period.

How soon until my Alaska land sells or leases?

Timelines vary greatly but patience is key. While some accessible recreation or residential parcels may sell in 1-2 years, vast remote tracts depend on events like new infrastructure, resource discoveries or zoning changes and can take 5-10+ years to yield lease/sale offers. Marketing is ongoing and essential.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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