The average single-family home costs more in Juneau than anywhere else in Alaska, study says

Downtown Juneau in May 2023. (Clarise Larson/for the Juneau Empire)

The average sales price for a single-family home in Juneau was nearly $510,000 in 2023 — which makes it the second year in a row that Juneau had the most expensive average in Alaska. That’s according to a study released by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development this month.

Brian Holst, the executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, said that doesn’t surprise him. 

“It is not good for the working folk of Juneau, but it isn’t a big surprise because Juneau’s housing costs have historically been high,” he said. “I’m not surprised to see us near or at the top.”

Rents are high, too. Juneau ranked fifth in the state for the highest average rental costs for a two-bedroom, at $1,561 a month. That’s a 5% increase from the year before. 

Other necessities are also costing more, too. 

According to the study, which comes out annually, Juneau’s costs for things like health care and groceries are similar to places like Seattle and San Francisco. Overall, the study cited Juneau’s cost of living as just shy of 28% above the national average. 

Holst said there are a lot of reasons things cost more in Juneau, like land availability and the cost to ship things here. For housing, he said one big factor that often gets overlooked is the demographic changes that are happening in Juneau. 

“Our aging population occupies a lot of housing. When you look at Juneau over the last 10 years, basically our population is about the same as it was 10 years ago, but we have a lot more senior citizens,” he said. 

Holst said that as Juneau’s population continues to age and stay in their homes, prices will keep increasing. 

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Alaska’s average house prices and mortgage payments by area in 2023. (Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development)

“The changing demographics are limiting the supply of housing. So, the price of housing goes up as the supply is limited,”  he said. “Simply, we have not built enough housing to keep up with the demand.”

Assembly member Ella Adkison said there’s no one right way to fix the problem — or she would have already pursued it. 

“I don’t think a one-size-fits-all option, but I think we have to be doing frankly everything we can do,” she said. 

Recently, the Assembly increased funding for a city loan program for purchasing mobile homes. And it continues to put money toward the city’s affordable housing fund, which gives money to developers to help get housing projects off the ground. 

Adkison said that, as a person in her 20s, she knows firsthand how the lack of housing affects young people in Juneau. 

“I do get it. I have so many friends who are in really tight spots, and it’s a problem that every Assembly member is aware of but I’m acutely aware of,” she said. “It’s not something that will happen quickly, and I can’t promise next year, ‘boom it will be affordable to live here.’”

But she said things are happening, and she has hope those efforts will start to pay off soon.

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