How Do People Living Off the Grid in Alaska Make Money?

How Do People Living Off the Grid in Alaska Make Money? Discover how people living off the grid in Alaska make money through innovative methods like trapping, crafting, and online ventures, all while embracing a self-sufficient lifestyle in the wilderness.

Living off the grid in Alaska’s remote wilderness is the ultimate dream for many seeking an independent, self-reliant lifestyle. But the harsh climate and sparse population also pose challenges when it comes to earning an income without a traditional 9-5 job. Alaskan off-gridders have come up with creative ways to generate cash flow while still maintaining their freedom and connection to the land. So How Do People Living Off the Grid in Alaska Make Money? Let´s dive right in.

What Does It Mean to Live “Off the Grid” in Alaska?

Before diving into how Alaskans earn a living off the grid, it helps to understand what off-grid living entails in Alaska specifically. In general, living off the grid refers to living without connections to public utilities and services. Homes are not connected to the electrical grid, water lines, sewage system, natural gas, cable, and other public utilities.

In Alaska, off-gridders take this lifestyle to the extreme by living in rural areas far from any towns or cities. Their homes are remote cabins located miles from the nearest road system, accessible only by trail, boat, snowmachine, or bush plane. Alaska’s vast wilderness provides the space and isolation for true off-grid living.

Alaskan off-grid cabins rely on renewable systems like solar, wind, or micro-hydro power for electricity. Water comes from a well, rain catchment, or local lake or stream. Waste disposal means composting outhouse and greywater systems. Heat comes from wood stoves and firewood. Supplies have to be stockpiled or transported from towns via boat, plane, snowmachine, or dogsled.

Living off the grid in Alaska also generally means living directly from the land as much as possible via hunting, fishing, trapping, foraging, and gardening. The lifestyle demands resilience, resourcefulness, and a spirit of independence. But even self-sufficient homesteaders need to generate some income to obtain goods they can’t provide themselves.

Ways Alaskan Off-Gridders Make Money

Alaskan off-gridders take advantage of their surroundings to earn money from homesteading, online work, tourism, and more. Here are some of the most common ways they make it work.

Selling Goods & Services to Fellow Alaskans

  • Trapping furs – Trapping fox, mink, marten, and other animals for their fur is a time-honored way for people in rural Alaska to earn income. Furs are sold to buyers in cities or exported. Trapping seasons generally run November through February.
  • Producing crafts – Many off-gridders supplement their income by making and selling homemade crafts. Popular items include knitwear, wooden carvings, homemade jams and jellies, wreaths, natural soaps, and beeswax candles. Craft fairs in cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks provide an outlet.
  • Offering services – Some off-gridders use their construction skills, mechanical knowledge, or outdoors expertise to offer services to nearby rural communities when extra income is needed. This may include carpentry, appliance repair, snowmachine tuning, log cabin building, and more.

Earning from the Land Itself

Those living directly from the land have found ways to turn its bounty into profit:

  • Cutting firewood – Cutting, chopping, hauling, and selling cords of firewood is common among off-gridders near communities in need. Dry spruce is the prime wood to supply for winter fuel.
  • Foraging – Alaska’s wilderness provides abundant edible wild plants that can be sold to restaurants or natural food stores. Prime options include wild berries, mushrooms like morels, herbs, edible roots, and birch syrup tapping.
  • Raising livestock – Keeping small livestock like chickens, rabbits, or reindeer can provide meat and other products to sell or barter. Eggs, hides, and antlers also have value.

Online Work & Businesses

The internet has opened up more opportunities for off-gridders to earn income remotely. The key is having reliable power and connectivity.

  • Selling online – Handmade crafts, homemade food products, ebooks, and other goods can be sold through Etsy, eBay, Shopify, and an off-gridder’s own website. Online sales platforms make it easy.
  • Blogging/vlogging – Sharing stories, photos, and videos about off-grid life in Alaska can generate income through ad revenue, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, and merchandise sales. Popular topics include homesteading skills, wilderness adventures, and off-grid tech.
  • Freelancing – Common freelance jobs like writing, editing, translation, graphic design, bookkeeping, and virtual assistance can be done remotely from a cabin. Freelance platforms like Upwork allow bidding for jobs.


Some off-gridders capitalize on interest in the Alaska wilderness by providing services to tourists and visitors:

  • Guide services – Leading fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking, Aurora tours, and sightseeing trips. Guiding requires expertise to lead clients safely.
  • Hospitality – Operating a small bed & breakfast or campground allows off-gridders to host visitors in summer. Some provide other services like running supply shops, boat shuttles, or bush plane charters.

How Alaskan Off-Gridders Get Supplies & Access Income

Living remotely poses some challenges when it comes to getting goods and earning money. But Alaskans have adapted well to the conditions.

  • Stocking up – When coming into towns, off-gridders stock up on bulk food, fuel, hardware, medicine, and other essential supplies that will last through the seasons. Cached supplies are critical.
  • Renewable power – Solar panels, wind turbines, micro-hydro generators, and generators provide electricity. Battery banks store power. Enough electricity allows internet access, power tools, and appliances.
  • Transportation – Boats, planes, snowmachines, ATVs, and dogsleds provide access for trapping lines, harvesting wood, and transporting goods to markets and customers. Rivers serve as ice roads in winter.
  • Foraging & subsistence – Gathering wild foods, greenhousing, fishing, hunting, and trapping provide a large portion of an off-gridder’s diet to reduce supplies needed.

Challenges of Making Money Off-Grid in Alaska

Despite Alaskans’ resilience and adaptability, making a living off the grid in Alaska’s harsh climate still poses difficulties:

  • Low population – With few potential customers and clients nearby, selling goods or services has limitations. Most income must be earned online or by transporting goods to cities.
  • Transportation costs – Even by boat, snowmachine, or bush plane, getting goods to market can be very expensive with long distances and limited road access. Costs must be built into prices.
  • Unreliable internet – Connectivity can still be spotty in rural areas. Satellite internet has dead zones. Lack of bandwidth makes video calls and large downloads difficult.
  • Harsh winters – Extended periods of -20°F or colder temperatures halt much outdoor work like trapping, woodcutting, and transport. Some off-gridders take winter jobs in cities.
  • Permits & regulations – Harvesting wild resources for profit often requires permits and follows quotas. Transporting goods from remote cabins can mean inspections.
  • DIY repairs – When something breaks or malfunctions far from a hardware store, off-gridders must improvise repairs with what they have. Parts and specialists are rarely nearby.

Examples of Real Alaskans Living Off the Grid & Making It Work

To get a better idea of how real Alaskans earn income off the grid, here are some examples:

Susan & Mike – Live in the Brooks Range with limited electricity. Make money from a mix of trapping furs, producing carved knick-knacks to sell in Coldfoot, and operating a summer river rafting tour business.

Amber & Kyle – Reside off the road system near McCarthy. Run a blog about homesteading life and make income from ad revenue, merchandise sales, and affiliate sponsorships. Also sell foraged berries to high-end restaurants.

Tim – Lives in a yurt near Talkeetna. Offers flightseeing & glacier tours to tourists in summer as a bush pilot. Makes extra income building cabins and repairing boats & snowmachines for locals.

Alexis – An experienced trapper and fisher near Bethel. Makes and sells sealskin handicrafts like mittens. Preserves salmon to sell in Anchorage. Teaches trapping workshops in winter.

Emily & Jake – Artists and craftspeople outside Homer. Sell handmade pottery, knitwear, wooden utensils, and more through their Etsy shop. Also tap birch trees on their land for syrup to sell locally.

Tips for Earning Money Off the Grid in Rural Alaska

For those considering moving off-grid in Alaska to live closer to nature but still need income, here are some tips:

  • Research remote work options: Teaching English online, freelance writing, etc.
  • Develop multiple income streams: Don’t rely on just one. Combine online work, selling crafts, tourism, etc. to diversify income.
  • Know your expenses: Carefully calculate costs like fuel, transport, satellite internet, equipment, etc. Factor them into prices.
  • Offer high-quality goods: Your products represent quality Alaskan craftsmanship. Price accordingly. Seek high-end retailers.
  • Use online marketplaces: Sites like Etsy and eBay connect you to massive markets. They handle payment processing and shipping.
  • Promote and network: As an isolated small business, smart digital marketing is essential. Build an online audience. Partner with local businesses.
  • Establish supply caches: Stockpile enough goods to survive periods when earning is limited. Plan for contingencies.
  • Barter and trade: In rural areas, bartering goods and services with neighbors can fill needs.
  • Visit resource centers: Alaska has small business development centers to help people start and run businesses.
  • Separate business and home energy: Use a standalone workshop or studio building to contain energy costs.
  • Qualify for small business loans and grants: USDA and SBA offer assistance for rural enterprises.
  • Travel strategically: Plan trips for stocking up supplies, selling goods, and making business connections.
  • Consider seasonal changes: Structure your business around rhythms of Alaskan seasons and lifestyles. Adapt.
  • Consult with experienced locals: Those already succeeding off-grid can provide invaluable wisdom. Find mentors.
  • Leverage social media: Build an Instagram following showing your Alaskan lifestyle. Draw customers in.

By being prepared, adaptable and leveraging online resources, you can make the off-grid small business lifestyle viable in the Alaska wilderness. The rewards of living close to nature make it worth the effort.

Living Off the Grid and Making It Work in Alaska

The rugged, independent spirit of Alaska lends itself well to off-grid living. The sheer expansiveness of the wilderness, from the snow-capped mountains to the boreal forests to the Arctic tundra, allows those seeking isolation and self-reliance to achieve their dreams.

Yet the realities of dwelling in Alaska’s harsh climate also demand creativity and perseverance when it comes to earning a living. Alaskan off-gridders have adapted by fusing traditional livelihoods like trapping and woodcutting with modern opportunities like online work and e-commerce.

Above all, the resourcefulness and resilience of off-gridders in Alaska is inspiring. They exemplify sustainable living close to nature, while still integrating enough with society to thrive. The unique lifestyle challenges forge tighter community bonds and deeper fulfillment.

For those drawn to the concept of off-grid freedom, Alaska offers immense potential. With careful planning, preparation and adaptation to the seasons, the remote Alaskan wilderness can sustain and even enrich life. It’s a one-of-a-kind choice for those seeking space, peace, and a more rooted existence. The challenges of making it work financially are met with the satisfaction of self-reliance.

In Alaska, opportunities remain endless for those bold enough to live life off the grid, on the edge of the wilderness. With courage, creativity, and wisdom gathered from those already succeeding, the pioneer spirit lives on in Alaska’s remote homesteads.

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