Why Does Alaska Pay You To Live There?

Alaska is famous for its rugged beauty and frontier spirit. But did you know the state will actually pay you to live there? If you’re wondering why Alaska hands out cash to residents, read on to learn the history behind these payments and how you can get your share of the state’s oil wealth.

The quick answer is that Alaska pays residents to share the wealth from oil revenues and incentivize people to live in the harsh northern climate. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend distributes cash from the state’s oil trust fund every year. In 2022, the payment was over $3,000 per person.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the background on Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, how it works, who is eligible, what the payment amounts have been, and what it’s like living in Alaska as a PFD recipient.

We’ll also look at some frequently asked questions on these Alaska stimulus payments.

The History Behind Alaska’s Oil Wealth Distribution

Alaska’s unique program of paying residents to live there, known as the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) program, is the result of the state’s vast oil wealth. The history behind this program is fascinating and sheds light on how Alaska has managed to turn its natural resources into a benefit for its residents.

Discovery of Oil in Alaska

The discovery of oil in Alaska in the late 1960s revolutionized the state’s economy. The Prudhoe Bay oil field, located on the North Slope, turned out to be one of the largest oil fields in North America.

The revenue generated from oil production quickly became a significant source of income for Alaska.

As oil production increased, the state recognized the need to manage its newfound wealth and ensure that the benefits were shared among its residents. This led to the creation of the Permanent Fund.

Creation of the Permanent Fund

In 1976, the Alaska Permanent Fund was established as a way to save a portion of the oil revenue for future generations. The fund was designed to invest a portion of the state’s oil wealth and provide a sustainable source of income in the long term.

Over the years, the fund has grown significantly, thanks to wise investment decisions and the steady income from oil production. Today, the fund is worth billions of dollars and continues to provide financial stability for the state.

Establishment of the PFD Program

In 1982, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program was created to distribute a portion of the fund’s earnings directly to Alaska residents. The PFD program aims to share the benefits of Alaska’s oil wealth with its citizens and stimulate the local economy.

Each year, eligible residents receive a dividend payment, which varies depending on the fund’s performance and the number of applicants. The PFD program has become a cherished tradition in Alaska and is eagerly anticipated by residents, who often use the funds for various purposes, such as education, investments, or simply to cover living expenses.

The PFD program has had a profound impact on the lives of Alaskans, providing them with financial security and opportunities that might not have been possible otherwise. It has also contributed to the state’s sense of community and shared prosperity.

For more information on the Alaska Permanent Fund and the PFD program, you can visit the official website of the Alaska Department of Revenue: https://pfd.alaska.gov/.

How the Alaska Permanent Fund and Dividend Work

About the Alaska Permanent Fund

The Alaska Permanent Fund is a state-owned investment fund created in 1976 through an amendment to the Alaska State Constitution. The purpose of the fund is to provide long-term financial support for the state by investing a portion of Alaska’s oil and gas mineral lease revenues.

The Permanent Fund is managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, a state-owned corporation established to prudently invest the assets of the fund in a diversified portfolio of investments. Assets in the fund come from three main sources:

  • At least 25% of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sale proceeds, and federal mineral revenue sharing payments
  • Money appropriated to the fund by the state legislature
  • Investment earnings of the fund

As of 2022, the Alaska Permanent Fund had a market value of over $81 billion, making it one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The fund’s principal cannot be spent; only the earnings from investments can be used.

What is the Permanent Fund Dividend?

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is an annual payment made to eligible Alaska residents that is sourced from the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund. The PFD was first paid out in 1982 and is considered a kind of basic income derived from the state’s oil revenues.

The amount of each annual PFD payment is calculated based on a five-year average of the Permanent Fund’s performance. In 2022, the dividend amount was $3,284 per eligible resident. All dividends are paid out of the earnings reserve account of the Permanent Fund.

The PFD is credited with keeping Alaska’s income tax-free by sharing the state’s oil wealth with residents. It is also considered an incentive for people to live in Alaska long-term.

Who is Eligible for the PFD Payment?

To qualify for the Alaska PFD payment, you must be a state resident who has lived in Alaska for a full calendar year immediately before applying, and you must intend to remain in Alaska indefinitely. You must also be a U.S. citizen or legally authorized to work in the U.S.

You may not receive a PFD dividend if you:

  • Were sentenced as a result of a felony conviction during the qualifying year
  • Were incarcerated during the prior calendar year (some exceptions apply)
  • Have previously claimed to be a resident of another state or country
  • Are an alien with temporary lawful status

Additional restrictions and eligibility criteria apply. Military personnel and students attending out-of-state schools may still qualify if Alaska remains their permanent home.

When Do Residents Receive the PFD Check?

Eligible Alaska residents can apply for the PFD between January 1 and March 31 each year for the prior calendar year’s dividend. So in 2023, applicants would apply for the 2022 dividend.

Paper application forms are mailed out to all Alaskan residents in December or January. You can also apply online. Applicants must provide proof of Alaska residency and lawful presence in the U.S.

Once applications are processed, the Permanent Fund Dividend Division determines the final dividend amount for the year. Checks are mailed or direct deposited to recipients starting in early October.

So the 2022 PFD would be paid out in October 2023. This system allows the state to calculate the total dividends to distribute based on a full year’s Permanent Fund earnings.

Alaska PFD Payment Amounts Over the Years

PFD Payments in the Early Years

The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) program in Alaska has been a unique and innovative way to distribute wealth among its residents. Since its inception in 1982, the PFD program has provided annual payments to Alaskan residents as a reward for living in the state.

In the early years, the PFD payments were relatively modest, with the first payment in 1982 being $1,000. However, over time, the payment amounts gradually increased as the fund grew.

During the early years of the PFD program, the payment amounts fluctuated based on the performance of the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund, which is funded by oil revenue, experienced both booms and busts, leading to varying PFD payment amounts.

Despite these fluctuations, Alaskans appreciated the extra income, which often helped to cover expenses or save for the future.

Changes in the 1980s and 90s

In the 1980s and 90s, the PFD payment amounts saw significant changes. In 1988, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill that allowed for a formula-based calculation of the PFD payment. This formula took into account the average income earned by the fund and the number of eligible Alaskan residents.

The introduction of this formula helped to stabilize the PFD payment amounts and provided a more consistent source of income for Alaskans.

During this period, the PFD payment amounts varied between $500 and $2,000. The highest payment in this era was in 1999 when Alaskans received a PFD payment of $1,963. This was a significant increase from the earlier years and reflected the growth of the Alaska Permanent Fund.

PFD Amounts from 2000 to Present

From the year 2000 onwards, the PFD payment amounts continued to increase steadily. The growth of the Alaska Permanent Fund and prudent management of its investments contributed to the rising payment amounts. In recent years, the PFD payments have ranged between $1,000 and $2,000 per resident.

In 2020, despite the economic challenges faced by the state and the global pandemic, Alaska residents received a PFD payment of $992. This was slightly lower than previous years but still provided a much-needed financial boost for many Alaskans.

For more information on the Alaska Permanent Fund and the PFD program, you can visit the official website of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.

What Life is Like in Alaska as a PFD Recipient

If you’re wondering why Alaska pays you to live there, it’s because of the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) program. As a PFD recipient, you receive an annual payment from the state’s oil wealth savings account, known as the Alaska Permanent Fund.

This unique program has been in place since 1982 and is designed to share the state’s oil revenue with its residents.

Cost of Living Considerations

Living in Alaska as a PFD recipient comes with its own set of considerations, particularly when it comes to the cost of living. While the PFD payment can help offset some expenses, it’s important to note that Alaska has one of the highest costs of living in the United States.

The remote location, harsh climate, and limited access to resources contribute to higher prices for goods and services.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Alaska does not have a state income tax or sales tax, which can help balance out the higher cost of living. Additionally, there are programs and initiatives in place to assist low-income individuals and families with housing, healthcare, and other essential needs.

Jobs and Employment Options

Alaska offers a unique range of job opportunities, especially in industries like oil and gas, fishing, tourism, and healthcare. The state’s vast natural resources and stunning landscapes attract many seasonal workers and adventure seekers.

If you’re considering moving to Alaska as a PFD recipient, it’s essential to research the job market and explore employment options that align with your skills and interests.

While the PFD payment can provide some financial stability, it’s important to note that it may not be enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle on its own. Many PFD recipients choose to work in addition to receiving the dividend to cover their expenses and enjoy a higher standard of living.

Permanent Fund Dividend Lifestyle

Being a PFD recipient in Alaska comes with its own unique lifestyle. The annual payment can provide financial freedom and opportunities for personal growth. Some residents use their PFD to invest in education, start businesses, or pursue their passions.

Others use it to supplement their income or save for the future.

Alaska is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor recreational activities. As a PFD recipient, you can take advantage of the state’s stunning landscapes and enjoy activities like fishing, hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing.

The PFD payment can also help fund travel within the state or even outside of Alaska, allowing you to explore new places and create memorable experiences.

Living in Alaska as a PFD recipient is a unique experience that offers both challenges and opportunities. It’s important to carefully consider the cost of living, job prospects, and your own personal goals before making the decision to move.

However, for those who embrace the Alaskan way of life, the dividends can be rewarding in more ways than one.

Frequently Asked Questions on Alaska PFD

Do you have to be an Alaska resident to get the PFD?

No, you do not have to be an Alaska resident to receive the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). However, there are certain eligibility requirements that you must meet. To qualify for the PFD, you must have been a resident of Alaska for at least one full calendar year.

This means that you must have lived in Alaska for the majority of the year and intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely. Non-residents who work in Alaska may also be eligible for the PFD if they meet certain criteria.

Can you collect PFD if you move away?

If you move away from Alaska after receiving the PFD, you are still eligible to collect future dividends as long as you meet the residency requirements. However, it’s important to note that you must have a plan to return to Alaska and remain a resident in order to continue receiving the PFD.

If you decide to move away permanently and establish residency in another state, you will no longer be eligible for the PFD.

What is the application process like?

The application process for the Alaska PFD is relatively straightforward. Each year, the Alaska Department of Revenue opens the application period, usually starting in January and ending in March. To apply, you need to complete the online application form on the official PFD website and provide the necessary documentation to verify your eligibility.

The application requires information such as your social security number, date of birth, and proof of residency. Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the Alaska Department of Revenue, and if approved, you will receive your PFD payment.

How long does it take to get your first payment?

After submitting your application, it typically takes several months for the Alaska Department of Revenue to process and review your application. The exact timing can vary depending on the volume of applications received and the efficiency of the review process.

On average, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to receive your first PFD payment. However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate and actual processing times may vary. You can check the status of your application online on the official PFD website to get updates on the progress of your payment.


The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend provides an annual cash payout to state residents, sharing the wealth from Alaska’s oil revenues. Since the first payout in 1982, the PFD has become an important program that incentivizes living in Alaska and provides a boost to local economies.

While the PFD amount fluctuates year to year, it has reliably provided at least $1,000 per person for decades. Alaska is the only state with such a unique dividend program distributing resource revenue to individuals.

The PFD payouts and Alaska’s stunning natural beauty will likely continue attracting new residents looking to share in the state’s oil fortune.

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