I haven't done too much shopping off-base yet, so the only place I have experienced "sticker shock" thus far has been in the produce department at the commissary, which I fully expected.
In Virginia we were paying 35 cents per pound for bananas, today I paid 79 cents for the same. Apples are quite pricey at anywhere from $1.40 to $1.70 per pound. We buy Eggland's Best eggs at $2.36 per dozen which is just a little more than we paid for them in Virginia. We don't drink cow's milk, so I haven't really noticed the price per gallon here, but I've heard from others that it's very close to $4. We pay about 60 cents more here for the soymilk we drink most often, 8th Continent. Rick and Bren went to the Safeway store in North Pole last week and Bren reported that her favorite pizza was over $2 more there.
While I was shopping today, sneaking around taking pictures of food (very odd behavior which drew a few stares), I noticed the incredibly low prices of pints of Ben and Jerry's and Haagen Daaz ice cream. Almost all flavors were around $1.80 a pint. I recall paying at least a dollar more - or even two dollars more at convenience stores - in the lower 48 (I keep wanting to say "back in the states", because I feel like we're overseas. Maybe I'll do as we did in Hawaii and say "Mainland") Anyway, the frozen food section was pretty busy and all of a sudden I was embarassed about taking a picture of pints of ice cream, so I passed.
One of the women I was corresponding with before I arrived here said it was her opinion that the commissary was "pretty sad". I couldn't disagree with her more. Yes, it is small, and the selection of items is limited, but one would never go without or be deprived in the least. Also, Fort Wainwright, which is just 20 miles down the road, has quite a large commissary and BX where it is completely possible to fork over a resonable amount of money to indulge all your senses, should you desire to do so.
(I did buy these roma tomatoes for our salad and sandwiches. The regular toms were $2.25 per pound)
You can read more stats on the cost of living in Alaska (without the military benefits) here at Alaska.com.
One thing we love here is Alaska has no sales tax. However, North Pole has a city tax: 4% (some exemptions) $8.00 maximum collected per sale. Tax collected from businesses within the Corporate City Limits or any sales made within the Corporate City Limits. That explained the tax we were charged for our movie at Blockbuster.
As we get out and experience more, I will put together a page of merchandise, services, food, etc. and what we pay for them, with a link to it in my side bar.
The Lord has been gracious and has provided for our every need, and for Him we are so incredibly thankful!