Alaska Tent Cities
Tent cities are large campsites often owned by the town in which they are located. Currently, there are three tent cities in Alaska: one each in Valdez, Kodiak, and Petersburg. They were established for cannery workers and offer restrooms (usually with showers), cooking facilities, and telephones. The sites may also have raised wooden platforms so campers don't have to brave sleeping on the wet soil or gravel. These platforms are approximately 15 by 15 feet and can accommodate between two and five people comfortably.
A tent city is an inexpensive alternative to a motel room or an apartment for seasonal seafood industry workers. The going rate per person per night ranges from free to $8. The monthly rate runs around $125 compared to the $200 to $300 a month you might pay for company-run housing. With cooking facilities you can keep food expenses down by buying and cooking your own food. Some seafood processing plants will even subsidize the cost of living if you choose to stay in a tent city. If your employer does not offer housing, there are several advantages to staying in a tent city rather than living in a trailer or an apartment. Since these communities were created especially for cannery/processor workers, they are often located close to the processing plants. Most are less than a mile away and companies may have shuttles to transport employees to and from their plants.
Along with convenience and affordability, tent cities offer a built-in social network. The majority of people staying in tent cities are college-aged cannery workers looking to save money and experience Alaska for the summer. Large numbers of people living and working together in new surroundings can make for some interesting experiences! These mini communities are a great source of fun and camaraderie, and often host activities like barbecues and softball games. Tent city residents come from all over the U.S. and even from other countries, and many enjoy the savings and the social life of the tent cities so much that they return for several summers in a row.