Nichole Joor: ‘Alaska feels totally wild and woolly’

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Nichole Joor left L.A. about a month ago to live in Anchorage, A
Nichole Joor left L.A. about a month ago to live in Anchorage, Alaska (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Nichole Joor
Eagle River, Alaska

“This is definitely so drastic and new that I feel like if and when the time is right I will be ready to come back to California.”

If California isn’t the final frontier anymore, Alaska is. That’s what Nichole Joor discovered when she moved to Eagle River, a suburb of Anchorage to live with a friend and unwind for a while.

Life in Hollywood (and not the glamorous part) had become grueling. “I had gone into a place where I felt like I was in a slump in Los Angeles. I was working really hard. I was making enough money to live on but sort of just barely, even though I worked hard. I loved my co-workers at my office, but my job was really high stress and I wasn’t making enough to really save money or get out of a really stressful place.”

She was ready for something different: a break from the “incessant traffic and living in neighborhoods where there was high crime, because that’s where I could afford to live, and just the high cost of living.”

Nichole calls Alaska “wild and woolly.”

Will you be in Alaska for a while?

Yes, I’m planning to be here for a while. I eventually want to get back to California but I needed to unplug for a bit and come up here. And this has been a wild journey so far.

What do you miss about L.A.?

One of the things I loved about L.A. is that everybody was involved in something creatively. Everybody goes to L.A. to do movies or music or something. So there’s always something going on. I love that- a ton of talented people and even when they’re not involved currently in a project, they’re doing things on the side. The flip side of that with a very frantic pace of life, really, really frantic pace of life. And everybody was involved in some manner directly or indirectly with the industry.

And being up here, it’s a completely different pace of life because the entertainment industry isn’t the heartbeat of the town of Anchorage. And the climate of Alaska is so drastic, just huge extremes and when I came here and the sun wasn’t even rising until about 10 a.m.

Extremes in the weather, extremes and the scenery…  There are valleys and mountains and pine trees everywhere and very real threat of being killed to death by wild animals. All kinds of things that I never had to worry about in Los Angeles, but was of the appeal of coming here.

How long had you been mulling over the idea of leaving before you left or was there something that made you think, “okay, I’m ready?”

It was the feeling of “something’s gotta give.” I just felt like I was on a treadmill at a certain point, where things were staying the same and I couldn’t really break out of my routine. And so I knew that something had to shake.

And luckily for me one of my really good friends who lives in Alaska called me up, and I was venting about some of my frustrations about my life in L.A., and she said, “you know if you want to come up here…” and sort of sold me on the idea of giving Alaska a try. And it’s been a wild adventure so far.

What makes it so wild?

In all the ways that Los Angeles feels completely cosmopolitan and civilized, Alaska feels totally wild and woolly. I mean they call Alaska the last frontier. It is very much like that in so many ways.

You know going to the grocery stores here and you know and seeing what a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables there are, that was really crazy. You know in Hollywood there’s a farmer’s market that open year round and there is always fresh produce. Obviously California grows a lot of food for the country and being up in Alaska, obviously the climate is not conducive to growing fresh crops, you know.

These are things that I sort of theoretically knew in my head would be would be things that I would face. But there’s a huge difference between knowing something to be true and then experiencing it. So those differences have been pretty drastic.

What would bring you back to Los Angeles?

What would bring me back to Los Angeles is getting tired of the freezing cold. And that’s something that could send me back.

But on a more practical level, I think I would be tempted to move back to Los Angeles if I could get a job that was paying me a high enough living wage that I could still save money and not feel stressed all the time. That would probably be one of the one of the bigger things or if I could find affordable living in an area that I felt safe.

This is part of a series looking at why people are choosing to move out of Los Angeles. Are you leaving Southern California? Share your story!