Hey guess what? It's cold here! You may be one of those people (such as myself) who THINK they can handle the cold and are "always warm" but you have no idea what you are in for. Single digit temperatures are just a test. Below zero? Is mother nature's way of laughing at you. It's effing cold.
No matter where you move from, even if it's a snow state, you will not have appropriate shoes or clothes. Street shoes are like wearing skates on the ice (I have a lovely bruise on my butt/thigh area to prove it). Regular coats are useless. You should buy your clothes from places that have temperature resistant information on them. Seriously. Land's End, REI, etc. all print what temperature their clothing can protect you from. Alaska weather is not kidding around!
Let's go back to shoes. These are a huge consideration. I thought, "hey - I'll just find some cute and fuzzy boots and wear them all winter, tee hee!" And then mother nature scoffed. The first few steps in the snow and moisture flooded into the cute suede since it was not water-resistant. Then I did the lovely "oh crap, please don't let me fall" dance in the parking lot because the soles weren't made for ice. They currently reside in my room as decor. Oddly, I didn't learn my lesson though. I continued to wear my "Oregon shoes" (aka shoes with no sole and a lot of exposed foot flesh since I refuse to wear socks), hence the fall. The funny part of that is I had already bought my new Alaska shoes, but they had given me a blister (I know, wah) and I wore my comfy shoes so the blister could heal. Stupid blister.
Now girls - there are plenty of cute shoe/boot options that are still Alaska appropriate. I chose Bogs shoes, because I prefer a shoe to a boot since I wear trouser-fit jeans and the boot outline underneath looks weird. They are water-tight, comfy (once the damn blister healed), and the soles are grippy on the ice. They are quite popular here, actually. There's the every present Uggs, although they aren't waterproof and I would hate to ruin them. Sorels are pretty hardcore, but they do make cute styles. I've seen a lot of Danskos, but I've heard mixed reviews about their ability to handle the ice. Zappos delivers here (huzzah), so you can order easily. Just make sure you ask a local to see what they recommend!
Jackets. I still don't have a decent one. I ordered a parka when I first got here and immediately hated it. It was far too large, the hood could cover 3 heads, and it was just bulky. I alternate between my wool dress coat and hoodies. Next winter I'll buy a North Face or Land's End jacket so I can be warm without feeling odd.
Anchorage is a really laid back city. I love that! Although there seems to be some debate as to whether it's ACTUALLY a city. Uh, I came from a small town. THIS IS A CITY TO ME, ok? So stop debating.
Driving on the snow and ice is scary as hell. Everyone here drives like they are on dry pavement in perfect conditions. I have to practically pry my hands off the steering wheel when I get to my destination. I screamed like a little girl the first time I slid on the ice (in my defense, we were about a foot from rear-ending someone). Sliding around corners is considered perfectly natural. I may need to start dying my hair every two weeks instead of every six with the stress of driving on Alaska roads.
Other than that, I've come to love my new home. Richard and I are excitedly immersing ourselves into plans to remodel the condo and I'm fervently applying for jobs. Aside from missing my friends and my lady river, I really love it here. Every time I see the mountains, I'm breathless. That's the best part of living here :).