Antarctica FAQ

Why would you want to move to Antarctica?

To quote this Packing for Antarctica page, “having adventures is one of the main reasons to have a life in the first place.”

One day when I’m sitting around with my grandchildren and they are interviewing me for a school project I want to blow them away with the Adventures of Grandma (*future blog name ideas*).

I have a few adventures under my belt already, after all, I did move alone to Cork, Ireland from December 2012 to June 2013. As an American who’d never left the country, I lived in Ireland in an apartment with the daughter of an Irish millionaire, not one but TWO blind men, one beautiful seeing-eye dog, and a German who was just learning English. Talk about adventures…

I want the next chapter in my life’s tales to be Antarctica. In fact, I’d be fine with many years’ worth of chapters having the icy background that is the great white desert. Though, I’m sure once I hit Antarctica I’ll have to add “live in all 7 continents” to my bucket list.

I still don’t get it…. why??

Adventure. Boredom. Travel. Knowledge. Pride. Excitement. To do something that most will only ever get to see on TV. For the stories. Because I want to build a snowman.

Won’t you be freezing? Won’t you be miserable?

I’ve answered this in its own post here.

What is there to do?

That also gets its own post, here.

Why not just take a cruise to Antarctica and not “waste” months of your life there?

Well, first off, that’s not the same. Going to visit as a tourist versus actually living and experiencing a place are two very different experiences. Secondly, do you know how much cruises to Antarctica cost?! It’s five days by boat from Chile to Antarctica which means you need a 10-day cruise and that’s not even including any time spent ON the continent. This will run at least $10-$15K. Plus, don’t forget getting to Chile which is another few thousand dollars. If you want a trip that actually lets you off the ship, takes you to see a few places, etc then you’re looking at a ton more money. There’s one company that offers trips actually into Antarctica and those are even more expensive. There’s a tourist flight option to the South Pole… that starts at $35K. So basically, what I’m saying is that unless I win the lottery tonight a tourist trip is not going to happen.

Oh boy! I bet you get paid reall well to put up with the cold down there, right?

Well, in terms of cold-hard-cash, no. There are so many people applying for the jobs that there’s not really a chance for negotiations in salary. The pay is minimal. However… you get that minimal salary but where you really “make money” is in what you’re NOT paying for. Included in the program is your housing costs (no rent!), your food costs (!!!), and your transportation (no gasoline, no car insurance!!). That alone could easily add up to $15K. Don’t forget all your transportation costs to and from Antarctica including a few days’ span of vacation in New Zealand.

So tell me more about what you’re going to be doing and how long you’ll be gone…

Well for starters, every position (that I’d be applying for) on the bases are contracts. An average summer contract lasts for 4-5 months. Note that this is the austral summer so it would be October through February if I land a position at McMurdo. A summer-only contract at the South Pole would only be 3.5 months. If I land a winter-over contract (my preference) I’d be gone for about 13 months.

Now, that being said, Erica and I both agree (oh, btw, I have a few friends also applying, Erica being one) that if we go one year we will probably be back even more. This blog has a quote at the top:

“The first time you come down for the adventure. The second time for the money. And the third time because you can’t function anywhere else anymore.”

So, guys, once I get accepted once, you can count on this being a regular thing for me. I definitely want to winter-over at least once too…. Those stars? OMG.

(post image source)

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