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6 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to North Dakota

North Dakota has been home to me for the past two years. The people are great, and even the cities are pretty safe.

The North Dakota State Capitol Building, aka, the Skyscraper on the Prairie

The North Dakota State Capitol Building, aka, the Skyscraper on the Prairie

Low Unemployment

One of the few states in the entire United States that did not have major problems because of the Great Recession of 2008 is North Dakota. The unemployment rate is less than half of the national average. There is a giant government surplus. There is opportunity for those who are willing to take a risk. While there is quite a bit of opportunity, there are also some important things that need to be taken into consideration.

Economic Opportunity

There are a number of reasons why people might want to relocate to North Dakota. The main reasons people move anywhere are usually economical. There are many jobs available in this state, as well as some of the adjoining states. The Great Plains have generally done much better than the nation on average over the past five years. In fact, unemployment in this state has not even touched 5% since 1990. North Dakota unemployment currently sits at about 2.2% (This was as of 2012). A more recent number during the COVID crisis was about 5%.

Why is North Dakota in the midst of an economic boom? Two words come to mind: oil and agriculture.

Both are products that everyone needs. Both are abundant in this state. New drilling techniques have allowed for the exploitation of the Bakken Shale in the western part of the state. Some oil companies are having difficulty keeping up with demand. Industries that serve the growing communities in the oil field are having trouble maintaining an adequate staff. There are reports of truck drivers making close to six-figure salaries and people working at fast food outfits making $12 to $15 per hour to start.

Of course, this has led landlords to raise rates, and the infrastructure of the region is stretched to the max. The state is making investments to improve the infrastructure, and some of the oil companies have built "man camps" to alleviate the housing shortage. This is rather common for boomtowns.

There are also some high-quality educational opportunities in the state. North Dakota State University is one of the leading agricultural schools in the nation, and the University of North Dakota has a leading flight school. There are several small state schools spread throughout the state that frequently cost less than many of the leading private schools in the country.

The people of North Dakota are some of the most friendly in the country. The state also has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, making it a nice place to raise a family.

Things to Consider Before Moving to North Dakota

While there are many things that can endear the State of North Dakota to those looking to move, there are also some parts of life in the state that some people will not like.

  • No really big cities: There are no big cities in North Dakota. The biggest town is Fargo, which has a population of around 100,000. The capital of Bismarck and Grand Forks both have between 50,000 and 60,000. Some of the amenities that city lovers alike will be missed in most of this state. Those who have disdain for urban environments will be quite at home.
  • Housing shortages in some places: There is a housing shortage in towns like Minot and Williston. Developers are working to alleviate this problem, but it will take a little bit of time.
  • Open spaces: There is quite a bit of wide open space in this state. This can be something that some people enjoy. Others will find the lack of people or civilization for miles along major roads a bit scary. For example, between Grand Forks and Fargo, there are only two exits in a 75-mile stretch that have any major signs of civilization. Be sure to fill up before getting low on gas.
  • The weather: Finally, there is the weather. When most people think of North Dakota, they think of snow and cold. The state has some of the wildest weather in the country. The record temperatures span over 150 degrees. The record high in Grand Forks is 109, and the record low is -42 degrees. There are several nights that will drop to -20 degrees or lower each winter. There will also periodically be stretches where the temperature will not get above zero for days. People actually have to plug their cars in if they do not have garages to protect their vehicles from freezing up.

More About the Weather

The locals say that "30 below keeps the riff-raff out." To a large degree, this is the case, as can be seen above. The summers can be quite hot. The Red River Valley along the eastern border can see temperatures near 100 degrees with high humidity. The western areas of the state can get even hotter, although the humidity is not usually as high. Precipitation is generally quite low, but snow can pile up and last for about six months or longer.

For those who can handle the weather and want a great opportunity, North Dakota can be a great place to live. For those who want to adapt to the community, it is a wonderful place to raise children. There are also jobs. The winter weather can seem to last forever, but it can be worth it.

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Chris Price (author) from USA on April 27, 2013:

I might have to do that at some point. The cost of living is way higher in Western North Dakota than the other parts of the state because of the oil boom, so the high salaries might not go quite as far as some might expect.

festivalfood from Seattle on April 26, 2013:

check out the new book on North dakota oil boom

Northern Utopia - Rebirth of American Dream

Chris Price (author) from USA on January 06, 2013:

I like the state, other than it being away from family and the winters. The people are great, and even the cities are pretty safe places to raise kids. Thanks for visiting.

Kelly Lipp from North Dakota on January 06, 2013:

I've been living in ND for more than 20 years. You've done a great job summing up the state and the current situation. There are a lot of new businesses building and we are growing larger every day. Nobody used to want to move here, but that is slowly changing. We are getting more and more out of staters in. There are pros and cons to this. Great hub!

Chris Price (author) from USA on October 14, 2012:

It has been home to me for the past two years. I've been in school and we like it quite a bit. The winter weather two years ago was quite bad. Last year was not all that bad. I've had worse when I lived in WV.

Dianna Mendez on October 13, 2012:

CPrice, my hubby interviewed for a job in Fargo about nine years ago. It was a relief that he didn't get the job for me. I know it is home to many people, but I just couldn't imagine living in such a wide-space land and having to deal with the snow and cold. Thanks for sharing.

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