Is North Dakota a Good Place to Live? (19 Pros and Cons)

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Considering The Pros And Cons Of Moving To North Dakota

Is North Dakota a good place to live? Let’s explore the state by addressing the pros and cons. First, here’s what I and other experts say about living in North Dakota.

Is North Dakota A Good Place To Live?

North Dakota is an excellent place to live. The state’s many job opportunities, top-notch universities, reasonable tax burden, low cost of living, and peaceful, wide-open spaces contribute to upward mobility and an attractive lifestyle.

According to, North Dakota offers the highest quality of life in the nation, chart-topping economic growth, breathtaking national parks, history, culture, the arts, and some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Local real estate agent Joe Petersen says people should consider moving to North Dakota’s capital city for its low crime rate, growing economy, access to health care, and tight-knit communities (source).

The above opinions are an excellent starting point. However, before you move to North Dakota, I recommend carefully considering the following pros and cons.

Pros And Cons Of Living In North Dakota: Head-To-Head Comparison

North Dakota ProsNorth Dakota Cons
1. Job opportunities10. Harsh winters
2. Top-notch universities11. Extreme weather
3. Modest cost of living12. Long road trips
4. Low taxes13. Tedious travel
4. Spacious and peaceful14. Limited attractions
6. The Badlands15. Lacking diversity
7. Nice mid-sized cities16. Housing shortage
8. Friendly residents17. Wildlife and insects
9. Good local foods
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living in North Dakota

Next, let’s individually review the advantages and disadvantages of moving to North Dakota that I have outlined above.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In North Dakota

1. Plenty Of Job Opportunities When Living In North Dakota

North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. Many companies struggle to fill all of their open positions.

Energy production, natural resources, agriculture, and health care play big economic roles. Furthermore, the state is one of the largest oil producers in the country, behind the great big state of Texas.

North Dakota also produces significant amounts of:

  • Honey
  • Hay
  • Sunflowers
  • Rye
  • Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Cattle

2. Excellent Higher Education Options After Moving To North Dakota

North Dakota is known for its high-quality university system.

First, the state is the home to North Dakota State University, one of the leading agricultural universities in the country. Second, the University of North Dakota is a top school for aeronautics, aviation, aerospace science, and related technologies.

Finally, the cost of a college degree is less in North Dakota. The state’s tuition compares favorably to other areas of the country.

Fortunately, manageable college tuition isn’t the only way to save money in North Dakota.

More reading: benefits of living in South Dakota

3. You Will Discover An Affordable Cost Of Living In North Dakota

North Dakota’s low cost of living will help balance even the tightest budget.

First, the state’s median home value is about 40% less than the national average. (Source: Motley Fool)

Apartment rents are ranked among the top 10 lowest in the country. (Source: World Population Review)

Next, groceries and utilities run 5-10% less.

Finally, automobile ownership is nearly 25% below the national average. Low car maintenance costs, few fuel-burning traffic jams, and reasonable gas prices contribute to the savings.

More reading: Another affordable state to live in

4. Low Taxes Are A Good Reason For Moving To North Dakota

North Dakota is a very tax-friendly state.

First, the state’s income tax rates are among the lowest in the country.

Individuals and families can expect to pay well less than 2% of their income to the state in taxes. Many of you will pay nothing, depending on how much money you make. Check with your tax advisor for a precise estimate.

North Dakota’s property taxes are reasonable, too. Affordable home values and a modest real estate tax rate assessment contribute to the savings.

More reading: Discovering all 50 states

5. Spacious, Peaceful Rural Living In North Dakota

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North Dakota has a low population density. You will find plenty of wide-open spaces untouched by human development and urbanization.

90% of the state has farms, ranches, and remote mining operations. Other attractive features include:

  • Fresh air
  • Limited pollution
  • Minimal traffic congestion
  • Short commute times
  • Few tourists

6. North Dakota’s Badlands And Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota’s peace and serenity are displayed in the Badlands, home to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The Badlands are part desert and part mountainous terrain. Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam freely in these parts. Here and elsewhere in the state, you will find beautiful sunsets and dark skies for star-gazing.

Aside from the vast open lands, there are other great things to consider about North Dakota living. So, let’s continue with the pros before I switch over to the cons.

7. Good Cities For Living In North Dakota

North Dakota has good cities to call home. Here are some of the more notable places attracting singles and families.

Fargo is the largest city by population in the state and is home to North Dakota State University.

North Dakota’s state capitol is located in Bismarck. The city is near the state’s center, along the Missouri River.

Minot is also a notable North Dakota town because a United States Air Force Base is here.

Finally, Grand Forks, home base to the University of North Dakota, is perched along the Red River on the state’s eastern border.

8. Friendly People Live In North Dakota’s Cities And Countryside

North Dakotans are genuine, hardworking, and friendly people.

The state residents here are helpful and outgoing. They love their state and its wide open and rugged land.

Here are several ways North Dakotan’s good qualities can be described:

First, “Dakota” is a Native American word. It means friend.

Furthermore, North Dakota is called “The Peace Garden State.” The nickname references the state’s large botanical garden, symbolizing the friendship between the United States and Canada.

Finally, “North Dakota Nice” is a common principle residents hold where they strive to be friendly and respectful.

Last but not least, of all the good things in my list of pros and cons of living in North Dakota, I saved my favorite topic for last.

9. You Will Find Good Food And Beverages In North Dakota

North Dakota is known for its hearty foods. Many are based on German, Norwegian, and Native American influences.

For example, there is a filling casserole known as hotdish. Next, I have enjoyed some of the most tender, juicy steaks in and around these parts.

I also recommend Bison. It is tender and tasty, like beef, but with fewer calories and less fat.

North Dakota has a growing number of breweries and distilleries offering great drinks to accompany your meal.

Many beers use local agricultural products. The state’s wheat, barley, honey, and fruit offer a unique taste you won’t find elsewhere.

Okay. That concludes some of the top reasons to live in North Dakota. However, it’s time to switch gears.

An article about the pros and cons of North Dakota is not complete without addressing some key reasons you may not want to relocate here in the first place.

So, let’s keep moving because this state isn’t for everyone.

Is North Dakota a good place to live?Pin

Cons Of Living In North Dakota

10. Long And Cold Winters When Living In North Dakota

North Dakota winters are harsh.

Residents enjoy all four seasons. Unfortunately, winter is the year’s longest. Temperatures get cold in the state, and there is plenty of snow.

During North Dakota’s worst winter months, it’s common to have consecutive days when temperatures stay below zero. Furthermore, North Dakota is a windy state. Thus, wind chill factors routinely drop to dangerous levels.

Next, snowfall is common. Measurable snow has been recorded in every month except July and August. Spring temperatures are slow to warm up. Thus, snow can remain on the ground into May.

To survive and prosper during a North Dakota winter, I recommend stocking up on the following items:

  • High-quality hooded parka
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Water-resistant winter boots
  • Good automobile tires with solid tread
  • A full-sized shovel in your trunk
  • Durable ice-scraper

11. Severe And Extreme Weather In North Dakota

North Dakota’s winters aren’t the only weather issue.

For example, you must be prepared for the summer extremes. Temperatures will rise into the 90s, accompanied by plenty of humidity.

Other types of severe weather conditions can strike from spring to fall, including:

  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes
  • Tornados

As a result, I recommend buying a good insurance plan to protect from property damage and losses.

More reading: All about living in the Midwest

Okay. Enough about the weather. Let’s keep moving through the pros and cons because I have another one of the worst things about living in North Dakota.

living in North Dakota pros and consPin

12. Your Road Trips Will Cover Long Distances

North Dakota road trips are time-consuming. You will find endless roads alongside never-ending fields of crops.

Most areas in the state are far away from the interstate. So, you have to plan extra travel time to navigate the back roads.

Thus, a destination may look close on a map. However, indirect roads and shoddy road maintenance will limit your speed and increase your travel time.

As a result, fill up your tank before leaving on a road trip, especially during the winter.

13. Tedious Travel Beyond North Dakota’s Borders

North Dakota is far removed from major metropolitan areas. For example, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City are hours away by car.

North Dakota’s airports are small.

The airports have limited flight schedules to popular destinations. Thus, air travel takes longer and costs more than in other more populated states.

14. Life In North Dakota Means Not Much To Do

North Dakota life is boring for some people.

Beyond Fargo or Bismark, the state doesn’t offer many big city features, urban amenities, nightlife, or commercial entertainment options. Even in these two larger North Dakota cities, fun things to do will run out fast.

The most popular recreational options include:

  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Trail biking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Bowling
  • Playing pool
  • Video games

Here’s another potential problem with choosing to live in North Dakota.

15. North Dakota Lacks Diversity In So Many Ways

reasons to move to "The Peace Garden State"Pin

North Dakota lacks diversity. The situation plays out in several ways.

Cultural diversity. If theater, opera, modern art, or live music are your thing, your options are limited.

North Dakota’s population is predominantly white. Thus, there isn’t much racial or ethnic diversity. You will have a hard time finding ethnic restaurants. Mingling with a more diverse mix of friends is a challenge.

North Dakota’s economy lacks diversity.

Yes, there are plenty of jobs. But, outside of agriculture and energy, the demand for professional and service-orientated workers is lower. The narrow economy slows population growth since many young people leave to pursue careers elsewhere.

16. Shortage Of Housing Options

North Dakota’s housing availability is strained. Thus, finding a suitable home may be challenging, depending on where you want to move.

For example, the North Dakota towns of Minot and Williston were dramatically impacted by the influx of workers created by the U.S. oil boom. However, recent reductions in oil demand and increased construction have reduced the severity of this issue.

17. Lots Of Wildlife And Bugs Love Living In North Dakota

North Dakota is home to dangerous wildlife.

Bison, moose, and deer roam freely, crossing roads when necessary. They create dangerous driving conditions.

Bison are aggressive and dangerous, too. So, it’s essential to keep your distance if you encounter one.

In western North Dakota, there are venomous prairie rattlesnakes. They will bite if surprised or threatened.

Finally, North Dakota’s warm and humid summers create ideal conditions for mosquitoes, ticks, and insects. The bugs range from annoying to life-threatening.

Okay. That completes my top moving to North Dakota pros and cons. Please allow me to wrap up with some parting thoughts.

Is North Dakota A Good Place To Live? Wrapping Up The Pros And Cons

I hope this discussion has helped you sort through some critical questions. Such as:

1) Why move to North Dakota?


2) What is living in North Dakota like?

Best of luck with your decision. No matter where you decide to settle down!

More About Living In North Dakota And Beyond

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In North Dakota Explained