Known as the ‘Peace Garden State’ or the ‘Flickertail State’, North Dakota is a flourishing state in the upper Midwestern United States. With scenic national parks and abundant oil production backing it, North Dakota knows a thing or two about being a prosperous state. One of its nicknames comes from the fact that it houses the International Peace Garden that falls partly in Canada and partly in North Dakota.

Thanks to a primarily agro-based economy with large areas covered by farms, North Dakota is the fourth most sparsely populated state in the US. North Dakota’s tax-friendly nature, high quality of life, unique cuisines, and cultural history are some of the reasons why the state is so appealing. But there is plenty more to know about this state, so continue reading to know more about moving to North Dakota.

What Should I Know Before Moving To North Dakota?

North Dakota is the 19th largest US state spread over an area of 70,704 sq mi, while being neighbored by the US states of Montana to its west, Minnesota to the east, and South Dakota to its south. The Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba border North Dakota from its north. Though North Dakota is majorly flatland, it is adorned by beautiful hills, valleys, lakes, and wetlands. You must’ve heard about the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but tourists also flock in to experience North Dakota’s museums, heritage parks, and historic sites.

North Dakota is famous for its Native American culture and has a 5.4% Indian American population apart from the majority of the white inhabitants. Even the state is named after the Dakota Indian tribe that originally lived in the region. If you are intrigued with this bit of history, you will love visiting the National Buffalo Museum, as it features Native American art and artifacts.

North Dakota sure is synonymous with delectable cuisine, all thanks to the Native American influences. It is also the reason why you shouldn’t skip eating the famous Fleischkuekle dish. North Dakotans are also pretty serious about their fries. The world’s largest French fry feed takes place during Potato Bowl USA, which is a college football game between North Dakota and Idaho State.

Chances are the honey you use must have come from North Dakota, since it is the number 1 producer of Honey in all of the US. North Dakota is also a large producer of sunflowers and milk, a reason why milk is the state beverage. Though there are housing shortages in some places, North Dakota is a good place to raise a family because of its welcoming communities. Oh and let’s not forget, there is an abundance of job opportunities in North Dakota.

Crime Rate In North Dakota

North Dakota has the 16th lowest violent crime rate and the 22nd lowest property crime rate in the US. According to NeighbourhoodScout, the violent crime rate is 2.85 per 1,000 residents. This means that your chances of falling prey to a violent crime is 1 in 351. The property crimes are comparatively higher, with the property crime rate at 19.77 per 1,000 residents. If you were to face a property crime, the chances would be 1 in 51. The crimes per square mile rate is 17, with Dickinson and West Fargo being the safest cities in North Dakota.

North Dakota Weather

A continental climate looms over North Dakota, resulting in cold winters and warm-hot summers. North Dakota’s location in the Upper Midwest also has a major role to play here. This wide variety in weather gives all four seasons their distinct characteristics. The extreme temperatures are quite wild in North Dakota, with temperatures crossing 150 degrees in the summers and often falling below -42 degrees in the winters. We would suggest spending most winter nights indoors, as the temperatures at night sometimes reach -20 degrees or lower.

Winter casts are so chilly, that temperatures don’t go above zero degrees for many days at length. January is the coldest month of the year in Dakota. Most people plug their cars in at such times, and you should prepare for the same if you do not have a garage to prevent your car from freezing up. The same goes for summer extremes, it gets really hot and humid in the Red River Valley. Temperatures can reach 100 along the eastern border. Western areas of Dakota experience hotter summers but with lesser humidity.

The weather patterns are pleasant in autumn and spring. March or early April welcomes the season of Spring. This season is an absolute delight to the senses, with the snow mantle melting exposing the green surroundings. Trees can be seen budding and migratory birds return from their winter getaways. Autumn pays a visit around mid-September and this is a time when visitors pour in to explore Turtle Mountains or river valleys for their scenic fall foliage.

Is It Expensive To Live In North Dakota?

It is rare to find a state that meets all requirements like safety, employment opportunities, amenities and still manages to be affordable. The towns and cities of North Dakota meet the standards of that rarity. Many retirees prefer to relocate to North Dakota because of its affordable living. Only $39,470 is needed to comfortably retire in North Dakota. The income taxes in North Dakota are quite low and fall between 1.10% and 2.90%. The property taxes across North Dakota are just 0.99%, and the sales tax is 5% on retail sales.

Cost Of Living

The cost of living index in North Dakota is 89.9 which is almost 10% below the US average of 100. The median household income in the state is $64,894. There are 5.9% high-income households in North Dakota, which earn $200,000 a year. Shopping for breakfast would mean shelling out $1.00 for a liter of milk, $2.59 for a loaf of bread, and $2.26 for a dozen eggs. Honey will be cheaper in the state since it is locally produced. Going out for a meal would mean spending $12.00 at an inexpensive restaurant. A liter of water costs $1.42 and a cup of cappuccino is priced at $4.50.

If you own a vehicle, it is advisable to budget for fuel. A liter of gas costs $0.79 on average in most parts of North Dakota. Investing in major health insurance in North Dakota will cost you around $462 per person. Usually, the premiums will differ according to the state of health you are in.

Buying A House

The cost of buying a typical home in North Dakota is $243,979. Home values in the state have climbed high by 3.9% according to Zillow. There are many options in types of houses as you go towards the major cities like Bismarck, Fargo, and Minot. An apartment is valued at $5,638 per square meter in the center of Fargo city. Remember that apart from the cities, North Dakota has a lot of open land in the plains. So, in case you are planning to buy a piece of land, you must account for the land values in North Dakota. As of 2020, the land value for an acre of land is $2,063.

Renting A House

New settlers often opt to stay on rent rather than hastily invest in buying property. Rightfully so, with the uncertainty and unsurety that often accompanies people relocating to a different state. The rent in North Dakota will vary from one city to another. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Fargo city is $1,031 and in the center of Williston city is $1,366. You might need a larger space if you are moving in with your family. Renting an average three-bedroom apartment in North Dakota will cost you anywhere between $1,400 and $2,300.

Utility Bills

Moving to a new state comes with many new expenses. Utility bills just add to your already stretched budget making it important to account for such bills. The average total cost of electricity, water, heating, and garbage is $117. It is better to research for good local internet service providers in the town or city you move to. The cost of unlimited internet for a speed of 60 Mbps is $67 on average.

North Dakota Economy And Employment Opportunities

Oil, natural gas, and agriculture are the biggest contributors to the state’s economy, with oil and gas solely contributing 7% to the gross domestic product in North Dakota. This is all thanks to the oil-rich Bakken shale formation which is found beneath the northwestern part of North Dakota. At its peak, the Bakken formation pumps 1.04 million barrels per day. No wonder North Dakota is the second-largest crude-producing state after Texas.

Many factories in North Dakota process farm products or manufacture farming equipment. Agriculture and livestock rearing lead the economy, major crops being soybeans, wheat, and corn. This is possible because most of North Dakota is covered by farms and ranches. Livestock rearing has also benefited the dairy sector. The presence of 3,200 dairy farms in North Dakota has resulted in 6 billion pounds of milk. Though the manufacturing and technology industries have newly entered the state, they are growing at a rapid pace. Aerial drone development is also a fast-growing industry in North Dakota.

Since 2011, North Dakota has added 56,600 private-sector jobs which created a demand for more jobs than what the current talent pool can accommodate. The second-largest campus of Microsoft is located in North Dakota. As per reports, Amazon’s largest fulfillment center is under construction in Fargo. North Dakota State University, Sanford Broadway Medical Center, and Altru Health System are some of the largest employers in the state. All these opportunities have made sure that North Dakota’s unemployment rates stay amongst the lowest in the nation.


The quality of education in North Dakota is superior despite its small population size. There are many public and private schools to choose from. Families in the state have an option to home school their children if they don’t prefer the traditional public or private schools. It is also not mandatory by law for North Dakotan children to attend kindergarten. But it is compulsory for all school districts to provide at least a half-day program to their residents.

When it comes to university education, North Dakota has a total of 11 public colleges and universities. Four private schools and five tribal community colleges are also present in the state. Out of all universities, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota are the best in the state. They offer unique programs like agriculture studies and rural medicine. Undergraduate tuition at the University of North Dakota is $14,546 for out-of-state students. The on-time graduation rate of North Dakota in the last academic year was 89%.

Getting Around North Dakota

Air Travel

There are 8 airports in North Dakota. The busiest among them is the Hector Airport located in Fargo. The Grand Forks International Airport, Bismarck Municipal Airport, and Minot International Airport are the principal airports of North Dakota. All airports in North Dakota have scheduled daily departures, so you don’t have to worry about flying to other states.

Rail Travel

North Dakota’s largest rail systems are operated by the BNSF and the Canadian Pacific Railway. But the state has no rail systems that serve the suburban, urban and local passengers. One National Network train by Amartak called the Amtrak Empire Builder connects 7 towns and cities within North Dakota. The average cost of a train ticket on this train is $104.

Road Travel

The North Dakota Department of Transportation governs transportation in North Dakota. Interstate 29 and Interstate 94 are the major interstate highways in the state. Though most North Dakotans prefer commuting by their own vehicles, there are several intercity bus services available. Greyhound and Jefferson Lines bus services connect some of the major cities. Moreover, there are daily fixed-route bus services in Fargo, Bismarck-Mandan, and Grand Forks. There are 53 counties in North Dakota, some of which are connected by multi-county rural transit systems.

Best Cities To Live In North Dakota


The population of Fargo is 1.22 lakhs and more people are moving in because of the oil boom. Apart from being the economic center of southeast North Dakota, Fargo offers loads of cultural and outdoor activities. If snow doesn’t kill your enthusiasm or bother you too much, Fargo is an ideal city to relocate to. This largest city of North Dakota is also home to the North Dakota State University. Finding employment and business opportunities are not a major concern here, since Forbes once chose Fargo as the best city to start a business or career. Moving to Fargo ensures your weekends are eventful because of the presence of multiple eating establishments and entertainment venues.

  • Median Home value: $245,836
  • Median Home rent: $775
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2%


If you are planning to start a family, Bismarck is the right city to relocate to. Bismarck has 16 elementary schools and 3 high schools. With its proximity to the Missouri River and the Dakota Zoo, children never fall short of fun activities. Economic expansion and abundance of recreational activities are the top reasons why people prefer making Bismarck their home. Most people out of a population of 72,777 have owned homes in the city which sheds light on its affordable housing. The presence of theatre companies and numerous parks acts as a good pastime for the residents of this city. Bismarck comes alive on weekends with its live events and DJ sets, giving you plenty of opportunities to socialize.

  • Median Home value: $299,677
  • Median Home rent: $875
  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%

Grand Forks

The city acts as a boon for both children and millennials. Five A-rated schools and frequent extracurricular activities make Grand Forks a perfect place for families. The presence of an active nightlife keeps the grown-ups hooked. The 56,500 people of this city live in close communities and are always warm towards strangers. In case you are moving with your pets, keep your worries aside as Grand Forks has many dog parks, puppy daycares, and pet-friendly breweries. Multiple bus routes and public transit services make the commute to work faster, leaving the residents free to spend more time with their families.

  • Median Home value: $222,308
  • Median Home rent: $730
  • Unemployment rate: 4.0%

Is It A Good Idea To Move To North Dakota?

Settling in North Dakota will mean choosing peace and high quality of life. Constantly ranking amongst the states with the highest livability and happiness statistics, it is evident that life in North Dakota is a breeze. One walk around any city and you will notice the friendliness of its citizens, bump into anyone and they will smile with an ‘Ope!’. Employment opportunities are abundantly available in North Dakota, and you will always be spared from high taxes. With so many attractions, outdoor activities, and brilliant cuisines, North Dakota will never disappoint you. So, if you are thinking about moving to North Dakota, edge forward and plan your move.

Also See: List of Cheap Moving Companies in the US