The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2021


We used science and data to determine which cities in NoDak are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in North Dakota.

Sure, we get it. You live in North Dakota for a reason, and it's not necessarily to `get ahead' in life. You're happy with the simple things, most likely. And boring to most Americans would be `fun' to you.

So calling a place `the worst' in North Dakota might not resonate as much as it does in other states. But we're sure you're curious, so we included you guys in our rankings. After all, the other 49 states we ranked all got tons of attention. You're welcome!

Just like every other state, North Dakota has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make North Dakota your home.

After analyzing 23 of the state's most populous cities (over 2,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of North Dakota:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2021

  1. Jamestown
  2. Williston
  3. Devils Lake
  4. Wahpeton
  5. Mandan
  6. Dickinson
  7. Fargo
  8. Grafton
  9. Casselton
  10. Minot

What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.

We understand there's a lot of good in every place.

However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in North Dakota? That would be Jamestown.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2021

Jamestown, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 15,289
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $144,800 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (6th worst)
More on Jamestown:  Data | Photos

While numbers in North Dakota are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare North Dakota cities against one another, you see big differences.

Home values in Jamestown average $144,800, which is the 9th lowest in the state. Say what you want about 'cheap living,' the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there's not a lot of demand to live in Jamestown.

Plus, 14.7% of the population here lives below the poverty line.

Plus, the crime rate is the 12th highest in the state here. Every year, when you're within Jamestown city limits, you have a 1 in 48.5 chance of being robbed. That's a lot of broken into cars and homes.

Williston, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 27,250
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $238,700 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (9th worst)
More on Williston:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Williston, where criminals go to make a living. Williston has the 5th highest crime rate in the state. When you're within Williston city limits, you have a 1 in 34.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.

Plus, there were 133 violent crimes here in 2021. For a city of 27,250 people, that's absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 204 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you're in Williston every year as well.

Devils Lake, ND

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,344
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $138,600 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (2worst)
More on Devils Lake:  Data | Photos

Devils Lake is the largest city to make this list. It's just across Devil's Lake from a reservation in the northern half of the state.

There's a lot of crime here. In fact, it's the 2nd most dangerous place in North Dakota. You have a 1 in 22 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within the city limits every year. That's a lot of stolen Vikings (or Packers) jerseys, and a lot of missing slush burgers and bunny lunches.

Wahpeton, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,802
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $123,300 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (2nd worst)
More on Wahpeton:  Data | Photos

Wahpeton's situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.

Wahpeton has the 8th worst crime index of any place in North Dakota, and has the lowest income.

Mandan, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 22,301
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $215,300 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (11th worst)
More on Mandan:  Data | Photos

Mandan needs some tough love as it ranks as the 5th worst city to live in North Dakota for 2021. There's not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it's not a place you might want to move to.

And the crime in Mandan is the 6th highest in the state, where 1 in 33.8 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.

Dickinson, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 22,882
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $238,000 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (8th worst)
More on Dickinson:  Data | Photos

Dickinson takes the 6th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.

But what gives Dickinson its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 13th worst in the whole state.

Fargo, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 121,889
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $212,100 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (5th worst)
More on Fargo:  Data | Photos

There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Fargo is one of the worst places you can live in North Dakota. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let's see why.

We're not economists, but when you have a 3.2% unemployment rate for a city of 121,889 people, that's a sign that things aren't just bad. They are downright depressing.

Grafton, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,182
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $84,700 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (4th worst)
More on Grafton:  Data | Photos

Not too far from Park River is the mid-sized town of Grafton. Grafton places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in North Dakota.

Here, school spending per student is the 3rd lowest in the state, homes are some of the cheapest in North Dakota, and crime is far above state average.

Casselton, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,677
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $201,300 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.7% (14th worst)
More on Casselton:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Casselton, North Dakota, where 1 in 59.5 people is without a job, and families bring in a combined $78,438 a year.

Crime is the 3rd highest in North Dakota, where you have a 1 in 30.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime, and every year, you have a 1 in 212 chance of being raped, attacked or murdered when you're within Casselton city limits.

Minot, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 48,261
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $208,700 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (7th worst)
More on Minot:  Data | Photos

If you're looking to live in North Dakota, Minot might not be the best choice as it places 10th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2021.

The unemployment rate here is 2.7%, and households bring in a combined $66,194 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of North Dakota.

Crime is the 11th highest in the state in Minot as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.

How we determined the worst places to live in North Dakota for 2021

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:

  • Good education
  • Lots of jobs
  • Low crime
  • Low poverty
  • Nice homes
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Health insurance

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered -- leaving 23 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 23 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.

Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".

Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in North Dakota -- Jamestown. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in North Dakota. You can download the data here.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

Wrapping Up The Worst In North Dakota

If you're looking at areas in North Dakota with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Jamestown ranks as the worst city to live in North Dakota for 2021.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Dakota:

  1. Rugby (Pop. 2,724)
  2. Carrington (Pop. 2,133)
  3. Lincoln (Pop. 3,703)

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In North Dakota?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Jamestown 15,289 3.2% $144,800
2 Williston 27,250 2.6% $238,700
3 Devils Lake 7,344 0.4% $138,600
4 Wahpeton 7,802 5.1% $123,300
5 Mandan 22,301 2.3% $215,300
6 Dickinson 22,882 2.7% $238,000
7 Fargo 121,889 3.2% $212,100
8 Grafton 4,182 4.1% $84,700
9 Casselton 2,677 1.7% $201,300
10 Minot 48,261 2.7% $208,700

How Is The Area In ?

13 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2021

  1. Currently live in Bismarck. I could only live here or Fargo/West Fargo in this state. I love ND though, and it truly is the best state in the country

  2. There have been many horror stories coming out of Williston in recent years, some I’ve heard direct from people I know there, so it can’t possibly be in the top 10 unless you’re allowing average income to trump other factors (read: oil money, oil problems). Also, while Mayville is not an exciting place, it’s hard to imagine it belongs in the bottom 10.

  3. The worst place is any place you do not want to live but are forced to by a backwards legal and social system that is run by those with the most money.

  4. Pretty sure Williston is not on the best places list. What about Dickinson or Bismarck or Mandan? Lincoln being at the top of your list? :/ Your best list sucks. And your worst list? There are definitely worse that I could just rattle off the top of my head. You should get an honest ND opinion and not some outdated facts.

  5. This is a note to the publisher of this article. I think you need to read up more on the other towns in North Dakota, before you make a ridiculous article like this! The places that you listed were the best places are the worst ones in this state!

  6. I live in California now but from Mayville. I am so glad I grew up there.The college and school system in Mayville was outstanding then and now. The park the hockey arena and sports in the area are great assets to the community. We even have a radio station that wasn’t mentioned. I don’t know what you’re smoking but Mayville should be on best places to live. Would like to move back when I retire. Wonderful people my home town. Proud of it.

  7. Was this a joke. It is written with the accuracy of a book review written from the flap on the paper cover. If I was the editor or producer I would seriously check out this author as I believe he never left his/her 450 square foot loft in New York for fear of a crime and simply looked to find the which towns had the least amount of data on the web. Take Grafton, did they note the number of championships they have won in the past 10 years. Probably, 2nd to none in the nation. I am telling you, check this idiot out, they have pulled the wool over your eyes. Time to wake up and get some new blood working for you.

  8. “Population Density (The lower the worse – meaning there’s less to do for indoor entertainment)”

    Your statistics may be accurate but your interpretation of data and the word “worst” is very subjective, faulty and is your opinion. 3 out of 5 places you listed as the best places to live in the state are cities most North Dakotans will ever want to live in.

    Many also pointed out to you that Shell Valley is not even a city.

    Articles like these are misleading and populating the internet. They are a source of confusion and misinterpretation because they are presented as written by an authority.

    There are two acceptable forms of journalism- truthful and satire. This article is not even the latter.

  9. lol, this might be the dumbest shit I’ve read in a long time.

    Shame on Wdaz for giving light to such a foolish website.

  10. Umm Those towns are great. Earn around 30000 a year and buy a home for under 40000. I lived there and moved to Utah where 25000 is the average without a degree, and homes start at 200000 and rent is 1000 a month. Less people, cheaper, better. Get it right.

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