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 22 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:
- Devils Lake (Photos)
- Fargo (Photos)
- Grafton (Photos)
- Bottineau (Photos)
- Jamestown (Photos)
- Mandan (Photos)
- Dickinson (Photos)
- Grand Forks (Photos)
- Bismarck (Photos)
- Casselton (Photos)
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 Devils Lake.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more North Dakota reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In North Dakota
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In North Dakota
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In North Dakota
How we determined the worst places to live in North Dakota for 2019
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
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 22 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 22 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 — Devils Lake. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in North Dakota.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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.
Fargo, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 2nd worst city in North Dakota.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Fargo has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 3.2%, and families earn around $50,561 a year. It’s also the 4th highest in North Dakota for crime, where 1 in 30.5 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Not too far from Park River is the mid-sized town of Grafton. Grafton places 3rd 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.
Bottineau is one of the poorest cities in the state of North Dakota. This city has 5.5% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $52,560 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Bottineau has the 11th highest crime rate in North Dakota. While the numbers aren’t staggering (North Dakota is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Peace Garden State.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Jamestown is the 5th worst place you can live in the state of North Dakota. Let’s see why.
You may be surprised to hear that the crime here is the 10th-highest in the state per capita, according to the FBI data base.
Residents in Jamestown had a 1 in 38.4 chance of being robbed in 2016. To put things into perspective, since the average person has 300 friends on Facebook, if everyone you friended lived in Jamestown, statistically, 25 of them would have been the victim of a property crime, meaning a home robbery, car break in or a stolen wallet.
Jamestown’s other issues are a very high unemployment rate (1.3%) and income levels of its residents ($51,743).
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Mandan 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 2.5% unemployment rate for a city of 21,472 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
Dickinson is another place in the Peace Garden State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Dickinson is a staggering 3.5%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($74,469 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $227,800, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Dickinson is bad, but not horrible.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Grand Forks ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 12th cheapest in the state here at $186,500. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Grand Forks.
The median income levels here are the 4th lowest in the state of North Dakota, at $48,241. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 4.1% of people in Grand Forks were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
Here in Bismarck, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in North Dakota. That’s not a good combination.
Located in Burleigh County, you have a 1 in 28.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Bismarck city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (1.7%). That’s good for the 14th highest unemployment rate in North Dakota.
Casselton is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Casselton is the 4th most dangerous place you can live in North Dakota.
Residents in Casselton have a 1 in 30.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Casselton, where average homes are valued at only$171,400. That’s the 10th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
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, Devils Lake ranks as the worst city to live in North Dakota for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Dakota:
- Hazen (Pop. 2,643)
- Lincoln (Pop. 3,467)
- West Fargo (Pop. 33,089)
For more North Dakota reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Dakota
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In North Dakota
- 10 Safest Places In North Dakota
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In North Dakota
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In North Dakota