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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:
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 Mandan.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more North Dakota reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In North Dakota
- Cheapest Places To Live In North Dakota
- Most Dangerous Cities In North Dakota
The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2020
Welcome to Mandan, which might be one of the poorest areas in North Dakota. Residents average $64,122 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 9.6% of Mandan residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $207,100 and the unemployment rate hovers near 3.5%.
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.
Williston is one of the poorest cities in the state of North Dakota. This city has 2.7% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $85,426 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Williston has the 6th 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 the worst places you could live in North Dakota, Jamestown came in 4th. Let's see why.
When you're comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, North Dakota residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in North Dakota, you can see some really big differences. In Jamestown, the number of people out of work is 3.2%
In North Dakota, that's the 9th highest in the state.
The residents in Jamestown have the 8th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Jamestown average $53,310 a year. Which isn't too shabby in comparison to the other 'lowest' income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $136,700 on average. That's the 8th lowest in the state.
Fargo'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.
Fargo has the 3rd worst crime index of any place in North Dakota, and has the 7th lowest income.
Things are starting to get progressively more 'modern' and in line with what you expect in a great state such as North Dakota when we get to Grand Forks. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 4.1% (which is really high), and the median income is $47,871. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren't a complete mess.
When you're looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Casselton is the 7th worst place in the state of North Dakota.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Casselton is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Casselton are the 12th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can't get much worse in North Dakota.
Out of all the places to live in North Dakota, Bottineau ranks as the 8th worst -- not something to brag about.
Bottineau's unemployment rate stands at 8.2%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $53,164 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 9th cheapest in the entire state at $143,800. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Bottineau. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 10th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 41.2 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 330 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Not too far from Park River is the mid-sized town of Grafton. Grafton places 9th 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.
Dickinson is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Dickinson residents earn the 16th-lowest salaries in the state. At $73,025 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $235,300, which means there isn't a lot of demand.
Crime is the 14th highest in North Dakota per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 5th highest in the state, at 3.6%.
How we determined the worst places to live in North Dakota for 2020
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 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 -- Mandan. 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, Mandan ranks as the worst city to live in North Dakota for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in North Dakota:
- Beulah (Pop. 3,296)
- Hazen (Pop. 2,610)
- Lincoln (Pop. 3,594)
For more North Dakota reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In North Dakota
- Richest Cities In North Dakota
- Safest Places In North Dakota
- Best Cities For Singles In North Dakota
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In North Dakota?