The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2019

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 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in North Dakota.

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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 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:

Here are the 10 worst places to live in North Dakota for 2019:

  1. Devils Lake (Photos)
  2. Fargo (Photos)
  3. Grafton (Photos)
  4. Bottineau (Photos)
  5. Jamestown (Photos)
  6. Mandan (Photos)
  7. Dickinson (Photos)
  8. Grand Forks (Photos)
  9. Bismarck (Photos)
  10. 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.

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 2019

Devils Lake, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,313
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $96,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (16th worst)
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.

Fargo, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 118,099
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $190,200 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (6th worst)
More on Fargo:  Data | Photos

When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in North Dakota, Fargo came in 2nd. Let’s see why.

Located in Cass County with a population of 118,099, Fargo has the 6th highest unemployment rate in North Dakota. Crime is high for the state as well, coming in as the 4th most dangerous.

Additionally, 13.9% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Grafton, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,243
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $84,600 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (4th worst)
More on Grafton:  Data | Photos

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, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,300
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $132,800 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (2nd worst)
More on Bottineau:  Data | Photos

You might have passed through Bottineau once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.

Here’s what science says about why Bottineau needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 5.5%, residents earn about $52,560 a year, and home prices are just over $132,800. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.

And there simply isn’t anything to do in Bottineau.

Jamestown, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,367
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $126,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (18th worst)
More on Jamestown:  Data | Photos

While the median household income in Jamestown is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Jamestown still has the 18th worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 10th worst crime index.

Therefore, though the average Jamestown household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.

Review Of Jamestown by HomeSnacks User

Its a small town mostly white middle to upper class then theirs the criminal layer town trys to keep a perfect image so any criminal offense is cracked down on hard little to no organized crime and those that are they are just avoiding warrants in other states their is a large amount of mostly m**h addicts m**h and marijuana being easy to obtain heroine and other deadlier drugs are almost impossible to obtain with c*****e and acid being somewhere in the middle their has been efforts with the cartel to try and place a larger foothold in the town but most memebers either get caught or leave within a few months with them gradually putting more effort in each operation overdoses are common but almost never reported in the newspapers with an attempt to keep the town looking like a paradise

Safe and peaceful place for most of the people as long as they avoid the m**h addicts and other unsavory things the time I spent there was traumatizing

Mandan, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,472
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $194,300 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (8th worst)
More on Mandan:  Data | Photos

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, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 22,309
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $227,800 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (5th worst)
More on Dickinson:  Data | Photos

Dickinson, ND needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.

Additionally, crime is 15th worst in the state, which is very high considering Dickinson is so far removed from the rest of North Dakota.

If you know anyone in Dickinson, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.

Grand Forks, ND

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 56,236
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $186,500 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (3rd worst)
More on Grand Forks:  Data | Photos

If you’re looking to live in North Dakota, Grand Forks might not be the best choice as it places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2019.

The unemployment rate here is 4.1%, and households bring in a combined $48,241 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 7th highest in the state in Grand Forks as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.

Bismarck, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 70,536
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $223,200 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.7% (14th worst)
More on Bismarck:  Data | Photos

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Bismarck is the 2nd most dangerous city in North Dakota. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 28.9 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.

Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Bismarck might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Bismarck are really low. People here earn about $61,477 a year per household.

Additionally, the public schools in Bismarck are some of the lowest funded in the state.

When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in North Dakota than in Bismarck.

Review Of Bismarck by HomeSnacks User

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

Casselton, ND

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,773
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $171,400 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (13th worst)
More on Casselton:  Data | Photos

Casselton has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 4th-highest in the state of North Dakota. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 1.9%.

Additionally, 3.3% of the population lives below the poverty line.

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

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 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.

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:

  1. Hazen (Pop. 2,643)
  2. Lincoln (Pop. 3,467)
  3. West Fargo (Pop. 33,089)

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 Devils Lake 7,313 1.6% $96,600
2 Fargo 118,099 3.2% $190,200
3 Grafton 4,243 3.6% $84,600
4 Bottineau 2,300 5.5% $132,800
5 Jamestown 15,367 1.3% $126,000
6 Mandan 21,472 2.5% $194,300
7 Dickinson 22,309 3.5% $227,800
8 Grand Forks 56,236 4.1% $186,500
9 Bismarck 70,536 1.7% $223,200
10 Casselton 2,773 1.9% $171,400

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13 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2019

  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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