These Are 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:

  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:

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.

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

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?

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

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.

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

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).

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 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.

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

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.

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

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, 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 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:

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

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of 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
11 Minot 48,171 2.4% $206,600
12 Williston 25,072 2.1% $237,200
13 Lisbon 2,082 0.9% $111,300
14 Horace 2,603 0.7% $254,200
15 Wahpeton 7,822 3.2% $112,300
16 Beulah 3,312 1.6% $172,900
17 Oakes 2,018 2.4% $109,400
18 Rugby 2,847 0.6% $109,400
19 Stanley 2,487 8.0% $189,100
20 Hazen 2,643 0.8% $160,200
21 Lincoln 3,467 2.5% $207,500
22 West Fargo 33,089 1.5% $217,400

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13 thoughts on “These Are 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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