These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2018


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

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2017.

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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. Grafton
  3. Jamestown (Photos)
  4. Rugby
  5. Bottineau
  6. Fargo (Photos)
  7. Grand Forks (Photos)
  8. Mandan (Photos)
  9. Beulah
  10. Wahpeton (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 8.

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

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How we determined the worst places to live in North Dakota for 2018

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.

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1. Devils Lake

Devils Lake, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,299
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 12)
Home Values: $92,800 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (17th worst)
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.

2. Grafton

Grafton, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 4,287
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Values: $83,100 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (2nd worst)
Not too far from Park River is the mid-sized town of Grafton. Grafton places 2nd 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.

3. Jamestown

Jamestown, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,441
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 15)
Home Values: $120,100 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (12th worst)
Jamestown is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $120,100. That means it ranks as the 7th lowest in North Dakota.

You can make a case that based on the fact that Jamestown has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 8th worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in North Dakota.

4. Rugby

Rugby, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 3,092
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 15)
Home Values: $96,400 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (22nd worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, Rugby is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of North Dakota. Let’s see why.

First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of North Dakota. Rugby is the 15th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 57.3 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.

Homes here average $96,400, which is the 3rd lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Rugby.

Income levels are just about $37,450, the 1st lowest in North Dakota.

When you add it all up, Rugby really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.

5. Bottineau

Bottineau, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,340
Rank Last Year: 27 (Up 22)
Home Values: $128,900 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (3rd worst)
If you’re looking to live in North Dakota, Bottineau might not be the best choice as it places 5th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Peace Garden State for 2015.

The average family earns $45,000 a year out here, and 680.0% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 4.3% of the population is out of work.

And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Bottineau, every year, you have a 1 in 37.4 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 11th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.

6. Fargo

Fargo, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 115,950
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 11)
Home Values: $178,300 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (6th worst)
What the heck is going on in little Fargo? The crime is the 6th highest in the state of North Dakota. Here, residents have a 1 in 30.2 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn’t have something stolen from you, there’s a good chance your neighbor did.

That ratio is one of the highest we’ve seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 3.6% of Fargo residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 6th highest in the state.

7. Grand Forks

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 55,831
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 17)
Home Values: $172,700 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (5th worst)
Grand Forks ranks as the 7th worst city in North Dakota. Located in Grand Forks County, Grand Forks has the 5th lowest income levels in the state of North Dakota ($47,593), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 3.7%.

8. Mandan

Mandan, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 20,613
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 15)
Home Values: $175,400 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (15th worst)
Here in Mandan, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in North Dakota. That’s not a good combination.

Located in Morton County, you have a 1 in 25.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Mandan city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (2.0%). That’s good for the 15th highest unemployment rate in North Dakota.

9. Beulah

Beulah, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 3,328
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 12)
Home Values: $157,500 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (8th worst)
Beulah is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Beulah is the 18th most dangerous place you can live in North Dakota.

Residents in Beulah have a 1 in 92.4 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 Beulah, where average homes are valued at only$157,500. 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.

10. Wahpeton

Wahpeton, North Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,844
Rank Last Year: 34 (Up 24)
Home Values: $103,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (4th worst)
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Wahpeton is the 10th worst place you can live in the state of North Dakota. Let’s see why.

Residents who live in Wahpeton, located in Richland County, have the 13th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $103,400, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of North Dakota, that is.

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 2018.

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

  1. Lincoln (Pop. 3,311)
  2. West Fargo (Pop. 31,557)
  3. Stanley (Pop. 2,328)

For more North Dakota reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In North Dakota

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Devils Lake 1 13 7,299 1.6% $92,800
Grafton 2 2 4,287 5.2% $83,100
Jamestown 3 18 15,441 2.4% $120,100
Rugby 4 19 3,092 0.0% $96,400
Bottineau 5 27 2,340 4.3% $128,900
Fargo 6 17 115,950 3.6% $178,300
Grand Forks 7 24 55,831 3.7% $172,700
Mandan 8 23 20,613 2.0% $175,400
Beulah 9 21 3,328 3.0% $157,500
Wahpeton 10 34 7,844 4.0% $103,400
Casselton 11 26 2,500 2.7% $168,100
Oakes 12 37 2,043 2.6% $110,300
Minot 13 28 47,338 2.2% $201,900
Bismarck 14 42 68,981 1.9% $205,500
Dickinson 15 33 21,985 3.5% $224,800
Lisbon 16 41 2,091 0.7% $106,700
Williston 17 25 23,902 2.2% $223,800
Horace 18 39 2,559 1.5% $237,400
Hazen 19 47 2,653 1.0% $146,700
Stanley 20 32 2,328 5.7% $182,400
West Fargo 21 46 31,557 1.2% $190,400
Lincoln 22 44 3,311 2.7% $186,800

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13 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2018

  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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