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 has a 3.2% unemployment rate (6th in ND), below average income levels and the 4th highest crime rate in the state.
This random City-Data comment sums up Fargo.
“I visited Fargo over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.
“I saw lots people around Fargo who looked…well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.
“And what’s with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes?
“Just looked sad.”
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.
If, by some reason, you were driving through Bottineau, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($52,560) and they can’t get good jobs (5.5% unemployment rate).
Bottineau ranks as the 4th wost place in North Dakota.
Say what you want about how beautiful Jamestown might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 18th highest in the state at 1.3%. Homes are the 7th lowest priced ($126,000), and the median income per household is just a tad over $51,743.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
Mandan takes the 6th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Mandan its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 6th worst in the whole state.
Dickinson doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 3.5%, and people average less than $74,469 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $227,800, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in North Dakota.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
Grand Forks 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.
Grand Forks residents earn the 4th-lowest salaries in the state. At $48,241 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $186,500, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 7th highest in North Dakota per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 3rd highest in the state, at 4.1%.
Bismarck’s main issue is crime. It’s the 2nd most dangerous place in the state of North Dakota. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Bismarck, you have a 1 in 28.9 chance that you’ll be the victim of a property crime. That’s really high, especially for a city of its size. That’s a lot of stolen lawn mowers, cell phones and cameras. Perhaps it’s because the folks here live in far nicer homes than some of the other cities to top this list. They’re targets.
The unemployment rate is higher than the state average at 1.7%.
There’s probably not many people in North Dakota that would be surprised to see Casselton on this list. In fact, if Casselton wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Casselton has the 4th worst crime rate in North Dakota. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 80 violent crimes in Casselton in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 237 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Casselton are the 10th cheapest in the state ($171,400), the unemployment rate is the 13th highest (1.9%), and the annual household income is 15th lowest in North Dakota, at $69,858. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
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