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:
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
The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Dakota For 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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:
- Hazen (Pop. 2,643)
- Lincoln (Pop. 3,467)
- West Fargo (Pop. 33,089)
For more North Dakota reading, check out: