Off to North Dakota you go, huh? Or maybe you’ve been thinking long and hard about it, but you’re just not quite sold yet. Either way, you’ve stumbled into the right place.
We grabbed our good shovels and dug up a ton of dirt on North Dakota, including stats, facts, history, trivia and even a few strange surprises to help you prep for your big move. So put your feet up and relax, this is gonna be fun.
The Dakota Native American tribe inhabited this land long before its European settlement, which gave both North and South Dakota their names. But North Dakota has a handful of nicknames, too. It’s been called The Peace Garden State, after the state’s large botanical garden, which symbolizes the friendship between the US and Canada.
Another is The Roughrider State after former president Theodore Roosevelt's brief go at cattle ranching in the state. Finally, it's also referred to as The Flickertail State, after the large number of squirrel residents in the state (and their adorable twitchy tails). But locals, and other Midwesterners, really just call it NoDak.
According to worldpopulationreview.com, 755,238 people currently call North Dakota their home, which is after losing 155 people in 2017. There’s a ton of room here, though. It's just shy of 69,000 square miles, which puts it well into the upper half of states by land area.
And the low number of residents and the high number of square miles makes North Dakota a very spread-out state. It’s actually fourth in the country for population density. Your personal space bubble will never pop here, that’s for sure.
But how does all that wide open space translate into other aspects of NoDak life, like jobs and all? Let’s find out.
Now if you’re moving to North Dakota FOR a job, you’re already set. But it’s good to know what’s happening right now in the state, regardless. If you’re looking to start a new career, however, we’ve got a few things we think you should know. First, North Dakota rocks a ridiculously low unemployment rate at just 2.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—the lowest in the country.
However, according to minimum-wage.org, the state’s current minimum wage is $7.25/hour, the same as the federal minimum. The really good news, though, is that the state’s got a really low average cost of living. A dollar here goes much, much further than a dollar in, say, Hawaii—that’s for sure.
As far as specific jobs are concerned, zippia.com says the fastest-growing jobs around here include: home health aid, EMT, software developer, registered nurse practitioner, medical records clerk, loan officer and medical director. But if you’re looking to stretch those dollars even further, zippia.com says the highest-paying jobs are: anesthesiologist, surgeon, dentist, psychiatrist, CEO and petroleum engineer.
We’d say the job scene’s looking pretty optimistic out here, with plenty of opportunities across the board for you.
With such a wide open floor plan throughout the state when it comes to all the action, how does that affect housing? And what does having a nice place to hang your hat set you back each month? Well, let's see.
According to zillow.com, the current median home value in the state is $202,300, which has actually declined 0.5% over the past year—great for buyers! And homes that are currently listed on the market average about $230,000. But if you’d rather rent than deal with owning a house outright, you'll pay around $1,295/month.
Now, if you've got your heart set on a brand-new place with that fresh-paint smell, you’ll find new homes scattered around the state. There’s some new construction in central/southern-ish North Dakota, in and around Bismarck, with more around Fargo and Grand Forks as well.
But hey, you can pretty much build a new home anywhere, as long as you’ve got the money. Otherwise, the majority of the homes you’ll come across here in North Dakota were built around the ‘70s, so they’ll probably need some new (less-shaggy) carpet, at least.
If apartments are more your speed, though, you’ve still got pleny of options. In the state's capital of Bismarck, zillow.com shows that you can find one-bedrooms going for about $530/month. Even in Grand Forks, Fargo and Minot, you’ll still only be paying between $475/month and $795/month.
North Dakotans describe their fellow residents as down-to-earth, friendly, helpful neighbors, hardy and robust. Residents here will make you feel right at home, despite the fact that everyone pretty much knows everyone else.
Fargo is the biggest city North Dakota’s got, and its population is only around the 120,000 mark. A resident mentioned that much of the state is made up of "rugged, sprawling and unforgiving country land," and that it isn't for the faint of heart.
Locals enjoy quality over quantity, and really love their state's scenic nature and picturesque views. And though they're said to mainly enjoy a slower pace of life, North Dakotans work just as hard as they play. And keeping that blood moving is key to push through even the coldest NoDak winters.
And speaking of winter, one huge sporting event during the season here is the Biathlon, a combo of two of North Dakota favorite activities, skiing and shooting. National Guard members are said to usually win state competitions. Residents also love hockey, hunting and ice fishing to help them get through the harsh winters.
People here stay active at all times of year, though—hiking and biking are huge here. And the Maah Daah Hey Trail is a local favorite that’s actually the longest continuous single track for mountain bikes in America, at 96 miles long.
But after all that exercise, a good and hearty meal is a must. And much of the North Dakota diet comes from German and Scandinavian descent with some Americanized comfort. A couple of German dishes loved by the locals are fleischkuekle, a savory meat-filled pastry, and knoephla, a potato dumpling soup.
But the go-to supper staple of North Dakota is "hotdish," a beefy casserole topped with tater tots—perfect for warmin’ the whole family up on a super-cold night.
We found so many incredible facts about North Dakota that we just didn’t want to waste a single one of ‘em. So let’s just buzz through some more state info super-fast, ‘cuz we’ve got some hotdish waiting for us.
North Dakota has been named THE most rural in the country, with 90% of its land dedicated to farming. Interestingly, the small town of Rugby is often called the geographical center of North America.
The oil boom in the Bakken fields in 2012 caused the state to become the fastest growing in the country that year, as many flocked to the land to capitalize on new job opportunities. Today, North Dakota remains the nation's second-highest producer of oil, behind only Texas. The state's also the largest producer of honey in the nation, and the leader in the number of sunflowers.
The Peace Garden State is the least-visited state in the country, due to the land being mostly rural, with few attractions. But maybe that’s by design. It’s pretty hard to be all laid-back and happy with a ton of tourists floating around and slowing down your traffic. However, the state has several national parks, including the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Mr. Rough Rider himself.
And it’s home to all sorts of different terrain to explore, not just the Great Plains. There’s a pretty incredible part of the state that’s referred to as "the Badlands," which is part desert, and part mountainous land that houses bison, elk and the cutest little prairie dogs you’ll ever see.
While most of the state is thought to be all rural, small towns, there are several bigger cities that are actually leaders in the agricultural industry for the country. It's important to note that many areas in the state are not accessible directly from the interstate, and you'll have to factor a bit of extra time into your trip to tackle those back roads.
Locals also point out that there are several old pioneer towns with some historical chic charm still intact for all the history buffs out there. But all that explorin’ can really leave you thirsty. Luckily North Dakota has the highest number of bars per capita in the nation. So, bottoms up.
So what is it that the people of North Dakota do when they're not out exploring the Badlands or wolfin’ down fleischkuekle? Well, plenty of stuff, actually.
Here are just a few of the state's don’t-you-dare-miss activities:
Like every other state in the country, there are pros and cons of living here. We've compiled a brief list of both, straight from the mouths of real-life North Dakotans.
Pros (as told by authentic NoDakkers):
Cons (as told by authentic NoDakkers):
For giggles, we've looked into some of the North Dakota’s goofiest, most-outdated and shrug-worthy laws still in existence. You’re gonna love these.
Here are a few from onlyinyourstate.com:
And there it is, our guide to North Dakota life. Though there’s just no way we could have answered all your questions about moving to North Dakota, we hope to have started you down the right path.
Now it's up to you to decide if you'd like to become a North Dakotan—exploring painted canyons, peepin’ at the starriest nights around, admiring giant metal sculptures along the highway, and biking along the nation's longest trail.
Good luck, and watch out for bison crossings.
NOTE: if you decide North Dakota isn't right for you, we've covered all the other states, too, to help you find YOUR spot. Have you thought about South Dakota?