River sunset

Red River at sunset in Grand Forks, ND (Photo by Jason Rojas on Unsplash)

Nicknamed the Peace Garden State, North Dakota exemplifies breathtaking beauty with its wide-open prairies, rugged Badlands, and close proximity to the Missouri River. With rich economic opportunities and welcoming communities, the best places to live in North Dakota have outstanding school systems, hard-to-beat cost of living, and serve as a testament to this state’s well-known Midwestern hospitality. 

Featuring median housing prices below the national average, North Dakota is more economically accessible for first-time home buyers. For more than a third of Americans, this is important as a newer study found 35 percent of Americans won’t consider purchasing a home until they have saved up at least $200,000. With this in mind, it’s clear that North Dakota offers an amazing gateway to property ownership.

In addition to diverse housing options, North Dakota is renowned for its natural beauty. With historical sites that embody the pioneering spirit and wildlife retreats like the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, this majestic state is a nature lover’s paradise. Combined with the findings of a recent study that uncovered how nearly three in five Americans have transformed from indoor to outdoor people during the pandemic, North Dakota is an excellent destination to call home. 

So, are you ready to learn more about the best places to live in North Dakota? From North to South, East to West, we’ve compiled a list of North Dakota’s top-rated communities as voted by cost of living, popularity, education, safety, and opportunity. Don’t see your favorite city? Let us know about your favorite, and why, in the comments! 

The List: Best Places to Live in North Dakota, According to Experts

1. West Fargo

“​​Featuring upscale dining, retail, and lodging, West Fargo blends small-town charm and suburban sensibility,” writes Rocket Homes. As part of the greater Fargo metropolitan area, “West Fargo has one of the finest school systems in the state and serves as the hub for several technology companies.” As a close-knit community, West Fargo hosts annual festivals like “West Fest, West Fargo Street Fair, and Cruise Night” making it a perfect place to raise a family.

Bonanzaville museum and water tower in West Fargo, North Dakota
Bonanzaville museum and water tower in West Fargo, North Dakota (Photo by Kirkam on Shutterstock)

West Fargo is a family-friendly community with a strong community spirit. “Much safer than Fargo itself, West Fargo has low crime rates and one of the best educational systems,” says The Crazy Tourist. Located nearby Highway 94, West Fargo is a commuter’s paradise while “properties come with much bigger gardens and larger driveways.” With unique shops and beautiful recreational attractions, this city caters to all ages. 

“Often touted as the best city in the state, West Fargo has a lot going for it,” claims Livability. With the cost of doing business “15 percent lower than the national average,” West Fargo “constantly attracts new business” providing ample job opportunities across agriculture, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and more. 

2. Grand Forks

Rated as the best place to live in North Dakota, “Grand Forks has good schools, ample entertainment, and over 2,200 acres of open space with trails, golf courses, fishing, and disc golf,” writes Zumper. With “rent for a one-bedroom apartment averaging just $635,” housing affordability and cost of living are ideal for young professionals and growing families. 

Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks, ND
Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks, ND (Photo by Jason Rojas on Unsplash)

Grand Forks offers “trendy restaurants, an active nightlife scene, and a strong small business community,” says Credit Donkey. Despite its large size, Grand Forks still has a small-town feel with “an average commute of just over 12 minutes” while its local universities and colleges attract “thousands of young adults, professionals, families, and retirees.”  

“Home to the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks is a college town with lots of charm,” claims Livability. Also dubbed as the nation’s best hockey town, Grand Forks is a sports fan paradise home to the UND Fighting Hawks. With “low crime, friendly people, and abundant job opportunities,” Grand Forks is a lively city perfect for creating lifelong memories and friends.

3. Williston

“Once a quiet farming community, Williston’s population has exploded in recent years with the arrival of thousands of oil field workers,” explains Credit Donkey. As a result, unemployment “is virtually nonexistent while median incomes are among the highest in the state.” Given the city’s recent expansion, housing prices are expected to rise while the economic prosperity and strong community spirit of Williston make it one of the best places to live in North Dakota. 

Williston water tower
Williston water tower (Photo by Jason Rojas on Unsplash.com)

Placeholic states, “Williston checks off all the boxes for being one of the best places to live in while in North Dakota.” As an affordable place to live with the nearby ISN Airport, Williston can “take you from the heart of Denver up to Minneapolis in a blink of an eye.” With a “decent public school system and very low crime rates, this city offers a welcoming atmosphere to all locals.”

“Home of Williston State College, Williston is 18 miles from the Montana border,” says Zumper. With local dining options from “sushi, Mexican cuisine, and Southwestern favorites,” there are countless amenities and entertainment options to improve the quality of life. Additional highlights of Williston include the “Eagle Ridge Golf Club, Painted Woods Sporting Complex, and James Memorial Art Center.”

4. Horace

“Life’s pretty good in Horace, with poverty, unemployment, and health insurance rates ranking in the top five in North Dakota,” writes Home Snacks. Offering small-town tranquility with a close-knit neighborhood feel, Horse is “pretty small with a population of 3,141 people.” Despite having above-average housing costs, Horace’s median rental costs are well below the national average “costing only $644 per month.” 

“Being a southern suburb of Fargo, Horace has the tranquillity of a small town with all the amenities of a big city,” describes the Nomad Lawyer. Also considered the richest part of the state, “Horace is home to the state’s elite and boasts the state’s highest median household income.” From taking a trip to the nearby Red River Zoo to visiting the Fargo Air Museum, there is something for everyone in Horace.

Horace is a welcoming rural community with access to urban amenities. “With more than 95% of residents living in their own homes,” Horace seems to pave the way to home ownership expresses Placeaholic. To add, the median rent is among the most affordable in the state. For a comfortable lifestyle with a balance of small-town living, consider the peace and serenity that comes with choosing Horace as your new home. 

5. Bismarck

“Bismarck is the economic, cultural, and historical hub of the region,” claims Home Snacks. As one of the best places to call home in the state, Bismarck “has amazing dining and entertainment options, as well as fun things to do outdoors.” Additionally, this town is rated as “one of the best cities for singles in North Dakota” while its cost of living “is in line with the national average.” 

A man posing in early morning Bismarck, ND
A man posing in early morning Bismarck, ND (Photo by benjamin hershey on Unsplash)

“Bismarck is the state capital of North Dakota and lies in the south-central portion of the state along the Missouri River,” explains Zumper. With thriving healthcare, an excellent school system, and a major retail hub, Bismarck is an ideal place to establish roots and grow a family. With a diverse job market and a strong economy, you can rest assured that you’re living in one of the best places to live in North Dakota.  

The Chamber of Commerce states, “Bismarck is experiencing rapid development due to its economic expansion and is considered one of the best places to live in North Dakota.” Boasting scenic landscapes and dynamic city life, Bismarck “provides many recreational opportunities, including a vast system of parks and quite a few theater companies.” 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Tim Lanoue

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Jean Schmith says:

    Oh my God – – Horace? Whoever wrote this article has been online on Google on YouTube and has never been to North Dakota. The author is reading about the state and has never experienced the state or any cities therein. As a lifelong resident of North Dakota I can assure you that these choices are asinine.

    1. Zachary says:

      Agreed lol

  2. Zachary says:

    Williston? Horace? Heck no man. I live in Minot ND (glad that’s not on the list cuz it ain’t the best place to live).

    Bismarck, Fargo/West Fargo would be nicer places to live. Williston is a cesspool. I lived there when iworked in the oil field. A lot of oil field workers are scummy, trashy, and degenerate types of folks. Crime has increased a lot on Williston since the oil field grew. Also, there’s hardly anywhere to shop and the walmart is smaller than any other ive seen in the state (besides Bottineau).

    Yeah ND isnt bad but this article is. 👌

    1. Ann D says:

      I’d rather live in Minot than Williston any day.