Cost of Living
The cost of living in North Dakota is approximately 20.5 percent lower than the US average. This is mainly due to the state’s large agricultural base, which results in lower food prices.
In addition, the population density is relatively low, which results in housing prices that aren’t as steep as other states.
The average household income is $39, 233, and with an average commute time of 15.8 minutes, it’s clear that rising gas prices don’t pose as much of a problem to residents as they do in a state such as California, where commute times are significantly longer.
No matter where you live, housing prices, as well as the costs of food, consumer goods, gas, education and healthcare determine how much of your income you need for necessities and how much you can use to enhance your quality of life.
Moving to North Dakota? The following tips will help you put down roots in the Peace Garden State.
- Try to plan your move between April and the end of September, as these are the milder months. Winters can be very cold and cause hazardous driving conditions, as well as make moving all of your stuff from the truck into your new place a messy and dangerous affair.
- North Dakota is no stranger to tornadoes, so if you’re moving to ND in the spring or summer, listen to local weather reports and immediately seek shelter in the event of a tornado warning.
- There can be long stretches of road without service areas, so fill up the gas tank when you have the opportunity and make sure to bring plenty of water, as well as some snacks.
- You don’t need a moving permit in North Dakota. However, overweight and oversized loads (for example, if you’re moving a pre-fab home) require special permission from the highway patrol.
- If you’re bringing your pets with you, protect them from extreme temperatures and allow them to acclimatize gradually.
- Though North Dakota isn’t a busy tourist destination, a number of cities and local towns host well-attended events and festivals. Check your city’s calendar ahead of time so you don’t get stuck in the crowd when moving to ND.
- Remember to change your address online with USPS before moving to ND so your mail arrives at your new address as soon as you do.
Start looking for jobs in North Dakota as soon as possible. The state has traditionally had a predominantly agricultural economy, but in recent decades it’s diversified to include energy, education and healthcare, as well as services and technology.
When looking for North Dakota jobs, you’ll be pleased to find the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country: in December 2011, this was 3.3 percent, which is 5.3 percent lower than the national average. In fact, in order to fulfill the need for skilled labor, the state government is actively attracting out-of-state workers by helping them find appropriate North Dakota jobs.
Job Search and Relocation Advice
Cities and Metro Areas
Moving to North Dakota means moving to a state that’s poised for economic and social development, but whose cities still offer a small-town atmosphere. There’s Bismarck, the capital city, with many colleges and numerous shopping opportunities, and Fargo, the state’s largest city and home to North Dakota University. Grand Forks is a popular city with its historic downtown, as is Minot, where the large Scandinavian population loves to celebrate its heritage. There’s also Dickinson, a tourist city and the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park; Jamestown, where you’ll see the world’s largest statue of a buffalo; and Williston, an oil city that’s in need of workers. Other places to consider moving to are Wahpeton, Mandan and West Fargo.
Full City/Metro Area Report
Highways and Public Transport
You’ll soon find that roads are very well maintained by the Maintenance Division of the ND Department of Transportation. Even during the colder months and the storm season, the DOT tries to minimize inconvenience for travelers. Note that to withstand the severe winters, roads are generally constructed from concrete, not blacktop asphalt. When moving to North Dakota, it’s a good idea to map your route ahead of time and check for any maintenance along the route, just in case there are delays. Because North Dakota has relied on agriculture for most of its existence, its infrastructure is less extensive than in some other states.
- Roads: There are two interstate highways: the I-94 that runs from east to west across the southern half of the state, and the I-29 that runs from north to south along the eastern border. In addition, there are a number of state highways and county roads that connect urban areas.
- Railroad: Though rail is mainly used for freight transport, Amtrak’s Empire Builder provides passenger transport and stops at seven stations, including Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot.
- Public Transportation: Most cities provide public transport in the form of regional buses within the city limits. Intercity transport is provided by Greyhound and Jefferson Lines.
- Airports: Besides a number of regional airports, there are also three international airports in North Dakota. These are Hector International Airport, Grand Forks International Airport and Minot International Airport.
Be prepared for some extreme temperatures when moving to North Dakota. The state has a northern continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The north of the state is semi-arid, but the rest of the state gets a fair amount of precipitation, including rain, hail and snow.
Due to colder fronts from the north clashing with warmer air from the south, storms and strong winds are frequent throughout the year. If you’re moving to ND, know that spring and summer bring tornadoes, while spring also brings flooding, especially in Red River Valley.
For decades, North Dakota has suffered from brain drain (many educated people left in search of work in other parts of the country). However, in an attempt to keep graduates in the state, the government is actively promoting job-skills awareness in high school and college students.
What follows are some notable schools in North Dakota:
- Elementary Schools: Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo, St. Joseph Elementary School in Mandan and St. Alphonsus School in Langdon are some renowned elementary schools.
- High Schools: Three of the best high schools are Bishop Ryan High School in Minot, Trinity High School in Dickinson and Shiloh Christian School in Bismarck.
- Higher Education: There are some good Native American, public and private institutions of higher education that students moving to ND can attend, including North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, Minot State University and Sitting Bull College.
Before moving to ND, go to the Official Portal for North Dakota State Government to find reliable information about everything to do with working and living in the state.
- Excise Tax: North Dakota levies an excise tax of 5% if the vehicle wasn’t taxed in another state.
- Tolls: There are no toll roads in the Peace Garden State.
- Voter Registration; You don’t have to register to vote when moving to ND. However, you must be a resident of the precinct for 30 days in order to vote in an election. You can find more information about voting in North Dakota at the Voter Information Portal.
- Trash & Recycling: If you live in one of the larger cities, trash and recycling can either be handled by the municipality or contracted out to a private company. In smaller towns, the city handles it, while outside of any urban areas, you might have to bring your trash to the landfill. Contact your city for more information.
- Driver’s Licenses: You have 90 days to secure an ND driver’s license after moving to North Dakota. The cost for a Class D license is $15, while other license types are slightly higher. All fees are listed on the Department of Registration’s website.
- Vehicle Registration: If you’re moving to ND, you’re required to register your vehicle as soon as it is used on the highways. You qualify as a resident of ND if you’re gainfully employed or engage in any trade, profession or occupation within the state and have secured a residence for at least 90 consecutive days. However, if you’re a student at a university, college or technical school in ND, or a daily commuter from another jurisdiction that has a reciprocity agreement with ND, you don’t have to register your vehicle.
- Registration Costs: The costs of vehicle registration depend upon the year, model, weight and type of vehicle, and a tax of 5 percent is due if the vehicle was previously titled in a state or country that does not have reciprocity with North Dakota. The title fee is $5 and the Abandoned Motor Vehicle Fee is $1.50. There are no costs to record any lien.