Most Affordable Places To Live In North Dakota For 2020


We used data and science to determine which places in North Dakota go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in North Dakota.

You don’t get named the fastest growing state in the country if you don’t have super affordable places to live; and folks, there are plenty of affordable places in the Peace Garden State awaiting your arrival.

The experts say that the cost of living is on the rise, so HomeSnacks thought it would be a great idea to give North Dakotans one of the best life hacks: we compiled a list of the most affordable places to live in North Dakota for 2020. How did we determine the most affordable places to live in North Dakota for 2020? We consulted the latest US Census data and cost of living statistics for the Roughrider State.

We discovered that North Dakota has all kinds of affordable places for every walk of life. Hip, millennial cities like Fargo have multiple opportunities for young professionals just starting out. Cities like Bismark provide inexpensive staycations. And if you’re looking for a city to offset your grocery bill with a little hunting, we hear that Grand Forks is a great place to fill that elk and/or deer tag.

More importantly, if you choose to live in one of North Dakota’s most affordable places, you will save money for the fun things that this flyover state has to offer. Like, a day trip to Hankinson’s Dakota Magic Casino or a weekend at Devils Lake. So, want to know where you can get the most bang for your buck in North Dakota? Keep reading.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In North Dakota For 2020

1. WalhallaWalhalla, ND

Population: 1,035
Median Household Income: $60,592

You don’t need to be a Norse hero to get into Walhalla — you just need good financial sense, because it’s the absolute cheapest place to call home in North Dakota. Don’t let Walhalla’s small size and low price tag fool you, because there is a lot happening here for a city of just 1035 people. In the winter, the Frost Fire Ski Area is the most popular place for a day out, while the Frost Fire Summer Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater overlooking Pembina Gorge, is the place to be come summertime.

Homes in Walhalla go for a median price of $85,900, the sixth cheapest in North Dakota. But that’s not the most important point. The fact that Walhalla residents spend the smallest percentage of their income on homes statewide is what gives the city its gold medal for affordability.

2. LangdonLangdon, ND

Population: 1,867
Median Household Income: $67,536

We’re going to take a short drive southwest from Walhalla to reach our second least expensive city in North Dakota, Langdon. You can buy a home in Langdon for $105,000 or rent a place for $541/month, both of which are actually the priciest you’ll see in the top five for this list. However, Langdon’s residents also have a higher median income of $67,536. That means that, in terms of housing to income ratios, Langdon is in the top five statewide, regardless of if you’re buying or renting. For things to do in Langdon, we recommend ATVing for outdoorsy folks and the downtown history museum for history buffs.

3. CooperstownCooperstown, ND

Population: 1,104
Median Household Income: $53,710

Next up on our list of super-affordable places to live in North Dakota is Cooperstown. Folks in Cooperstown get some of the best deals on rent statewide, paying a median price of $440/month. That’s nearly one third the average cost of rent in North Dakota. What’s more, the rent to income ratio in Cooperstown is the fifth best in the state. Cooperstown played a big role during the Cold War as an ICBM site that was manned 24/7 between 1966 to 1997. To learn more, check out the Ronald Reagan Minutemen Missile Site – Cold War enthusiasts won’t be disappointed.

4. EllendaleEllendale, ND

Population: 1,201
Median Household Income: $45,461

If you’re just starting out as a new family, stressing about finances is no fun. That’s where Ellendale comes in. As the best city for families and the fourth most affordable city in North Dakota, Ellendale is the best option for someone in the situation above. Especially if you’re settling down in Ellendale for good, because this city has the cheapest homes in the whole state. Almost non-existent levels of povery and unemployment mean that financial security is a given in Ellendale. Once you lock down a job in Ellendale, you won’t have to hand over half your paycheck to buy a home, because the home price to income ratio here is the second best in North Dakota.

5. CandoCando, ND

Population: 1,110
Median Household Income: $49,375

Named for the “can do” spirit of early pioneers, you’d better believe that Cando still thrives on that same spirit today. Homes in Cando are the fourth cheapest in North Dakota, with a median price tag of $80,300. Combine that with a median income of $49,375, and you’ve got a recipe for the fifth best home price to income ratio in the state. And if you’re a hunter, you’ll be happy to learn that Cando is the duck hunting capital of North Dakota.

6. GwinnerGwinner, ND

Population: 1,081
Median Household Income: $73,813

Everyone’s a (financial) winner in Gwinner, our sixth most affordable place in North Dakota. Full disclosure: Gwinner does have the costliest homes on this list, with a median price of $115,200. Fear not, though, because Gwinner also has the highest median income ($73,813) on this list by a substantial margin. That means that folks in Gwinner spend the fourth least percentage of their income on homes statewide.

7. RollaRolla, ND

Population: 1,321
Median Household Income: $57,546

We’re driving almost into Canada to reach our seventh cheapest city in North Dakota, Rolla. Rolla is a family friendly city where you can lead the good life without breaking the bank. Homes in Rolla go for about $98,000, the tenth least expensive in the state. Rolla is also in the top ten for home price to income ratio, so you get to keep most of the rougly $57,546/year salary you’ll earn here.

8. LintonLinton, ND

Source: Public domain

Population: 1,019
Median Household Income: $41,944

Located an hour’s drive southeast of Bismarck, Linton ranks as the eighth most affordable place to call home in North Dakota. We don’t think any of Linton’s residents would argue with the fact that they’re living in one of the cheapest states in America. Not when you can rent a place for the meager price of $431/month, the lowest you’ll see on this list. Linton also has the seventh cheapest homes on the market in North Dakota, at a median price of $87,100. Linton is also one of the last few places in the country where you can see wild horses in their natural habitat.

9. OakesOakes, ND

Population: 2,042
Median Household Income: $62,283

We’ve already given major kudos to Oakes for being one of the best places to live in North Dakota, with an emphasis on good schools, safe streets, easy commutes, low unemployment, and, of course, uber-affordability. With a median home price of $111,900 and a median rent of $635, Oakes has cheap housing options for everyone. And with a median income of $62,283, Oakes is just outside the top ten statewide for housing to income ratios. Oakes is primarily agricultural, but has a growing industrial sector that needs fresh talent (which could just be you)!

10. LisbonLisbon, ND

Population: 2,052
Median Household Income: $57,574

Finishing up our list of cheapest places to live is Lisbon, a small city an hour and some change outside of Fargo. While Lisbon does have the second most expensive homes on this list ($113,700), it’s also one of the richest places in North Dakota, so it’s no sweat paying off the mortgage here. Lisbon is also the ninth most affordable spot for renters in North Dakota, with a median rent of $558. There’s no need to worry about being bored in Lisbon either, because there are tons of outdoorsy activities right in the neighborhood.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Peace Garden State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In North Dakota
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in North Dakota to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 51 places in North Dakota that have more than 1,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in North Dakota according to the data is Walhalla. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. North Dakota Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in North Dakota, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in North Dakota for 2020.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in North Dakota according to the data:

  1. Grand Forks
  2. Fargo
  3. Bismarck

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.