THE 10 BEST Places To Live In North Dakota For 2020


These are the cream of the crop in the Peace Garden State.

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

Three new cities moved into the best places to call home in North Dakota according to our best places to live in North Dakota for 2020 report.

Each year we analyze what we feel are the best places to live in North Dakota. We take into account categories that we all agree make a place top ten worthy, like housing prices and median income. We also take into account places with low crime, great jobs, short commute times, and solid schools. According to the Happiness Research Institute, most people don't like where they live and wished they lived somewhere better. However, not the folks in our best places in North Dakota.

How did we determine the best places to live in North Dakota? We consulted the latest Census data on cost of living for places with 2,000 or more residents. We discovered that most North Dakotans have never really experienced unemployment. The Peace Garden State has managed to stay below the national unemployment rate; and coincidentally, have managed to be one of the least dangerous states in the country.

It's simple economics, folks. When a city's median income is above average, there is more money to spend on the things that matter. Like, the community and the programs and activities that keep the residents safe, healthy, and active. And that, North Dakotans, makes perfect sense.

Are you surprised by this year's results? Pull up a chair and put a smile on your face as we look at North Dakota's best places to live.

What's the best place to live in north dakota for 2020? Drum roll... the number one best place to live in North Dakota is Lincoln based on the most recent Census data.

We are not at all surprised. Lincoln has homes that are affordable, plentiful jobs with competitive salaries, and its neighborhoods are safe.

To see how your city compared, take a look at the list below. And if you don't find your favorite there, head on down to the bottom.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In North Dakota For 2020

Lincoln, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,594
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $227,800 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.9% (7th best)
More on Lincoln: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lincoln has a strong showing in our best places to live in North Dakota analysis, coming it at best.

It ranks highly like many others in the top ten for a low unemployment rate and high adjusted median income. It scored extra points relative to the top ten for its size and things to do.

If you're thinking of moving to North Dakota, Lincoln is a great option.

West Fargo, ND

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 34,419
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $228,100 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.5% (9th best)
More on West Fargo: Real Estate | Data | Photos

West Fargo is another gem in the Peace Garden State. The unemployment rate here is 9th lowest in the entire state at 1.5%. Other factors that make West Fargo so desirable is the solid education and home prices.

Homes are valued at $228,100, and parents earn a combined $81,051 a year

There's nothing like the American dream.

Beulah, ND

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 3,296
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $196,800 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.2% (1st best)
More on Beulah: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's A LOT of demand to live in Beulah.

Beulah ranked impressively high for its crime rate (3rd overall) and its short commute times (15th).

We think that's worth the price of admission.

Hazen, ND

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 2,610
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $160,500 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (8th best)
More on Hazen: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Known for its low unemployment rates and great education, Hazen is a wonderful place to live in this state.

The relatively stable household incomes and below average crime rates don't hurt either!

While it may not be as great as some other places on this list, Hazen still holds its own in in North Dakota.

Horace, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,660
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $293,800 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.6% (4th best)
More on Horace: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Who doesn't want to live in Horace? Because, according to the data, most everyone should want to.

Crime is lower than the state average, and the unemployment rate sits at only 0.6%. The school systems are generally well funded, meaning lots of personal attention for area kids.

Expect to see more of Horace in the news in the coming months.

Lisbon, ND

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,052
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $113,700 (21st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.6% (5th best)
More on Lisbon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lisbon is a short drive from everything, but who would want to leave the 6th best place in North Dakota?

Homes are priced around $113,700 and residents have the 10th shortest commute in North Dakota.

Bismarck, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 71,731
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $234,500 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.9% (11th best)
More on Bismarck: Real Estate | Data | Photos

In Bismarck, everyone loves to call Bismarck home! The median home value is the 4th highest in North Dakota.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 11th lowest in the state and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Peace Garden State.

Bismarck should consider renaming to Paradise Valley in our humble opinion.

Carrington, ND

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,020
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $135,500 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.5% (3rd best)
More on Carrington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Carrington ranks 8th on our list of best places to live in North Dakota thanks to its low unemployment and high adjusted median income.

Additionally, its crime rate ranks in the lowest 10% of all places in North Dakota that we examined.

People have been flocking to Carrington over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.

Stanley, ND

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 2,594
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $184,900 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (22nd best)
More on Stanley: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Stanley is a cute little city where crime is far below the state average, and where it's affordable. The schools are also solidly rated.

Home prices clock in at $184,900 and households earn a median salary of $68,182. One could get used to that.

Oakes, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 2,042
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $111,900 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (14th best)
More on Oakes: Real Estate | Data

Oakes has it made. In fact, according to science, it's one of the best places to live in the state of North Dakota.

The unemployment rate is the 14th lowest in the state at 2.9%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $62,283, and the average cost of a home is $111,900. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call Oakes one of America's gems.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in North Dakota

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Bismarck with a population of 71,731 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 2,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 2,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 23 cities, 27 towns, and 261 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in North Dakota have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 2,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In North Dakota

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in North Dakota across a number of criteria from one to 23, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In North Dakota".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in North Dakota? That would be Lincoln.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in North Dakota.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Lincoln at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In North Dakota

If you're looking at areas in North Dakota with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Lincoln made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in North Dakota for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In North Dakota

  1. Thompson (Pop. 1,196)
  2. Surrey (Pop. 1,079)
  3. Langdon (Pop. 1,929)
  4. Hettinger (Pop. 1,140)
  5. Burlington (Pop. 1,235)
  6. Washburn (Pop. 1,464)
  7. Carrington (Pop. 1,980)
  8. Bowman (Pop. 1,717)
  9. Hillsboro (Pop. 1,643)
  10. Crosby (Pop. 1,000)

Best Small Towns To Live In North Dakota

  1. Reile's Acres (Pop. 514)
  2. Briarwood (Pop. 54)
  3. Prairie Rose (Pop. 84)
  4. North River (Pop. 60)
  5. Newburg (Pop. 147)
  6. Frontier (Pop. 192)
  7. Oxbow (Pop. 395)
  8. Pembina (Pop. 502)
  9. Harwood (Pop. 767)
  10. Buchanan (Pop. 63)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in North Dakota according to the data:

  1. Mandan (Pop. 21,943)
  2. Jamestown (Pop. 15,368)
  3. Devils Lake (Pop. 7,317)

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In North Dakota?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Lincoln 3,594 0.9% $227,800
2 West Fargo 34,419 1.5% $228,100
3 Beulah 3,296 0.2% $196,800
4 Hazen 2,610 1.0% $160,500
5 Horace 2,660 0.6% $293,800
6 Lisbon 2,052 0.6% $113,700
7 Bismarck 71,731 1.9% $234,500
8 Carrington 2,020 0.5% $135,500
9 Stanley 2,594 6.7% $184,900
10 Oakes 2,042 2.9% $111,900

How Is Your Town In ?

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.

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