Forget about San Francisco
, San Jose, Seattle, New York, and Boston. If you’re planning on relocating to a town or city where the monthly cost of a rental apartment won't break the bank, you should probably cross Williston off your list.
Williston, county seat of Williams County in the northwest corner of America’s happiest
and third least populous state, has emerged as the most expensive rental apartment market in the nation
in a survey conducted by online rental resource ApartmentGuide.com. Yep, in a North Dakota town where fine dining is limited to Don Pedro’s Family Mexican Restaurant and where Walmart
the retail scene, a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom “entry level” apartment will cost you upwards of $2,000 a month. A three-bedroom pad in Williston will set you back, on average, $4,500 a month.
If you guessed that oil was the culprit behind the exorbitant rental prices in this housing-strapped
burg, you were right on the money.
Formerly a sleepy agricultural outpost, the population has more than doubled in this runaway boom town
situated atop the Bakken Formation over the past four years — a figure that was a little less than 15,000 as reported by the 2010 U.S. Census that now stands at over 30,000 people and rapidly rising.
And ladies, if you’re looking to meet an eligible gentleman in the oil industry who makes six figures a year, Williston is the place as the male to female to ratio is roughly 12 to one. Just don’t expect anything fancy on your first date — maybe some nachos over at Big Willy’s Saloon followed by a viewing of "RoboCop" over at the Grand on Main St. — as a sizable chunk of that bachelor’s income could very well be going toward his overpriced frack-pad. That is, if he’s lucky enough to have even snagged one and isn’t sleeping in his car, under a bridge, or inside of a grain bin.
On a more serious note, while Williston and other towns located in the epicenter of the oil boom enjoy a staggering low unemployment rate — at 2.7 percent, North Dakota's unemployment rate is roughly 4 percent lower than the national average — homelessness has grown to be a major problem in Williston and across North Dakota as a whole, jumping roughly 200 percent
in just the last year. In North Dakota, there are 28.6 homeless people per 10,000 — the nationwide average is 19 per 10,000.
In Williston, a town lacking both a homeless shelter and the resources to keep up with the basic infrastructure needed to support such a quickly growing population, there are nearly 1,000 homeless residents, many whom are placed on never-ending wait lists for a place to take off their work boots at the end of a long day. And it's just not those flocking to Williston and nearby towns to work on the oil fields that are struggling to find affordable housing — it's the same story for service industry workers: lots of jobs, nowhere to live.
Two areas with economies driven by tech, not fracking, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont came in second and third, respectively, in ApartmentGuide.com's survey. Dickinson, another fast-growing North Dakota oil town best known for being the birthplace of professional buff person Kellan Lutz
, ranked fourth on the list with average rents for a one-bedroom going for $1,773 — that's over $200 more than comparable dwellings in New York City-northern New Jersey-Long Island (note: not just
the insanely priced parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn), an area that came in seventh.
While North Dakota boasts the fastest growing economy in the U.S. due to fracking and drilling operations, the wind energy industry is also a huge job generator for the state, which leads the U.S. in wind power generation. The tech and healthcare sectors have emerged as top employers in the bustling metropolis (by North Dakota standards) of Fargo where there's a sizable Microsoft campus.
And then there's agriculture, the true economic backbone of the Roughrider State. When the wells are abandoned and boom towns like Williston go belly up (it's happened before
), there will always be flaxseed and pino beans.
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