Why Fargo, ND Is a Best Place to Live

Vibrant community, strong economy await in Fargo: Just bundle up

By Heather R. Johnson on Thu, 12/31/2015 - 02:35

The economic center of southeast North Dakota, Fargo offers a strong economy, reasonable cost of living, and a wealth of cultural and outdoor activities (especially if you like snow). Home to North Dakota State University and Sanford Health, on the banks of the Red River, Fargo is considered an educational and health-care hub.

Forbes ranked the city No. 1 in Small Places for Business and Careers in 2014. Fargo has seen a modest increase in job growth (2.6 percent in 2013) and a low unemployment rate (only 2.8 percent). The city ranks high on the housing affordability scale with a relatively strong median income ($51,652) and low median home price ($163,900).

“A lot of people are moving to Fargo because of the oil boom,” Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney says. “We’re seeing tremendous growth in home building. From duplexes to single-family homes, there are a variety of choices and a better ability to enter the real estate market.” Fargo also offers a range of subsidized housing, low-income housing, and apartments for seniors and the disabled. “Over the next 10 years, our over-65 population is expected to double,” Mahoney says. “We have to prioritize that type of housing.”

Hub of Higher Learning

Fargo’s educated population is just one reason businesses choose to locate in Fargo. More than half of the population has completed at least some college, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. North Dakota State University provides myriad educational and cultural opportunities. Minnesota State University Moorhead offers both undergraduate and graduate programs and a robust student life. North Dakota State College of Science and Minnesota State Community and Technical College prepare students to enter four-year institutions or technical careers.

Bundle Up and Head Outdoors

When Fargo residents aren’t working or studying, they have plenty of options for play. The city offers more than 90 miles of bike trails (cleared in the winter) for cycling, walking or running. Island Park offers tennis courts, a swimming pool and playground equipment. Dike West Park features a skate park and two basketball courts. When the weather turns chilly, or rather, downright cold, folks can sled, snowshoe or cross-country ski on trails found throughout the city. Others can head to one of the 17 outdoor hockey/ice skating rinks around town.

Fargo’s many museums, art galleries and entertainment venues offer a mix of indoor options. The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre produces a dozen shows a year. The historic art deco Fargo Theatre offers performing arts, film, comedy, and community events, while the Fargodome hosts concerts and sporting events. Plains Art Museum features contemporary and traditional works, while several small galleries feature local and visiting artists.

Top-Notch Health Care

In addition to recreational opportunities, Fargo residents have top-notch access to medical care. Cass County ranks second in clinical care access, according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, and third in health behaviors data, with a relatively low level of smoking and obesity.

Sanford Health, the largest, rural, not-for-profit health-care system in the U.S., is Fargo’s largest employer. The Sanford network includes Sanford Medical Center Fargo, which provides a trauma center, newborn/pediatric intensive care services and women's, orthopedics, heart, and cancer centers. Sanford Children's Hospital Fargo provides specialty care for the young ones. Essentia Health-Fargo also offers a range of critical and pediatric care, while the Fargo VA Health Care System serves more than 89,000 veterans throughout North and South Dakota and Minnesota.

Quality health care, education and recreation, along with a revitalized downtown, make Fargo a logical choice for relocating a family or business. But its community is what inspires people to stay. “We’re a friendly city,” Mahoney says. “People smile, people wave. We have more diversity now, and the community embraces that. More people bring more ideas.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Johnson is a freelance writer and Nashville native currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Mix, EQ, Audio Media and Performing Songwriter, among others, as wel...

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