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Best Places to Live in North Dakota

North Dakota's diverse network of cities prove that the Midwest really is best.

By Kevin Litwin on March 15, 2016

Oil extraction in recent years has led to a growth spurt in North Dakota, and there are several other factors that contribute to a positive quality of life in The Peace Garden State. Some of the attractive communities are:


Fargo / Photo Courtesy of Aaron Hill


One of the fastest-growing cities in America is Fargo, whose residents account for 16 percent of North Dakota’s population. Fargo is a regional hub for education, healthcare and retail for eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, and area students can attend North Dakota State University – known for its Fargodome indoor football stadium.

Bismarck ND
Bismarck / Photo Courtesy of Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau


The state capital of North Dakota, Bismarck is along the Missouri River and serves as the economic hub for south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota. Downtown shoppers have the convenience of a popular Kirkwood Mall, and the city features two hospitals, five colleges and the University of Mary.

The Town Square Farmer's Market in downtown Grand Forks
Grand Forks / Courtesy of Visit Grand Forks

Grand Forks

On the banks of the Red River is Grand Forks, whose economy is diverse in defense, healthcare, higher education, manufacturing and research. The University of North Dakota and Grand Forks Air Force Base are headquartered here, and residents are privy to 14 neighborhood parks and Grand Forks International Airport.

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Dickinson, ND
Dickinson / Courtesy of Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau


In the southwest corner of the state is Dickinson, where the local economy continues to boom thanks to an energy-rich North Dakota Bakken Oil Shale. The city has luxuries like Dickinson State University and Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, and a major attraction is Dakota Dinosaur Museum.

Minot ND


Minot is a regional retail center for much of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, and the city is laid out with streets running north-south and avenues running east-west. Livability assets include the Souris River, Minot State University, Minot Air Force Base, Trinity Health and a robust arts community.

West Fargo ND
West Fargo / Courtesy of Carrie Scarr under a CC 2.0 license.

West Fargo

One of the state’s fastest-growing cities is West Fargo, nicknamed “City on the Grow” and home to numerous technology and research companies. About 50 percent of the population has German ancestry, and conveniences for residents include top healthcare along with 30 parks. West Fargo is a long-standing Tree City USA.

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Williston ND
Williston / Courtesy of Andrew Filer under a CC 2.0 license.


Home to Williston State College as well as the Miss North Dakota beauty pageant, Williston is served by two U.S. highways along with an Amtrak passenger station. Mercy Medical Center is the local community hospital, and Sloulin Field International Airport accommodates the entire region. Williston has a good parks and trails system in place.

North Dakota
North Dakota / iStock Photo/ericfoltz


On the east bank of the Missouri River, Mandan is directly across the river from the capital city of Bismarck. Mandan’s motto is “Where the West Begins,” and more than 60 percent of the population has German heritage. Amenities include Bismarck State College along with Triumph Hospital Central Dakotas.

Valley City ND
Valley City / Courtesy of Andrew Filer under a CC 2.0 license.

Valley City

Nicknamed “City of Bridges” for its multiple structures spanning the Sheyenne River, Valley City has a high-ranking education network thanks to Valley City Public School District and Valley City State University. The community has two challenging golf courses, good restaurants, and stages an annual six-day North Dakota Winter Festival.

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Jamestown ND
Jamestown / Courtesy of Either way under a CC 2.0 license.


Known largely for its World’s Largest Buffalo monument that stands 26 feet tall, Jamestown has a diverse economy that is strong in agriculture, food processing, manufacturing and retail. Several companies are housed in four industrial parks as well as Jamestown Regional Airport, and the city is home to the University of Jamestown.

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