Downtown Fargo and the Fargo movie theater, North Dakota. Image credit David Harmantas via Shutterstock

8 Best Places to Live in North Dakota in 2024

As one of the least visited states in the US, many more are interested in living in North Dakota. In towns like West Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks, there is affordable housing, top healthcare and education, as well as walkability, with diverse job markets in each city. These friendly cities and towns welcome newcomers to a steeped-in-history, diverse landscape, both geographically and culturally.

North Dakota is nestled against Canada, with Minot just 50 miles from the border. This small city has an airport, as does Grand Forks, on North Dakota’s eastern border, which is more known for its greenspaces. Learn more about each of the best places to live in the Peace Garden State in 2024, boasting a tapestry for quality life.


Modern homes line the streets of this comfortable neighborhood in growing Bismarck, North Dakota.
Modern homes line the streets of this comfortable neighborhood in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Although the capital city of Bismarck is a tad pricey to live in and own a home with a median value of $336,192, it offers diversity and access to shopping as well as schools. This makes it a perfect choice for families, which few other capitals can brag about. From retirees to young professionals and outdoor lovers, everyone loves the wonderful Lake Oahe, including night fishing, while others enjoy their time off gambling at the nearby Prairie Knights Casino. This eclectic city with dining and entertainment options boasts its own portion of the Missouri River along the west side, where residents and tourists alike enjoy cruising and taking their kids or feeling like one at the Superslide Amusement Park.

As one of the newer cities, founded only at the end of the 19th century, the capital grew quickly—once the fastest-growing small city in the nation—while maintaining its shiny appeal. Home to 75,169, the close-knit community surprises visitors with delightful open spaces and down-to-earth residents to make friends and enjoy pursuits in the fresh, clean air. From great restaurants and nightlife to family attractions and naturescapes like pristine lakes and prairies, there are also historical landmarks like the State Capitol Building and cultural venues like the Dakota Heritage Center. The average household income in Bismarck is $97,414, with a poverty rate of only 9.18%, while the median age of the capital is 38 years old.


Aerial View of a Large Public University in Fargo, North Dakota
Overlooking Fargo, North Dakota.

Home to around 135,000 in 2024 in Cass County, Fargo feels uncrowded, instilling a small-town atmosphere along the scenic Red River just opposite Moorhead, Minnesota. Friendly and welcoming, with a thriving economy, this city rates high for its health care, entertainment, and restaurants, which makes work-life balance and well-being easy to pursue.

The larger town, one of the best places to live in all of North Dakota, attracts families and young professionals who seek to start a career and entertainment options. From the Thunder Road Family Fun Park to Selfie WRLD, there is ample dining, like the wildly popular Rhombus Guys for pizza or the distinctive German fare at Wurst Bier Hall. Offering an average household income of $90,961 with a poverty rate of 13.33%, Fargo, with an average age of 31.9, is a coveted place to live in the state, commanding affordability with an average rent of $925 for a one-bedroom, or the median house costs $284,301.

Grand Forks

Aerial View of Grand Forks, North Dakota in Autumn
Overlooking Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Another scenic place to live along the beautiful Red River banks on North Dakota’s eastern border, Grand Forks, is beautiful inside and out as the oldest major city in both Dakotas. The sizable town of 58,724, the county seat of Grand Forks County, is a beacon for anyone looking for an economically thriving landscape with diverse job opportunities or highly reputable education. Grand Forks attracts families, students, and young professionals, with a median age of 29.1 years and an average household income of $82,888. Home to the University of North Dakota and the Grand Forks Air Force Base, it is easy to find friends for a stimulating conversation and share the joy of life-quality attractions.

Among a fair share of amenities, the Grand Forks International Airport is steps away, and the median home price of $249,693 is hard to beat. Its highly-rated education attracts families and students, with ample entertainment, as well as educators, who can rent a one-bedroom apartment for just $635. From the 40,000-square-foot indoor water park, Splasher’s of the South Seas, to the Greenway's 2,200-acre open space with trails, golf courses, disc golf, and fishing, recharge post-activity on French, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, or American cuisines. Despite a poverty rate of 16.42%, being the cultural center for the region with a very diverse economy, it doesn't get easier to strike a work-life balance than in Grand Forks.


Maintenance Shop in Lincoln, North Dakota
Maintenance Shop in Lincoln, North Dakota. Image credit afiler, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln, a small town of 4,414 with a median age of 30.6 years old, is one of the best places to live in North Dakota. Offering a higher average household income of $98,033 with one of the lowest poverty rates of 5.54%, its median home to settle with your family has a fair price tag of $273,766. Just southeast of Bismarck, with its entertainment and big-city amenities, millennials run this little town in Burleigh County in an exemplary fashion that makes it a real standout.

A whopping 96.0% of residents have health insurance while also having access to a safe place to live. Residents in Lincoln enjoy the nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park for its diverse landscape, to roam, fish, or enjoy waterside recreation and strolls along both the Missouri and Heart Rivers.


The Main Street in the historic town of Medora, North Dakota.
The Main Street in the historic town of Medora, North Dakota. Image credit EQRoy via

You bet everyone is on a first-name basis in Medora, the tiny city in Billings County, with a whopping 135 locals! Medora is currently growing at a rate of 4.65%, so if you enjoy that type of atmosphere, there is much ado for the newcomers and a handful of pleasant surprises in Medora, unlike any other in more ways than one. Locals enjoy an average household income of $69,635, and while the poverty rate is 14%, the whole town sits within Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which seals the deal for nature lovers. Who wouldn't give a hand and a foot to live in a four-season vacationland and enjoy a healthy life in the fresh air of the naturally conditioned outdoors?

The streets are very clean, and the houses in Medora are stunning and fairly accessible at a median price of $266,866 to live in a setting with the feel of a fairy tale coming to life. Plus, you will never get bored; whether you are an active hiker, a sightseer, a morning jogger, or a dog walker, Chateau de Mores is a few steps away. With employment opportunities in hospitality, food services, or construction, this town is a haven for retirees and remote workers, as well as families without a particular need to make the big bucks with the low cost of living here. In the evening, when not enjoying a wine-o on your beautiful porch or a backyard BBQ with views, take your honey to the Burning Hills Amphitheater.


Scandinavian heritage park in Minot, North Dakota
Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota.

Minot, the county seat of Ward County, is a perfectly sized town of 47,023 residents, with a median age of 33 years. This close-knit community with big-city amenities enjoys spending the average household income of a reputable $92,271. While the poverty rate is 11.31%, Minot's thriving job market offers opportunities in engineering, machine instruction, operation, control, and more within the Minot Industrial Historic District's 195.4-acre space. Attracting families with a cozy feel and play areas through local parks, the Minot Airport is also a big plus for many locals, offering direct flights to Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Minneapolis.

Minot's shopping scene includes the Dakota Square Mall for all the essentials and retail therapy at hand. In addition, the health care is also great through Trinity Health System. Living along the Souris River, in a natural embrace, with the Canadian border just 50 miles away, visiting another country has never been easier. Home to Minot State University and Minot Air Force Base, singles and young couples enjoy rent at $900 for a one-bedroom apartment, while families can snatch a house at a median home price of $237,679, near above-average public schools and family-friendly highlights like the Roosevelt Park Zoo.

Valley City

This Bridge runs over the valley in Valley City North Dakota.
Bridge runs over the valley in Valley City North Dakota.

Home to 6,560 locals, this city in Barnes County, with a median age of 39.1 years old, is one of the best to live in the state due to its affordability. With an average household income of $72,238 in Valley City, its poverty rate may be a higher 16.38%, but the median home at $160,064, near the scenic Sheyenne River, and many landmarks make Valley City a good choice for many. This friendly community is a welcoming tourism hotspot, with an applicable diversity of amenities, attractions, and job opportunities, thanks to its moniker of the City of Bridges, revealing a total of 11 historical bridges.

Feast your eyes on every day in between work, errands, and riverside strolls while crisscrossing the river or a picnic for leisurely recreation, like by the superb Highline Bridge. Home to Valley City State University and an adjacent footbridge, the small city is a great place for families with kids to receive a degree, work in education, and plan for the future, like raising their own family. History buffs will appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of Medicine Wheel Park, home to the sacred Native American burial grounds and two ancient solar calendars, which is also a great place to take your kids or a date.

West Fargo

West Fargo, North Dakota, Bonanzaville USA museum
West Fargo, North Dakota, Bonanzaville museum. Image credit Kirkam via Shutterstock

West Fargo, a perfectly sized, growing city in Cass County, is home to 41,065 people with a median age of 32.5 years old. Nicknamed “The City on the Grow," it is one of the most popular places to live in North Dakota, thanks to the longest list of job opportunities. As the base for a variety of unique tech and research companies, many residents are also employed in the city's top healthcare, which, with 30 parks and safe streets, you will rarely have to "enjoy." West Fargo's diverse list of amenities and attractions includes Bonanzaville, which doubles as a pioneer village and history museum. Dedicated to honoring the past, it lends a sense of community pride to revisit with your family or go out on a date.

Now, all this comes with a price tag of $311,570 to own a median home, but with the average household income of $119,131 and a poverty rate of only 6.76%, this shouldn't cause much disdain when enjoying all the perks. West Fargo encapsulates a can-do spirit as a frontier city where its residents have a working plan for the future while holding onto its rich past. The local favorite Red River Valley Fair is a celebration of present-day culture through varied exhibitions, live entertainment, and family attractions, as well as the best food of the year.

North Dakota, one of the most affordable US states to live in, is one of the least visited ones, which is a shame with its rich blend of history and culture and thriving economy. West Fargo has a diverse job market for those wishing to get a bite out of, start a career, or find stability in their profession, while Valley City is among the most affordable places with a price tag of $160,064 to own near the scenic Sheyenne River.

The tiniest city of Medora sits entirely within Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which lends a feel of a four-season vacationland along the clean streets and stunning houses. Living in the capital, Bismarck, has its own perks, like family-friendly amenities and access to the wonderful Lake Oahe.

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