The lighter side of real estate

27 Things You Need To Know About North Dakota Before You Move There

North Dakota is growing by the minute, but there are a few things you’ll want to know before you pack all your gear and follow the rush.

Alan Woods

6 articles, 0 comments

1. North Dakotans Are In Deep With The ND

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Source: Travis Kraft

Sure the terrain is tough and the ND lifestyle is the rugged, but North Dakotans have a soft spot in their hearts for the Peace Garden State now and forever. There may not be a lot of people that call North Dakota ‘home’ and there isn’t a long line of transplants eager to migrate, but the ones who get it, truly get it.

This is a state that prizes quality over quantity, value over panache and knows a picturesque view is worth never having to utter a word.

2. This Is The Land That Built Roughriders

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Source: Flickr user frtizmb

North Dakota turned “Teddy” Roosevelt into a bear of a man and there is little doubt about how. The country here is as rugged as it is sprawling and even in this modern day and age you have to be tough to make it in this unrelenting, unforgiving land.

3. Don’t Waste Time Traipsing All Over ND For the Best Meal. It’s At Mezzaluna.

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Source: Mezzaluna via Facebook

If North Dakota is pushing to become the culinary capital of the Northern U.S., Mezzaluna is their fine dining flagship. The décor exemplifies rustic North Dakota industry while the food and drink show the delicate side of hearty classics.

The Happy Hour is the best in ND with chicken fried rice that is un-toppable, but the regular menu is robust and features a pistachio crusted lamb rack that it utterly life-changing. Paired with a cocktail from some serious mixologists and you’ll see why Mezzaluna is garnering attention from all over.

4. There Is Nothing Plain About Their Art Museum

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Source: Plains Art Museum via Facebook

Taking the pulse of the arts scene in North Dakota is easy, just keep your eye on The Plains Art Museum. Serving the heart of Fargo for nearly sixty years, PAM has been a bastion of the community while contributing to the creative climate of a state that is, itself, a vast work of natural beauty.

5. North Dakota’s Landscape Is Achingly Gorgeous

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Source: Flickr user sierragoddess

Its hard not to fall in love with the hills and buttes that spot North Dakota’s landscape. From the Red River to the Little Missouri and everywhere in between, Dakotans are one and inseparable from the scenic sights that serve as the states backdrop. And with with views like this it’s a wonder why they call the craggy magnifisense the ‘Badlands’.

6. There Is Money In The Honey

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Source: Flickr user

For most people the sight of a buzzing bee can instill fear, but all North Dakotans see is dollar signs. Sure those bees are busy pollinating much of the produce that represents a large portion of the state’s GDP, but also consider that North Dakota is the leading producer of honey in the United States.

According to the National Honey Board, the state produced over 17,000 tons of the sweet stuff in 2012. Thats enough to make Winnie The Pooh get up, down and touch the ground.

7. North Dakota Is Better By Bike

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Source: Flickr user Citizen 4474

Taking it’s name for a Mandan Indian phrase meaning “an area that has been or will be around for a long time,” the Maah Daah Hey Trail is 96-miles of winding adventure bridging North Dakota’s sweeping grasslands and its jagged badlands.

Along the way, the trail stakes its claim as the longest continuous singletrack mountain biking trail in America. There is no better way to explore unfettered splendor of Theodore Roosevelt National Park; just remember to ease up and enjoy it along the way.

8. A Theater Is Neater Outdoors

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Source: Medora Musical via Facebook

There is only one way to get the real story of North Dakota, Teddy Roosevelt and how the Badlands were tamed to make the state the way it is today, and that is the Medora Musical.

What better stage for a western tale of the inception of North Dakota than the very rugged earth the story was born in. The Burning Hills Amphitheatre has delighted North Dakotans with some version of our be-speckled 26th president since the late 1950’s.

Since then the show and the stage have adapted to accommodate modern amenities, but the sentiment remains and so, too, does the importance of keeping history alive so younger generation can truly appreciate the greatness that is North Dakota.

9. Western North Dakota Is Boomtown U.S.A

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Source: Flickr user Tim Evanson

The recent oil boom in North Dakota has people flocking to the state in hopes of raking in cash in the state of the U.S.’s lowest unemployment rate. Reports say the economy is booming and it is—it’s also changing the dynamic of the Peace Garden State.

10. The Definition Of “Traffic” In North Dakota Has Evolved With The Economy

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Source: Flickr User corinnamakris

In the beginning, there were two types of “traffic” in North Dakota. It was either your old-fashioned spring-time backup behind a tractor or the fall/winter congestion that comes hand-in-hand with week’s feature football or basketball matchup.

There are so few drivers in ND that those were the only way to really notice the amount of cars on the road, but now there is a new monster. In and around the heart of the Bakken oil patch there is now the constant activity of semis, cement mixers, oil tankers, wide-load trailers, CATS and civilian supreme-cab pickups swarming like busy worker bees.

Life was simpler in the beginning.

11. That Doesn’t Mean There Aren’t Still Some Quiet Places To Explore…

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Source: Ghosts of North Dakota Via Facebook

The remains of North Dakota’s pioneer towns are a testament to the hardships of the not-so-distant past. There is hope that their vanishing stories aren’t doomed to repeat themselves if the oil inevitably dries up again. For now, though, these hidden gems from yester-year are the perfect places to reflect on a simpler time that is much more accessible here than in more densely populated states.

12. One Thing That Hasn’t Changed Is The Bitter Winters

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Source: Flickr user bisongirl

Even the train tracks need cleared of the winter whitewash. North Dakota sees temperatures fall well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so it takes a lot to get locals’ attention when it comes to all things frigid and frosty.

13. The Biathlon Says More About North Dakota Than Any Other Sport

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Source: Flickr user DVIDSHUB

Shooting and skiing combines two of North Dakotas favorite pastimes, so it seems only fitting that their National Guard marksman are regularly champions in the individual and team competitions held in the region.

14. Unless You’re Talking UND Men’s Hockey

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Source: University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey

Though the team is currently without a mascot, they’re not without championships. They have won the NCAA title seven times and have sent many players onto success on the professional level.

15. Or the Age-Old Tradition Of Ice Fishing

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Source: Flickr user U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region

Whether you’re after perch, walleye or northern pike, Devils Lake in North Dakota is home to some of the finest ice fishing in the country.

16. North Dakotans Get Their Sun Any Way They Can

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Source: Flickr user flikkesteph

In contrast to all the winter weather, North Dakota is a U.S. leader in sunflowers. The flowers are primarily grown for their use as oilseeds, but it makes for striking visage during the summer months.

17. Maxwells Is Going Far In Fargo

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Source: Maxwells (West Fargo) via Facebook

Fine dining is a trend that is not slowing down in North Dakota. Blending a casual attitude with refined palate, Maxwells creates a dining experience that consistently ranks at the top of North Dakota’s best restaurants.

The menu explores the depths of American cuisine and injects it with a French flare that is both surprising and satisfying. Take the Day Boat Sea Scallops—scallops aren’t something you’d expect in North Dakota, but these are prepared perfectly. Tender and sweet, they are wrapped in prosciutto and paired with a red curry sauce that is perfectly earthy.

18. Sometimes The Blues Is Good News

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Source: Johnny Lang via Facebook

Maybe all those snowed-in days and not having a whole heck of a lot to do isn’t all that bad. It’s given people like Johnny Lang the time to hone some uncanny six-string skills.

19. When It Rains, The Neighbors Come Out To Lend Helping Hands

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Source: Flickr user The National Guard

North Dakota has a sordid history of flooding, but nothing shows the true ND spirit like neighbors coming together to support neighbors.

When the Red River crests, the people of Fargo and the surrounding areas are at their best. You’d think that sandbagging was an olympic sport what with the enthusiasm and zeal neighbors take to protecting—not just their own homes—but the surrounding community.

20. Bismarck’s Toasted Frog Is The Toast Of The Town

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Source: The Toasted Frog – Bismarck via Facebook

Toasted Frog is taking Bismarck’s food scene to new heights. Try this tasty tower: a pile of pork shoulder in an apple wood smoked bacon bowl, perched like a bird’s nest atop black bean-corn succotash and maple coffee grit cakes.

21. Pizza Is Always Something To Smile About

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Source Spicy Pie Fargo via Facebook

New York Style thin crust pizza from Spicy Pie in Fargo, whether whole or by the slice, is a universal pleaser. You can never go wrong with the supreme: pepperoni, canadian bacon, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and black olives.

22. Fargo Brewing Company Is Great Beer For The Great Plains

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Source: The Fargo Brewing Company via Facebook

Don’t let people tell you there is nothing to do in North Dakota… there’s always something brewing at the Fargo Brewing Company. For North Dakotans looking for a pint to warm their winter woes, they need look no further than FBC’s Sodbuster Porter. It’s blacker than a North Dakota night with rich roasted coffee and a smoky chocolate finish.

23. Egypt Doesn’t Have A Monopoly On Pyramids

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Source: Wikimedia user Benjamin Halpern

Safeguard was a Cold War-era defense program that was set to defeat a missile attack on the U.S. and while it quickly became defunct, it left a lasting impression on the North Dakota Landscape.

Stories abound on the exact purpose of the building and its functionality abound but the striking features are really what make the site stand out.

24. Flat Land Equals Big Sky

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Source: Flickr user Gabriel Carson

North Dakota is dominated my vast tracts of flat lands. What it lacks in diverse landscape, though, is made up by stunning views of the heavens; giving nature an immense easel with which to paint in an array of colors at night or torment with storms during the day.

25. No Matter How Far You Go, Everyone Knows You In Fargo

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Source: Flickr user Ethan.K

North Dakota’s few small cities are spread out between broad swaths of a whole lot of nothing.

Fargo is the largest city in ND, hovering around the 100,000 mark, so should you choose to socialize you’re going to get to know everyone (everyone) pretty quick.

26. In North Dakota, Every Road Is The One Less Traveled

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Source: Flickr user afiler

Many of the places worth note in North Dakota aren’t reachable by interstate. This means travelers should take note and plan accordingly if they intend on keeping a schedule. A destination may not look far on a map and be relatively close ‘as a crow flies’ but NDDOT is not in the business of flight patterns, and remember the roads that do connect you will often be of limited speed and maintenance.

27. North Dakotans Don’t Give A Hoot About Tourists

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Source: Flickr user pedrosimoes7

Tourism is something that North Dakotans partake in, not something that they experience within their borders. Owing, in no small part, to ND not having a major tourist attraction and to a nation full of thrill seekers, North Dakota is considered the least visited of the state in the country.

While on some level the money associated with the leisure industry might be missed, something no North Dakotan wishes for is a taste of the slack-jawed, directions seeking, neck-craning, fanny pack-wearing masses. Call it greedy, but people in the ND like keeping the beauty to themselves.

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posted on: May 30, 2014
[views], 24 comments


  1. Beth

    I wish people would stop writing this stuff about ND. We thoroughly enjoyed having no one want to move here and have no interest in visiting. Now because of all of the oil and posts like this the drug use and crime rate in our safe state has sky rocketed and no one wants to raise their kids out west anymore.

  2. Evan

    Crime sure has skyrocketed considering it’s still ranked 49th in the country on crime. Stop your bitching and lock your door like everyone else.

  3. Beth

    You must be one of the people that don’t belong here.

  4. Russ of Highland Acres People

    Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Beth and Evan representing North Dakota’s two political parties. They probably live next door to each other. She hates his dog. He thinks “her” strawberry patch is mostly in his unpaved drive-way, but zoning your lot after you moved in well after her 33-year presence makes that an iffy-at-best argument. He comes home too late. She has too many grandkids coming into his yard at Easter.

    But he’d pull her from a fire and give her a room.
    She’d jump-start his truck in the dead of winter.
    He’d tell her where the fish were biting.
    She’d tell him who knocked on his door.

    North Dakotans are like tank pilots: we can’t see much at one time so stay the hell out of our way, but if you need our help, we’ll blow the doors off that shit!

    Live well Beth/Evan. You’re in the sweetest place on earth.

  5. Celia

    HA HA, Love Russ of Highland Acres People. Right on!

  6. Lissa

    Oh Russ, you are so right on the nose! Love it and living it right now! But the fight on my side of the prairie includes a boat and an unmarked open trailer that keep fighting for the parking spot on the street and at this rate one may be taken to a country road near Kindred! Regardless, my son will still try sell them coupon books in September and their grandkids will trick or treat at my house. The mean side of West Fargo is really just the bitterness when out of state relatives think that we simply live on the west side of Fargo and refuse to write “West Fargo” on the dang Christmas card!

  7. Athena

    Moved here from Oregon for the work. I love my home state and will return someday. While I am here I am enjoying the beauty and special things here that can’t be found anywhere else. Part of that is the very nice people born and raised here, they really are a nice bunch. Sad that so many have had to just flood in here at once, I understand but it saddens me to see some of the changes that I saw happen to Oregon and it did not improve my home state. The cold here should keep North Dakota safe from the fate of Oregon though, at least that is my wish. Keep it simple and safe North Dakota! Beautiful place and people!

  8. Connie

    Well said Russ.

  9. Jean

    As a native North Dakotan, I thought this article was pretty good, but I have to point out a problem: the last one is wrong. Tourism is North Dakota’s third largest industry, and has been for years, so we definitely experience tourism within our borders.

  10. Katrina

    Russ, you’ve got it- that is exactly what it is. 🙂

  11. Miranda Sherman

    Oh this article is SO misleading. It only slightly mentions just how flat the majority of the state is. i grew up in ht EGF/GF area and let me tell ya, only the western quarter of the state actually are badlands are have anything more than a tall hill. Otherwise the majority of the state is flat, very flat! In regards to the rest of the article… very true!

  12. Bryan

    This actually sounds like it was written by someone who has never been to North Dakota. Did you know, for instance, that tourism is the third largest industry in the state behind agriculture and energy? Did you know, for instance, that Red River flooding isn’t caused by rain? Did you know, for instance, that the entire 1/4 of the state is perfectly flat?

    I lived in North Dakota for 37 years. I can’t think of a single reason why I’d ever go back. As most of the people I run into on a regular basis who are from North Dakota say…it’s a great state to be from. Unless you like 365 days of wind and temperature fluctuations in excess of 140 degrees, North Dakota is simply not for everyone.

  13. Bean

    Let’s not forget the acres of pesticide-laden, Monsanto-controlled monocrops, unchecked urban sprawl, rampant obesity, and systemic misogynism!

  14. Jolene Ehret

    I grew up in the town with the Big Buffalo. I am in Texas now, but if I could afford it would move home in a heartbeat. Though I kinda like Texas. It grew on me. I still miss the old home cooking- Germans From Russia style. Are a few of us in Texas, we just don’t getogether like in the old days. I remember the cold… We dressed up warm and played outside as much as we could. In the summer we hiked all over, something you can’t let your kids to today. I hope to get home again at least once more but who knows. At least it is nice to stuff like this on facebook. Cheers all. If you all ever come to Texas stop in but bring some good sausage and maybe some halvah.

  15. esgrandma

    We came to North Dakota to retire because Washington State became too expensive to live. We sold our Farmers Home home in Washington and bought two homes and a farm and still had money left over after we remodeled some. We live in North Central ND, so I will say I miss convenience and good shopping. I don’t miss the traffic over Snoqualmie Pass one bit and I don’t miss the mindset of Yakima. Lots of family history here for me to work on, and lots of family on the west side of the state. Our lifestyle hasn’t changed much, we walk more and still have nosy neigbors. Winters are harsh, but so were they in Central Washington. We’ve adapted. Not moving back anytime soon. We also thought we were moving to a place our kids wouldn’t follow us to…that didnt’ happen, either.

  16. Gary Mickelson

    Born and raised in Fargo and just eeked over the border to MN the last several years. ND is like any other state. Many people love it for many reasons. Just as many despise or ridicule it for their own. My wife and I because of work transfers have lived in MN, NH, VA and WA. All were beautiful for some reasons, things I didn’t like for others. Everyone we met in all four states were great people in their own way. Home is what you make it. ND will always be my home. I will and do go back at least a couple times a month and have been in every part of the state– all beautiful– all quiet. Many of those who worry about the big oil boom probably remember the last one back in the 80’s when oil prices went down and the oil companies just packed up and left most everyone and everything behind. Dickinson looked like a ghost town. The flat in the east is beautiful in all seasons and so are the rolling hills in the middle, the Missouri River and the badlands to the west.

    As the article said, ND people for the most part really don’t care one way or another who does and doesn’t want to live there. They don’t mind having it all to themselves. And believe me, being from ND and spending some years in the Boston and Washington DC area working I’ll take the wind and the snow and the quiet any day of the week. No offense.

  17. RJM

    Best State Ever.

    Don’t come here.

  18. Lee Favreau

    The little village of Rolla had only 858 residents when I left it in 1936 at the age of 16. Let me assure you that I really did enjoy the schooling there, the fishing locally and with easy access to Canadian lakes nearby,and, yes I did enjoy the weather……perhaps because I had no place else to compare it to. North Dakota natives should be complimented on their acceptance of all the “new people” in pursuit of the “dollar”.

  19. Jolene

    Most of the reviews about ND are based on what some one who doesn’t live there would judge a place to live. Where I live now in Killeen Texas is pretty much a military town being next to Fort Hood. It has grown alot but alot of place open and close. Why because it is just a military town. Big fancy hotels just don’t last, small medium motels also come and go.We have some good eating places but nothing super fancy. We did have a couple places that would be considered upscale but they didn’t last either. We have only 2 starbucks and yet a town very neary us had 4 of them all in close proximity to each other. We had two smallish bookstores in the Mall and they both closed now we have one but it is not great. Barnes and Nobles would put a big store here but they did in that “other’ place. We don’t have a Target either.. Guess where it went. So if we want to see some sites and etc we go to Austin or Round Rock. Is only 1/2 hour to one hour away. So Killeen is a good place to live and other places have good places to visit. I lived in Jamestown all my life.. I loved that nice little town set in a valley. We didn’t have much and I think they still don’t but it is still a nice place to live. One can go other places to see special things. Fargo is a neat town. I lived there for a year.. I worked in a nice Cafe, great people who were kind to a young late teen girl. I don’t see a town and look for its art, entertainment etc. I look for it nice people and comfortable atmosphere. I sure don’t look for all kinds odd places to eat. I can go to Austin for that. I still love ND but I don’t love what the oil boom is doing to it. Look on Utube for videos about what is happening that area. They are tearing up the land and threatening the national Park and Native American sacred lands. People who lived in houses and apartments are forced to move because the rent has gone sky high. People are camping out because there was little housing available. The state doesn’t care because it is rolling in moola. Oh well so it goes. The boom will last for awhile and when it is done the old folks living there will have to pick up the pieces and worry about reclaiming what the oil people fracked to death.

  20. Charles Galloway

    People in ND don’t visit wit heach other like they used to either.

  21. Charles Galloway

    Being a native North Dakotan, I find myself wondering if I know these people who are writing. Before the boom we knew everybody or were connected somehow. For example, I wonder if Lee Favoreau knew my dad, Fred Galloway. They lived in Rolla at the same time.

  22. Jolene (Geist) Ehret

    It really is a small world. Alot of folks from ND will winter in AZ or TX or some other warm weather place. But years ago I read the ND has more hours of sunlight per day than any other state. In the summer I used to wake up at 4:30 in the morning because it was already day light. When we were kids we could play outside until 10 pm and it still would be light out. Then I visited a friend in Canada and the sun was up at 4 a.m. and didn’t set until after 11 pm. Awesome.
    I have met folks from ND, some even related to some of my people. I have a friend on facebook who lives in my hubby’s home town in Montana. LOL.

  23. EJ

    One thing that should have certainly been mentioned is the spring / summer – not getting dark out until after 10pm.!! Gotta love those long extended days in the good weather !

  24. Karl Sosa

    Moved here to New Salem North Dakota last August, from California. Gotta tell ya this was what I was looking for. Some peace and quiet, and I can actually walk down the street in the middle of the night not looking over my shoulder, or having to carry a gun for protection. Although the people here don’t seem to be to friendly, proballey because of where I’m from, I’ll stay to myself. I think of myself as being generous and patient with everyone and hope to make friends here in ND, but I was attracted here by the open space, and much slower pace of life this state offers. My door is open and wanna know all about ND and the people of this state. I will never go back to west coast, I’ve had enough of that, but do admit missing the coast.


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