This Podunk North Dakota Town Is Now More Expensive Than Manhattan

One of the unfortunate side effects from the geyser of new wealth pouring out of North Dakota's oil rush has been the sudden, acute housing shortage within the state. Nowhere may be worse off than the once sleepy city of Williston, a boom-town where, as the AP reports, a one-bedroom apartment now rents for $2,300 a month.

For some perspective, that's a hair more than a New Yorker would pay for a similar space in the heart of Manhattan's east village, at least based off a quick Craigslist search.

Williston is located in the northwest corner of the state, about a four-hour drive from the capital of Bismarck, and smack dab in the middle of the oil rich Bakken Shale formation. The first map below comes courtesy of Wikipedia, and should give you a sense of just how remote a locale we're talking about. 

400_Williston_South_Dakota.jpg

Meanwhile, this second map, from the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the boundaries of the major oil exploration areas in North Dakota and Montana. Note: Williston's in the middle of it all. Mayor Ward Koeser told the AP that 90 percent of the oil rigs in the state are operating within 90 miles of the city. The influx of workers has doubled its population in two years, from 14,716 in 2010, according to the Census Bureau, to about 30,000 today. 

615_Bakken_Formation_USGS_Via_GEOLOGYDOTCOM.jpg

Those new arrivals have overwhelmed the housing market. Again, in 2010, there were 6,500 housing units in the city and about 6,000 households. New construction hasn't kept up with the new demand, which has left workers scrambling to find living spaces anywhere they can, causing massive rent inflation.

The final result is deals like this one: $2,000 a month to rent a motor home 5 minutes from downtown. Utilities are included.

Camper_Craigslist.jpg

Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In