Cost Of Living In North Dakota (Taxes, Housing & More)

Mary Newman
by Mary Newman

Thinking of moving to North Dakota? The state might have a bad reputation as cold with nothing to do, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many excellent places to live and work in North Dakota, and if you love the outdoors, this is truly a hidden gem of a state.

Bordering Canada, Montana, South Dakota, and Minneapolis, the entire state has a population of just 762,062 people total. A huge part of the economy revolves around the natural resources that the state has to offer, with oil extraction playing a big part in it. Believe it or not, North Dakota has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the entire nation – only the state of Hawaii has a lower one!

With a cost of living index of 89.9 for the state, North Dakota is considered cheaper than the average state to live and work in. Thinking about making the leap? Be sure you’re informed – there is a lot to consider before making the move!

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Housing Costs in North Dakota

Median Home Value in North Dakota, Compared

LocationMedian House ValueHomeownership Rate
North Dakota$200,43560.5%
United States$320,00065.8%

The housing cost of living index in the state of North Dakota is 88.5, making it cheaper than the rest of the United States. This is clearly noted with the median home value being over $100,000 less than the national average. Because of this, moving and working in North Dakota is very attractive to those who wish to own their own piece of land.

Median home prices ultimately come down to the specific city and county that you live in a particular state, and this holds true for North Dakota. That said, the table below displays some of the major cities in North Dakota along with their applicable median home prices:

City Median Home Value
Grand Forks$229,700

Median Home Prices in North Dakota

Home Value RangePercentage of Homes
$818,000 and Above1.4%
Sub $54,00010.8%

It’s hard to believe that 10% of the homes in North Dakota are under $54,000, but it’s true! Housing is very reasonable within the state, and if you have the desire to buy a fixer-upper and make it your own, you can get a home for even cheaper.

24.6% of homes in the state were built after 1999. 40% were built between 1970 and 1999, and 22.2% of homes were built between 1940 and 1969. A surprising 13.2% of homes were built before 1939.

57.5% of housing in North Dakota are single-family homes. 23.8% are larger apartment complexes, and 5.9% are smaller apartment buildings. 5.5% of homes are townhomes, and 7.3% are mobile homes.

Rental Costs in North Dakota

Housing SizeNorth DakotaUnited States
1 Bedroom$676$930
2 Bedroom$857$1148
3 Bedroom$1196$1537
4 Bedroom$1418$1791

Rent in North Dakota overall is significantly cheaper than the United States average! In fact, with North Dakota’s average monthly rent of $826, the state is a very affordable place to live for renters. There are roughly 21 states in the U.S. with average monthly rental rates below $1,000. States that have the lowest rental prices also tend to have the lowest overall costs of living, which is certainly the case for North Dakota.

While rent prices vary from city to city, the average being so very low means rent is incredibly reasonable overall. Consider in the most populous city, Fargo, the average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is $698. For 2 bedrooms, the price goes up to $868. Even these prices are noticeably cheaper than the national average.

With that said, examine the following table for the average monthly rent in some of the various cities across the state of North Dakota:

City Average Monthly Rent (1 bedroom)
Grand Forks$755

Taxes in North Dakota

Taxpayers in North Dakota are subject to three main forms of state and local taxes: a state income tax, property taxes, and state and local sales taxes. While average effective property tax rates in the state rank close to nationwide marks, income tax and sales tax rates in North Dakota are some of the lowest in the country.

Sales Taxes in North Dakota

The base sales tax rate in North Dakota is a flat 5%, which is lower than the national average of 7.12%. However, keep in mind that each local government or county can impose its own sales tax. Some local option sales tax rates go as high as 3.5%, meaning the highest possible sales tax in North Dakota is 8.5%.

It will never go higher than 8.5%, however. In Fargo, the sales tax rate is 7.5%. These rates apply to “tangible personal property” sold in North Dakota, and include consumer products, household goods, and some services. Vehicles are subject to a distinct excise tax of 5%, while food purchased for at-home consumption, prescription drugs, bibles, textbooks, water, newspapers, and medical devices are exempt from sales tax in North Dakota.

Property Taxes in North Dakota

The average property tax in North Dakota is just 0.990%. This is lower than the national average of 1.070%. With the median price of homes being about $200,435 in the state, the average owner can expect to pay about %1,984 annually on property taxes. Of course, this number varies based on the county you are living in.

For example, in Cass County, where Fargo is located, the average property tax is 1.260%. In Burleigh County, where Bismarck is located, the average property tax is just 0.900%. Be sure to investigate the city in North Dakota where you will move before making the jump – but there’s a good chance you will spend less than the national average!

Income Taxes in North Dakota

Great news for those considering making the move to this state! North Dakota has some of the lowest income tax rates in the United States. Like many states, they work on a progressive system, where the more you make, the more you pay. However, the state income tax range is between 1.10% and 2.90%. That is significantly less than what many other states pay – even at the high end, it is considered lower than the national average.

This means that if you don’t mind the weather, North Dakota is a great place to retire to. Or simply just somewhere to live and keep more of your hard-earned cash!

Additional Taxes in North Dakota

There are a number of additional taxes in North Dakota on goods and gas that you should before aware of before you considering making the big move. These are as follows:

Additional Tax in North DakotaRate
Gas Tax23 cents per gallon (regular and diesel)
Cigarette Tax44 cents per pack
Wine Tax50 cents per gallon
Beer Tax16 cents per gallon
Liquor Tax$2.50 per gallon

Utility Costs in North Dakota

The utility cost of living index in North Dakota is 89.4, making it cheaper than the national average by quite a bit. This makes sense for a variety of reasons, including the prevalence of natural resources.

In the entire state, the average cost of residential electricity rates was just 9.11¢/kWh. This is significantly lower than the national average of 11.88¢/kWh. Only the state of Oklahoma came in cheaper overall, with an average residential rate of 8.88¢/kWh.

For the average resident of North Dakota, they can expect to see a monthly electricity bill of about $82.

Food & Grocery Costs in North Dakota

One area that North Dakota doesn’t shine is food costs! Strangely enough, this state has some of the highest food costs in all of the US. This is for a variety of reasons, including it’s simply hard to get fresh produce and meats that far north.

A study done recently took an average meal for 4 that includes potatoes, milk, apples, and chicken breasts. The “average” cost of this meal for $15, nationwide. The items were then priced individually, to determine how much they would cost in each state.

For North Dakota, that meal came out to over $22. The cheapest in the US was Idaho, at just over $9, and the most expensive was over $27, in the state of Virginia.

The median household income in the state is a healthy $64,577. Budget gurus recommend you spend approximately 11% of your household income on groceries and food. This leaves the average North Dakota household with an annual budget of over $7,100, or $591/month.

While it’s not outrageously expensive to shop and eat in North Dakota, it isn’t the cheapest choice. However, the high median household income seems to more than makeup for it!

Transportation Costs in North Dakota

The average time a resident of North Dakota spends commuting one-way is just 17 minutes, significantly less than the US average of 26.4 minutes. 80% of people drive their own car to work, while 9% carpool with coworkers, and just 0.5% take mass transit options.

The transportation cost of living index for the state sits at just 74.4, meaning it is nearly 25% cheaper than average to get around the state. That’s great news for people who like to drive, or simply don’t want to spend a ton of money traveling.

All of the major cities in North Dakota, including Fargo and Bismarck, have public transportation options. When you get into a smaller city or town, however, residents might start lacking real options. Most still have public taxi and ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, available.

Schools in North Dakota

In total, the state of North Dakota has 723 preschools, 397 elementary schools, 298 middle schools, and 247 high schools. 567 schools are within the public school district, with zero public charter schools, and 570 private schools. All told, there are 1,137 schools within the state.

Overall, North Dakota ranks 20th in education, ranking 5th in higher education and 35th in pre-k to 12th-grade education. The state has roughly 1 teacher for every 12 students, which is better than the national average of 1 teacher for every 16 students.

Generally, the public school systems in North Dakota rank higher than the US average for proficiency ratings in math and reading. The state’s graduation rate is over 87%, noticeably higher than the surrounding states.

Entertainment Costs in North Dakota

It’s important to know that there are no major cities in North Dakota. With such a small relative population, even the “big” cities like Fargo and Bismarck have a small-town feel. Because of that, if you’re craving a big city nightlife scene for entertainment, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

As noted previously, however, North Dakota is by far one of the most beautiful states in the US. It often goes under the radar and unappreciated, but spend enough time in the state and you’ll realize what a hidden gem it is.

There are 5 national parks in the state, with lots of hiking, outdoor activities, and camping to keep you busy. These include Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which runs through 11 states total, the North Country National Scenic Trail, and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Many people have called the Roosevelt National Park the most breathtaking US park, which is saying a lot!

If you’re more interested in culture or the arts, the Dickinson Museum Center in Dickinson, North Dakota is 12 full acres that include a dinosaur museum and a pioneering exhibit. Admission is just $6 for adults, $4 for children aged 3-16, and $5 for seniors 65+. The North Dakota Museum of Art is on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and is completely free to enter – though a suggested donation amount is $5.

The Fargo Air Museum is located in Fargo, North Dakota, and is just $10 per adult, $6 per child aged 5-11, and $8 for seniors, students, active military, or veterans.

What is the Most Expensive City in North Dakota?

If you’re trying to narrow down where in North Dakota you want to move, perhaps you’re looking to avoid the most expensive city? Great news – Williston, North Dakota is the most expensive city to live in, but the cost of living index is just 97.8. This means that it is below the national average, even though it is widely considered the “most expensive”.

The grocery cost of living index is on part with the national average at 100.8, and the housing cost of living index will be the highest, with 107.5. This is because there is a noted lack of housing in the Williston area, so prices tend to run on the higher side. If you are looking to buy land and build your own home, this might not even be a problem for you.

What is the Cheapest City in North Dakota?

On the flip side, the most affordable place to live in North Dakota is Harvey. With an overall cost of living index at just 73.1, Harvey comes in below-average everywhere. The median home cost is under $100,000, and the housing cost of living index is a shocking 40.2.

Just 1,761 people live in Harvey, and it is 110 miles from the nearest “big” city of Bismarck.

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Should I Move to North Dakota?

Thinking about making the move? North Dakota is a stunningly beautiful state with a lot to offer. If you can get over the weather – which tends to be cold and icy! – there seems to be no shortage of jobs or opportunities.

Only you and your family can make the decision to move, but there are certainly worse places to live than the state of North Dakota. Without a doubt, there are more expensive ones!

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Mary Newman
Mary Newman

Mary Newman thought that home improvement was all painting and putting down throw rugs... until she bought a fixer upper, and realized it's so much more. With a passion for helping others NOT make the mistakes she did, Mary seeks to always improve her home - and yours, too!

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