The Best Place To Live In North Dakota

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in North Dakota, which is the third-least populous state in the nation (per North Dakota Demographics). It is also one of the best places to live there. Grand Forks is located in the northeastern part of the Peace Garden State and is just across the border from its sister city, East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The Census Reporter puts the metro area's population at 103,462. CNN Money describes Grand Forks as a beacon in the otherwise arid culture of the Great Plains and also calls it the nation's 90th-best small city.

The city has evolved and been influenced by the original native inhabitants, a 1700s influx of French trappers and traders, and the formation of the Grand Forks Air Force Base in 1954. It rallied to its present-day status as one of the best North Dakota cities following a devastating flood in 1997. Its core sits on land formerly owned by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs who is recognized as "The Father of Grand Forks," according to Prairie Public NewsRoom.

Grand Forks and East Grand Forks sit in the midst of the Red River Valley. Intrepid Grand Forks residents enjoy all the city has to offer, but must brave the elements while doing so. The Old Farmer's Almanac rates it as the nation's 4th coldest city, with a January average temperature of only 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a touch colder than its southern neighbor Fargo). A temperature of -43 degrees Fahrenheit is Grand Forks' all-time low.

Highly rated for cost of living and schools

Niche gives Grand Forks County an overall A- grade in the counties category. It receives the #3 spot in the rankings as North Dakota's best county and tops the rankings for families, young professionals, and health. According to the site, the best public schools in the entire state are in Grand Forks. Payscale assesses Grand Forks' cost of living favorably too: Overall, it is 6% below the national average. Housing is 8% better, with median home prices at $365,326 and rentals at $1,116. Utilities, groceries, and transportation dip below average as well. Only the cost of healthcare (at +7%) is more daunting in Grand Forks than in the rest of the nation. The nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base is an important source of federal and civilian jobs. Formerly used by the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, it is now under the auspices of Air Force Space Command.

Yahoo! Finance selected Grand Forks as the Midwest's prime retirement place on a $1,500 monthly budget. It cites low rent prices (the region's least expensive) and its favorable cost of living. As a result, 12.6% of the city's residents are at least 65 years old. Finally, as recorded in Neighborhood Scout, Grand Forks' incidence of violent crime is lower than both the state's and the nation's. Only four of the U.S.'s 21,570 reported murders occurred there. Its 26.32 rate of crimes per 1,000 inhabitants is reflective of a preponderance of property-related events.

Grand Forks has a wealth of activities

Cultural resources include the North Dakota Museum of Art, as well as the North Dakota Ballet Company and a symphony orchestra. The University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks, provides valuable educational and cultural services, and its Center for Aerospace Sciences is a focal point. Go-North Dakota recommends the Rendezvous Region Backway as an activity. There is a scenic 12-mile drive, and on foot, one can participate in hiking, snowmobiling, and white water canoeing. The area is North Dakota's "Moose Capital." Not even 1% of the state has forests; instead, it has a grassy surface that is also hospitable for buffalo and antelope, according to Brittanica. Experiencing the Greenway Trail system and exploring the Red River by kayak are two other popular Grand Forks recreations.

The Grand Forks Park District maintains parks, athletic facilities, golf courses, and facilities for weddings and other public events. A highlight is the Sertoma/Japanese Garden Park, featuring an arboretum, biking and walking trails, and the garden itself, a gift from the city of Awano, Japan. Grand Forks has an extensive bike-sharing program, ample parking, and there is free public Wi-Fi downtown. The city also has Splasher's of the South Seas, a 40,000-foot indoor water park. Sports aficionados can get a fix by watching the university's highly rated hockey team or cheering on the school's Fighting Hawks football team. All-time coaching great Phil Jackson's career started when he played college basketball in Grand Forks.