February 25, 2014 10:02 AM   Subscribe

A former coworker from there said nobody in North Dakota wants this kind of news to get out.
posted by michaelh at 10:32 AM on February 25

Doesn't ND also rank #1 in beer consumption?
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:36 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

NPR did its part to make the state seem less than perfect in its coverage of homelessness in ND. In short, be careful going there if you don't really have a job lined up, because it's not somewhere you want to be spending much time outdoors in the winter.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

I bet the Fremen were all pretty happy to live on Arrakis, too.
posted by COBRA! at 10:51 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]

This story came over Twitter the other day: Rent in North Dakota City Exceeds New York, Los Angeles.
A 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Williston costs an average of $2,394 a month, according to Apartment Guide, an online website for apartment hunters. The same apartment would cost $1,504 in the New York area, $1,411 in the Los Angeles area or $1,537 in the Boston area, the Williston Herald reported.

The population of Williston, in the northwest corner of the state not far from the Montana border, has more than doubled since the 2010 Census, with estimates of more than 30,000 people now within the city's limits.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:00 AM on February 25

Wow, it made sense to me when Hawaii kept coming in first, but North Dakota and South Dakota as the top two states just baffles me. If you think Minnesota is too warm, has too many lakes, and too much in the way of arts and culture, you might like North Dakota.

My relatives in Fargo can be such a miserable lot. I somehow imagined everyone else was like them. Maybe their neighbors are happy.
posted by Area Man at 11:05 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I'm baffled too, Area Man. In ND, the whole west side of the state is akin to a Wild West boom town, only dirtier, grimier, and much more expensive to survive in. And the boom isn't attracting the top layers of Darwin's gene pool, either.
posted by Marco Polo's Lost Codpiece at 11:09 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Maybe Minot will get around to clearing away the flood debris and 9th Ward style abandoned houses in their central corridor now?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:15 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

I live about 40 minutes from Williston ND. My cousin's husband trains truck drivers for one of the biggest trucking companies. He said, "at this point we're not scraping the bottom of the barrel for drivers. We're lifting up the goddamn thing to pick up the slugs underneath." So yeah, what Marco Polo said about the gene pool in the Oil Patch.

The locals, especially once you get out of the boom area, are happy. Agriculture, which is still the top industry in the majority of the state, has had several good years. The small towns are still your typical American small towns and life there is uncomplicated. The cities are clean, the colleges and universities still spend more on education than athletics, and for those who want culture, flying or driving out is easy. Actually the cities of Minot, Grand Forks, and Fargo are not exactly culturally deprived because of MSC, UND, and NDSU. We've got a decent public radio network. Small towns and farms are serviced by rural telephone coops which mean they have cable and internet providers that actually try hard to not piss us off. Minot and Bismarck even have brewpubs. It's not Portland or Brooklyn, but you can attain a certain pleasure in your life out here.
posted by Ber at 11:23 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]

And the boom isn't attracting the top layers of Darwin's gene pool, either.

Maybe they're just too dumb to be sad.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:25 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]

Wow, it made sense to me when Hawaii kept coming in first, but North Dakota and South Dakota as the top two states just baffles me.

My partner grew up in the Black Hills area of SD and we visit her family there a lot, so even as a suburban NY state boy I can see the appeal there, particularly for people who like small-town life and outdoorsy activities. That part of SD is very scenic. Also, though winter is long there, it's a clearer and sunnier kind of winter, not like the humid-chill-to-the-bone damp and overcast winter days I am accustomed to from the Northeast.

I can't speak to ND, only having been through there a couple times, but again, depending on how "happy" is defined, I can imagine those who appreciate a simpler, more rural life among open spaces -- and never having to get stuck in traffic -- might find it very appealing. I am thinking they didn't poll many people in the oil-boom part of ND, however.

Last but not least, this is a Gallup survey, and they have run into criticism in recent years for inexplicably skewed polling (particularly during elections). Whether Nashville-based Healthways has any particular axe to grind, who knows, though online statements show they give more money to Republicans than Democrats.
posted by aught at 11:33 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]

That's too bad -- I guess my Uncle Al must no longer be the happiest man in America. A sad day.
posted by janewman at 11:53 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

North Dakota is paradise for a very particular type of person. If you are rooted in the area, with a family, attend (Lutheran) church, like hockey, hunt or shoot guns, like to know your neighbors but not too well, are educated but not too much, spend your ag money on a boat or a lake cabin but don't brag about it, use the healthcare system (Altru on down to the Mayo) but don't approve of Obamacare, cope with long winters but deeply appreciate the summers, farm sugar beets or red potatoes, enjoy rural culture but appreciate a weekend trip to Minneapolis for a change of pace, speak Norwegian or have family who did, hate traffic, like going to the airport twenty minutes before takeoff (security's a short line, dontchaknow) for your annual February trip to Hawaii, and above all appreciate small town culture and that way of too will be happy in North Dakota.

The rest of us? Move.
posted by librarylis at 11:59 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]

Maybe they're just too dumb to be sad.

Oh no, I know where that's headed!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:01 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

I bet the Fremen were all pretty happy to live on Arrakis, too.

Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru never saw the point of leaving either.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:01 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]

I would suggest this is less about the intrinsic nature of North Dakota or the joys of rural life, but this chart. The blue patches in North Dakota represent (mostly) guys who grew up rural poor and are currently making a killing in dangerous but well-paid fracking jobs. And not being poor makes you happier, despite all the lies people like to tell. Being able to feed your kids, pay your rent, drive a vehicle that isn't constantly breaking down, and enjoy simple luxuries will remove enormous stresses.
posted by tavella at 12:12 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]

Will they still be happy when all the aquifers are polluted with fracking chemicals?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:13 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Will they still be happy when all the aquifers are polluted with fracking chemicals?

By then anyone who has the wherewithall to leave will have gotten rich and moved on. Everyone left will be the poor and downtrodden who got in too late. So, to answer your question, nope.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:18 PM on February 25

Probably not; I'm certainly not promoting fracking as any kind of public good. But for a certain subset of people, it's transformed them from poor to well-off. Privatizing the profits and socializing the costs, as ever.
posted by tavella at 12:18 PM on February 25

I lived in Grand Forks for a month or two. I think I met librarylis though I didn't know it until later.

I left my bike, which I purchased for five dollars, "fake" locked outside the library and it was stolen. I felt terrible because Grand Forks is not walking friendly. Three days later I was at the library and there it was, locked to the bike rack. I called the cops to have them cut the cable. They were there promptly. My bike had been "fake" relocked. Some mom said to her teenage son "where did you get that bike?' is my theory.

Where I was the people were fine, if a bit reserved. It's one of those places that it's difficult to live there if you aren't from there though. Devils Lake is geologically interesting. And librarylis will give you internet access with minimal identification - she is job bound to kick you off after two hours though.
posted by vapidave at 12:23 PM on February 25

This probably helps: ND is the only state that operates its own bank.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:23 PM on February 25

The rest of us? Move.

You very well could have been describing Montana. Not many of my group of high school friends still live there.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:24 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

The rest of us? Move.

Oh my god, you hit it on the head.

Which is why I haven't looked back from the moment I moved away from Mandan/Bismarck. I imagine if I had stayed my life would have been a very miserable one (based on my standards and dreams), indeed.
posted by Windigo at 12:35 PM on February 25

I spent way too much of my life in North Dakota.

Here's the deal with North Dakotans, they are not the happiest people, far from it. I'd group them in with the most miserable people on earth. Somewhere in between Siberians and people who live in Winnipeg. They share a common character trait with their Norwegian ancestors, who also have a dubiously high happiness ranking...

What these former vikings and their former peasant emigrants are number one at, is telling people they are happy, even when they are not.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 1:04 PM on February 25 [7 favorites]

Dollar Dollar Bill Ya'll
posted by kenaldo at 1:36 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Related to tavella's point on increasing income is the very low unemployment rate in North Dakota. Not only are people making good money they aren't locked into any particular job.
posted by Mitheral at 3:34 PM on February 25

That's too bad -- I guess my Uncle Al must no longer be the happiest man in America. A sad day.

Ha, I read that entire article thinking I was at The Onion. Good for Al, though.
posted by stinkfoot at 4:34 PM on February 25

Montana must have the absolute best tourism and propaganda machine ever. My bucket list of places to visit doesn't, and hasn't ever, had it on it.
posted by chuckiebtoo at 6:58 PM on February 25

vapidave, now I am most curious as to whether we met or not! I suppose it's worth noting, I was not at the public library but I did know them well and they are always gracious about granting internet time to patrons. Our library was somewhat less gracious, I'm afraid. In any case, you and I are actually not that far apart these days either, so at some point we shall have to organize a meetup.

I will also stick up for western Montana as parts of it seemed interesting enough--Yellowstone! Glacier!--but to be fair I didn't live there. Eastern Montana was not my favorite place to drive through and I frankly can't imagine living there. Not enough Badlands, way too many flat towns with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

North Dakota, on the other hand, has the distinction of being the US state least visited by tourists. No one you know has ever been to North Dakota and when you mention living there, people often get a slightly worried look on their face as they try to remember where exactly it is and if Mt Rushmore is in South Dakota or North Dakota (hint: SD). Every. Single. Time.
posted by librarylis at 11:03 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Spent a couple days touring the Bakken patch around Minot and Williston. Williston hums with excitement -- reminded me of the dot com glory days in 1998 -- making money and making history, but by dudes who drive F-250s, rather than by dudes who quit McKinsey.
posted by MattD at 4:36 AM on February 26

If you plop down a google street view cursor just about anyplace in Fargo it looks just swell. And it's 150 miles from Minneapolis if you feel you must watch an NFL or NBA game live. The winters are beastly though. Everybody I know from that far north drinks like a fish.
posted by bukvich at 6:14 AM on February 26

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