How High is the Cost of Living in North Dakota?

On average, North Dakota enjoys a slightly lower cost of living than most states, but certain cities are more affordable than others. Learn more here.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
North Dakota
’s cost of living is a little lower than the national average, resulting in marginally more affordable prices and slightly lower monthly expenses. If a single adult wants to live relatively comfortably, they need to be making at least $32,000 a year.
If you’re thinking about moving to North Dakota—regardless of whether it’s for the short or long term—you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with how much things cost and how that will affect your everyday expenses. 
That’s why
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How high is the cost of living in North Dakota?

When compared to the rest of the United States, living in North Dakota isn’t very expensive, and the state has a cost of living index of roughly 98.0.
What does that number actually mean? The national average cost of living index is 100 and serves as the comparison point for all 50 states, so any number lower than 100 signifies a lower-than-average cost of living.
So, North Dakota stands slightly lower than the national average when it comes to the cost of living, but what does that actually mean for the real cost of things? 
Let’s take a look at how much some of the essentials—food, housing, healthcare, and transportation—cost in North Dakota.

Food: $283.33 to $1,020.83 per month

First on our list of unavoidable costs of living is food. In this case, we’re talking about your monthly grocery expenses, not restaurant or cafe fare.
According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, the annual cost of food in North Dakota ranges from $3,400 to $12,250, depending on your family size, income level, and general location. A single adult without children spends roughly $285 a month on groceries, whereas food-related expenses for a family of four range closer to $840 a month.
To put things in perspective, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, in 2020, the average U.S. household spent roughly $411 a month on groceries.
And remember: these estimates only refer to the amount you can expect to spend on groceries—any take-out, fast food, or restaurant fare you consume will be additional expenses.

Healthcare: $191.92 to $670.42 per month

On average, a resident of North Dakota can expect to spend $191 each month on their health-related expenses, or roughly $2,303 a year—a figure much lower than the national average of $5,724 per year.
That said, healthcare costs are much more variable than the amount a family can expect to spend on groceries for the year. Medical-related expenses can vary widely even between members of the same household. If you have a child or a spouse who requires costly prescriptions or who has a chronic illness or disability, you’re likely to see a much higher cost of living in North Dakota.

Housing: $681.33 to $1,300.08 per month

As you can probably guess, housing is a pretty big factor when it comes to determining the cost of living in North Dakota. 
In June of 2022, the average home value was roughly $242,000, which is well below the national average—but the housing market is constantly in flux, and renting is another story altogether.
Depending on the type of home you own or rent, you can expect to pay one of the following:
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,050
  • Average studio rent: $550
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $600
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $750
  • Average three-bedroom rent: $1,100
  • Average four-bedroom rent: $1,200
That said, these figures only represent the state averages—prices can vary up or down depending on your exact location. A one-bedroom apartment in Fargo, for example, goes for roughly $800 a month. On the other hand, you may be able to find a three-bedroom apartment in Oakes for as little as $900 a month.
But regardless of your North Dakota housing situation, you're pretty much guaranteed to be paying a lower price than the national average—in fact, the average rent for a studio apartment is only half of what most Americans are paying for the same thing.

Transportation: $441.67 to $1,308.33 per month 

Another key factor that goes into determining the cost of living is transportation—and with the way North Dakota’s infrastructure and settlement patterns are arranged, owning at least one vehicle is practically a requirement. 
Depending on your household and family structure, expect to spend between $5,300 and $15,700 a year on transportation-related expenses.
Of course, those “transportation-related expenses” encompass many things. Here are a few of the most important figures:
  • Average cost of a gallon of gas (July 2022): $4.67
  • Average annual cost of car insurance: $285 to $1265 (minimum liability coverage vs. full coverage)
  • Average commute length in North Dakota: 34 minutes

How much you need to live comfortably in North Dakota

Based on the estimates listed above (and a few other expected expenses), a single adult who is working full-time will need to make at least $31,976 a year, or $15.38 an hour, to live relatively comfortably in North Dakota. 
In contrast, a household of four needs to make at least $92,402 a year, or almost $44.45 an hour, to get by.
Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done—North Dakota only has a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, making it difficult for some to afford much more than the necessities, let alone non-essential niceties. 
Check out the list below for a cost breakdown of some basic non-essentials and how they compare to the national average:
  • Average cost of a date: $42.43 (U.S. average: $116)
  • Average cost of a movie ticket: $9.32 (U.S. average: $10.61)
  • Average sales tax: 5% (U.S. average: 5.09%)
  • Average cost of a cup of coffee: $1.75 (U.S. average: $2.70)
Key Takeaway The things that make life comfortable vary from person to person. You may be able to enjoy both necessities and niceties for less than $31,976 a year—but for the most part, that’s only enough to scrape by.

North Dakota cities with the lowest cost of living

Some cities in North Dakota have costs of living lower than even the state average, making it that much easier to save money and live comfortably. Here are a few of North Dakota’s cities with the lowest cost of living index (COLI): 
  • Rolla (COLI: 73.0): We’d be lying if we said there was much to say about Rolla besides a very low cost of living, though there are opportunities for camping and other outdoor activities.
  • Grafton (COLI: 73.2): Despite being one of the state’s larger cities, Grafton boasts an extremely low cost of living and is a great place for families. Good schools, beautiful parks, and a bustling agricultural economy are just a few of Grafton’s positive qualities.
  • Cooperstown (COLI: 76.1): Located next to the scenic Sheyenne River Valley, Cooperstown is the perfect example of a rural small-town community. You’ll enjoy low crime rates, a low cost of living, and more if you decide to move here.
  • Devils Lake (COLI: 80.8): Don’t let the name fool you. Devils Lake is a beautiful city and a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy fishing—but even better than the fish is the agreeable cost of living.
  • Jamestown (COLI: 81.7): Known as the birthplace of legendary western writer Louis L’amour, Jamestown is the perfect place to settle for those seeking a quieter life in the heart of North Dakota’s vast prairie grasslands. It’s also pretty affordable.

How to save on home, auto, and renters insurance in North Dakota

While it’s true that residents of North Dakota enjoy a lower cost of living than in other states, it’s always nice to be able to save money where possible—especially when it comes to your insurance payments.
Fortunately, licensed home, auto, and renters insurance super app
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While the monthly cost to live in North Dakota will largely depend on your lifestyle, living situation, and spending habits, it’s generally recognized that a person needs to be making at least $2,666 per month to live comfortably in North Dakota.
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