Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Forks

I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.
-Theodore Roosevelt

The Best Thing About Grand Forks?


Home prices in Grand Forks are hard to beat. Due to its isolated location and low population, there are an abundance of affordable homes, particularly compared to other college towns. Add to that its convenient position midway to just about everything in the region: Duluth, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, and the western side of North Dakota, and many find it the ideal place to buy. The price you pay for a one-bedroom apartment in much of the country will net you a large, spacious home in Grand Forks.

Here's a local on all that is happening in Grand Forks in the winter:
People like to shit on GF, but there's plenty to do in the winter. There's free snowshoe and ski rentals at Lincoln park. Ice fishing on the river, or the pond by South middle school. Ice rinks everywhere including town square. there's curling and Broomball leagues. There's the indoor water parks at choice fitness and canadinn. We have 2 axe throwing venues in town. There's lazer tag, trampolines, and an arcade at Northern air. the ND museum of art is always nice. Plus many more indoor sports leagues. And plenty of bars and restaurants.

The Worst Thing About Grand Forks?


The weather is undeniably the hardest part of Grand Forks to both longtime residents and newcomers. The cold arrives after Labor Day, and Winter officially begins in late October. From there, it does not let up until late April or early May most years. The flat landscape leads to wind chills and massive amounts of snow most of the winter, and the omnipresent darkness can also negatively affect those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Summer in turn tends to be hot and humid, and residents frequently have to contend with high amounts of insects and flash flooding from the river. Keep it in mind before making the move.

Here's a local on what living in the climate is like:
You'll need lots of clothes in winter but you'll be able to get from building to building pretty quickly. Being the Midwest, we get both extremes of weather, hot and muggy, and cold and dry, but we get a lot of pleasant days. Grand Forks itself is particularly bad with weather because it's on the open prairie, too far from any large bodies of water to have a stable temperature. And the openness means the winds can be really intense.

Lifestyle of Grand Forks

In spite, or perhaps because of, the weather, the residents of Grand Forks pride themselves on heartily embracing the winter. Winter activities such as cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and skating are popular pastimes, and the local University of North Dakota is home to one of the biggest and most popular college hockey franchises in the world. Hockey games in particular are the epicenter of community culture, informing much of the bar and nightlife scene each year. In the summer, flat trail hiking and biking and fishing are popular activities, as is gardening during the short but affluent growing season. For those less interested in the outdoors, the university brings in a high number of concerts and theatrical productions each year, and several art and history museums decorate the city.

Additionally, keep in mind that while Grand Forks is a college town and the student population might run a bit more progressive, Grand Forks is a conservative city so buyer beware if that ain't your cup of tea.

Check out the Grand Forks calendar of events to see how the city plays during the year:

Worklife of Grand Forks

For a city that to many will seem isolated from obvious industries Grand Forks has a diverse economy not particularly bound by any one sector. Grand Forks Air Force base employs large numbers of civilian workers in addition to military personnel. The university employs plenty of professors and administrators and Altru Health System is a big employer of healthcare workers.

Wind farming is a major source of jobs for scientists and general workers in the the energy industry. And of course, Grand Forks’ agricultural sector continues to thrive to this day, along with the food processing plant. It's a surprisingly diverse economic base for a city that is at a distance from the obvious financial centers.

Why You Should Move Here Now

Affordable Culture

Affordability in a college town is kind of the holy grail. You get the benefits of a university in culture and energy but you spend a lot less than you would in a bigger city. Add on being surrounded by largely untamed wild land, and a population of friendly small town folk and you have a sense of why you should put it on your short list.