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United States of America (USA) - North Dakota

North Dakota is located in the Midwest, halfway between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean and shares a border with Canada. Of the 50 US states, North Dakota is ranked 48th as regards population. There has been very little industrialisation of the area and is one of the most agricultural states of the country. It is the lack of commercialisation that is often blamed for the decline in population as people leave the state looking for work, although those that remain are mostly employed and the state has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the US. There are growing commercial sectors in the main cities, but the state is largely rural.

The state capital is Bismarck and other major towns include Fargo, Grand Forks and Dickinson. There is a population of less than 750,000 people and in spite of the lack of commercialisation, the state enjoys a much lower cost of living, coming in at around 20% lower than the national average.

The state experiences extreme weather conditions, with very cold winters and often very hot summers, so is not for those who are looking for year round sun, but the locals are known for making people feel welcome and North Dakota is officially one of the friendliest states in the country. The state does not have a large community of expats, but each town does have a few, hailing from all over the world.

North Dakota – Employment

Less than 10% of the population of the state is employed in the agriculture industry even though it is still one of the biggest industries. However, expats should be aware that even though agriculture is still a major industry in the state, in recent years it has declined, so you will need to research carefully the area that you wish to go into if your intention is to become a farmer or rancher.

In the state capital of Bismarck, the largest employer is the local government, followed by the medical industry. Expats who have medical qualifications will have to take exams locally before they can gain a licence to practise in the state, but there are opportunities in this field. Other major employers include the utility companies and schools. Bismarck is a good place to look for employment opportunities but many of the jobs on offer are for unskilled workers and positions for qualified personnel are few and far between.

In Fargo, agriculture has taken a back seat to the food processing industry. Again there are work opportunities although not really for those with qualifications. The largest employer in the region is the state university, so there may be administrative and teaching posts available for those with suitable experience. In a survey, Fargo was voted one of the best places in the US to start your own business, mainly due to the variety of commercial enterprises in the area, so expats who want to start their own business may find the city to be a useful base.

North Dakota – Property

The area is ideal for those who are interested in farming as there are many properties on the market with land suitable for this purpose. If you wish to start your own equestrian business or have a small holding, there are property types to suit. The economic downturn has meant that there are many properties available at a price which is much lower than you might expect, due mainly to large numbers of foreclosures. This applies to homes in the cities as well as rural properties and there are many on the market with vacant possession, which means you may be able to take possession much more quickly as there are no chains involved.

Properties in cities such as Bismarck and Fargo range from apartments to houses and as with all cities, prices vary depending upon the part of town that you are in. Prices are slightly lower than the national average and it is possible to find a large detached family home for a very reasonable price, although there are some luxury homes in exclusive areas which are expensive. Prices in the cities are higher than some of the rural areas, so if you do not need to be in the city for work it may be worthwhile looking a little further out for a home.

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