A new survey from Apartment Guide ranks metropolitan on their average costs of rental housing. You may be thinking that the most expensive rental market in the country might be New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Washington DC. You would be wrong. The survey finds that Williston, North Dakota – yes, North Dakota – has the highest average rent in the country.
A 700 square-foot, one bedroom apartment in Williston, North Dakota costs an average of $2,394 per month. And San Francisco only slightly edges out Dickinson, North Dakota for third place. Dickinson's average rental rate of $1,733 a month was good enough for fourth. By way of comparison, New York comes in at 7th place with an average rent of $1,504 per month.
The Bakken boom has led to anecdotal stories of housing shortages, fully booked hotel rooms, man camps, and homelessness. But, Apartment Guide's new survey confirms those stories – the oil rush in North Dakota is leading to an influx of people and rising costs of living. According to the Williston Herald, the population of Williston – the epicenter of the Bakken boom – was only 14,700 as of 2010. While unofficial, many believe the town now has 30,000 people within city limits, with up to around 50,000 in the greater area.
More people and higher salaries combined with a small housing stock have led to a rapid climb in prices. Developers are building new rental units, but can't keep up. The city of Williston is hoping to speed up that development, establishing an Affordable Housing Committee to study the market and how to lower rents. The big question is whether or not the surge in oil and gas production will be around for the long-haul – a big determinant for housing developers planning for ten, twenty, or thirty years.