Courtney Craig

[Editor's note: the data used in this article is no longer accurate as rent prices have changed significantly since the original publish date in 2014]

Pop quiz: On average, where in the United States will you find the highest rent prices for small apartments?

Hint: It’s not New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco.

Give up?

Welcome to Williston, North Dakota, where the oil industry has caused the population to more than double in the past five years. And, according to Apartment Guide data, you’ll pay more to live in a small apartment here than you would anywhere else in the country. A 700-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in Williston easily can cost more than $2,000 per month.

Looking for a little more space? A three-bedroom, three-bath apartment could cost as much as $4,500 per month.

Why so much?

Williston was a quiet, agricultural town of about 14,700 when the 2010 Census was taken, but now it produces more oil than any other site in the country, and its population has swelled to about 30,000 people. The oil boom has created many high-paying jobs in the area, and apartments can’t be built fast enough to accommodate the influx of workers – many of whom make six figures per year. The apartments that are already there are in high demand, so they get snatched up immediately, and for a pretty penny.

What’s it like to live there?

“It is interesting out there!” said Pam Winter, Apartment Guide’s Regional Sales Executive for North Dakota. “A lot of the management companies have long-term projects projected, as long as the demand and infrastructure are there.  Projects that will be 300 units by the end of this year are looking to be 800 if it continues to boom.  Currently I have not seen many concessions, and one of the developers raised his rent in January.”

Many apartment buildings feature mudrooms in the front, where workers can remove their dirty shoes and overcoats before they enter their homes. The ratio of men to women in Williston is about 12 to 1.

“I think they are optimistic the oil boom will be around for the next 20 years because of the different levels of oil they now have access to through fracking,” Winter added. “I just don't know with the weather that many people who are working in the oil fields will stay for more than a couple of years.”


Apartment Guide tracked the average cheapest rent price for every town in the United States on December 31, 2013, meaning it took the price of each apartment community’s least expensive floor plan and averaged them for each Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA). Williston claimed the top spot: The average entry-level price point for Williston is greater than the entry-level price point for New York, San Francisco, or anywhere else in the country.

Apartment Guide has a number of available listings for Williston and the surrounding area.



About The Author

Courtney Craig is a writer and contributor for the Apartment Guide Blog. She rented apartments for 12 years in 4 cities before buying her first house in Atlanta.