I read this article on Yahoo this morning, and it does sound appealing:
“North Dakota: We’re No. 1 … or Darn Close to It!
North Dakotans are way too polite to make that boast, but I’ll do the honors. Here’s how North Dakota outranks most states:
• Lowest unemployment rate among the 50 states. North Dakota’s 3.8 percent unemployment rate is less than half the national rate.
• Statewide GDP growth of 3.9 percent ranked third in the nation in 2009 behind Oklahoma and Wyoming (2010’s figures are not yet available.)
• Best job growth last year. A Gallup survey reported that North Dakota businesses had the best ratio of hiring to firing among the 50 states.
• Stable housing market. Across the nation, nearly 1 in 4 homeowners with a mortgage are underwater. In North Dakota, just 1 in 14 have negative equity, the fourth lowest negative-equity ratio among all the states. The state also has the third-lowest home foreclosure rate. Affordable homes are a big part of the story here; let’s just say you don’t need to overstretch to own. According to Zillow, the median home price in North Dakota is below $150,000. That’s less than three times the state’s median household income. By comparison, even after sharp post-bubble price declines, the median priced home in California is still about five times median household income.
• Low violent crime rate. The incidence of violent crime per 100,000 residents in North Dakota in 2008 (latest available data) was the fourth lowest in the country and nearly 60 percent lower than the national average.”
• Lowest credit card default rate. According to TransUnion, North Dakotans seem to have a handle on spending within their means.
Add that all up and you have the makings for a pretty contended bunch. In fact, Gallup recently concluded that North Dakota is the third happiest state in the U.S., trailing only Hawaii and Wyoming. (The saddest state? West Virginia.)
Now may be what North Dakota is doing isn’t replicable everywhere, but considering the financial chaos we are in, maybe we should learn what we can from them. I would just have to really learn to like winter. A lot. That lasts into June.