Highest rent in the nation? Williston, N.D.

WILLISTON, N.D. — The rapidly growing North Dakota oil patch city of Williston has the highest average rent in the United States, a national study from an apartment renting guide shows.

A 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Williston costs an average of $2,394 a month, according to Apartment Guide, an online website for apartment hunters. The same apartment would cost $1,504 in the New York area, $1,411 in the Los Angeles area or $1,537 in the Boston area, the Williston Herald reported.

The population of Williston, in the northwest corner of the state not far from the Montana border, has more than doubled since the 2010 Census, with estimates of more than 30,000 people now within the city’s limits.

The city and developers have lagged behind the influx of oil field workers, whose sometimes six-figure salaries can bear inflated rent and have caused a shake up in housing supply and demand.

“A lot of management companies have long-term projects projected, as long as the demand and infrastructure are there,” Pam Winter, Apartment Guide’s Regional Sales Executive for North Dakota, said in a release. “Projects that will be 300 units by the end of the 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.”

Nearby Dickinson, N.D., ranks fourth on the list at an average of $1,733 a month. Boston is sixth, New York is seventh, Los Angeles is eighth. Chicago didn’t even crack the Top 10.

Williston city officials recently established an Affordable Housing Committee to look at how the community can encourage more developers to build with reasonable rental rates and home prices. The state has created the Housing Incentive Fund, which provides dollar-for-dollar tax breaks for donations to help build affordable apartment units for essential workers.

Many of the new apartment buildings feature mudrooms, where workers can remove dirty shoes before entering.

“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 years.”

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