Williston, North Dakota, is the United States' most expensive place to rent a home. A study, conducted by Apartment Guide, shows that "entry-level apartments" — classified by the study as an apartment with one bedroom, one bathroom, and around 700 square feet of space — in the town had an average monthly charge of $2,394 as of December 31st 2013. That price was $500 more than the second-most expensive area in the United States to rent, the San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara region in California.
Rents are exorbitantly high in Williston — a small town in North Dakota's north-western corner — because of the region's booming oil industry. The state has the fastest growing economy of any in the country, and people have been drawn to a region that boasts an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent, compared to a country-wide average of around 6.6 percent. Williston, as a clear example of this influx, has doubled its population since the 2010 census, rising from 14,716 people to reportedly over 30,000.
Williston's average apartment costs $500 more to rent per month than an apartment in San Francisco
The same looks to be happening across the state as oil drives an influx of people. Fourth on the list of the US' most expensive places to rent is Dickinson, North Dakota. Another booming oil town, Dickinson's cheapest apartments command average monthly rents of $1,773, $200 more than a similar home in the New York, northern New Jersey, and Long Island area, and only $3 short of the average price for a one-bed, one-bathroom apartment in the San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont area.
But the oil boom has also brought a housing crisis. Rental prices are so high in Williston because there aren't enough places to live, and the problem extends across the state. Homelessness jumped 200 percent last year, a particular problem in Williston, which has no official homeless shelters. Housing companies reportedly have "long-term projects" that will bring new homes and help North Dakota's skyrocketing rental prices subside, but one of the state's major efforts to incentivize the building of new apartments — a $35 million housing fund — already ran out of money late in 2013.