I used to hate living in Fargo and couldn’t wait to get out of here. In 1995 I moved to Minneapolis with my college roommate. As a single girl from North Dakota, I loved the culture and opportunities available in the cities which I simply could not have found back home. Also I didn’t own a car, so the bus transportation available in the cities was a huge plus for me. A few years later I married Ian. After our second child was born, I found that living in the cities as a young mother was not as great as I imagined it would be. Though we lived in a large metropolis with countless forms of entertainment at our fingertips, we rarely left our apartment. Most of the time we didn’t have the time or energy to spend doing all the fun things we could be doing, which was alright because we couldn’t have afforded to do them anyway.
Cost of living
A friend of mine is moving back to Minneapolis after living elsewhere for more than 10 years and recently posted a link to pictures of the apartment he’ll be renting. The apartment is gorgeous but tiny, and the rent is almost $400 a month more than we pay for our 3-bedroom house with a 2-car garage and a gigantic fenced-in backyard in Fargo. So even though I am moderately jealous of the fabulous apartment he’s just rented in Minneapolis (especially the stainless steel refrigerator with the bottom-drawer freezer), I am more than happy to stick with what we have. I mean, even if the apartment allowed dogs (which it doesn’t), Selby and Emerson’s kennels would probably take up the entire bedroom.
My cousin lives in the Cities as well, and recently lamented about the 50 minutes he had spent in a highway traffic jam on the way to the office. Meanwhile, I can roll out of bed 20 minutes before I have to be at the office and still get to work with 5 minutes to spare. I know this because it’s what I do almost every single morning. I’m not very good at mornings.
We have lots of family in and around the cities. My mom’s siblings and their families all live in the cities (apart from one cousin who now lives in Wisconsin), my grandma lives in one of the northern suburbs, grandma’s sister lives near downtown Minneapolis, one of Ian’s cousins lives in a southeastern suburb, and most of Ian’s immediate family live in Owatonna (about an hour south of the metro area). And of course we have friends there too. But strangely, even though we had all these people within close proximity, we almost never saw any of them. We had almost no family in the suburb where we lived, and we rarely ventured out of our little corner because packing up the kids and all of their accoutrements took almost as long as the drive itself, which always required at least one stop even if we were only traveling a few miles. We rarely saw Ian’s family because the trip to Owatonna was just as much of a hassle as a trip to Fargo. Here in Fargo we live within biking distance of my parents as well as my dad’s sister and her family. We have another uncle who lives in the city too; though he’s on the northern side of the city, the drive to his house takes less than 15 minutes. Also on the first Sunday of every month we have a big family dinner where most of us gather to eat good food and catch up on what’s going on in our lives. If we have childcare issues or transportation problems, my parents are only a phone call away and now that my dad is mostly retired, he’s almost always available to help. Not to mention the countless free home-cooked meals, season tickets to Bison sporting events for Ian, and last-minute help with crafty projects.
If you had told me in 1995 that one day I would be happy to live in Fargo, I would have laughed right in your face. Sometimes it surprises me, but I truly am glad to be here. I do still miss the Cities and enjoy going back there on vacations. But honestly I miss my friends and family in the Cities more than I miss the city itself. I never would have thought it, but I really am glad to be a resident of Fargo ND. Except maybe in election years. That’s the price I pay for being a liberal in a conservative state.