Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota, lies alongside the Red River in the southeast part of the state near the Minnesota border. Located along east-west I-94, it is an agricultural, commercial, and transportation center with the strongest economy in the state. Fargo is home to North Dakota State University, while Moorhead, Minnesota, across the river, has Moorhead State and Concordia College. The well-preserved downtown district is classic mid-America with a mix of modern buildings and clean older brick structures. Waterfront areas along the Red River contain well-kept parks. The area is known for being friendly and having a strong community feel, and has a strong Scandinavian influence.
The economy is healthy and diversified, with an assortment of farm equipment manufacturers, food processors, and similar, some of which are in more innovative segments of their industries. Fargo currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.5%. The area’s central location relative to world markets, low costs and free trade zone facilities have caused it to grow into a leading air cargo hub.
Cost of living is attractive and housing values are excellent. In part because of the university, there is plenty to do, and summers are nice. Winters are a challenge, but most find things to do, for instance, in local high school swimming pools which are open to the public. This clean small city brings a well-balanced lifestyle with only winter climate as a significant negative, hence the high ranking.
The Red River flows northward between the two cities (one of few northbound rivers), and is a part of the Hudson Bay drainage area. The surrounding terrain is flat and open prairie. The climate is Great Plains continental with significant temperature change from summer to winter. Summers are generally comfortable with few hot, humid days, and cool, comfortable nights. Winters are cold and dry with daytime temperatures rising above freezing only 6 days per month on average with lows dipping below 0 degrees half the time.
Three-quarters of precipitation occurs from April to September, often as thunderstorms, some heavy. Heavy winter snowfall is the exception rather than the rule. But low terrain and high winds lead to the legendary Dakota blizzards and even light snow can drift; however, clear, cold days are the norm. Northerly winds blowing up the valley cause low clouds and fog, and melting snow has recently brought spring floods. First freeze is late September, last is mid-May.