Here's How Much An Apartment Costs In Williston, North Dakota, The Town With The Most Expensive Rents In America

Earlier Sam Ro posted a flyer showing a sample of San Francisco rent prices that are totally insane.

But San Francisco doesn’t have the highest rents in the country. That honour belongs to Williston, North Dakota.

Williston, which finds itself at the epicentre of the North Dakota shale boom, is now among the fastest growing cities in the country, with a current estimated population of 33,000 compared with just 14,716 at the 2010 Census. It could reach 77,000 by 2020.

This week, Apartment Guide said the city now has the highest rents in the country, with a 700 sq. ft. one bedroom costing north of $US2,000 on average.

According to their methodology explanation in a blog post on their site, they only counted 16 listings.

That sample seemed small, so we reached out to the locals for some more colour.

We reached out to Katie Long of Williston’s economic development council. She said that in a recent random phone survey she conducted of 12 units on her list of available Williston apartments, only one or two had something in the +$2,000 range.

“Some of our locals are definitely taking advantage of the situation — can you blame them? But their rents are $US1,000, not $US2,000. So I think what you’re seeing are listings posted on websites, and these our are the ‘creme de la creme’ — if you can call it that, luxury apartments in Williston.”

But Mike Galt of Bakken Realty told us by phone that the Apartment Guide report is probably accurate, because the new units represent the majority of available rents. Rental occupancy is north of 90%, Long said.

“If you can find a one bedroom, it’s going to be $US2,000-$2,500,” he told us by phone Wednesday. “There are some established apartments [that are cheaper], but there really isn’t that much, so everything is basically new. They didn’t have enough housing for this influx of people, so the majority are under construction.”

Sandy Haviland, a developer whose group just began putting up high end units in town, said he’s asking $US2,700 for a one bedroom. But he also said the majority of Williston residents aren’t living in these types of places.

“Williston is high, but that’s not the whole story,” he told us by phone.

In a follow-up email he added: “their methodology was that they compared the CHEAPEST rent for each type of floor plan. Most markets in the US have some crappy old building where you can live for nothing. In Williston, there are no low-end places on the market — that’s the difference.”

The report also jibes with where average wages now stand in the town — $US71,000, the highest in the country.

Of course, more units coming online will have the perverse effect of bringing rents down.

But for now it does seem that Williston is No. 1 in the country.

Here are the leasing rates at the Renaissance Heights, which abuts the town’s airport. The units are expected to come online within the next few months. You can see they’re pretty much in-range with Apartment Guide’s figures.

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