I am frequently asked by friends and family who are not privy to the joy of living in Fargo why I choose to call the City of Far More my “forever home.” That’s a tough question to answer. A simple, straightforward answer might address the question, but really only to a small degree. To call Fargo ‘unique’ or ‘cool’ and leave it at that would be too simple, like calling a strawberry ‘sweet.’ Fargo, like strawberries, is too complex and nuanced to be summed up in only a few descriptors. In all honesty, there are definitely days when I wonder if the finger-numbing deep freeze is worth it, but at the end of the day, I know I belong in Fargo.
Of course, I am not alone in my appreciation of Fargo. The City has established itself as a regional and even national leader on a menagerie of fronts. Despite the challenges presented by the year 2020, Fargo has earned numerous recognitions as a place to live, work and play.
For example, for the tenth year in a row, Fargo has landed on Forbes’ list of best places to retire. No that’s not a typo—retirees may prefer Fargo to Key Largo. But what does this ranking say about our home City? The criteria for ranking included elements measuring the quality of available healthcare, affordable housing and walkability, among others. Fargo scored highly in all three of those categories.
As home of the only level one trauma center between Minneapolis and Denver, it makes sense Fargo would score highly in that regard. With average home prices well below peer cities and an income to rent ration that has earned Fargo the title of one of the most “budget-friendly cities” in the country for renters (by LendEDU) it’s not a surprise to see Fargo shine in that regard as well. Fargo, particularly in its downtown neighborhood, has long been recognized as a walkable and pedestrian-friendly City (including national distinctions from RedFin). The Metro also boasts more than 200 miles of bike lanes, making it a great place to enjoy an active lifestyle.
As great as Fargo is as a retirement destination, the youthful and vivacious population is one of its huge defining characteristics. With a median age of a shade over 30 years old, many young people are choosing to begin their adult lives here—and for good reason. The favorable job market makes Fargo a highly desirable home. Zippia, a workforce and career information website, ranked Fargo as the best city in the entire nation to begin a career—over major metropolitan cities like Nashville, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City.
Again, Fargo’s renter-friendly status played a large part, as did its low unemployment rate. Fargo’s job market was recognized by another workforce information website, ZipRecruiter, as the hottest of 2020. An impressively high opportunity index (job openings to candidates) helped propel Fargo to the top of this impressive list. Likewise, a study from U.S. News and World Report found the same results—Fargo is a booming job market with ample opportunity; enough to propel it to number one status in a ranking of the best cities to find a job.
But Fargo is more than simply a place to work. To truly be home, it needs to be a place where people can enjoy themselves as well. Fargo shines as a regional leader not only economically, but also in arts and entertainment. The City of Fargo has made a commitment to public art and ensuring everyone has access to culturally significant pieces. To name a couple of examples, the Fargo Civic Plaza Phase I, adjacent to the Main Branch of the Fargo Public Library, features the beautifully restored and preserved Sodbuster statue. The artist, Luis Jiménez, is widely known for his sculpture of a blue bronco outside of the Denver International Airport.
The City of Fargo is proud to display Jiménez’s work in such a public setting, for anyone to enjoy. The Fargo Arts and Culture Commission recently recommended a modern, community sourced design for a new water tower to be constructed near the Downtown Fargo neighborhood. This project blends public infrastructure with community art in a new and innovative way, which will be seen by thousands every single day.
Back to the original question: why do I choose to call Fargo home? I think a better question would ‘be why wouldn’t you.’ It is a place both for the young neophyte beginning their professional journey, and somewhere to call home after punching your final time card. It is a place of tremendous career opportunity, and teeming with art, expression and endless ways to keep oneself entertained. It is large enough to have nearly anything a major American metropolis could offer while being small enough to allow the individual to make a difference.
That, in my mind, is the greatest element setting Fargo apart: the people. Fargoans are fiercely independent, tremendously loyal and caring for their fellow man. This is a city full of people who care. It is evident through the little things we witness each day: friendly strangers helping a wayward car stuck in the latest snowfall, the contact tracers of Fargo Cass Public Health working 12-hour days to try and keep us all healthy to the friendly faces of the Business Improvement District Ambassadors braving the cold to keep the downtown neighborhood walkable and inviting for both regular visitors and those new to lovely Fargo.
It is tough to sum up what makes Fargo such a great place to work and call home, but I’ll give it my best shot. In short, Fargo offers Far More.