I grew up in Florida, and lived there until I was 32. My first memories of towns like my small hometown, Orlando, and Tampa, before I was eight years old, by the time I graduated from high school, all these towns had doubled in population. By the time that I left Florida when I was 32, the populations of these towns had doubled again.
Florida was not a perfect place. It was hot and often nearly 100% humidity. The mosquitos were very bad. Traffic became very bad. People’s income was lower than income in northeastern states. But people kept moving there. It was possible for people of all education levels, skill sets, and background to find employment and housing. The continual migration of people to Florida made the economy grow: new schools, new hospitals, new roads, new housing developments, new shopping malls. Development kept pushing out into the farm land and the swamps.
Everything that I just wrote above about Florida, happened in Texas and Arizona. Life was not perfect in Texas and Arizona, it was hot, sometimes 118 degrees Fahrenheit during the day for weeks at a time. There was a lot of dry desert. But people kept moving to Texas and Arizona. People of all education levels, skill sets, and background could find employment and housing. The continual migration of people into Texas and Arizona made their economies grow: new schools, new hospitals, new businesses, new roads, new shopping malls, new housing developments. The development just kept pushing out into the desert.
About 100,000 workers moved to North Dakota during this past oil boom. To Williston, Minot, Watford City, Killdeer, and Dickinson. Life was not perfect in North Dakota, it got very cold, and there was not a lot of things to do. But 80% to 90% of these workers didn’t plan on staying in North Dakota because the price of housing was just too high. The price of housing increased by 400% within about three years of the beginning of the oil boom. The workers could barely afford the cost of housing working at a high paying oil field job and working a lot of overtime. How could they afford to stay in North Dakota with an oil field slow down? They couldn’t.
You can drive around Dickinson and Watford City and look at the newly completed apartment communities. Many of these new apartment communities are at 40% occupancy, even at recently greatly reduced rents. Most of the oil field workers left North Dakota.
Florida, Texas, and Arizona could have killed their growth too if they would have raised housing prices 400%. All of the retail merchants in western North Dakota: tire stores, hardware stores, lumber yards, clothing stores, grocery stores, furniture stores, appliance stores, car dealers, motorcycle dealers, and all of the service businesses: barbers, beauticians, mechanics, insurance agents, attorneys, chiropractors, printers, and all of the restaurants have the realtors, property managers, property investors, and property developers to blame for gouging the workers so bad that 80% to 90% of them left North Dakota, they couldn’t afford to stay here.
The enormous greed of the realtors, property managers, property investors, and property developers was like “Killing The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs.” The goose laid one golden egg per day, but the owner of the goose was so greedy, he cut the goose open to try to get all the gold right away, but this killed the goose, and there were no more golden eggs.