Nice Lower Middle Class Neighborhoods In Dickinson, North Dakota

I moved from north of Dickinson to downtown Dickinson about two months ago.  Throughout the several city block area in my neighborhood, there are a few houses and yards that are a mess, but the majority of the houses and yards are so well kept, that overall the neighborhood is pleasant and attractive.  And my neighborhood is probably a bad neighborhood in comparison to the adjacent neighborhoods.

I often criticize the local Dickinson residents for being uneducated, ignorant, hostile, hateful, unfriendly, not helpful, and uncooperative.  I am not going to take any of that back.  However, it does amaze me that these local people living in the lower middle class neighborhoods in Dickinson maintain their homes so well that the nicest looking areas in Dickinson are these vast neighborhoods in the downtown city blocks.

Although there is one corner of downtown Dickinson that has more affluent people, and this neighborhood is fairly nice, with dead-end streets, private drives, some larger yards, and even an $800,000 house with a swimming pool, this neighborhood is not as well maintained as many of the lower middle class neighborhoods in Dickinson.  This is very strange to me, and might be a unique situation found only in Dickinson.

I have thought about why this may be the case, that the lower middle class neighborhoods in Dickinson are so nice looking.  I believe that there are four main reasons.

  1. Putting aside the oil booms of the 1950s, 1978, and 2007, the growth of Dickinson has been slow and steady.  There did not occur the creation of vast new suburbs outside of Dickinson, and the abandonment of downtown Dickinson.  Downtown Dickinson has been continuously occupied, and has always been a fairly desirable location to live in, by the local residents.
  2. Putting aside the oil booms of the 1950s, 1978, and 2007, Dickinson has not been a town where many people became rich or affluent.  There were not tremendous numbers of people in Dickinson that made so much money by the time they were in their late thirties, that they needed to have a “McMansion” built.  Nor were there tremendous numbers of people that were making so much money that they looked at their first home as a “starter home”.  Now that I am writing this, I think that the fact that most home buyers in Dickinson believed that, “This is it, this is the only home we will ever have.”, made the homeowners take care of their homes.
  3. Due to the recent oil boom that occurred in 2007, home prices in Dickinson literally doubled and tripled in just a few years.  Homeowners in Dickinson that might not have even had significant pay increases in their line of work, would have had easy access to home equity loans to make home repairs, renovations, additions, and improvements.
  4. Due to the recent oil boom that occurred in 2007, many home owners in Dickinson did have significant increases in the amount of money they were earning.  With home prices literally doubling an tripling within just a few years, it would not have been appealing for local homeowners to buy a better house now that they were making more money.  It would make sense to repair, renovate, add onto, and improve the home that they already owned.  Many local residents did do this.

Not only do these lower middle class neighborhoods in Dickinson look very nice, they currently do not have very much crime in these neighborhoods, and they are fairly quiet and peaceful.

Real Estate agents and homeowners in Dickinson currently believe that their homes in these lower middle class neighborhoods are worth $225,000 to $380,000, which is ridiculous, for several reasons.  A family would have to expect to make at least $70,000 per year for the next thirty years to be able to afford that much money, which very few families can expect to do now that the oil boom is over.  There will be many houses for sale now that the oil boom is over, there are fewer jobs, and people have to leave Dickinson.  House prices will become lower, and lower, and lower.

These neighborhoods do look nice though.  Many, or most of these houses have new vehicles parked in front of them, which I think is an indication that the homeowners did well financially during this most recent oil boom, or they took out home equity loans when the housing prices doubled and tripled.

5 thoughts on “Nice Lower Middle Class Neighborhoods In Dickinson, North Dakota

  1. There are several beautiful old homes near downtown Dickinson. My thoughts are that the older homes you find here are more beautiful than the newer homes, partially owing to the craftsman who lived at that time. Back then, homes tended to be smaller and there existed a wealth of talent, European immigrants who were artisans. I am not a fan of most contemporary homes (here and many places) because we seem to be going for size over quality. I read a book about architecture (bought it at Menards) which said, “Only build what you can afford to do well”. I think that makes sense. One of my favorite Dickinson houses is that big old yellow house near downtown, which has been on the market quite a while. (Only drawback is its listing agent, bit of a battle ax.)


    1. I like to receive comments, but my wordpress blog software has not been in a good mood lately, and it sent some comments to a spam folder, that probably should not have gone there. I don’t know what else it is doing, so I will have to pay closer attention.

      The more you start zigzagging through downtown Dickinson, and definitely take different routes, even inconvenient routes, the more you will see that there are all kinds of impressive houses. Massive houses, long houses, tall houses, scary houses, cute houses, old houses, attractive houses, beautiful houses, quaint houses, fun houses.

      Block by block, the character of the neighborhoods change. There are some people that have decided that they just aren’t going to do much house work and yard work. Then, there are sections of neighborhoods where you can tell that some residents got old, have poor health, and can’t do very much any longer. Some houses, the owners do too much, too many yard ornaments and LED lights, even the animals stay away.

      There are many, many nice houses in downtown Dickinson. But you are so dependent on what your neighbor twenty feet away is going to do. Are they going to start drinking, start using drugs, lose their job, have trashy loud obnoxious girlfriends/boyfriends live there, and turn a quiet peaceful house into the worst house in the whole neighborhood, eventually getting turned into a rental house with five restaurant workers living there, from Coeur d’Alene.

      It can be entertaining living downtown in the older, denser, closer neighborhoods. But having to listen to, grudgingly tolerate, and eventually go ask neighbors to turn down their rap music, video games, or festival music, is something I don’t like dealing with. Nor vandalism to vehicles, and thefts. Living downtown, I have to deliberately and consciously deal with my surroundings all of the time: never forget to lock my vehicle doors, always place valuables out of sight, park in a safe spot, park where you won’t get towed, always lock my apartment door, always lock my balcony door, don’t get into conflict with the poorer neighbors who always make bad decisions.

      Once you get into neighborhoods where all of the houses are on 1/4 acre lots or larger, you are no longer literally forced to deal with your neighbors, and forced to make daily compromises, like park where you don’t want to park, shut your doors and windows to not hear your neighbors, or have to speak your neighbors when you don’t want to.


  2. I commented above and I should’ve written craftsmen, not craftsman.

    Thanks for explaining about the posts.

    In one of your recent blog essays, you mentioned your contention that maybe many of the homes are well-cared for owing to their being the one and only home a family might purchase. That’s something that never occurred to me, and I think you may be correct. There’s something kind of nice about keeping one place and really loving it and taking care of it. I think that was much more common in days gone by; my parents are in their 70s and have only owned three homes (which doesn’t seem like many relative to habits of younger generations). In many areas, the trend is to move just as soon as you make a little bit more money. Sometimes it seems we’re on mere fumes of the wisdom our Great Depression era kin tried to hand down. So many spend within an inch of their life.

    About the new and expensive cars……I know this comes from my parents, whose parents were of that Great Depression vintage……don’t have a Cadillac if you’re living in a shack. I remember riding through one of the Eastern states on a family vacation (wood-panel station wagon, no seat belts, you get the picture) and my dad shaking his head, pointing out actual Cadillacs parked in front of (actual) shacks. I guess it stuck. I kind of think a car shouldn’t be more expensive (or even half as expensive) as the place it calls home. Just doesn’t seem like good, common sense to spend so much on a car unless you can REALLY, really afford it.


    1. Just before I read your comments about houses, vehicles, and debt, I had been thinking of these same things for several hours.

      I know that in order to have a pleasant and appealing blog, I should make my next blog post about Craftsman type architecture in old downtown Dickinson. The photo that I took earlier today doesn’t show the house detail well enough, so that is what is stopping me tonight.

      I will go ahead and write about houses, vehicles, debt and other things now.


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