Living In A Low Rent Apartment In Dickinson, North Dakota

This winter in Dickinson was kind of unpleasant for me.  My work was not busy in Dickinson, and I was not making very much money.  I would have liked to have tried to make the best of it, to read, write blog posts, watch movies, go to the West River Community Center, and socialize with people.

The person who owned the house where I had been living for the past three years in Dickinson was having his own problems.  No job, shortage of money, poor physical health, no friends, depression, and mental problems.  With no job, he would get up late, not get dressed, and sit in the living room all day.  With not very much money, no friends, and no place to go, he would start drinking in the afternoon, which made his physical and mental health even worse.

In the past I had been a caregiver for disabled and terminally ill adults for two years.  My current living situation was much more unpleasant and far more depressing than the two years that I spent doing this for a living, because now I couldn’t go home and get away from it and have some peace and quiet.  Nor could I invite anyone over to the house.

When I got hired to work at a second job in June, I told my room mate that I had to be at work at 4:00 a.m. in the morning.  My room mate stayed out in the living all night ranting and talking to himself, like a crazy person, making it hard for me to get any sleep.  When I was getting ready for work at about 3:00 a.m., he was still ranting and talking to himself, muttering comments that were directed at me.

With the two jobs that I now had, I could demonstrate to a landlord or property manager that I had enough income to rent an apartment.  I wanted the least expensive apartment that I could get.  I did not know if I would stay in Dickinson, and I did not know how my new job was going to work out, so I did not want to get on a lease for an expensive apartment.

The property manager that I met did me a favor, and they rented to me a very nice two-bedroom apartment in an older building for not very much money.  When I had been living at the house north of Dickinson, I had had two extra trucks, and two equipment trailers, which was what had been preventing me from renting an apartment.  Things got so bad at the house, that I finally accepted that I was going to have to rent a separate location to keep my extra trucks and trailers, and move into an apartment.

I hadn’t lived in an apartment for fifteen years.  I had sworn that I would never ever live in an apartment again.  But here I was, not only was I back in an apartment, I was in a low rent apartment.  The common hallways had a very strong odor of ethnic cooking, from India Indians, Africans, Hispanics, and Asians.  The odor was not present in the apartment, thank God.

The residents who were immigrants from Africa were fairly friendly and polite.  The India Indians and the Asians I hardly ever see.  The Hispanics are somewhat noisy in the parking lot, and on the way to and from their apartments.

The American blacks have the irritating and annoying habit of playing ghetto music too loud in their vehicles when they are coming, going, and parked in the parking lot.  The white trash are aggravating in that they honk their car horns in the parking lot at any time of the day or night, and screech their tires when they come and leave.

There is a lot of drug activity.  There are about three apartments where they are dealing drugs.  You can smell marijuana smoke all day throughout the building.  There are all different kinds of poor people that are coming and going throughout the day, who are not residents of the building.  Some apartments typically have five guests every night.  Some guests are in a stoned stupor.  Some guests go crazy and start yelling.

The police have been to this building at least twice this week.  The young lady that the police took away today, I have been hearing her yelling for the past several days.  When the police came to get her, she began beating her head against the wall, and then beating her head against the police car in attempt to injure herself.  She was yelling at the police that she was going to get them fired.  Inside the back of the police car, she was kicking the partition behind the police officers’ heads as hard as she could trying to break it.

I am surprised that I have not gotten into any trouble yet here where I live.  There is a lot of trouble going around here.  People arguing in the parking lot over parking spaces.  Boyfriend-girlfriend squabbles.  Room mate arguments.  People slamming doors, playing the television too loud, video games too loud, stereos too loud.  People complaining to their neighbors about the noise.  Drug fiends on the premises throughout the night.

I kind of don’t even care.  There is just one thing that I am worried about, and I don’t want to write what it is, because then someone will do it.  I have had plenty of time to think about it, and none of the things that I described above are the property owner’s or the property manager’s fault.  This is just what poor people do and how they behave.  They can’t evict 70% of the tenants.

There are about twenty other apartment buildings just like this one in Dickinson.  In these twenty apartment buildings, I would estimate that only about 10% to 15% of the residents are from Dickinson.  I believe that these poor people mostly come from Idaho, Washington, Michigan, Minneapolis, Rapid City, and Sioux City.

There are very, very few job openings in Dickinson right now.  I believe 100% that I made a very good decision in renting the least expensive apartment that I could find.  I am making very little money right now, and I only have a small chance of getting a well paying job anywhere in North Dakota now.  Even if I began making $5,000 per month or more for quite a while, I would still probably stay in this apartment because of the uncertainty of what is going to happen in North Dakota.

14 thoughts on “Living In A Low Rent Apartment In Dickinson, North Dakota

  1. That place sounds like a hell-hole. I don’t know how you can stand it. Do the police ever come around? You mentioned that there’s pot being smoked around there all the time. It’s sad to think there are likely children living amidst all that.


  2. But you know, the place we live in isn’t much better these days. In an effort to increase occupancy, they’ve apparently become much more lax about screening who gets in, how many to a unit, how many animals, etcetera. I took the trash out at about 6 a.m. and a couple were screaming at each other, one in the parking lot, one on the balcony. The last thing I heard was “It ain’t right!”

    There are at least two families living in a 2-bedroom unit below us. They don’t seem to be going to work anymore and it sounds like they’ve taken up bowling. Right now the children are learning to imitate a siren tonight while their three dogs bark and one of the dads idles his diesel truck outside. One of the mom’s is yelling from her doorway at one of the dads outside.

    I think it’s time to move. 🙂


    1. Welcome to Dickinson,,,
      (At least you are above the noisy neighbors, can you imagine how much worse it would be if you were below them?)

      The next place you move to, you can’t rely on the property manager properly vetting the neighbors, or enforcing the rules, so you should try to protect yourself by getting a corner, upper unit, so that you are attacked from as few sides as possible.


  3. I understand the suggestion, but I’m not going to live like this again, no more apartment living for me. We’re moving to Montana when our lease is up. We are looking for a house there now. Apartment life makes you much more appreciative of having your own bit of dirt, I’ll give it that.

    You should leave that place. Have you considered just selling all those things which have encumbered you, the extra this-thats-other things you’ve described? You might be pleasantly surprised how good it is to just let things go, to be unshackled by so much stuff.


    1. S,

      It is very interesting to me that you and your husband are planning on leaving Dickinson when your lease is up. When you first wrote comments to my blog website, maybe a year ago more or less, you were kind of Gung-Ho on finding and buying a house here in Dickinson.

      All along, I have been trying to warn people that there are not a lot of things to do in Dickinson, you can’t safely go to restaurants at night and have a few drinks because the police are so aggressive on DUIs, the local people do not like people from out of state and are uncooperative, unfriendly, and hostile. I wrote two blog posts about Doctors and Nurses not wanting to live and work in Dickinson because they spent so much time, money, and energy going to school, that they looked forward to having a good quality of life, especially an appealing place to live at the end of the day, but instead they find that they are living amongst dirty, uneducated oil field workers, with their dirty diesel trucks loudly idling in the parking lot outside their window.

      I would like to hear from you, what finally got to you, making you change from wanting to live in Dickinson, to wanting to leave. If you reply with a comment, I can copy and paste it to its own blog post. I would remove any detail that would inadvertently serve as a clue to who your husband is, because I believe that he would probably like to move on from Dickinson with his employer having no reason to bad mouth him, over his wife’s opinions.

      S, you seem to be fairly educated, from a normal family elsewhere, a normal middle-class wife. I think that Dickinson kills women like you, and that Dickinson becomes unbearable. I have been told, I have seen it, and I have personally met some women that are educated, middle-class, professional women, nurses, doctors, business women, and they can’t stand Dickinson before long, and it takes great effort for them to stay here for even one year. I think that it is the absence of peers, and the lack of opportunity to casually make acquaintances with similar backgrounds, experiences, and interests.

      I would like for people from elsewhere, including normal middle-class wives, to know what Dickinson is like. I don’t want people to sell a house that they really like, in a neighborhood that they really like, take their children out of school, and move to Dickinson because their husband got a job here, and be totally shocked, disappointed, and full of regret.


  4. Our reason for relocating is pretty typical, work needs fewer people here and more people elsewhere. Husband’s work is energy-related and I work from home. This move will put us closer to family.

    I don’t think I would be a good subject for a post, honestly, because I’m older (your age bracket) and my kids were all out of the house by the time we got here. Having school age kids would likely make living here a very different experience. Furthermore, I haven’t tried terribly hard to integrate here, as I would’ve done when I was younger. About 10 years ago, we lived in a small town (another state) similar to Dickinson. Hindsight left me with the idea that if I ever found myself again in such a situation, I’d really take my time getting the lay of the land, figuring out who’s who and what’s what. The thing about a small town (big towns are really ‘small towns’, circles are small and all that, but you can always find a place where you fit)…you’re going to see the same people all over town. Better to take the time to choose new friends wisely, than realize you really don’t like somebody and then you have to see them at the grocery store, in Herbergers, Walmart, Applebee’s. All that said, I didn’t knock myself out trying to integrate.

    You and I agree on a lot of things, but some things…I’m softer on than you are. I think there are a lot of nice people here, but I do think (and I grew up in a Midwestern state full of Germans, Scandinavians, Poles) we Midwesterners have a very different personality, if you will, than, say, Southerners, or Northeasterners, et al. I’ve met and run into many sweet people here, some of them indigenous, some from elsewhere. I’ve also thought sometimes that people here are less likely to smile back at me when I smile at them. I smile a lot, keeps me from looking haggard. Anyway, I was pretty happy when we first arrived here, and I would go about my business making it a point to look at people (like when I’d be walking into a store or some place) and smile at them. Many, many times they’d just look at me, absolutely deadpan. I hadn’t thought about his until now, sitting here trying to reflect, but I did kind of stop doing that, stopped smiling at strangers just because.

    In the time we’ve lived here, we did not join a church (and we’ve always attended church). I have not been invited to join a church by anyone. That IS something very different from other places we’ve lived. That’s NOT the reason we never joined a church, we probably would have eventually.

    I have lived places where it’s been easier to make friends, but I think such places are sadly rare. People get set in their ways, figure they know all the people they need to know. I’d made a couple good friends here, but then their husbands were transferred and off they went. I did try (two times, to be precise) to ingratiate myself to a couple ladies (who grew up here, left for college, came back), but they didn’t volley back. I met them out and about, thought they were nice, and gave them my number, suggesting we have lunch or coffee. They were polite and sweet, but apparently not interested. Again, I understand that people like the friends they have, the ones they’ve known here since they were maybe teenagers. They might think it’s odd to make a new friend at this age, I don’t know.

    Anyway, please don’t use me as the subject of a post. I don’t represent a wide enough swath of any demographic, IMO.


    1. S,

      I was hoping that you could write about your experience in Dickinson, rather than me have to write about your experience in Dickinson. You would not be the subject of the post, you would be writing what you experienced in Dickinson.

      You went ahead and wrote what you experienced in your comments, the one that you just wrote, and the other ones.

      I am not interested in whether people smile or not, or whether they say hello or not, or whether they invite me anywhere. I am more interested in what they do.

      I will take just two examples: 1) I was not paid 21 hours of overtime pay by an oil field service company in Dickinson, North Dakota, I was not paid $630 that I was owed. This has never, ever happened to me before anywhere else. This company owner and his wife get glowing newspaper coverage from the Dickinson Press newspaper, yet they have four complaints against them with the North Dakota Department of Labor for non-payment of wages.
      2) In pursuing a complaint for non-payment of wages with the North Dakota Department of Labor, I read a newspaper article from the Bismarck Tribune newspaper, that people filing a claim with the North Dakota Department of Labor, didn’t even have their claim assigned to a case worker until two years later.

      I could go on about EEO Equal Employment Opportunity laws being violated, OSHA not investigating the work place death of Eric Haider, and other corruption that I have written about in my blog posts.

      People from out of state should know about these things before they move here. The only way that the people in North Dakota are going to change the things that are wrong, is for them to be exposed. Even if it takes writing about them again, and again, and again. It would help if someone else besides me, a normal person, would write about their experiences in Dickinson.

      You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But you already have in your comments.


  5. Oh, I reread your comment and I just want to go to bat for “dirty, uneducated oilfield workers”. Those are good people. While I do not like hearing a diesel truck idling outside our apartment 🙂 , I admire and respect anybody who works hard for a living. I think you do, too.


    1. S,

      There are differences in people, this is reality. I could describe one hundred different ways that good, respectable, moral, decent people try to segregate themselves from lower class people. It has been this way since the beginning of recorded history.

      It is very common, right out in the open, that economic segregation is practiced in the United States. Suburbs, neighborhoods, coastline, lakes, and mountains that are so expensive to live in, that only very wealthy people live there. Private pre-schools, elementary schools, high schools, and colleges that are so expensive that only the very wealthy people go there. Private country clubs and social clubs. What is it that these people are trying to keep out, and stay away from? Why do they have gates, security cameras, and guards at their locations? They are trying to keep the lower class people out.

      Let me just give you the example of private members only fine dining restaurants, inside private members only country clubs, inside private gated communities with gate guards. Diesel trucks with belled-out exhaust would not be allowed in the private community, period. You would not ever hear, an ignorant oil field worker pushing the accelerator to the floor on a 1-ton diesel truck for the sake of it being obnoxiously loud, ever, not once. You would not have oil field workers with oily boots, oily jeans, oily hats, and greasy hoodies, coming to eat at the restaurant. You would not have a plastic cup filled with human spit sitting in the middle of the dinner table. You would not have oil field workers yelling, using offensive language, wrestling, and getting into a fight at the dinner table.

      Once low class males have made an attempt to flirt with upper class females, and their advances have been rejected, lower class males then resort to becoming crude, vulgar, and offensive, to where any respectable woman would have no choice but to get up an leave. This does not happen at private members only restaurants, men like this would never be allowed inside in the first place.

      I agree 100% with these wealthy people, I could not agree more. I don’t want to listen to extremely loud vehicle with modified exhaust and mufflers, I don’t want to smell diesel, I don’t want to go to a nice restaurant with people wearing oily greasy clothes, I don’t want to see cups on tables filled with human spit, I don’t want to listen to loud trash-talk, I don’t want to hear continued vulgarity, I don’t want there to be any fighting and wrestling at dinner, I don’t want women to be rudely insulted and forced to leave, I don’t want to see gentlemen bullied. I would like to hear educated, intelligent, well-read, well-meaning people discuss their thoughts, opinions, and ideas, rather than listen to drunken savages attempt to cause disorder, conflict, and mayhem at dinner.

      Yes, I am sick of dirty, ignorant, uneducated oil field workers. I have worked with people like this for twenty-five years, and I grew up around white trash. There are many people who work in the oil field, that are tired of dirty, ignorant, uneducated oil field workers.


  6. Yes, you do care about smiles and invites (in a round about way) because these fall under the umbrella of your oft-mentioned helpful, friendly, cooperative. Smiling back at someone who’s smiling at you is the opposite of hostile, another word I think you’ve used more than once.

    I have to agree I prefer decent manners, and those are free to anyone, regardless. There, I think you are correct and that I’ve forgotten how it can be, as I’m largely removed from such environments. You are out there in the middle of it all, whereas I am not. But I have witnessed such conduct in my life and I don’t like it. I especially hate to see men spitting while out and about in public. When I do see that, I think “He wasn’t brought up very well”. I think the same when I see women walking around dressed immodestly or slovenly.


    1. S,

      One of my friends who is about 70 years old now, Don, was convicted of murdering two people. He was known as “The Rock Creek Killer”. He committed many, many more crimes than this. He spent approximately 30 years of his life in prison.

      In prison, in Vietnam, in his travels, he has seen just about everything. He lived for many years with the worst of the worst in prison, men who had committed multiple murders, who would never, never, never get out. These men who would never get out, were the worst and the most dangerous, because there was absolutely nothing they could do that would result in additional time on their sentence, they were never getting out. With these type of people, you deal with the worst, most animalistic, primitive, heinous behavior, beyond what you can probably imagine.

      Even in prison, there are men that try to conduct themselves in a civilized manner. Cell mates and groups of men that try to conduct themselves in a civilized manner, they read, listen to the radio, discuss politics and current events, and hope to get out one day. But, in order to survive, you sometimes have to do bad things, like stab someone to death from time to time.

      Out of prison now, my friend Don is doing pretty well now. He owns a home, property, and about fifteen vehicles. He has to deal with white trash, and criminals, but he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want to hear their stupid nonsense jibber jabber, or be around them, or have anything to do with them.

      Would you or could you say that Don was low class? You could. Could you say that Don was uneducated? You could. Could you say that Don was trashy? You could. But Don is sick and tired of having anything to do with trashy. low class, uneducated people, he wouldn’t hesitate to say it.


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