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February 2020: teen-2-teen

Keeping youth in North Dakota

by Anne Kesler


If you ask teens where they plan to live when they get older, they may list places like New York City, Los Angeles, Miami or another popular, glamorous city. And while some will actually pursue their dream of living in these grand places, they may not realize they should add North Dakota to the list.

According to MoneyRates.com’s recent poll, North Dakota ranks No. 1 as the best state to live for young adults. It also has the highest proportion in the 20-24 age group of any state.

What is attracting young adults here? MoneyRates.com also analyzed this data and came up with a list of reasons:
• Career opportunities
• Youth population
• Education affordability
• Housing abundance
• Cost of rent
• Access to internet
• Number of fitness facilities relative to the young adult population
• Number of bars and night spots relative to the young adult population.

While this list would entice me to stay in North Dakota, there is still room for improvement. For me, the “fun factor” is a big factor. Bars and night spots are great for those 21 and over, but what about for ages 18-20?

I think Fargo is getting it right. The city has places for young adults under the age of 21 to gather, such as roller rinks, laser tag and festivities throughout the summer.

Looking to the western half of the state, events like ND Country Fest, gladiator runs and summer festivals are also attractive.

North Dakota is moving in the right direction with these kinds of incentives. Generation Z, my age group, feels best when they have a sense of community, when there are opportunities for entrepreneurship and where they see cultural diversity.

If North Dakota continues to improve in these areas, the state will not only retain its young people, but attract them from other states as well.

All these factors are important for keeping me in our state, but there is one that didn’t make the list. That is family. I come from a family of about 24 aunts and uncles, more than 40 first cousins and even more extended family. Knowing that I can have all the benefits of a big city, coupled with my family, makes it more likely that I, too, will live in North Dakota.

Anne Kesler, 18, is a senior at Mandan High School, where she is involved in The Courier, concert choir, school musicals and is leader of the sports student section. She enjoys drawing, painting, watching movies, singing and spending time with friends and family. She plans to major in strategic communications at North Dakota State University. Anne is the daughter of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative members Bill and Clarice Kesler.