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Published August 30, 2012, 11:30 PM

Benshoof: Why I like living in North Dakota, no matter what anyone else says

FARGO – “North Dakotans…sure are a feisty bunch!” a New York journalist posted Thursday on her Facebook page.

FARGO – “North Dakotans…sure are a feisty bunch!” a New York journalist posted Thursday on her Facebook page.

In the two days since it was published, an opinion piece by Mandi Woodruff has stirred up quite the hornets’ nest over here in North Dakota.

The story, published on Wednesday on the Business Insider website with the headline “Why I’ll Never Move to North Dakota, No Matter What the Experts Say,” argues exactly that.

Essentially, Woodruff thinks that North Dakota isn’t that great a place despite all the national attention we’ve received lately.

Some North Dakotans are pretty emotional about the putdown, so I don’t mean to add to that. Rather, I’d like to nitpick at a few inaccuracies that I think poke holes in Woodruff’s argument.

First, she says that our economy is booming due to the “mining and shale industry.”

Um, yeah, so North Dakota does have mining, that’s true, but I feel like Woodruff meant to refer to our oil. We have a whole lot of that these days, apparently.

Second, Woodruff says that the state’s largest city, “Fargo, has fewer than 200,000 residents.”

Well, sure, the city itself has more than 105,000 people, but the metro area has nearly 210,000.

Specifics, journalists!

Third, Woodruff says that living in New York City, she pays “twice as much rent” as she ever did in her home state of Georgia, and adds that she’s “constantly floored by things like $11 salads and $17 cocktails.”

But then she uses the example of an average reporter’s salary in Fargo – just over $31,000 a year, she says – to argue that she wouldn’t make much money here.

But isn’t that missing the point? Sure, I might not get paid as much as she does in New York, but I’m not paying for $11 salads or $17 cocktails either.

What I am paying is a very reasonable rent for an excellent apartment, and I rarely pay more than $5 for a drink when I go out.

And more than that, I have a heck of a time living and going out with all the other young people here. Monday night trivia nights are often a highlight of my week, and Friday and Saturday nights are more than a little bit wild.

I understand her point: A person can live where they want to despite what lists tell us.

But the thing is, you don’t make that point with inaccuracies (no matter how small) and biases about a place that – I’m assuming – you’ve never visited.

So, Mandi, if I can address you by your first name here: If that’s true, I personally invite you to come to Fargo, as one young journalist speaking to another (of course, on my measly North Dakota salary, I can’t go so far as to pay for your airfare. I hope you understand).

I’d be happy to show you, Mandi, just how flat it is, how windy it is, how nice everyone is, and how much fun it is to be a young person living here.

If you still don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not for everybody. It’s certainly no New York City or Atlanta, but that’s what I like about it.

It’s Fargo, and it has its own charms and quirks that can’t be summed up in lists or data, and can’t be understood by those who’ve never visited.

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