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“Why the heck did you move to Fargo?”

March 17, 2011 by Hailey Goplen

The question I get asked most often when I introduce myself to someone new in the FM area is, “Why the heck did you move to Fargo?”

While I originally was a little surprised by this comment, and would stumble with my words to come up with an answer, I’ve now gotten into a routine with my “elevator speech” like response. “For a boy.”

A year ago, I was living in Washington State and serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with a program called Washington Reading Corps. I had moved to Washington in May of 2009 as a bright eyed graduate from James Madison University in Virginia. My year of AmeriCorps was soon ending, and I was beginning to contemplate my next move. It was around that time that I received a phone call from my boyfriend, Blake, in which he said, “I got into NDSU. Looks like I’m headed to Fargo!”

Priding myself on my sense of independence and cringing at the idea of following a man anywhere, led alone a place where I had no family, no connection, and no idea what I was getting myself into, I decided to have a glass of wine and start job hunting. If I was supposed to move to Fargo, I’d get a sign. That sign came sooner than I thought when I stumbled across an AmeriCorps position with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity in Moorhead as the PR/Marketing VISTA. While I wasn’t thrilled at living below the poverty line for another year, this was my dream job– PR/Marketing for a non-profit.

I interviewed with the organization over the phone, and then came the inevitable question, “So, why do you want to come to Fargo/Moorhead?” To which I replied, “Well, it sounds like a great opportunity.” <<pause>> “So, you know it gets pretty cold here, right?” To which I replied, “Yeah, I can handle it.”

A few months later and I was Fargo bound and ready to start my adventure in the Midwest.

It’s been a few months since I’ve arrived, but I have come to realize how much I absolutely love the Midwest and its unique charm. I have played my first game of beer darts, learned what a “hotdish” is, survived my first winter, and I’m preparing to tackle my first sandbagging experience. I have tried to embrace the Midwest, and build relationships with some of the friendliest people I have ever come in contact with in my entire life. I am saddened by how many people still associate a movie with a wood chipper as a good representation of this unique community.

In this blog, I’ll share my experiences in North Dakota and the Midwest (lutefisk excluded), and shed a little light on the glories that the Midwest has to offer. I’ll try to become truly Midwestern. :)


  1. Kristen says:

    Hi! I live in Fargo and I’m thinking of leaving! I’m the grave-shift at IHOP, you should come and visit me. I love Fargo, but I also think that I want to see the rest of the world a little more too. I’d love to hear your input.

  2. Kelli says:

    I am from Oregon and am moving to Fargo within the year! I have yet to experience a Fargo winter and am very nervous since Oregon is relatively temperate.

    Any tips on what I absolutely need to endure a frozen winter?

  3. CC says:

    Just found your site! I live in NJ, husband lives in Fargo. Met online…so I’m moving there in less than 3 weeks. I’ve visited there once before and it’s quite beautiful and friendly. My first mission when out there, find a place where I can get Asian food supplies. I know theres an Asian Market, but I’m not sure what they carry D:.

  4. Cathy says:

    You guys should really start heading to Jamestown and start trying buffalo! It’s alot like beef and you can have buffalo steaks but it is much leaner and healthier! also try venison! :) I would love to see your posts about those!

  5. Amanda says:

    I just found your blog and am going to read the ENTIRE thing! I moved away from Fargo in 2008…for a boy! 😉 This post brought tears to my eyes. I miss the incredibly friendly people the most!! It’s so difficult to explain to non-Midwesterns how the people are different!! I look forward to reading the rest of your blog and will add it my ‘favorites.’ You can be sure I will be commenting on other posts as well!

    • I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my blog! Since I’ve been writing this blog, it’s amazing to me how many people that have moved away from the Upper Midwest still have such a huge place in their heart for this area!

  6. My company will be moving me to Fargo at the end of the month. Got any advice for online resources like good sides of town, where to live, etc.? Everything I’ve read about Fargo so far has me excited, but not being able to find Krav Maga or a European motorcycle shop there also has me a little concerned.

    • Hi Eric,
      A great website is if you are looking for renting. That’s how I found my apartment. Really there isn’t a “bad” part of town to live in. When I first moved to Fargo I lived near the mall area and that was nice being close to places to eat and shops. After about a year I moved closer to downtown and the NDSU campus. I love being able to walk downtown where more of the local dining and shops are as well as funky bars. The housing in that area are typically older but have a lot of charm. Also, south Fargo (across the interstate) has a lot of new development, but I’m not as familiar with the area. Hope this helps and welcome to Fargo!

  7. Heather says:

    WOW!!!! I thought I was the only one!!!! I moved here this summer from Fairfax County Va. I also followed a man. The adjustment to life in Fargo has been challenging to say the least!!!!

    • I love finding other east coasters out in North Dakota! Hope you’re adjusting well!

      • Heather says:

        There should be a club for all of us East Coast transplants. The adjestment has been interesting thus far. I am a teacher and one of the parents in kindergarten class told me about your blog. I loved the dictionary!!! Your recent post about Hotdish was great. I recently just discovered what a hot dish was. I am fearful of the approaching winter. Back home we would do snow dances, wear our pajamas background and flush ice cubes down the toliet all in hope that it would snow and we would have a snow day from school!!! I have been told that school is rarely cancelled for snow.

        • I love hearing about other East Coast transplants! Don’t fret too much about winter. It’s tough but you just suck it up and get through it. Make sure you get a heavy coat and a great pair of mittens.

  8. Jeff Healey says:

    I tend to ask people “why did you move here?” just out of habit when in reality I love it here! The winters kind of suck at times but we enjoy the summer more. Besides, every part of the country has its downfall whether it be hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, or tornadoes.

  9. Tracy Briggs says:

    I’m a little late in commenting because I just stumbled across your blog. What a great idea! My job is to recommend areavoices blogs to the 36 newspapers owned by Forum Communications. I’d love to get your blog featured in some of our papers soon. By the way, I moved to Fargo from Maryland/Virginia when I was in elementary school. Our relatives back in the DC area still question why we live here. (I do too occasionally in the winter). But most of the time, I think it is a fantastic place to be!

  10. Putts says:

    Agree with everything you wrote. I moved back to Oregon from Fargo and have no idea why I did. Fargo is great. Maybe the best city in the country. Economically it is, for sure. But the charm of the Midwest and the people in Fargo is something you can’t find anywhere else. You won’t ever find a place with more people willing to just act decent and friendly. And yes, Fargonians will have to deal with the wood chipper references for eternity. Even though none of the movie was filmed anywhere near Fargo.

    • Yes, Fargo has been great. Love the people, hate the weather. Oregon isn’t so bad though either! I have a lot of family in that area and lived in Washington last year. Thanks for commenting!

    • shayna says:

      I moved to Fargo from Oregon and it was literally the best choice I have ever made. I love it here. I prefer the cold over 9 months of rain, I think the people here are much friendlier, and the atmosphere is exactly what we wanted. The low COL, lower housing costs, and low unemployment plus the way they put education first here really help seal the deal for me.

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