North Dakota! The state that is mostly made up of tiny towns spread out across the frozen tundra. While we might not be the most famous state, there are qualities that the  people who grow up here possess, that’s not found anywhere else. Well, that’s what we tell ourselves anyways.  These are the undeniable signs that show you are from rural North Dakota!

1. Thirty minutes or more for a drive is nothing

Not only do you expect at least an half hour drive for a nice dinner or movie, but simply going to get groceries can be a bit of a drive. Your friends from bigger towns gawk at your statements of an hour long round trip to get a frappuccino from Starbucks. What else are you suppose to do when the closest mall is hours away? Never go shopping? Yah, right.


2. You’re always expecting to run into people you know

It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the post office or for a checkup at the doctor’s, you are going change out of those pajama pants because you expect to run into at least three people while you’re there. It’ll probably just be your mom’s old piano teacher who won’t stop mentioning how much you’ve grown, but it might be the star quarterback of the team so you at least gotta brush your hair out.

3. You laugh at “small towns” in movies

You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re watching a movie set in a “quaint little town” that the protagonist hates because it’s so tiny. Yet they have a rival high school… and several restaurants… and a hotel… and a college…and a club?! THAT IS NOT A SMALL TOWN, THAT IS A METROPOLIS!

4. You never lock you doors

Whether it’s your house or your car, it doesn’t even cross your mind to lock up before you leave. Yes, you have a perfectly fine security system and it takes no effort to flick the lock on your way out, but there you go down street without it popping into your head anyways. Break-ins are for big cities, right?


5. You are a pro at layering

Why risk being unprepared when you can always just takes layers of clothes off? When December rolls around, you’re sometimes leaving the house wearing what some people would consider a closet.  A cami, long sleeve, hoodie, windbreaker, coat, thermal underwear, leggings, sweatpants, 4 pairs of socks, and boots still has you wondering if you should bring an extra jacket.

6. You can handle cold temperatures

It’s the inevitable joke that’s made when people hear you’re from North Dakota. However, those jokes ring some truth. Compared to the rest of the country, you’re a polar bear. If it’s above freezing you chalk that up to a win and pull out your shorts.


7. You get called by your sibling’s name

Being that small towns are usually made up of at least 50% nursing home residents, when an older family friend sees you, they usually don’t greet you with your own name. Whether it’s your older or younger sibling, your cousin, or even your friend that they mistake you for, you just smile and roll with it. They’ll just do the same thing next time anyways.

8. You go hard for summer

We only have a couple months a year that the sun actually decides to come out of hiding, so when summer starts no one takes more advantage of it. Bonfires into the hours of morning, days spent on the dock of the lake, and tanning until your sunburn is peeling is only the tip of the iceberg. You always know how to make the most of your dwindling warm days.


9. You think other schools canceling for snow is ridiculous

While you had to drag yourself out of bed in below zero temperatures, you hear about kids in New York who get a week off of school because of a few inches of snow. How can you not roll your eyes? I have personally ruined dozens of shoes trudging through snow during high school, so excuse me for scoffing at a day off of school for anything less than a full scale blizzard.

10. “Just driving around” is an acceptable thing to do

For anyone else, a parent would be immediately suspicious to a kid claiming all they did the night before was drive around. However, when you live in rural North Dakota, what else is there to do? No mall, cold weather, and if there’s a movie theater it doesn’t have many showtimes.

11. It’s bonfires instead of house parties

When it’s not winter, you can be sure there are bonfires in empty fields happening throughout the state. We can’t really have parties within town when everyone knows each other, and a neighbor would call it in. Kids passing around bottles while in the glow of the fire is just a staple of rural life.


12. You talk about people using their first and last name

Is that John Miller over there? Or are you talking about Shelly O’Neil? People from larger towns usually don’t understand why we state a person’s full name. But you know five Bob’s, so how else are you going to fully gossip about him?

13. Traffic is a foreign concept

The idea of a six lane highway is a nightmare to you. The closest thing to a traffic jam is having to be stuck behind a tractor on the highway for a few miles. You don’t know how they do it in bigger towns, and you don’t really want to find out.


14. You take secrets to the grave

When you live in a small town, you either learn this the easy way or the hard way. A secret is like a mythological creature in a small town, once you tell one person it’s like you’re telling twenty. If someone trusts you enough to ensure their secret with you, you better hope it doesn’t spread like wildfire or else you’ll be in trouble.

15. Hot dishes and salads are a staple

If you look in any North Dakotan’s refrigerator, you are most likely going to find a type of casserole, salad, or hot dish. Our hot dishes can be any mixture of meat, cheese and potatoes, and our salads include everything from pasta, jello, fruit, cookies, or whipped cream. God forbid someone in the family gets sick, your fridge will be filled.


16. You refuse to admit you have an accent

If anyone brings up the movie Fargo, you’re ready to roll your eyes. People from out of state will sometimes giggle at your pronunciation of “flag” or “bag”. But you just don’t get it. To you, there is no Midwestern accent, you just sound like everybody else. Maybe you can hear it at certain times, but when you don’t you’re comfortable in denial.

17. Hunting items in every store is common

No matter what store you walk in, there’s a 50% chance you’ll be bombarded with camouflage everything. There’ll be clothing for both men and women  in camo, as well as duck calls, scopes, deer stands, and more. People in North Dakota love hunting, end of story.


18. You’re a survivalist

Think about it for a second, your pantry is stocked to the brim in case of a blizzard. Your car has an emergency kit in case you get stranded in a snow storm. Someone in your household can most likely hunt, fish, navigate, preserve food, etc. If the apocalypse comes, you’re more than ready.

19. When people ask where you’re from it’s an ordeal

It must be nice for people to just answer the question with “Chicago”. It’s like you have to give a mini geography lesson when you tell people where you’re from. Half the time you just use the state and don’t even mention your town. It doesn’t help that you don’t have many landmarks to use as a reference point.

20. You’re North Dakota nice

No, not everyone in North Dakota is nice, I am not saying that. There is however, this blanket of kindness over the state that is undeniable. You can call it ignorance, and maybe it is because we are a little sheltered, but anyone in this state would help someone out, they’d all lend a hand. Maybe being from this tiny state sometimes seems like a disadvantage, but you have this indescribable niceness in you soul because of it, and that’s not bad at all.


That’s it! Those were my 20 signs you’re from rural North Dakota. Comment if you have a good one that I missed.


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