Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FAQ on Relocating to Williston ND

Williston the land of the jobs for everyone! And everyone makes over 100k per year!  WRONG! With all the attention out there I thought I would update my blog and then over the holiday update my YouTube video.  So much information needs to be cleared up… I hear the “mis-information” from family, friends and individuals that relocate…they wish they had some more info, on a personal level.  Much has changed since I recorded FAQ on Relocating to Williston ND.  I think I should do a little housekeeping.  I guess I am going to start by reminding everyone: Nothing EVER comes for free.  Hard work, Long Days and commitment go a long way.  It is a way of life here! The other thing that was not even on my radar when we were considering our relocation was, how my presence in this town might affect others. Everyone is different and change especially when you didn’t expect it is hard to deal with. I was so wrapped up in the thought of ruining my children’s lives that I didn’t think much about those lives I would touch once I arrived.  …I had nothing to worry about with my kids! They are resilient and have learned quite a bit.  They have good and bad days but I am so proud.  See last Blog called Inspiration!
Respect!  I am going to address this early on, I have met people from all different levels of residency here in Williston and I am so lucky to say I have made some life long friends.  I am honored to know you and that you have allowed me in!  Those who have lived here and had family who homestead the area and they are carrying on the lifestyle and tradition from their ancestors, I admire. Those who lived and stayed through the last Boom/Bust period are flourishing and have learned many life lessons they are influencing this new type of boom, I am inspired.  Those who are have been here for 2-4 years and have brought their family here and are trying to become part of the community, I say get involved and be heard.  Those who are here to work their days and go home on their days off, I commend you and your love and commitment to family, this boom would not be possible without your service.  Those who are just arriving, and have decided to make this home, are going thru changes and challenges, Be Strong, we need good people to form a strong bond and a community we can be proud of.  Most of all be respectful… This is your home too, if only for your "days on" or full time, we are all in this together.  Remember we are all irritated by the traffic, and lack of services and the high prices…but if we try to do it as a united front…then that my friends, is half the battle!
Yes, I had preconceived notions about… moving to a small town, much less a micropolitan area (that is the official term).  You travel about 6 miles in any direction and you are in what I would consider a “rural” area.  Most of the time when we are traveling or exploring other areas of Williams County we travel on Dirt, gravel, Chip Seal roads.  When you come from an area that is very urbanized and has been planned out down to the last blade of grass, this is most certainly a shock.  But now that our 2 year anniversary date is coming up there are many things that are normal now that were in the least bit normal in that, during our first few months here. 
Lets talk about SALARIES and how much money “EVERYONE” makes here:  Don’t believe everything you see on television.  Reporters have come to Williston “Boomtown” North Dakota to get a “scoop”  If they were to say that the average household makes nearly, the same as the average American household… now that wouldn’t be exciting? Or a “story”… I have checked the numbers; happily, it is slightly higher than the average AMERICAN household.  In 2014 the Average American household income was $52,000.00 per year.   2014 Williston is $72,000.00 PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR according to  Yes there are jobs/careers, for men and women, that pay more, much more!...yes they pay $100k a year or more!  I work for the County so I am not making a boatload of money!  We need 2 incomes to raise our 4 children and secure their future, college is just around the corner!  I love my job and could, most likely, get paid more in the oilfield but I do prefer to make a difference in my new hometown.  I know my family is not banking $200k a year!  Add the cost of living opposed to what we bring home, well…. That’s for another paragraph.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I do want to inform those who are researching moving to our fine Boomtown!  Kuddos to those trying to be prepared!
High Paying Jobs: Be warned and prepared! Yes, any men or women can get a high paying job. Yes you can get a job pretty quick after arriving in Williston North Dakota… but these are very specific jobs, and generally companies want people with some experience (and a current CDL is helpful as well as an OSHA 10 class or some safety certifications).  If you are a go getter who is determined and tenacious, I have faith that you could come to Williston, find a job and make it all work out!  When I arrived 2 years ago there weren't as many jobs for women, there are jobs for everyone...I have 2 sons that work and make a very good wage!  So really man, woman, child (15 and over) Please do your homework, be prepared and please do not come with your criminal record, suspended license and last 40 bucks...  For every story that is positive there are another 10 (probably more) That doesn’t NOT turn out that way. Some end in tragedy, I am still touched when I think about the young man who was fatally stabbed about 6 months ago at the local gentlemen's club...He came here to work and find the golden goose, instead he was sent home to his family, to grieve and lay him to rest.  I still have a hard time with it!  I didn't even know him, but heart breaks for all who did.  I go back to nothing comes for free.  In my experience (2 years and being close to the heartbeat of the county) and talking with many people who have relocated here, their journey was not the easiest.  Some were desperate… and after hearing about a small Northern Plains town that has 35,000 jobs to offer ,how could they not find employment right off the train?  The media makes it sound like there are people standing at the train station with applications to fill out and keys to housing units ready for you to move right in with your rucksack.  FYI, that’s not the case!
Cost of Living:  What no one talks about, it is the silent downside to living here.  Everything has a “Williston tax” on it, really it’s a phrase we have coined, there is no real tax that it implemented.  It seems goods and services in this area have a premium attached to them.  Any normal cost of living item or service is at least 30% more than what you find in “Anytown USA”.  Groceries are insanely expensive and there are no Big Box stores like Sam’s or Costco (well… There are but you have to drive to Bismarck, 4 hours, or Billing Montana 6 hours) to buy in bulk and get a savings.  There is Walmart but the prices there are in line with everything else in the area.  I pay $5.75 for a gallon of milk.  Produce sucks (I miss California produce) I know people who need vehicle repairs.  It takes 3-4 weeks to get an appt then sometimes (especially body work) it could take 8 to 10 weeks to get your vehicle back and to rent a car here it is generally $100 per day…so off to Minot or Bismarck to even find a rental to get you thru the 8-10 week stint.  SO you see everything here is just a little more of a challenge.  Oh, and that body repair will cost you an additional 40%!  What was once a sleepy little town is slowly growing into a larger city and that is sometimes met with resistance.  But growth is the necessary evil when it comes to the individuals that have made this their home getting the day to day services just to keep things going.  The oil field is a 24/7 business and it wears on everyone.  There is other industry here, like farming and ranching and those are not jobs, they are lifestyles and they do not stop for holidays or weekends either.  Williston is a non-stop town (except for Sunday morning from 5am to noon, most everything is closed! we have that going for us)
Housing is a challenge; we now have more options and there are places to live but the prices are still sky high.  I have touched on this before and not much has changed…except you CAN find housing its just if you want to pay the price they are asking.  We are lucky enough to own a home and our mortgage is nothing near what some are paying to rent an apartment!
Job Hunting is always the biggest question I get when asked about the area.  I have found that the job fair is a wonderful way to get facetime with the HR professionals that are seeking, not good, but exemplary job seekers.  You can visit JobND and get a feel for whats available but really it is important to know the area and the companies that are looking for outstanding individuals who have clean driving records, clean criminal records and can pass a drug test as well as have some experience in the field they are searching.  Keep in mind you will not just come to town and be able to access the HR department of any large company.  Most, if not all applications are done online so get them done before you head to town.  Try to do all of your applying and resume building before you leave your home base and also clean up your background and even your financials so you have the opportunity to buy instead of rent.
Schools:  There are a couple of Districts and one of my first revelations was that this area has some of the most wonderful teachers on the planet.  They have a challenge that is far different that other schools and districts in most of the United States.  You find that families move in to town and then are transferred or decide that this might not be the place for them and off they go, taking their children with them!  (similar with Military Families without the Military part) The transient style of life here is difficult for teachers, families and kids and so I wanted to be a part of the solution.  I ran to be a School Board Member for New Public School District 8; and won, after living here for about 9 months! I quickly realized that this takes a lot of hard work and dedication, every decision I make I take into consideration the children that attend that school and move forward the best way to assist them in achieving their goals!  District 8 is the rural district that covers many, many miles of Williams County and we have a revolving door type population in our schools.  When I arrived and realized I was going to put my children in a school that is considered a “Prairie School”… I was not sure about it, I had serious reservations!  I even had one of the kids say it reminded him of his Daycare back in California(he was from a Middle School that had about 1500 kids!) big change!  What we found is that these teachers care deeply for these children and did the best they could with what they were given.  These classrooms are way behind in Technology and some other areas.  But these teachers and students make the best of it.  My children are better people now and I attribute some of that to their teachers and most students making them feel welcome and part of their new community!  I am proud to be a District 8 Parent and most of all Board Member.
I have really taken to my new home and hope we will become a thriving community, there is a lot of work to be done and it is a full time job keeping our “Boomtown” in check.  It is no easy task coming to Williston North Dakota to find work and making all of the pieces come together.  I would be happy to answer anyone’s question but I do not have the magic answer to the burning question “Where do I find work there”…There are many ways, one of them is NOT coming here on a wing and a prayer.  There are message boards, JobsND, TrainND, Apply online at all the major employers in the area.  But just imagine: You are one of thousands looking to get work here… it can take months before your information gets in front of the right person.  You might be the perfect person for the position but the person on the other end has to sift through all of that info.  Be patient, I hear it’s a virtue!
Thank you Williston!  I know you didn't ask for me, but you got me!