Overheard on CNN.com: No home on the range
In the tiny towns surrounding the oil-rich Bakken formation in North Dakota, restaurant workers can make $15 an hour.
October 21st, 2011
03:58 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: No home on the range

"Buy a yurt."– lizng

Six-figure salaries, but homeless

Double your salary in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota

New technologies for tapping oil in North Dakota's Bakken formation have transformed nearby towns like Watford City and Williston into boomtowns. While the pay can be excellent for the job seekers moving there, finding a place to live may be next to impossible. CNN.com readers thought it was still a good deal, although some mentioned the weather, and others mentioned environmental concerns.

zooni said, "This is not a story, as many people move for jobs and live in cars. With a 6-figure salary you can buy a luxury camper if there are no rooms."

pianobarb said, "What about trailers? And if they have an extra bedroom, people in North Dakota could start renting out rooms: win-win for everyone. So what if they have to rough it for awhile? They're going to be making beaucoup bucks."

andTimmy replied, "Come out here and try it. ... Everything is taken up west of the Missouri."

IgM2 said, "How about all of the out-of-work contractors and construction teams go up there and build houses? More work for everyone!"

Nick11354 said, "If it were that easy to secure a job and housing (without current employment) more would be doing it." mouthbreathr replied, "I live in one of these small towns in North Dakota, and yes, it is that easy. Oil brings a huge need for service-related industries. The biggest challenge is housing: can't build them fast enough. If people want a job, come to North Dakota. The salaries quoted are real. Downside: it is cold, but manageable."

About that weather ...

MickProPer said, "All of these folks who are journeying there to cash in on this oil boom, may change their minds, after they've lived through a North Dakota winter - a 45 mph wind and -40 degrees makes for about -100 degree wind chill!"

Athenais Padgett said, "I'm so sick of people bitching about 'how cold North Dakota gets.' Ya, it get's cold. -30*F in January/February isn't uncommon. But as long as you know how to wear a coat, gloves, scarf, and boots, you'll be fine. I don't think people realize that North Dakota isn't any farther north than Maine is. And our summers are wonderful: no humidity or bugs."

RedDawn2012 said, "How cold is it in North Dakota? I spent January 1972 on a programming job in Grand Forks, ND, and it was a sunny afternoon when I arrived. I was last off the plane and jumped back inside after taking a breath and said to the stewardess, 'What the hell is wrong with the air?' She said, 'Didn't you hear my announcement that it is 35 below zero outside?' "

Not everyone thought the oil boom was a good thing.

When Philo1971 wrote, "This is what America is about. Real Americans do what it takes to make it through tough times. Stories like this make you hate OWS even more. While these people are picking up and moving to the middle of nowhere to support their families the bums at OWS just sit around and whine."

JomoDaMusicM said, "Tough times, lol, ON TEN GRAND A MONTH." and Tex71 asked, "Should Americans HAVE to pick up and move their families out into the middle of nowhere just so they can make ends meet? Is this the best that the wealthiest nation in history has to offer its hard-working citizens? If that is really what you are saying then shame on you."

latuya83 wrote, "This is why we need to allow drilling in this country, there is plenty of oil and gas resources. I'm all for the environment, but we need to keep things in perspective and right now is not the time to go green. We need to stimulate the economy and create jobs first. Once the country is back on track then we can start worrying about green jobs and all the tree huggers."

denvmike replied, "I agree, but first you move to one of the towns where fracking has fouled the local water supply."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below, or sound off on video.

For those of you who would like to share news and comments that may be off topic, there is now a site where you can do just that. Here's the link:

Open thread: Talk about the news

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    One has to go where the work is, if they employment.
    Sad, but true.
    I have a friend who just came back from TX after 2 years, because he couldn't find work here.
    His family stayed here.
    Was it tough on them? You bet.
    He did it for his family, though, as I would.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Phantom VI

    Cold weather would not prevent my moving anywhere.
    My friend Sheryl adores fur.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    North Dakota? Pfft. Try moving to Fort MacMurray, Alberta.

    No seriously, try it. They're desperate for people.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NDboy

    Many great suggestions, but to understand the situation you really have to visit here. Campers aren't an option through the ND winters because it gets so cold that thye freeze up. Out of state contrators are trying to come in to help build houses but there is no place for their help to live while they accomplish that. Residents in the state who are willing to rent out space have already done so. Many are taxed by having to house friends/family from the Souris River flood of 2011. I hope solutions become apparent, but no easy solutions are viable.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    I would go anywhere for my family.

    I've met Sheryl before.
    She does.

    October 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    I meant to say I know *of* her.

    October 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat2u

    Wow, if they're paying their employees $15.00 an hour, can you imagine how much a hamburger would be ?

    October 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Old driller w/no TV

    The Bakken formation contains more oil than can be found in Saudi Arabia, and this has been well-known since the late 70s. We still drill into shale formations just like we did back in the 70s, there are truly no "new" technologies for drilling, just the tweaking of old technologies.

    The only reason we have not fully exploited our own vast oil and natural gas reserves is because the men who have been running this country for decades make more persoanl profit by having US buy OPEC oil. Their giant energy corporations profit in this manner: they control refineries in the US. There has not been one single new refinery constructed in the USA over the past 30 years. When refineries reach maximum output and the demand is still rising (such as summer driving months) the price goes through the roof based on artificially limited supply and natural demand.

    And really folks, we've had the technology to run virtually everything off of compressed natural gas since the mid 1970s, when the Colorado Springs Gas dept. converted an automobile to tun on CNG (not propane). The car ran fine, ran for 100,000 miles, and when the engine was torn-down for inspection...zero carbon buildup. The fuel cell could, and was refilled each night using a very small gas compressor from the same Ng lines that goto your homes to heat them. However, the Federal Government "sh!tcanned" the entire operation.

    Today, it is less expensive for Ng pipleine operators to run their gas compressors engines off of diesel fuel than it is to run them off of the Ng that they are compressing to keep the gas flowing through the pipeline. Why? Because of taxes. Ng burns clean, Diesel is a main poluuter.

    We need men in charge who are not tied nor beholding to major oil corporations. When this event happens, and it WILL happen, we will be running virtually everything off of natural gas, not just heating our homes with it. Our skies will become clear, because we won't be burning coal and diesel to poluute them. Our health will improve, and so the doctors whom the CIA will be throwing into corporate prisons for 'prescribing short-term use only' pharmaceuticals for extended periods of time to make profit RATHER than health will not be needed. (they will be doing their hippocratic oath assignments from prison though, our true national healthcare program. They will remain in prison until every single penny they swindeled from us is repaid. Look for free broken bone repair in the near future)

    Our immediate future is secure. We will be enjoying an unprecedented growth in our economy, and we won't be paying 5 bucks a gallon for gasoline. We will be driving cng cars, and we already are, all of us. Your automobile can easily be converted to run on clean burning non-polluting cng with existing technology. We do not need "alternative energy", we already sit atop the largest reserves of natural gas on planet earth. (speaking of N. America, incl. Canada)

    Happy days will be here again! I get to be Eddie Haskel. 🙂

    October 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      You know, if you go there, you'll make lots of money, and you'll be too busy to post these massive volumes on CNN. A win-win.

      October 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Old driller w/no TV...you think I'm crazy

    "I agree. All virtuous and [truly] patriotic men have some madness about them, for it is 'normal' for men to be wicked and to be traitors."-Scaevola

    October 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phantom II

    @ banasy:
    Sheryl remembers you fondly. She admires your writing, and often says that you have Eudora Welty's kind of spunk in a Yankee manifestation.
    It's after sunset now, so Sheryl is walking her baby Bengals in Central Park on two chains. She'd be heartbroken if they got loose.

    October 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Old Driller

    @Clown...I retired from the oilfield back in 1996. (other than doing some spot consulting for frelatives/local outfits) But I would have loved to break you out in worms corner.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Old Driller

    How's it going Joey. 😉

    October 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tif31

    good night

    October 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Zenomath

    Good news from Williston, N.D. There really is plenty of housing for renters. Bad news, you give out $4000 the first month and $2000 there after. Oh Happy Day!!

    October 22, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • WRONG

      wrong, I live here in williston and there is not 1 available apartment anywhere! All motels are completely booked and houses pop up once in a while for sale but arent for sale for long.

      October 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. olibates

    make $85/hour on the computer. like my sister sherry has been without a job for 7 months but last month her check was $7330 just working on the computer for a few hours. I started 5 days ago and am doing great! Read about it here: lazycash5.c@m(replace @ with letter 'o')

    October 22, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
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