Faces of the Boom: Rising rent forces woman to move back in with family

Michelle Thomas, pictured Thursday, May 15, 2014, had to move away from Williston, N.D., after her rent increased and now commutes from Montana to work. Amy Dalrymple/Foum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – At 31, Michelle Thomas is back living at home, but it’s not by choice.

The Williston woman was forced to move in with her grandmother in Bainville, Mont., after her apartment building was sold and the new owner increased the rent.

Thomas said she learned on Jan. 20 that her rent of $550 a month for a one-bedroom in Williston’s Park Village Apartments would increase to $900 in March.

In addition, the new building owner required tenants to pay a higher security deposit, she said. For Thomas, she would have been required to pay an additional $700 on top of the $200 deposit she paid when she moved in 10 years ago.

The building is more than 30 years old, according to information from the Williams County Assessor’s Office.

Thomas works two part-time jobs in Williston as an administrative assistant and as a custodian for her church. But the two jobs together don’t pay enough for her to afford Williston’s high rent prices on her own.

“A lot of single people are having difficulty,” Thomas said.

Thomas has been living on her own since she was 18. Now she is back living in the home where she grew up and renting a storage unit for some of her belongings.

“It’s hard, especially when you’re used to your own space,” Thomas said.

Thomas now commutes 28 miles one-way to Williston, which can be challenging with busy oilfield traffic and road construction. She allows an hour to get to work on time and often takes Williston’s temporary truck reliever route to avoid the congestion.

She estimates she drives at least an extra 350 miles each week now. Thomas recently had to replace her windshield after a rock came through the glass. During a late spring snowstorm, her Ford Focus went into the ditch during her commute.

“It ended up being a costly day,” Thomas said.

Thomas has started to look at jobs in other communities. But her family lives in the area and she doesn’t want to move.

“I’ve seen a lot of my friends leave because of this,” Thomas said.

3 thoughts on “Faces of the Boom: Rising rent forces woman to move back in with family

  1. Something needs to be done with the high cost of living in the Williston area. It’s called greed and they don’t care that everyone doesn’t make the kind of money the oil workers make. It’s a shame when the locals have to move out because of the high prices. People should be taking care or at least trying to help the “middle class” people

  2. I have lived here for 20 years with my family.There will be 6 adults and 3 children moving out of Williston because of rent. Its too bad that the greed will give you more oilfield workers who live in other cities sending money home to other states. I pray that Williston will survive this greed fest.

  3. Once the housing catches up the cost of rent will go down. Do the people realize that if the cost of living goes down, wages will go down as well. Its all connected. Extra benefits your company may have added due to the oil will disappear too. Its all a cycle. I feel for those who are affected, but if you do not like your circumstances, change them. Williston is my home and always will be my home. I have never been hassled, and my friends and family have not been hassled. Yes it takes a little longer to get places, but it would in other areas too. What would people have if they moved back to where they came from? Nothing because there are no jobs. What kind of life would they have? Make the most of where you are and what you have and enjoy it.

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