The Highest Rents In The United States Are In Williston, North Dakota

You think rents are high in San Francisco? Try Williston, North Dakota. No wait, don't—there's nowhere to live. According to a new study by Apartment Guide, the most expensive rents in the country can be found in this relatively tiny North Dakota town.

The study looks at the price for "entry level apartments," defined as one-bedroom, one-bath units around 700 square feet. Here's what that kind of space will set you back per month in the five priciest cities:

Williston, North Dakota: $2,394

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: $1,881

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, California: $1,776

Dickinson, North Dakota: $1,773

Key West, Florida: $1,640

The area widely considered to be the most expensive place to rent in the country, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island region, didn't even crack the top five, at $1,504.

Two North Dakota cities are in the top five thanks to a burgeoning oil industry that's building instant cities in the Great Plains. The explosive increase in oil production has transformed Williston and other cities into boom towns with dramatic population spikes. In Williston, a city on the edge of the Bakken Oil Fields, the population has doubled in the last five years, from 14,700 in the 2010 census to over 30,000 people today. The growth is akin to the way the Gold Rush quickly urbanized parts of California in mid-1800s.

In fact, so many people are moving to the area to work for oil companies that so-called "man camps" made from temporary structures were built over the last few years to keep up with demand. That means your $2,394/month apartment might look something like this:

The Highest Rents In The United States Are In Williston, North Dakota

The housing shortage is so dire that people are living in their cars and the homeless population has swelled 200 percent over the last year. Since there are no official homeless shelters, churches apply for temporary permits to help house the thousands of workers who come seeking employment. A $35 million housing incentive fund was introduced in 2011 with the hope of subsidizing the cost of new, affordable housing. Unfortunately, the fund was depleted late last year.

We hear so much about the way the tech boom is shaping the Bay Area, but if you look at where the most astounding growth is happening in the country, it's not startups that are making the most dramatic changes to U.S. cities. It's oil. [Apartment Guide via KGO-TV]

Top image: Pump jack outside Williston, North Dakota by Matt Novak; Bakken oil fields in Williston, North Dakota by AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File