In North Dakota, there is a small town where CNN reports that “companies are hiring like crazy, and you can make $15 an hour serving tacos, $25 an hour waiting tables and $80,000 a year driving trucks.”
Because of a big oil boom in the area, there are many amazing career development opportunities to be found for just about anyone looking for employment. There is a catch, though. In a town with normally around 3,000 residents, there are more than 6,000 people now living and working there, which translates to a big housing shortage.
Americans from around the country are flocking to middle-of-nowhere, North Dakota in order to improve their lives and the lives of their families by working for better hourly rates than most of the country, working overtime, and, living in their cars. That’s right. There are people making multiple thousands of dollars each week working for oil companies who are camping in their cars in a Walmart parking lot and taking sponge baths in local gas station bathrooms.
One must admire the intrepid determination of those who are dedicated to making a better life, but working overtime and then coming home to live in one’s car doesn’t exactly demonstrate healthy work-life balance.
One parking-lot dweller states, “I guess it’s worth it to be living like this — for the time being at least.” Most of his neighbors feel the same way – that living in a small car in a cold North Dakota winter is worth it in the short-term to make a better life in the long-term.
Another backseat resident recently returned home from Afghanistan and then moved from Florida to North Dakota to make a better life for his family. According to CNN, he is currently living in his car in order to work at his job to make $25 per hour, and he plans to bring his family to join him in slightly larger accommodations this winter. But will he be able to establish a healthy work-life balance when they arrive?
Just because career development opportunities currently abound in rural North Dakota doesn’t necessarily make the sacrifice worth it to many people. Uprooting one’s family (or leaving one’s family behind) to live in a town with few homes to live in doesn’t make sense to many people in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle or work-life balance. Can one find quality time with family or time to relax and unwind after a long day of work in the back of a car in a bitterly cold Walmart parking lot? Sometimes making sacrifices just to make more money are not worth the cost in time or in togetherness.