Small-Town Values? Miami Family Shunned After Moving to North Dakota

Ever thought about fleeing Miami for the simple life of the Midwest? Perhaps leaving behind the hustle and bustle, constant traffic, crime, and hurricanes and trading it all in for a no-stoplight town in North Dakota? Well, before you pack your bags, take heed of the cautionary tale of the Tristani family. 

After seeing an advertisement from the 240-person town of Hazelton, North Dakota, offering two free lots and up to $20,000 toward the construction of a house, Michael and Jeanette Tristani decided four years ago to trade in the 305 lifestyle and take their 12-year-old twins north. In fact, they were the only family to take up Hazelton's offer aimed at revitalizing the small town that once flourished as a farming community but has seen population dwindle. 

However, locals didn't take too kindly to the newcomers. Maybe it was Michael's gold chains, Rolex, and Lexus.

"People thought I was a drug dealer," Michael told the

Associated Press


Michael and Jeanette had trouble fitting in, like the new kids at school trying to find a place to eat in a particularly cliquey cafeteria. 

"People prejudge you without getting to know you," Jeanette says.

They tried opening a coffee shop in town, but a rival drove by their home one day yelling obscenities. They had to take out a restraining order. 

So now they have their house on the market and are hoping to move back to Miami. 

We know certain politicians and cultural instigators like to talk about "real America" and "small-town values," and we know they're talking about places like Hazelton and not at all about Miami. 

But we've always had a feeling that was a crock. We'd much rather live in welcoming, sunny South Florida than a judgmental small town any day. We're not saying we're angels here in Miami, but -- damn it -- we don't shun anyone down here.

Yes, you might get mistaken for a drug dealer, but around here that's considered a compliment. 

There's more than enough room to have multiple coffee shops, and the only way a rival owner is going to come by cursing your house is if you insult his café cubano

And your gold chains, Rolex, and Lexus are considered major pluses when meeting new friends. 

We might not have small-town values and offer such a simple life, but you know what, I think we're better off for it. 

We can't wait to welcome you back, Tristani family. Hazelton can give you $15,000 to buy a house, but you and whoever else wants to come here always have a home in Miami. 

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