It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I learned WalMart allows (perhaps encourages) overnight stays in their parking lots by RV owners and others traveling around the county. In the latest story in a series of reports from CNN/Money from the oil boom of town Williston, North Dakota, it seems that, due to the local housing shortage, some are taking up permanent residence there. Here’s a typical case:

Les Wilson
Home state: Florida

I’m from way down south and I’m up here in a blizzard part of North Dakota hunting for jobs with thousands of other people.

I’m 61 and still going strong — at least trying to, anyway. I only have a truck to sleep in, but I’m making out okay.

I’ve been overseas for the last four years working for the military, and I just got back from Afghanistan June 1. I spent a few months at home and I knew that jobs — good paying jobs — were available here in North Dakota in the oilfields. So I told my wife — I kissed her goodbye and said, `Honey, I gotta go find a good-paying job’. And here I am, and I’ve been here for the last month or so.

Good ol’ Walmart is being very hospitable about letting us stay in their parking lot.

Update: After spending three weeks looking for a job, Les in now getting paid $25 an hour (and lots of overtime) to haul water to the oil fields. He’s still sleeping in his truck, because the building his company uses to house all the truckers doesn’t have any extra room for him. But since it’s getting cold outside, he’s recently had to sleep inside the garage for a little more warmth. His wife, son and grandson are moving in with him in November — and he’s hoping to upgrade to a larger mobile home when they arrive.

The other individuals profiled are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and California. Apparently WalMart pays about double in Williston what they pay elsewhere because workers are in such high demand – that’s what a 3.5 percent unemployment rate will do (that’s for the state – it’s probably even lower in Williston).