Is South Dakota A Good Place To Live?

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
July 9, 2024
Table of Contents

Really a Good Place to Live?

Are you thinking of living in South Dakota, wondering whether it’s a good idea? Well, the answer is simply yes. It is a fantastic area to live in with numerous advantages. You can also move to South Dakota for its beauty. Thousands of tourists visit South Dakota each year to see Mount Rushmore, but the state's natural riches, low cost of living, and flourishing economy also attract new inhabitants.

Agriculture, tourism, and national defense are the mainstays of South Dakota's economy. Here, Brookings, Sioux Falls, and Yankton are among the best locations to live. Learn more about South Dakota and the best areas to live in the state by reading on.

Is South Dakota a Good Place to Call Home?

South Dakota has a population of about 880,000 people and is the 16th-largest state in terms of total land area among the 50 states in the United States. The quality of life in SD is one of the best in the country. In addition, South Dakota ranks as one of the happiest and most interesting states in the country.

In South Dakota, freedom isn't just a term; it's a way of life. That's why businesses adore South Dakota's business-friendly environment, which is devoid of red tape and brimming with opportunities. South Dakota is often known as the Land of the Free because of its high quality of life and pro-business legislation.

What are the Pros of Living in South Dakota?

● Low cost of living: South Dakota is the 5th most affordable state to live in. Several factors, including taxation, have contributed to this ranking.

● Fewer people, more land: South Dakota has a population of less than a million people. With a land area of nearly 77,000 square miles, therefore, fewer people have more land.

● Old town vibe: The state feels like an old friend, bringing comfort, friendliness, and camaraderie, whether you live in a tiny town like Harrold or busy Sioux Falls.

● Business boom: Small firms, in particular, are seeing a boom. South Dakota is an excellent area for entrepreneurs and creatives who want to take advantage of the state's low taxes and LLC benefits.

● Job opportunities: South Dakota ranks ninth in terms of job opportunities, with options in finance, necessary trades, mechanics, nursing, and more.

What are the Cons of Living in South Dakota?

● Extreme seasons: This Midwest state's summers and winters range from unbearably hot to bone-chillingly cold. If you decide to relocate here, be ready for extreme temperature swings.

● Unpredictable weather: South Dakota's terrain describes itself as "wild," but it also relates to the unpredictable weather.

● Lower median salaries: Despite having a cheap cost of living and affordable housing, South Dakota is now ranked position 30 on the list of states with the least median household income.

● Small-town vibe: This has been featured in both pros and cons. With a strong sense of community, residents know about everyone else's business, for better or worse.

● Sparse population: If you are looking for space, SD is the place to be. However, keep in mind that the state is sparsely inhabited, and distances between towns can be considerable.

● Weird laws: There are some odd laws in SD. For instance, if you lie down and take a nap at a cheese factory, the police will arrest you. Moreover, horses must also be dressed in pants while entering the Fountain Inn.

Key Factors Making SD a Good Place to Live

South Dakota is a great area to reside in for several reasons. Moreover, it has one of the strongest economies in the country, which is beneficial to small businesses.

Tax Rates

South Dakota residents enjoy lots of tax benefits. Below are some examples of taxes and their rates in South Dakota:

● Property tax: 1.32 percent of the property value is taxed. The effective real-estate tax rate in the United States is ranked 35th lowest.

● Sales tax: The sales tax rate in South Dakota is now 4.5 percent.

● Personal income tax: Currently, the state does not collect individual income tax.

Formal Education

South Dakota is ranked as position 38 in USA Today's list of states with the best public schools, yet it has the 19th lowest public-school funding in the US ($11,133 per kid). It also has the 23rd lowest high-school graduation rate, with approximately 84 percent of students graduating. The state is home to several modest institutions and universities in higher education.

South Dakota's public university system consists of six distinct campuses that offer something for everyone, including nationally recognized academic programs backed by strong community and donor support. Black Hills State University's main campus is minutes from excellent hiking, kayaking, biking, skiing, and snowboarding possibilities in the picturesque Black Hills of South Dakota. In addition,  BHSU is one of the top 20 colleges for outdoor adventurers.

Some of the top SD colleges include:

● Augustana University (Sioux Falls)

● University of South Dakota (Vermillion)

● South Dakota State University (Brookings)

● Northern State University (Aberdeen)

● University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls)

● Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell)

● Mount Marty College (Yankton)

● Dakota State University (Madison)

Some of the top SD Public School Districts include:

● Brandon Valley School District (Brandon)

● Dakota Valley School District (North Sioux City)

● Warner School District (Warner)

● Tea Area School District (Tea Area)

● Sioux Falls School District (Sioux Falls)

● Brookings School District (Brookings)

● Parkston School District (Parkston)

● Frederick Area School District (Frederick)

● Deubrook Area Schools (White)

● Wall School District (Wall)

Real Estate Market

Overall, renting rather than buying a home in South Dakota is a far more cost-effective option. The average monthly mortgage payment is around $1,255, yet the average monthly rent payment is around $696. Therefore, renting equates to monthly savings of about $560 or yearly savings of more than $6,700.

Despite this, homeownership remains reasonably priced, especially when compared to other states.

● The average home is worth $205,567.

● The average rental cost is about $565 for a one-bedroom apartment and about $723 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Some of the cheapest places to live in South Dakota are:

● Britton

● Tyndall

● De Smet

● Freeman

● Clear Lake

● Gettysburg

● Lemmon

● Salem

● Redfield

● Winner

Cost of Living

The cost of living index in South Dakota is 88.3. The national average is 100, so this index is significantly lower. However, groceries and health both have an index above 100, which means that the cost of both in South Dakota is more expensive than the national average.

Weather and Natural Disasters

The state of South Dakota divides itself into two zones: the West River and the East River. These two locations, separated by the Missouri River, have unique climates. Both zones have strong winds, as well as bitterly cold winters and scorching summers. The weather can also be erratic and unpredictable.

The state's eastern half has a humid continental climate. This climate produces moderate precipitation and humidity, which is distributed evenly across the four seasons. A semiarid steppe climate prevails in the western region, which implies less rainfall and more sunny days.

The climate statistics in South Dakota are as follows:

● Average rainfall – 23 inches

● Average snowfall – 39 inches

● Sunshine – 213 sunny days

● Summer high – 85°F (July)

● Winter low – 7°F (January)

Some of the threats and risks associated with natural disasters in SD:  

● Flooding

● Tornadoes

● Wildfires

● Blizzards

● Ice Storms

Transportation and Traffic

It is advised that residents have their own means of transportation due to the state's vast geography and limited population. South Dakota is undeveloped, with plenty of open areas between towns and cities. It also boasts one of the few states that do not have Amtrak service.

Some forms of transportation that you can use in SD include:

● Interstate highways and roads

● Air travel (including Rapid City Regional Airport)

● Coach (Greyhound, Jefferson Lines, Powder River Lines)

● Private cars, trucks, vans, or SUVs

● Carpool/vanpool

● Taxi service (Rapid Taxi and Quicksilver Taxi)

● Car rental (at airports and downtown districts)

● Ridesharing in select areas – Uber, Lyft, etc.

What are the Finest Places to Live in SD?

Hot Springs

Population: Approximately 3,700

Median Home Value: Around $142,200

Region: Western South Dakota (West River)

This little town of fewer than 4,000 people is the most popular retirement destination in South Dakota. The public schools are above average, and 63 percent of inhabitants own their homes.

Hot Springs nickname is Veteran's Town. It has various advantages, including a friendly community (with a Midwest vibe), a low cost of living, a VA hospital, outdoor activities (placed along Fall River and on the southern edge of the Black Hills), and a decent assortment of restaurants, antique shops, and businesses.

Rapid City

Population: Approximately 74,000

Median Home Value: Around $215,800

Region: Western South Dakota (West River)

Rapid City, South Dakota's second-largest city, is situated in Pennington County, on the eastern edge of the Black Hills. The homeownership rate is about 61 percent, and the public schools are above average.

Rapid City, known as the "Gateway to Mount Rushmore," offers a good mix of city conveniences with access to infinite outdoor adventures; it's close to the Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and more.

Sioux Falls

Population: Approximately 180,000

Median Home Value: Around $194,600

Region: Eastern South Dakota (East River)

It is the largest city in South Dakota, with a population of around 180,000 people. The public schools are highly rated, and about 61 percent of homeowners own their homes.

Sioux Falls, dubbed the "Gateway to the Plains," is the county seat of Minnehaha County, located near the Minnesota and Iowa state lines. The city is enjoyable to live in, with a low cost of living, excellent education, shopping, and the historic downtown Sioux Falls, among other amenities.

Dakota Dunes

Population: Approximately 2,900

Median Home Value: Around $266,400

Region: Eastern South Dakota (East River)

Dakota Dunes is an unincorporated town in Union County, located between the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River. People flock to this neighborhood because of its appealing housing market, low crime rate, and excellent amenities. Moreover, the public schools here are highly ranked, and about 59 percent of people own their homes.


Population: Approximately 14,000

Median Home Value: Around $168,700

Region: Central South Dakota

Pierre, the primary city of the Pierre metro region, is the United States' second-least-populated city (just behind Montpelier, VT). It is the state's eighth-largest city and capital. It is located in the Missouri River Valley and provides breathtaking landscapes including access to numerous outdoor activities. The public schools are above average, and about 61 percent of their inhabitants own their homes.


Population: Approximately 24,000

Median Home Value: About $206,600

Region: Eastern South Dakota (East River)

Brookings, the state's fourth-largest city, is regarded as the state's second best place to live. South Dakota State University, the state's largest university, is located here. Hillcrest Elementary School, Brookings High School, Medary Elementary School, Camelot Intermediate School, and Sioux Valley Elementary School are some of the best public schools in the Brookings area.


Population: Approximately 3,500

Median Home Value: About $86,800

Region: Central South Dakota

Mobridge, South Dakota's fourth best place to retire, is a charming lakeside community on the Missouri River in Walworth County.  In approximately 64 percent of the cases, residents own their homes, and the public schools are above average.


Population: Approximately 10,000

Median Home Value: About $246,200

Region: Eastern South Dakota (East River)

Brandon is known as the best place in the state to raise a family. It provides the ideal balance of close-knit community and amenities. It features some of SD's best schools as well as some outdoor activities. In about 73 percent of the cases, residents own their homes, and they regard the public schools highly.

Reasons Why South Dakota is a Good Place to Live

South Dakota is the best state to live in the country. Here are seven of the most compelling reasons why we believe South Dakota is the finest.

● Kid-friendly: If having a good quality of life for your children is necessary to you, South Dakota ranks itself among the finest places to raise kids.

● Safe driving: South Dakota has consistently ranked among the safest states to drive in.

● Financial security: South Dakota came in last on WalletHub's list of "most likely to be affected by identity theft and fraud." This makes it an attractive state to live in.

● High rate of employment: South Dakota's regular ranking as one of the lowest-unemployment states is a significant plus in the "positive" column.

● Millennial-friendly: If the cost of living and rent are necessary factors in your decision, South Dakota is a marvelous place for young people who are just finding their footing as adults.

● Retirement possibilities: If you are thinking about retiring in the future, South Dakota is frequently ranked as one of the best areas to do so.

How to Become a South Dakota Resident

To become a resident of SD, you have to:

● Obtain a physical address in the state of South Dakota.

● Obtain a driver's license in South Dakota.

● Your vehicle(s) must be titled and registered in the state.

● Obtain insurance coverage.

● Pay local and state taxes.

● Create a bank account in SD.

● To vote in SD, you must first register. If you qualify, you should vote.

How to Move to South Dakota

You can use this interstate moving checklist for a stress-free move to SD:

● Prepare ahead of time.

● Notify all interested parties.

● Hire a moving company in South Dakota.

● Make a reservation for storage.

● Declutter your household.

● Begin the packing and moving procedure.

● Make travel arrangements.

● Prepare yourself, your children, and your pets.

● Manage utility and service providers.

● Invest in cleaning services.

● Make a statement about your decision.

South Dakota is a Good Place to Live

For the past few years, residents of the United States have been flocking to South Dakota. South Dakota offers its residents a lifestyle that combines professional achievement with personal fulfillment. This State provides more than just a wonderful view of Mount Rushmore, with untouched natural beauty, a dynamic cultural scene, a solid economy, and expanding job options.

There are numerous reasons why setting up home in South Dakota is a wise decision. You can reach out to experts who can assist you with career and job prospects, relocation and business growth, further education options, and information on what it's like to live in SD in retirement.

You are bound to adore the state of South Dakota because there is no personal state income tax, no corporate income tax, an excellent business atmosphere, and a respect for individual freedoms. Moreover, there are excellent residency services available to suit your everyday needs.

Sign up for Residency in South Dakota