What Should I Know Before Relocating To South Dakota?

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

Moving to South Dakota

When people think of South Dakota, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore instantly come to their minds. The State has many things to offer, including tourism, natural wonders, low-cost living, and less crowded cities. The State provides an inspiring, spacious, and adventurous lifestyle for anyone captivated by its magic.

South Dakota is the seventeenth-largest State in America with a size of about 77,116 square miles. Living in South Dakota comes with tax benefits like not having to pay state income tax and favorable requirements for small-scale businesses. South Dakota is considered the happiest State in America because its economy is one of the strongest in the country, giving small businesses the best environment for growth.

This is all good and nice to know, but there's definitely a lot more to the State. If you're planning on moving to South Dakota and would like to learn as much as you can about the State, you're in the right place! Sit back and read on for a comprehensive guide on essential things to know before moving to South Dakota. 

What to Know Prior to Moving to South Dakota

Tax Rates

Property Tax is about 1.32%. The State's effective real-estate tax rate is one of the lowest in the United States. The tax rate in South Dakota is currently about 4.5%.

Housing Market

Renting a house in South Dakota is cheaper than buying one. That's because the mid-month mortgage is about $1,255 while the mid-month rent is about $696. The difference is about $560 every month or above $6,700 every year. However, owning a home is still affordable compared to other states. 

Cost of Living

Considering the cost of living in South Dakota's best places, the index is about 88.3, lower than the national index of 100.

Weather and Natural Disasters

South Dakota has two zones: East River and West River. The Missouri River separates these regions, and each has its distinct climate. The two zones experience cold winters, high winds, and hot summer months. The weather varies wildly and can be unpredictable.

The eastern part of South Dakota State experiences a humid climate that causes moderate humidity and precipitation distributed equally throughout all seasons. The weather in the western region is semiarid steppe, causing sunnier days and lower rainfall.

Job Market and Economy

According to Economic Rankings done by US News and World Report, South Dakota's rank in terms of its economy is currently #27 in the US. The basis of this score is employment (#12), the business environment (#45), and growth (#33). South Dakota's GDP is about $49.81 billion, with a median income of about $29,611.

Transportation and Traffic

Residents in South Dakota must own their cars due to the sparseness and sheer size of the state. Personal vehicles make it easier for residents to move from one location to the other.  

Exciting Things to Do in South Dakota

There are various cool things to do when in South Dakota, both as a tourist and as a permanent resident. To point out one, Mount Rushmore is the best place for a family looking for fun, a historian seeking historical information, and a person who loves the odd and unique. Let's explore other exciting things to do when you move to South Dakota. 

Tourist Destinations

Natural attractions and rich American history lie in the middle western State. 

  • The carved heads of the four most celebrated United States Presidents are in Mount Rushmore National Monument. 
  • Badlands National Park is full of attractive rock formations and dramatic pinnacles formed through sand and clay erosion. 
  • Another ongoing project called Crazy Horse Memorial includes a Chief Standing Bear carving and buses to the memorial's base. 
  • Wind Cave National Park has the most extensive karstic cave system worldwide. There is also a guide to give you a tour to see the box work structure. 
  • Mammoth Site, on the other hand, has more than 60 Columbian mammoths uncovered at the site. Visitors marvel at these remains in a climate-controlled building.

Food and Drink

South Dakota has quality bars, eateries, family-friendly stops, and more! You will not have to run out of options on what to eat or drink in South Dakota. If you’re a foodie, this is pretty exciting news. The top picks are as follows:

  • Eatables: Sanaa's Gourmet in Sioux Falls
  • Bar: Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis
  • Beer: Pile O' Dirt Porter from Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish
  • Brunch: Phillips Avenue Diner at Sioux Falls
  • Burger: JL Beers at various locations
  • Farmers Market: Black Hills Farmers Market in Rapid City
  • Chocolate Shop: Chubby Chipmunk at Deadwood
  • Coffee Shop: Pure Bean in Rapid City
  • Donuts: Jerry's Cakes and Donuts at Rapid City
  • Food Truck: Backyard BBQ in Sioux Falls

State Parks

South Dakota has beautiful state parks which visitors can explore.  

  • Custer State Park is considered the most famous park in South Dakota, covering about 73,000 acres of incredible nature. It's perfect for fishing, hunting, and camping. 
  • Roughlock Falls State Nature Center, located in Lead, has a stunning fall. The trail leading to these falls is safe and well-maintained for every level.
  • Palisades State Park is among the best places to camp. This Garretson location has stunning rock formations and incredible hiking trails, which draw a lot of visitors. 
  • Roughlock Falls Nature Area lies in Savoy, one mile from the lodge. Visitors enjoy a good view of the picnic spots and the falls from this point.
  • Bear Butte State Park lies in Sturgis. A visitor only takes a two-mile-long walk to this religious summit used primarily by Native Americans as an area for vision quest and prayer.


The Midwest region of the State acts as home to many popular museums. The top ones include:

  • Akta Lakota Museum: On this site, you will experience both the present and past ways of living that the Northern Plains Indian Tribes follow in their historical, cultural, and artistic works.
  • Redlin Art Center: This creation is a gift to Watertown, housing more than 160 original paintings by a popular artist called Terry Redlin.
  • National Music Museum: This museum is located at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. It houses a very prized collection of the best instruments worldwide.
  • Cultural Heritage Center: This cultural heritage center lies in Pierre. It's mainly underground and built into a mountain's side. Inside it is the rare pioneer and Native American artifacts.
  • Wades Gold Mill: A tour of Wades Gold Mill will give you a good experience of the mining ground and the equipment they use. You can pan for gold yourself using the equipment in Hill City.

Cool and Unusual

There are various other things you can explore in South Dakota. If you’re looking for a fun thing to explore on a random day in South Dakota, try out the picks below:

  • Wall Drug: Wall Drug is around 80 years old. It is home to a dinosaur whose height is 80 feet mounted on jackalopes.  
  • Hotel Alex Johnson: This hotel was established in 1972. In the US, it is one of the fear-inspiring and oldest hotels. It is the place where Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant resided while Filming the North by Northwest.
  • Crazy Horse Memorial: This is probably the largest mountain carving globally, which is Chief Henry Standing Bear's creation through the help of Korczak Ziolkowski.
  • Porter Sculpture Park: These are huge iron sculptures located along Interstate 90 that capture visitors' attention. The most conspicuous is a bull's head that is 60-foot tall, protruding out of the ground. 
  • Skeleton Man Walking and Skeleton Dinosaur: Drivers in Midland have the opportunity to view a walking skeleton in a grassy field.

Steps to Follow When Moving to South Dakota

It is a challenging process to move to South Dakota. Therefore, you need to plan. Ignoring little details can be detrimental to the success of your move. To reduce the stress that could arise, it is a great idea to have a checklist of activities to take care of for your move. The interstate moving checklist provided below gives a smooth relocation procedure to South Dakota. Yes, you can thank us later!

Step One: Plan in Advance

You can take three-four months to come up with a moving plan. It might sound like too much, but really, it may not even be enough depending on the nature of your move, i.e., semi-permanent or permanent. The first thing is to create a timeline and a list of logistics. You should have a folder with moving documents and receipts. If you have helpers, hold a meeting to delegate duties and layout the moving plan to your team.

Ensure you have a list of what you need to do every week, put it on your fridge, and update it accordingly. If possible, visit the new area you are moving to before the actual day you are meant to move. 

Step Two: Notify All Relevant Parties

To avoid issues with the landlord over a deposit, inform them that you are moving early enough. However, if it's your home, you can employ real estate professionals' services to sell or rent the property successfully. Give notice to employees and service providers one month before moving.

Remember to inform friends, family, neighbors, etc. Don't allow yourself to forget.

Step Three: Book a Storage Service

You need to hire storage when relocating, to renovate, or touring the world. South Dakota has various moving companies that provide both long-term and short-term storage services.

Step Four: Declutter Your Household

Downsizing your household frees up a lot of money and space. For a start, visit every room in your house, taking inventory of the household goods. Select all items you should keep and the ones you will throw away as you move from room to room. Make a decision on the things to pack and the ones you will discard - bag, label, or place them in piles.

When you are done sorting them, you can donate them, sell them online or recycle the ones you don't want. Always remember to dispose of hazardous materials like gas, aerosol cans, and oil safely. 

Step Five: Start the Packing Process

You need a few weeks to properly organize and pack household items on your own. Ensure that you have quality moving items like tape, boxes, packing peanuts, etc. You should place the heavier commodities at the base of your box - pair items of similar sizes.

Put the heavy stuff in smaller boxes to reduce handling stress. Use peanuts to fill up spaces once the box is fully packed. The next step is using tape to secure the box and then label it clearly. You can also contact reliable, professional packers to help you out when moving. 

Step Six: Make Arrangements Before Travelling

You should hire professionals for inspection and other services if you are driving. If you are flying, buy your ticket as soon as possible to get better times and rates. Based on your schedule, ensure you arrive at the new home hours before the movers.

Step Seven: Prepare Pets, Kids, and Yourself

Moving for the first time is very disruptive for your kids. You can use a story or playtime to make them clearly understand the reasons for relocating. You should be fully available when holding the conversation. Be patient, kind, and positive. Try your best to maintain your child's normal routines during the process of moving. Keep the appointments you schedule with physicians, dentists, and pediatricians, etc.

Make sure you transfer vital records like medical records, school transcripts, and so on. You should also research more about schools, doctors, teachers, lawyers, tutors, and new job leads. Make sure you take your pets to the vet and be conversant with South Dakota's pet laws. It is also essential to protect your young ones by hiring pet care or a babysitter. 

Step Eight: Handle Services and Utilities

You should make sure that you settle and stop the current utilities and services once you move. Follow up to ensure your service providers turn on the services in the new home before you arrive. Change your mailing address online or at the local post office. You should also update your online information for box subscriptions and online services.

Step Nine: Look for Cleaning Services

To boost the price of your property, you need to hire an expert in real estate who can find perfect buyers or tenants - if the home belongs to you. You can also consider repairing, painting, and finishing your old home to increase its value. Cleaning will be effective if the cleaners get to the house soon after the movers have finished their job.

Although moving is tiresome, celebrate the effort with family and friends because the process can stir up their emotions. Be considerate, kind, and have some fun! The best activities to engage in include group outings, one-on-one luncheons, and throwing a party. You can do all these activities in one day or over some weeks.

Ensure you get in touch with the movers when the moving week arrives. Discuss the time they should arrive. Come up with your first-night box filled with toiletries, meds, bedding, hand tools, snacks, toys, etc. You can also seize this opportunity and back up crucial data on your gadgets. If you have a fridge full of food, donate to family, friends, or neighbors. Clean and sanitize to ensure they don't carry any mold when moving. Stay home, eat well, relax, hydrate, and sleep well the night before your move.

When moving day arrives, try to have a meeting with the movers for clear communication. You can walk through the house for the last time once the movers finish up. You should also enjoy yourself by making fond memories when moving. 

Moving Options You Can Use in South Dakota

Moving Small Load 

Both big and small households require moving services. Fortunately, moving companies offer affordable and easy moving services for small loads for dorms, one-bedroom apartments, or studios. 

Furniture Shipment

Instead of moving bulky and fragile desks, sofas, and cabinets on your own, leave the work to the experts. This protects you from injuring yourself since professional movers handle and ship your furniture easily and safely.

Piano Transport

Moving delicate items like concert pianos and vintage organs needs a trustworthy person to do the job. You can hire specialists that will serve you well and deliver them harm-free every time.

Art Shipping

Moving companies also offer moving services for antiques, fine arts, and collectibles, which can be in great danger if left in amateur hands. Moving specialists can handle every prized collection with caution. 

Last Minute and Short Notice Moves

If you have landed a new job or are facing eviction, a last-minute move is very hectic. Therefore, ensure it's easy to quickly access moving services in your local area. 

Packing Services

Depending on the amount you're moving, and whether it's just you or you and your family and pets, packing can be a hassle. If you don't have the patience, time, or ability to pack everything yourself, you can try professional packing services. You can try out full-packing and partial packing to suit all your packing needs.

This can save you time to focus on other important things during the moving process, such as preparing yourself and your kids and keeping everything in check for the big move.

Hire a South Dakota Moving Company

Once you already know the pros and cons of living in South Dakota, you can proceed to hire a moving company. Start by comparing three to five experienced and dependable moving companies in South Dakota. Ensure that the company you choose is fully insured and licensed before moving to South Dakota. It is always wise to book your moving services as soon as possible to enjoy the best rates.

The non-peak season is the cheapest time to move. To find the most affordable and best-rated movers in South Dakota, simply conduct a google search. Additionally, as you move through the process of moving, you will need to consider the services of a reliable mail forwarding company. This is to ensure that no matter where you are moving to, your mail will follow suit.

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