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What do four presidential heads and 900,000 South Dakotans know that we don't?
They know that they have some pretty affordable places in The Mount Rushmore State to take up residence.
Whether it's on the side of a mountain or along the Missouri River, South Dakota has an affordable place that will fit any budget; and lucky for you, HomeSnacks has thoroughly combed the US Census and consulted South Dakota's cost of living to give you a comprehensive list of the most affordable places to call home for 2020.
Yes, we think South Dakota's affordability has a little something to do with the great people; but we're even more convinced that it's due to its strong economy. We can thank South Dakota companies like Brookings' Daktronics for providing scoreboards at our favorite games and Sioux Falls' Furniture Mart for providing the seats. More importantly, we can thank all of South Dakota's entrepreneurs for keeping its residents employed and the state affordable.
Now, don't get it twisted; just because these South Dakota places are affordable, doesn't mean they're unsafe. It's actually quite the opposite. When you save money on your cost of living, you have more money to spend on your home and more money to funnel back into your neighborhoods and communities. So, it's definitely not lost on us that some of South Dakota's most affordable places are also some of its safest. Have we piqued your interest? If so, read on.
With a statewide median income close to $60,000 per year, who wouldn't want a piece of the South Dakota pie? With numbers like these, it's no wonder South Dakota's poverty rate is one of the lowest in the country and that its unemployment rate is way below the national average at 2.8%.
So, want to know where the cheapest place to live in South Dakota for your buck is? That would be Freeman.
To see how your city compared, take a look at the list below.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about South Dakota and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In South Dakota For 2020
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.4x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 96.2x (11th cheapest)
More On Freeman: Real Estate
There's nowhere in South Dakota more affordable than Freeman, a small city an hour outside Sioux Falls. Freeman scored an 8.5/10 on our overall SnackAbility scale, with an emphasis on safe streets, easy commutes, a sub-3% unemployment rate, and, of course, a perfect 10/10 for affordability. One thing to note: if you move to Freeman, you'd better have your party-face ready, because you've got two festivals to attend each year. Schmeckfest, a celebration of German cuisine and culture in March and the Chislic Festival in July (if you don't know what chislic is, it won't take long to learn after moving to South Dakota).
Freeman has some wicked cheap housing options, with homes going for about $81,000 and rent for about $596. With a median income of $57,344, Freeman enjoys the second best home price to income ratio in South Dakota.
The median household income in Freeman comes in at $57,344 and the median home value is $81,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 2.7%.
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.4x (1st most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 95.9x (12th cheapest)
More On Britton: Real Estate
You don't have to be English to get a sweet deal in Britton, the second least expensive place to live in South Dakota. While homes are slightly pricier in Britton than Freeman, with a median cost of $84,100, residents are also paid a slightly higher median income of $61,875. That combination of statistics makes Britton the first easiest place to pay off the mortgage in South Dakota. If you want to learn more about South Dakota's culture, Britton's got you covered with the Prayer Rock Museum.
Britton is located in the northeastern part of the state, 10 miles south of North Dakota.
The median household income in Britton comes in at $61,875 and the median home value is $84,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.0%.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 158.7x (1st cheapest)
More On De Smet: Real Estate
Even if you've never heard of De Smet, it should be vaguely familiar to you. Why, you ask? Because it was the home of Laura Ingalls, the author of the Little House on the Prairie books, who based her stories on her experiences in De Smet. Even if you're not a fan of the literature, definitely spend a day at Ingalls Homestead to learn how things were done back in the frontier days.
De Smet is sitting at basically 0% unemployment, which is a good start for economic quality. Homes in De Smet are the second highest on this list, with a median price tag of $102,000. However, a median income of $60,288 keeps De Smet in the top five statewide for housing to income ratio. But the real good news is the median cost of rent; a ridiculouosly low $380/month. Not only is that the lowest you're going to see on this list (by a wide margin), it's also three times lower than the average rent in South Dakota. Of course, this gives De Smet the #1 ranking statewide for rent to income ratio.
The median household income in De Smet comes in at $60,288 and the median home value is $102,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.2%.
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 10)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 107.8x (5th cheapest)
More On Parkston: Real Estate
Parkston's motto is "A Great Place To Grow," and boy does this city hold true to those words. If you're just trying Parkston out, rent will cost you around $513/month. With an umemployment rate under 1%, you should have no trouble locking down a job to start earning a median salary of $55,313. Homes in Parkston go for about $97,700, so it's slightly more economical to rent here. Either way, Parkston is safely in the top ten statewide for housing to income ratios, both for renting and buying.
The median household income in Parkston comes in at $55,313 and the median home value is $97,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.8%.
In terms of affordability, everyone is a winner in Winner, our fifth cheapest city in South Dakota. Buying a home in Winner will set you back about $86,000, the 14th lowest price in South Dakota. More importantly, folks in Winner spend the sixth smallest percentage of their income on homes statewide. And don't worry that such a small, cheap place must have nothing do to. Between a playhouse, a drive-in theatre, a history museum, and a super new city pool, you'll never be bored in Winner.
The median household income in Winner comes in at $50,513 and the median home value is $86,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.8%.
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 11)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.8x (11th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 101.3x (7th cheapest)
More On Beresford: Real Estate
Welcome to Beresford, a city that is simultaneously the sixth most affordable and one of the richest places in South Dakota. That weird combo of distinctions means that, despite having the priciest homes on this list ($121,000), Beresford still has the 11th best home price to income ratio in the state. Beresford is even better for renters, who pay around $660/month and enjoy the seventh lowest rent to income ratio in South Dakota. As for free things to do, we recommend Union Grove State Park an excellent place for hunters, hikers, cyclists, and bird-watchers alike.
Beresford is located about 35 miles south of Sioux Falls.
The median household income in Beresford comes in at $66,847 and the median home value is $121,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 2.4%.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (8th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.5x (36th cheapest)
More On Redfield: Real Estate
Coming in as the seventh cheapest city to call home in South Dakota is Redfield, "the pheasant capital of the world." Redfield is named after a 19th century railroad official, so it's no surprise that the top destination here is the Historic 1914 C&NW Railroad Depot Museum. Homes in Redfield are the sixth cheapest in the state, with a median price of $74,000. The median income in Redfield is $43,194, which means residents pay the eighth smallest portion of their salaries on homes statewide. Only a lackluster rent to income ratio keeps Redfield from a higher position on this list.
The median household income in Redfield comes in at $43,194 and the median home value is $74,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 2.5%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.7x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 82.5x (30th cheapest)
More On Gettysburg: Real Estate
You'd have no trouble believing that you're living in one of the cheapest states to live in America if you're lucky enough to call Gettysburg home. The unemployment rate in Gettysburg is under 1%, so you should have an easy time getting a job with pay around $54,125/year. Homes in Gettysburg go for a median price of $91,500 and residents enjoy the fourth best home price to income ratio in South Dakota.
The median household income in Gettysburg comes in at $54,125 and the median home value is $91,500 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.4%.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.0x (25th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 115.0x (4th cheapest)
More On Clear Lake: Real Estate
Clear Lake earns its position on this list by being an absolute godsend for renters. Even in a state known for cheap rent, Clear Lake stands out. With a median rent of a measly $492/month and a median income of $56,563, Clear Lake has the fourth best rent to income ratio in the state. Unfortunately, Clear Lake's affordability takes a precipitous drop for home-buyers. Clear Lake hosts the annual Crystal Springs Rodeo, one of the premier events in South Dakota that's been going strong for 70+ years.
The median household income in Clear Lake comes in at $56,563 and the median home value is $114,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.0%.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 1.6x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.5x (48th cheapest)
More On Lemmon: Real Estate
We finish off our list of most affordable places to live in the Mount Rushmore State with Lemmon, the first and only representative of northwestern South Dakota here. We promise that Lemmon won't leave sour taste in your mouth; not when you're paying the third lowest price for a home statewide, at a median cost of $66,000. Even better, the home price to income ratio in Lemmon is the third best in South Dakota, so you can have that mortgage paid off before the new coat of paint dries. A word to the wise though -- you can't buy a home in Lemmon's Petrified Woods Park, which occupies nearly a full city block. Sad, but true.
The median household income in Lemmon comes in at $40,000 and the median home value is $66,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.3%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Mount Rushmore State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in South Dakota to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 63 places in South Dakota that have more than 1,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in South Dakota according to the data is Freeman. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. South Dakota Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in South Dakota, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in South Dakota for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in South Dakota according to the data:
- Rapid City
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In South Dakota
- Best Places To Raise A Family In South Dakota
- Safest Places In South Dakota
The Most Affordable Places To Live In South Dakota
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