10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019

These are the cream of the crop in the Mount Rushmore State.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the best places to live in South Dakota.

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When the good people of South Dakota aren't rooting for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits in Brookings or enjoying a beer at the bike rally in Sturgis, they can be found maintaining some of the best places to live in the country.

While the whole place is downright lovely, some spots in The Mount Rushmore State deserve special attention for standing out as truly extraordinary. This is why HomeSnacks created a list of the top ten best places to live in South Dakota for 2019.

South Dakota has quite the mix of great places to call home. Cool college towns like Vermillion, up and coming towns for young professionals like Harrisburg, and quintessential Midwestern towns like Martin are not only some of South Dakota's best places to live, they're also some of the best places to raise a family.

Business is great in South Dakota and the economy is strong: we're talking 2.9% unemployment strong. Coincidentally, we can also thank some of South Dakota's best places for giving the rest of the country businesses like Trail-Eze Trailers, The Furniture Mart, and the famous Wall Drug. South Dakota is also currently one of the least dangerous states. We're not at all surprised. South Dakotans are so busy making their corner of the country great, they don't have time to be naughty.

So where are these amazing places in South Dakota where homes are affordable, jobs are plentiful, and neighborhoods are safe? Read on.

How did we determine the best place to live in South Dakota for 2019. We looked at the most recent FBI and Census data for places with 2,000 or more residents. The competition was fierce to say the least, but there can be only one best place to live in South Dakota, and that would be Brandon.

To see what other places made our list, keep reading. And if you don't see your favorite there, head on down to the bottom.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019

Brandon, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,674
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $183,000 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (14th best)
More on Brandon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Let's just put this to rest right now. No matter how passionate you are about where you live in South Dakota, Brandon is by far the best place to live. At least according to science.

The residents of Brandon are some of the wealthiest, most employed, and just about safest of anyone in the state. Plus, their kids go to some of the best-funded schools.

You know what they say: Money doesn't buy happiness. But, in this case, it buys safety and peace of mind.

If you live here, you probably won't brag about this ranking because you want to keep Brandon a secret.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 4,628
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $175,200 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (15th best)
More on Tea: Real Estate | Data

Tea has been called one of the best small towns in America. If you live here, you're most likely already aware of how great it is to live there.

Just about everyone who wants a job in Tea has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 2.8% and lowering. And the Tea police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the 15th lowest in the state here.

Who wouldn't want to live in a place like this?

Dell Rapids, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,715
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $149,400 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (10th best)
More on Dell Rapids: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Dell Rapids offers an impressive amount to do while maintaining a small town's charm.

The unemployment rate sits as the 10th lowest in South Dakota and incomes are the 6th highest.

When you come into town be sure to check out the parks as they are a good time for people of all ages.

Hartford, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,980
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $166,100 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (23rd best)
More on Hartford: Real Estate | Data | Photos

In Hartford, everyone loves to call Hartford home! The median home value is the 6th highest in South Dakota.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 23rd lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Mount Rushmore State.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,129
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $172,300 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
More on Harrisburg: Real Estate | Data

You might be surprised to see the Town of Harrisburg so high on the list. Unless you live in Harrisburg.

The unemployment rate here is really low, and at 1.0%, Harrisburg residents are some of the hardest working in the state of South Dakota. When you factor in high home prices, high incomes and low crime, Harrisburg is doing quite well.

Let's be honest -- Harrisburg is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

Brookings, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 23,292
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $164,500 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (20th best)
More on Brookings: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you live in Brookings, you probably know how great it is already.

Brookings has a stable economy where residents earn a large salary ($47,060). And the crime is really, really low (17th lowest in South Dakota).

If we could afford to move here, we probably would.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,155
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $201,900 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (31st best)
More on Summerset: Real Estate | Data

Summerset is feeling the love as it ranks as the 7th best city to live in South Dakota for 2019.

It ranked highly because of its high incomes (4th overall) and low crime (8th overall and one of the best in the top ten).

We think the city should probably change its motto at this point to something like "The Place To Be In South Dakota".

Beresford, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,324
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $111,500 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (6th best)
More on Beresford: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Perhaps what makes Beresford so amazing is the high emphasis they put on quality education: they have one of the highest rate of education at attainment for adults.

However, quality education isn't all that makes Beresford great. They also have the 12th highest median income and the 30th shortest commute time.

Lennox, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,095
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $97,600 (29th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (10th best)
More on Lennox: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lennox makes a case for being one of the best places to live in South Dakota mainly because of a low crime rate and a higher than average household income level.

And when school spending is higher than the national average and only 2.3% of folks are jobless, you can bet Lennox residents are glad to live where they do.

Madison, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,101
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $110,100 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (25th best)
More on Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Madison has it made. In fact, according to science, it's one of the best places to live in the state of South Dakota.

The unemployment rate is the 25th lowest in the state at 4.1%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $47,579, and the average cost of a home is $110,100. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call Madison one of America's gems.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in South Dakota

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Pierre with a population of 13,959 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 2,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 2,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 34 cities, 37 towns, and 239 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 2,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In South Dakota

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in South Dakota across a number of criteria from one to 34, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In South Dakota".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in South Dakota? That would be Brandon.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in South Dakota.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Brandon at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In South Dakota

If you're looking at areas in South Dakota with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Brandon made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in South Dakota for 2019.

Best Towns To Live In South Dakota

  1. Crooks (Pop. 1,380)
  2. Groton (Pop. 1,905)
  3. Piedmont (Pop. 1,111)
  4. Britton (Pop. 1,689)
  5. Volga (Pop. 1,883)
  6. Platte (Pop. 1,531)
  7. Gettysburg (Pop. 1,203)
  8. Garretson (Pop. 1,291)
  9. Worthing (Pop. 1,066)
  10. Miller (Pop. 1,527)

Best Small Towns To Live In South Dakota

  1. Pine Lakes Addition (Pop. 305)
  2. Bath (Pop. 242)
  3. Warner (Pop. 454)
  4. Northville (Pop. 160)
  5. Ethan (Pop. 423)
  6. Shindler (Pop. 782)
  7. St. Lawrence (Pop. 165)
  8. Humboldt (Pop. 719)
  9. Onida (Pop. 748)
  10. Jefferson (Pop. 584)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Dakota according to the data:

  1. Sisseton (Pop. 2,682)
  2. Mitchell (Pop. 15,610)
  3. Flandreau (Pop. 2,164)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In South Dakota?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Brandon 9,674 2.7% $183,000
2 Tea 4,628 2.8% $175,200
3 Dell Rapids 3,715 2.3% $149,400
4 Hartford 2,980 3.7% $166,100
5 Harrisburg 5,129 1.0% $172,300
6 Brookings 23,292 3.6% $164,500
7 Summerset 2,155 5.8% $201,900
8 Beresford 2,324 1.3% $111,500
9 Lennox 2,095 2.3% $97,600
10 Madison 7,101 4.1% $110,100

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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