These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota


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

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Where are the best places in the state of South Dakota? They are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places where people have the best jobs, where residents are happily married, and where the sun shines the most.

And certainly, since crime is really low, every one wants to be there. It’s, literally, all sunshine and rainbows.

We looked at the most populated cities in the Mount Rushmore State for this study. The cities at the top are places where things are going swimmingly right now, at least according to data, which measures the good things that people say they want in a South Dakota city.

There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against. We had more than 10 million people read our worst cities in a state series, which was featured in hundreds of media outlets, including an NPR feature.

So we know what we’re talking about.

Here are the 10 best places to live in South Dakota:

  1. Brandon
  2. Rapid Valley
  3. Brookings
  4. Pierre
  5. Mitchell
  6. Sioux Falls
  7. Sturgis
  8. Yankton
  9. Belle Fourche
  10. Vermillion

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘friendly people’ and community involvement), these are the best options in South Dakota for making a place home.

The worst city to live in South Dakota? Rapid City. More on that later.

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How do you decide if a place is amazeballs or not?

In order to rank South Dakota’s best cities, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, good weather, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers for South Dakota

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Strong schools
  • Low unemployment rates
  • High incomes
  • High home prices
  • Lots of sunny days a year
  • Low crime
  • Low cost of living

If you’d like to see the complete list of cities in South Dakota, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a link to the entire data set.

Note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. This list is based on data, and is entirely unbiased. The cost of living numbers are based on an average of 100, so lower than that is more affordable.

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1. Brandon

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,848
Crime Index: 33
Cost Of Living Index: 98

Five miles east of Sioux Falls, this little city is the best place to live in the state when you look at the all around numbers.

2. Rapid Valley

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,280
Crime Index: 45
Cost Of Living Index: 97

Rapid Valley is a cute, safe place outside of the Rapid City metro area.

3. Brookings

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 22,065
Crime Index: 33
Cost Of Living Index: 95

Brookings is a college town, and a very safe, affordable to alternative to a larger city in South Dakota. It’s actually the 4th largest city in the state.

4. Pierre

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,687
Crime Index: 92
Cost Of Living Index: 94

The capital of South Dakota is the 4th best place to live in the state. Crime is more apparent here than it is in the cities listed above.

5. Mitchell

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,266
Crime Index: 86
Cost Of Living Index: 90

If you want a great place to live that has some wild open spaces, Mitchell is a great spot. Being so far from a major city center makes it very affordable.

6. Sioux Falls

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 154,526
Crime Index: 98
Cost Of Living Index: 95

This is the largest city in South Dakota, by far. However, it’s actually pretty affordable.

7. Sturgis

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,602
Crime Index: 73
Cost Of Living Index: 94

Way out in Meade County is the small city of Sturgis, which is home to the nation’s largest motorcycle rally each August.

8. Yankton

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,430
Crime Index: 81
Cost Of Living Index: 90

You’d be hard pressed to find a cuter, more affordable city in South Dakota. It sits along the Missouri River on the Nebraska state line.

9. Belle Fourche

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,633
Crime Index: 47
Cost Of Living Index: 90

This little city is near the Montana and Wyoming state lines. It’s also right by the Black Hills National Forest. It’s considered the geographical center of America’s 50 states.

10. Vermillion

Best South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,662
Crime Index: 34
Cost Of Living Index: 92

On the complete opposite side of the state, Vermillion sits on the Missouri River, near Nebraska.

There You Have It

Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 15-minute drive of Brandon is the most desirable, according to science and data. But as most South Dakota residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.

Other notable cities:
3rd Worst: Huron
2nd Worst: Watertown
Worst: Rapid City

We also wrote about the 10 worst places to live in South Dakota if you’re interested.

Detailed List Of Best Places To Live In South Dakota

City Rank Population Crime Index Cost Of Living Index
Brandon 1 8,848 33 98
Rapid Valley 2 8,280 45 97
Brookings 3 22,065 33 95
Pierre 4 13,687 92 94
Mitchell 5 15,266 86 90
Sioux Falls 6 154,526 98 95
Sturgis 7 6,602 73 94
Yankton 8 14,430 81 90
Belle Fourche 9 5,633 47 90
Vermillion 10 10,662 34 92
Aberdeen 11 26,160 87 93
Spearfish 12 10,470 85 99
Box Elder 13 8,084 105 96
Madison 14 6,575 55 86
Huron 15 12,563 84 83
Watertown 16 21,524 98 94
Rapid City 17 68,060 121 100

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