Where are the best places in the state of South Dakota?
To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Mount Rushmore State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.
However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in South Dakota.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.
After analyzing 34 places in South Dakota, we came up with this list of the best places:
- Brandon (Photos)
- Dell Rapids
- Brookings (Photos)
- Madison (Photos)
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best 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 2,100
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 2,100
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 34 cities, 38 towns, and 310 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 2,100 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Place 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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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.
Population: 9,674Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $183,000 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (13th best)
Brandon is another gem in Mount Rushmore State. The unemployment rate here is 14th lowest in the entire state at 2.7%. Other factors that make Brandon so desirable is the solid education and home prices.
Homes are valued at $183,000, and parents earn a combined $75,424 a year
There’s nothing like the American dream.
Population: 4,628 Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Home Values: $175,200 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (15th best)
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in Tea.
Tea ranked impressively high for its crime rate (15th overall) and its short commute times (25th).
We think that’s worth the price of admission.
3. Dell Rapids
Population: 3,715 Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Values: $149,400 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (10th best)
Crime is something that doesn’t happen very often in Dell Rapids. Statistically the 2nd safest place in the state, there were only 0 violent crimes in the entire city last year.
It’s really beautiful in Dell Rapids, and new homes continue to replace older homes. Resident earn $63,818 a year, and homes are valued at more than $149,400.
What else could you possibly want if you’re someone who likes the the good things in life?
Population: 2,980Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $166,100 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (23rd best)
Perhaps what makes Hartford so amazing is the high emphasis they put on quality education: they have one of the higest rate of educationat attainment for adults.
However, quality education isn’t all that makes Hartford great. They also have the 5th highest median income and the 33rd shorest commute time.
Population: 5,129 Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Values: $172,300 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
Harrisburg is a cute little city where crime is far below the state average, and where it’s affordable. The schools are also solidly rated.
Home prices clock in at $172,300 and households earn a median salary of $77,151. One could get used to that.
Population: 23,292Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Home Values: $164,500 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (20th best)
Brookings has some of the most employed as well as the highest earning residents in the entire state of South Dakota. Factor in a very low crime rate, and this Brookings is a real gem.
With high incomes comes a high cost of living, which can been seen in the home pricese. Additionally, the commute time for Brookings residents to work is significantly higher than average.
Population: 2,155 Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Home Values: $201,900 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (31st best)
Things can’t get much better than in the town of Summerset. The crime is the 8th lowest in the entire state, and the residents who live in Summerset make huge salaries, and almost all of them have great jobs.
The median home costs a cool $201,900 and households make $74,063 which is good for 4th in South Dakota.
Population: 2,324Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Values: $111,500 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (6th best)
The Town of Beresford consistently ranks as one of the best places to live. There aren’t any surprises here. Which probably adds credibility to our data, right?
Let’s see why Beresford ranks so high. First of all, the homes in Beresford are the 23rd most expensive in the state of South Dakota, with the average home worth a whopping $111,500. We’re not elitists, nor are we saying that big homes means a better place to live. But price reflects demand, and simply put, a lot of people want to live in Beresford if they can afford it.
Other numbers that stand out: Beresford residents have the 12th highest income in the state, and the 7th lowest crime numbers in South Dakota.
Population: 2,095Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $97,600 (29th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (10th best)
It’s obvious why Lennox ranks 9th in the state for best places to live: they have the 10th lowest unemployment rate and the 29th highest home values.
Plus, they’re known for their quality education and relatively low crime, making Lennox a great place to live.
Population: 7,101Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Home Values: $110,100 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (25th best)
Madison isn’t just the nicest place to live in South Dakota – it’s also the one of the fastest growing places in the state. And with good reason.
It’s got the 25th lowest unemployment rate, the 17th highest adjusted income, and rates above most places in education.
When you’re looking at science and data, Madison defintely deserves a spot on the list for 2018.
Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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 2018.
Best Towns To Live In South Dakota
- Crooks (Pop. 1,380)
- Groton (Pop. 1,905)
- Piedmont (Pop. 1,111)
- Britton (Pop. 1,689)
- Volga (Pop. 1,883)
- Platte (Pop. 1,531)
- Gettysburg (Pop. 1,203)
- Garretson (Pop. 1,291)
- Worthing (Pop. 1,066)
- Miller (Pop. 1,527)
Best Small Towns To Live In South Dakota
- Caputa (Pop. 0)
- Pine Lakes Addition (Pop. 305)
- Bath Corner (Pop. 111)
- Bath (Pop. 242)
- Warner (Pop. 454)
- Northville (Pop. 160)
- St. Charles (Pop. 20)
- Ethan (Pop. 423)
- Storla (Pop. 12)
- St. Lawrence (Pop. 165)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Dakota:
- Flandreau (Pop. 2,164)
- Mitchell (Pop. 15,610)
- Sisseton (Pop. 2,682)
For more South Dakota reading , check out:
- 10 Small Towns In South Dakota Where You’d Never Want To Live
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In South Dakota
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In South Dakota
Detailed List Of The Best Cities In South Dakota