THE 10 BEST Places To Live In South Dakota For 2020


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

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in South Dakota.

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 2020.

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 2020. 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 only be 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 2020

Brandon, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 9,867
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $206,600 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (7th best)
More on Brandon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Brandon's unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state and the median income is the 2nd highest, making Brandon a great place to work and settle down if you're look for a stable job with a stable income.

Additionally, Brandon has above average education and low crime, making this place a safe place to live.

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 5,098
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $197,100 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (13th best)
More on Tea: Real Estate | Data

Tea has a really low crime rate (15th lowest) and only 2.2% of the people are unemployed. Additionally, residents here have high paying jobs ($82,245). And that goes a long way.

The population is growing at a steady clip, and the cost of living is lower than it should be. So people have an extra incentive to live in Tea.

Dell Rapids, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,669
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $166,600 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.0% (2nd best)
More on Dell Rapids: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you want to live in South Dakota, you can't go wrong if you decide to make the Dell Rapids area your home. However, everyone and their mother wants to live here.

Can you blame them? It's a beautiful place with really low crime, where a majority of residents are wealthy (a $69,201 median income will do that).

Plus, the residents are really involved with helping to make Dell Rapids as great as possible. You can't get it much better than in Dell Rapids.

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,760
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $190,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.9% (4th best)
More on Harrisburg: Real Estate | Data

Who wouldn't want to live in a place where there's low crime and everyone is rich? That's the case with Harrisburg.

Things are looking peachy keen here. The unemployment rate is the 4th lowest in South Dakota and the median income comes in at $78,694.

This is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 2,412
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $222,500 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (22nd best)
More on Summerset: Real Estate | Data

We wouldn't be surprised to see CNN call Summerset one of the best places to live in the United States. Not only do the residents all make great livings, there's essentially no crime in the entire city. And the residents are very involved in the community.

They can't build homes fast enough here as it seems everyone wants a piece of Summerset.

Hartford, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,145
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $176,700 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (14th best)
More on Hartford: Real Estate | Data | Photos

There's two types of people who live in Hartford. Either the old hold outs who have lived there forever and are watching their home values skyrocket, or those d who can afford to buy a $176,700 home there.

Either way, you're set. Your kids go to great schools, there's a ton of things to do, and you earn a great salary. Hartford is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

Fort Pierre, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,297
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $162,700 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (11th best)
More on Fort Pierre: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fort Pierre is another great city in South Dakota with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: " We feel incredibly safe in Fort Pierre. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it's wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things."

Enough said.

Elk Point, SD

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,168
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 11)
Median Home Value: $147,000 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.8% (9th best)
More on Elk Point: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Elk Point offers an impressive amount to do while maintaining a small town's charm.

The unemployment rate sits as the 9th lowest in South Dakota and incomes are the 9th highest.

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

Milbank, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,210
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $127,600 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (5th best)
More on Milbank: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The Milbank has the 5th lowest unemployment rate in South Dakota. The population growth here has been 8% over the last 15 years, meaning a lot of people want to live here. If they can afford it; the cost of living in Milbank is higher than the national average and households make $62,741 per year.

We'd move to Milbank if we could in a heart beat.

Brookings, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 23,863
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $174,900 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (27th best)
More on Brookings: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The crime is the 13th lowest in the state in Brookings, and there were only 46 violent crimes in the entire city last year. We think it's even safer here than the numbers indicate.

The schools are some of the best in South Dakota, and residents live in very expensive homes. They also earn more than most every other city in the state. Residents in Brookings earn $50,182 a year.

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 13,988 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 36 cities, 37 towns, and 239 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in South Dakota 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 36, 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. You can download the data here.

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 2020.

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. Belle Fourche (Pop. 5,610)
  2. Sisseton (Pop. 2,486)
  3. Flandreau (Pop. 2,438)

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 9,867 1.6% $206,600
2 Tea 5,098 2.2% $197,100
3 Dell Rapids 3,669 0.0% $166,600
4 Harrisburg 5,760 0.9% $190,700
5 Summerset 2,412 3.4% $222,500
6 Hartford 3,145 2.4% $176,700
7 Fort Pierre 2,297 2.0% $162,700
8 Elk Point 2,168 1.8% $147,000
9 Milbank 3,210 1.3% $127,600
10 Brookings 23,863 3.8% $174,900

How Is Your Town In ?

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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