These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2018


We used science and data to determine which places in SD are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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You people up there in South Dakota are a tough bunch. You know how to live off the land, many of you hunt, and most of you have a gun. You have beautiful landscapes and, of course, one of the coolest national monuments in the nation.

Plus, you’re way better than North Dakota.

Is it all rosy in SoDak? Of course not. Just like every other state, South Dakota has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make South Dakota your home.

After analyzing 34 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of South Dakota:

  1. Flandreau
  2. Mitchell (Photos)
  3. Sisseton
  4. Huron (Photos)
  5. Hot Springs
  6. Winner
  7. Box Elder
  8. Spearfish (Photos)
  9. Chamberlain
  10. Canton

What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case. We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.

However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

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How we determined the worst places to live in South Dakota for 2018

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:

  • Good education
  • Lots of jobs
  • Low crime
  • Low poverty
  • Nice homes
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Health insurance

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,100 people were considered — leaving 34 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 34 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.

Next, we averaged the rankings into one ‘Worst Place To Live Score’.

Finally, we ranked every city on the ‘Worst Place To Live Score’ with the lowest score being the worst city in South Dakota — Flandreau. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in South Dakota.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

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1. Flandreau

Flandreau, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,164
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $85,600 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (2nd worst)
Crime is a factor in Flandreau’s ranking. Among cities over 2,000 (and excluding towns on Native American land), Flandreau has the 8th highest crime rate in South Dakota. Considering that it’s just outside of (but not within) an Indian Reservation, you can understand why crime might be so high here.

People in South Dakota are used to not locking their doors. Not here.

The unemployment rate (9.3%) and home prices ($85,600) are also far below the state average.

Flandreau is located north of Sioux Falls.

2. Mitchell

Mitchell, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,610
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 8)
Home Values: $130,600 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (7th worst)
According to science, Mitchell is the 2nd worst place you can live in South Dakota.

Let’s see why. Mitchell has the 2nd-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Mitchell is certainly up there.

Factor in a very low housing cost ($130,600), and the 7th-highest unemployment rate in the state (4.8%), and across the board, Mitchell doesn’t sound like the best of the best.

Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.

3. Sisseton

Sisseton, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,682
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $76,500 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (1st worst)
Tthe small town of Sisseton has the 2nd lowest income levels in the entire state. At $35,954, many of the people are having trouble making ends meet, and the unemployment rate is 11.1%. Additionally, 2600.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The cost of a home here is bottom barrell at $76,500.

At least the crime is very minimal here.

4. Huron

Huron, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,149
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Home Values: $99,300 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (23rd worst)
Huron has the 7th lowest home values in the state ($99,300), which indicates little demand to live here. Additionally, the student spending levels are some of the lowest you’ll find in South Dakota. Crime is above average.

And, unless you enjoy shopping at Walmart, you have quite a drive into Sioux Falls for a little fun.

5. Hot Springs

Hot Springs, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 3,570
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Values: $102,800 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (17th worst)
The unemployment rate in Hot Springs is actually the 2nd highest in South Dakota at 4.4%. Plus, the income levels are also the 2nd lowest in the state. At $28,284, that’s not too far away from what the government considers the poverty line.

A home in Hot Springs sells for $85,000. That’s the 5th lowest in the state.

On the bright side, the education, measured in terms of dollars per student, and student-teacher ratio, is much higher than the state average.

Hot Springs is at the base of the Black Hills Mountains near the Wyoming state line.

6. Winner

Winner, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,843
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Home Values: $83,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (33rd worst)
Depending on how you look at it, homeowners in Winner are either winners or losers. The cost of a home here is the 4th lowest in South Dakota ($83,700). You can imagine why; its isolated near reservations in the middle of the state.

How far is Wall Drug and Corn Palace from Winner? Really, really far. Maybe they enjoy watching the buffalo roam, instead.

7. Box Elder


Population: 9,126
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 9)
Home Values: $138,400 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (6th worst)
Box Elder needs some tough love as it ranks as the 7th worst city to live in South Dakota for 2015. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.

And the crime in Box Elder is the 15th highest in the state, where 1 in 54.3 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.

8. Spearfish

Spearfish, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,176
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 6)
Home Values: $203,000 (34th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (15th worst)
If you’re looking to live in South Dakota, Spearfish might not be the best choice as it places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2015.

The unemployment rate here is 3.6%, and households bring in a combined $44,330 a year in income. That’s not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of South Dakota.

Crime is the 5th highest in the state in Spearfish as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.

9. Chamberlain

Chamberlain, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,662
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Values: $134,800 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (8th worst)
Chamberlain, SD needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.

Additionally, crime is 7th worst in the state, which is very high considering Chamberlain is so far removed from the rest of South Dakota.

If you know anyone in Chamberlain, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.

10. Canton

Canton, South Dakota

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 3,306
Rank Last Year: 21 (Up 11)
Home Values: $119,600 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (18th worst)
Canton has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 25th-highest in the state of South Dakota. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 3.3%.

Additionally, 1030.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Wrapping Up The Worst In South Dakota

If you’re looking at areas in South Dakota with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Flandreau ranks as the worst city to live in South Dakota for 2018.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in South Dakota:

  1. Brandon (Pop. 9,674)
  2. Tea (Pop. 4,628)
  3. Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,715)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In South Dakota

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Flandreau 1 1 2,164 9.3% $85,600
Mitchell 2 10 15,610 4.8% $130,600
Sisseton 3 3 2,682 11.1% $76,500
Huron 4 4 13,149 2.4% $99,300
Hot Springs 5 9 3,570 3.5% $102,800
Winner 6 2 2,843 0.4% $83,700
Box Elder 7 16 9,126 4.9% $138,400
Spearfish 8 14 11,176 3.6% $203,000
Chamberlain 9 8 2,662 4.7% $134,800
Canton 10 21 3,306 3.3% $119,600
Redfield 11 12 2,727 2.2% $65,400
Belle Fourche 12 6 5,696 1.2% $116,200
Mobridge 13 5 3,460 4.4% $80,700
Vermillion 14 13 10,778 7.6% $133,000
Yankton 15 15 14,585 3.6% $127,600
Lead 16 18 3,050 5.1% $105,900
Sturgis 17 7 6,711 0.8% $153,100
Milbank 18 11 3,252 3.7% $107,100
Sioux Falls 19 17 167,884 3.7% $161,500
Aberdeen 20 25 27,783 2.7% $140,300
Watertown 21 22 22,026 3.0% $156,500
Fort Pierre 22 19 2,278 1.7% $138,400
Pierre 23 23 13,959 2.2% $164,900
Elk Point 24 27 2,120 0.4% $131,000
Madison 25 20 7,101 4.1% $110,100
Lennox 26 26 2,095 2.3% $97,600
Beresford 27 28 2,324 1.3% $111,500
Summerset 28 24 2,155 5.8% $201,900
Brookings 29 30 23,292 3.6% $164,500
Harrisburg 30 28 5,129 1.0% $172,300
Hartford 31 31 2,980 3.7% $166,100
Dell Rapids 32 32 3,715 2.3% $149,400
Tea 33 35 4,628 2.8% $175,200
Brandon 34 34 9,674 2.7% $183,000

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28 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2018

  1. I lived in Redfield for quite some time, granted I was just a kid, but I was never bored, in the summer we would go to Aberdeen to Storybook land which is only 40 miles north, and as to worst place I know a town in SD that is worst then Redfield, at least Redfield knew what to do when it snows, I live in Wyoming now but our town is so dumm they don’t even know how to remove snow right, but I have to agree on the job part that’s why we moved when my dad got a job out here. So part of what you say is good but the other is so wrong.

  2. Casual racism: “Considering that itโ€™s just outside of (but not within) an Indian Reservation, you can understand why crime might be so high here.”

  3. I am surprised to see that milbank has the 2nd highest unemployment rate considering that I love there and any one of my friends who wants/needs a job can easily get one. We may be high schoolers, but if we can get jobs adults can too. Subway has had a help wanted sign for 3 months hanging out there door part time and full time. Caseys is also the same way. And now we have a new Shopko that is hiring.

  4. Redfield is home to South Dakota’s largest state run facility for adults and children with disabilities. Did you account for thay in your statistics? There are countless job in opportunities in town. They have one of the states few drive in theatres and are 40 miles from Aberdeen. Crime is nearly non existent. This article is poorly done.

    1. I only have passed through Redfeild or stayed there for a few days on vacation but it is a pretty good place. My mom used to grow up there for a few years when she was younger. I loved Redfeild when I visited for a few days during the summer or visiting my cousin from when I was younger.

  5. I think my community is the worst town in the State of South Dakota. I do not know when the information was gathered but the population was unreported by 30% and the unemployment rate is almost in the negative numbers with the great amount of industry. As far as scales of friendliness and quality of life my home town is an island I hate being stranded on. I happen to farm where my grandfather settled and appreciate the rich farmland but wish my town would get some personality.

  6. raising our daughter in Redfield was great! She could ride her bike all over town, hang out at the local pool, be active in anything she wanted to do in school, take dance classes, go to the drive-in all summer. Yeh Redfields really a crappy place to live. I think you should keep your opinions and data to yourself

  7. I have relatives in Redfield, never lived there but we sure had fun going there for many years hunting. Met some great people there and we still maintain those friendships. I miss going to Leo’s for breakfast every morning. Have many great memories in Redfield

  8. No place in the Black Hills should be on a “bad place to live list,” for one thing, and they in fact include two communities in the Rapid City metro area as “best places to live.” For another, they assume that any community located on a reservation is going to be “even worse” than their bogus list. How racist is that? Also, Sioux Falls sucks, and it’s not on the list. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Harrisburg is the best place to live?! Sure, the schools are nice (except for Liberty), but that’s all that the town has going for it. The houses are crappy, and the town smells like crap because they store their sewage in ponds in town. No sidewalks to get to the schools and pretty bad traffic in the morning by the high school.

  10. They forgot to mention how Madison residents have an incarnate hatred of fun and feel compelled to suppress fun any time it rears its wee little head.

  11. I would like to add the number 1 worst place to live is Fort Pierre,Sd. They have a live cow auction in themiddle of town. They start their auctions at 7.15am on Saturday mornings. This can be heard all over town. Plus you can hear cows a couple times a week at 2am in morning. The Live Stock Auction is allowed to make as much noise as they want. The mayor nor the police will enforce anything. They think it’s great because it been here for 67 years. It brings down home values. The town is not zoned right. There is also trash all over town. The land owners are jerks. They follow you on public roads just because you look at a pheasant. Both Pierre and Fort Pierre don’t enforce dog laws. I lived in Custer and it is a much better cleaner town.

    1. Johnny, no it’s not! There are no jobs & the schools are??? Okay? My older brother & his family lived there for years & now his widow & son live there. The entire state of South Dakota sucks, frankly, {yes, I have lived here all of my miserable life} & in large part because of the ginormous geopolitical divides & also the massive income inequality. I live in Sioux
      Falls & grew up in the small town of Dell Rapids. Sort of. On a farm 8 miles east of Dell Rapids. The crime rate in Rapid City is also a huge problem & just the physical layout of the city is a nightmare for EMS! Hope that helps. Scenery is beautiful, tho!

  12. Huron sucks ass, the worst schools. Also the students are gay and retarded. I fucking hate Huron because I get bullied for being a weeb.

  13. I roleplay with Miles, I am a sexual role player. This is why I like Huron the most because I can do gay role plays with people. I also love Lillie.

  14. Lolo or loogie. Justice is fake and gay. Huron sucks big furry testicles, this is why nobody likes Huron. Miles is also super gay and sucks on big black horse cocks.

  15. Wow. These comments really need to be monitored.
    In defense of Flandreau and in particular of the Native Americans who live there: your statement about the nearness of the reservation being the reason for the high crime rate is negated in your statements about Sisseton, which also has a reservation nearby, and whose reservation is much much larger. Crime overall in SD is much lower than many, many places in the US. Tea, Brandon and Dell Rapids are all wonderful places to live, partially due to the nearness of Sioux Falls, our largest city, but housing costs are very very high there, so unless you either have a great education, a high paying position or can work two or three jobs, a small town like Flandreau (only 1/2 hour away from Brookings or Sioux Falls) may be a fabulous option.

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