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:
- Mitchell (Photos)
- Huron (Photos)
- Hot Springs
- Box Elder
- Spearfish (Photos)
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.
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
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.
Population: 2,164Rank 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.
Population: 15,610Rank 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.
Population: 2,682Rank 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.
Population: 13,149Rank 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
Population: 3,570Rank 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.
Population: 2,843Rank 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.
Population: 11,176Rank 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.
Population: 2,662Rank 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.
Population: 3,306Rank 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:
- Brandon (Pop. 9,674)
- Tea (Pop. 4,628)
- Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,715)
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In South Dakota
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In South Dakota
- 10 Small Towns In South Dakota Where You’d Never Want To Live
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In South Dakota