These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019

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

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the worst places to live in South Dakota.

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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 36 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 (Photos)
  2. Belle Fourche (Photos)
  3. Mitchell (Photos)
  4. Custer (Photos)
  5. Mobridge (Photos)
  6. Spearfish (Photos)
  7. Sisseton (Photos)
  8. Lead (Photos)
  9. Sturgis (Photos)
  10. Box Elder (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. And the worst place to live in South Dakota? That would be Flandreau.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.

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

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

How we determined the worst places to live in South Dakota for 2019

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 2,000 people were considered — leaving 36 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 36 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.

Flandreau, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,440
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $88,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (4th worst)
More on Flandreau:  Data | Photos

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 (5.5%) and home prices ($88,000) are also far below the state average.

Flandreau is located north of Sioux Falls.

Belle Fourche, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,622
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $113,600 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (11th worst)
More on Belle Fourche:  Data | Photos

Belle Fourche is a really small, densely populated place in South Dakota.

The unemployment rate here is sky high at 3.8%, and income levels are the 4th lowest in South Dakota. Homes sell for an average of $113,600.

If you’re trying to have some sort of professional career in South Dakota, this is one of the last places you would want to live.

Mitchell, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,566
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $133,900 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (9th worst)
More on Mitchell:  Data | Photos

Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Mitchell has few options for some sort of entertainment.

The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (4.8%) and homes are the 16th cheapest in the state ($133,900).

Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Mitchell.

Custer, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,124
Rank Last Year:
Median Home Value: $153,700 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (6th worst)
More on Custer:  Data | Photos

Sure, Custer is a pretty place. Tucked in the middle of the Black Hills Mountains south of Rapid City, the folks who live there would probably defend it to their deaths. But science says it’s not very desirable, based on what people say they ‘want’ in a community.

Custer residents earn the 4th lowest salaries and are the 4th least employed in South Dakota. Crime is above average and home prices are below average. The schools are rated great, though.

So if you like living in the outdoors, and want smart kids, but can handle the fact that you won’t earn a decent living and have to put up with more robberies than most of your SoDak peers, this might be the place for you.

Mobridge, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,420
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $86,800 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (6th worst)
More on Mobridge:  Data | Photos

Mobridge ranks as the 5th worst city on this list.

Mobridge has the 23rd highest crime rate in South Dakota, where residents have a 1 in 69.8 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 3rd cheapest in the state ($86,800), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.

Spearfish, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,300
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $206,100 (35th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (18th worst)
More on Spearfish:  Data | Photos

Spearfish, SD needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.

Additionally, crime is 3rd worst in the state, which is very high considering Spearfish is so far removed from the rest of South Dakota.

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

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,548
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $70,100 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (1st worst)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

Sisseton ranks as the 7th worst city in South Dakota. Located in Roberts County, Sisseton has the 3rd lowest income levels in the state of South Dakota ($38,500), and some of the lowest number of doctors in the state. Crime is above average, and the unemployment rate is 9.6%.

Lead, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,021
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $111,600 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (2nd worst)
More on Lead:  Data | Photos

Lead is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Lead is the 32nd most dangerous place you can live in South Dakota.

Residents in Lead have a 1 in 177.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.

When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Lead, where average homes are valued at only$111,600. That’s the 9th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.

Sturgis, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,715
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $147,100 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (35th worst)
More on Sturgis:  Data | Photos

While numbers in South Dakota are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare South Dakota cities against one another, you see big differences.

Home values in Sturgis average $147,100, which is the 22nd lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Sturgis.

Plus, 11.9% of the population here lives below the poverty line.

Plus, the crime rate is the 7th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Sturgis city limits, you have a 1 in 34.8 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.

Box Elder, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,277
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $130,700 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (15th worst)
More on Box Elder:  Data | Photos

Box Elder takes the 10th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.

But what gives Box Elder its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 18th worst in the whole state.

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 2019.

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

  1. Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,683)
  2. Tea (Pop. 4,866)
  3. Brandon (Pop. 9,731)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In South Dakota

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Flandreau 2,440 5.5% $88,000
2 Belle Fourche 5,622 3.8% $113,600
3 Mitchell 15,566 4.8% $133,900
4 Custer 2,124 5.2% $153,700
5 Mobridge 3,420 5.2% $86,800
6 Spearfish 11,300 3.0% $206,100
7 Sisseton 2,548 9.6% $70,100
8 Lead 3,021 7.7% $111,600
9 Sturgis 6,715 0.7% $147,100
10 Box Elder 9,277 3.5% $130,700
11 Vermillion 10,687 7.7% $136,100
12 Sioux Falls 170,401 3.6% $168,600
13 Redfield 2,623 2.0% $71,200
14 Canton 3,352 2.8% $123,400
15 Elk Point 2,231 1.9% $135,900
16 Huron 13,116 1.5% $95,200
17 Yankton 14,529 3.0% $137,600
18 Milbank 3,178 5.0% $108,200
19 Pierre 13,974 1.9% $168,700
20 Chamberlain 2,653 3.6% $139,900
21 Beresford 2,212 1.2% $118,300
22 Hot Springs 3,519 3.1% $108,100
23 Watertown 22,083 2.6% $161,000
24 Aberdeen 27,925 2.3% $144,000
25 Winner 2,854 0.6% $88,800
26 Summerset 2,285 3.9% $217,400
27 Fort Pierre 2,276 1.3% $157,600
28 Harrisburg 5,429 1.3% $184,900
29 Madison 7,094 5.3% $113,700
30 Lennox 2,190 1.5% $112,800
31 Hartford 3,043 1.5% $174,400
32 Brookings 23,471 3.6% $169,400
33 Volga 2,127 2.3% $148,200
34 Dell Rapids 3,683 1.0% $156,800
35 Tea 4,866 2.4% $196,000
36 Brandon 9,731 2.3% $198,300

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28 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019

  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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