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:
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.
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In South Dakota
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In South Dakota
The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019
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.
If you live in Belle Fourche, this might not be a surprise, but you have the 24th highest crime rate, per capita in the state of South Dakota. Every year you spend here, you have a 1 in 59.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime like a car break in or home invasion robbery.
That’s a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and black license plates.
Plus there were 9 violent crimes in the last FBI reporting year. That means if you spent a year there, you’d have a 1 in 624 chance of being raped or attacked.
Finally, the folks who live here earn the 4th lowest salaries in South Dakota At $41,145 a household, that’s simply not enough to get by for most folks.
Would you believe that Mitchell is the 1st most dangerous place in South Dakota? That’s the case, as every year, you have a 1 in 27.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within Mitchell city limits.
In addition, every year, you have a 1 in 176 chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Mitchell. That means raped, attacked or killed. Again, for South Dakota, that’s just unacceptable.
Beyond the crime numbers, Mitchell’s unemployment rate is the 9th highest in South Dakota (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 on demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Mitchell.
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 is another place in the Mount Rushmore State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Mobridge is a staggering 5.2%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($43,243 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $86,800, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Mobridge is bad, but not horrible.
When you’re looking at science and data, Spearfish is the 6th worst place you can live in the state of South Dakota. Let’s see why.
First off, the crime here is really high, in comparison to the rest of South Dakota. Spearfish is the 3rd most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 29.8 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $206,100, which is the 35th lowest in the state. You can defend ‘cheap living’ all you want, but the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Spearfish.
Income levels are just about $43,692, the 8th lowest in South Dakota.
When you add it all up, Spearfish really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
Sisseton is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $38,500 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for South Dakota, a 9.6% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 31st highest in South Dakota here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
Lead is the 32nd most dangerous place in the state of South Dakota. That’s part of the reason it’s the 8th worst place in South Dakota.
The fact remains, that when you’re within Lead city limits, you have a 1 in 177.7 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?
Did you know Lead also has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.7%? Or that homes are only valued at $111,600?
Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s little demand to live in Lead.
Sturgis, 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 Sturgis is so far removed from the rest of South Dakota.
If you know anyone in Sturgis, dm them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
When you’re looking at science and data, the city of Box Elder is the 10th worst place you can live in the state of South Dakota. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Box Elder, located in Meade County, have the 18th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $130,700, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of South Dakota, that is.
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
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.
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:
- Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,683)
- Tea (Pop. 4,866)
- Brandon (Pop. 9,731)
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