The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

The worst places to live in South Dakota are Belle Fourche and Chamberlain for 2024 based on Friday Night Science.

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 38 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of South Dakota:

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

  1. Belle Fourche
  2. Chamberlain
  3. Sturgis
  4. Box Elder
  5. Hot Springs
  6. Winner
  7. Sisseton
  8. Canton
  9. Beresford
  10. Flandreau

Worst Places To Live In South Dakota Map

Where are these places, you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small towns in South Dakota, that’s not the case.

We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. For example, the best place to live in South Dakota is Volga.

However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), the state has far better options for making a place home. And the worst place to live in South Dakota? The worst place to live in South Dakota is Belle Fourche.

Read below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your city fared in 2024.

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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

Belle Fourche, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Bradleygee | CC BY-SA 2.0
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Population: 5,670
Average Home Price: $281,636
Median Income: $55,448
Unemployment Rate: 9.2%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0143
More on Belle Fourche: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Belle Fourche sounds more like the name of a Paris cafe than a small town in South Dakota. And, in fact, the name does derive from French, meaning “beautiful fork.” (Still seeming like a good name for a cafe…) The fork in question refers to the intersection of a couple rivers.

Despite its fancy-sounding name, Belle Fourche is less than Paris chic. In fact, life in the area is kind of a grind. The town has an unemployment rate of 9.2%, few amenities, little diversity, and unimpressive housing.

The town does have another distinction, though. It sits near the geographic center of the U.S., a fact commemorated in town by the Geographic Center of the Nation Monument.

2. Chamberlain

Chamberlain, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Anne Swoboda from Griffith, IN, USA | CC BY-SA 2.0
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Population: 2,538
Average Home Price: $208,864
Median Income: $59,375
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0355
More on Chamberlain: Crime | Real Estate

Chamberlain, located in Brule County, South Dakota, is unfortunately ranked as the second worst place to live in the state. While this city may offer picturesque views of the Missouri River and the nearby Lake Francis Case, its high crime rate and safety concerns make it a challenging place to call home. With a violent crime rate of 0.006 per capita and a property crime rate of 0.031 per capita, residents face a significant risk of falling victim to criminal activity. Despite these challenges, there is hope for improvement through dedicated efforts to address crime and enhance safety measures. Additionally, Chamberlain’s location on Interstate 90 provides an opportunity for economic growth and development, which can contribute to a more prosperous future for the city and its residents.

Sturgis, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Cumulus Clouds | GFDL
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Population: 7,121
Average Home Price: $338,025
Median Income: $49,564
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0306
More on Sturgis: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Sturgis, located in Meade County, South Dakota, is unfortunately one of the worst places to live in the state. While it may have its charms, Sturgis struggles with a high crime rate, making it a potentially dangerous place to reside. The city has experienced 20 reported incidents of violent crime, including 3 cases of rape and 17 aggravated assaults. Additionally, there have been 173 property crimes reported, including 35 burglaries.

Despite these challenges, there is hope for improvement with dedicated efforts. Sturgis’ location within South Dakota offers the opportunity for positive change and growth. By addressing the underlying factors contributing to crime and focusing on community safety initiatives, Sturgis can strive towards becoming a safer and more desirable place to call home.

Box Elder, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Jeffrey Beall | CC BY 4.0
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Population: 11,905
Average Home Price: $330,877
Median Income: $71,532
Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0197
More on Box Elder: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Box Elder stands just south of Ellsworth Air Base. The proximity of the military installation gives the town an economic boost, helping the town achieve an unemployment rate of 5.0%. At the same time, the median income comes in at $71,532.

Still, the town ends up on this list. If the economy isn’t the issue, what makes it one of the worst spots in South Dakota?

Well, compared to the rest of the state, the cost of living is relatively high. This includes a median home value of $330,877 — not particularly expensive for the U.S. as a whole, but well above the norm for South Dakota. Meanwhile, the crime rate in town is elevated as well.

Hot Springs, SD

Source: Wikipedia User devriesm | CC BY 2.0
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Population: 3,465
Average Home Price: $297,368
Median Income: $47,337
Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0046
More on Hot Springs: Data | Crime | Real Estate

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, SD

Source: Public domain
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Population: 2,905
Average Home Price: $194,481
Median Income: $52,500
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0179
More on Winner: Crime | Real Estate

You’d expect more from a place called “Winner.” Yet, here it is, on a list of the least appealing locations in South Dakota. Guess you can’t trust the hype.

So what makes Winner such a loser? The economy is actually pretty good. And, with a median home price of $194,481, housing in town is easy to afford.

Still, little things weigh down the area. Housing is poor. The local schools can’t score better than a 4/10 on Great Schools. And, located almost three hours from Sioux Falls (or any other bigger metropolitan area), there isn’t much to do in town.

7. Sisseton

Sisseton, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Connor401 | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 2,564
Average Home Price: $136,506
Median Income: $40,100
Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0047
More on Sisseton: Crime | Real Estate

Sisseton sits in the Lake Traverse Reservation in the northeast part of the state. It represents the main population center in the region, with the nearest urban area of any consequence being Fargo, North Dakota. And that’s located about an hour and a half to the north.

Given that Sisseton has 2,564 residents, you can guess that the surrounding countryside is pretty sparsely settled. As a result, good-paying jobs are scarce. Sisseton struggles with a 7.2% unemployment rate and a poverty rate of 24.6%.

At the same time, the education system falls short of expectations. None of the local schools scores better than a 3/10 on Great Schools.

Canton, SD

Source: Wikipedia User AlexiusHoratius | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 3,060
Average Home Price: $269,665
Median Income: $71,064
Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0150
More on Canton: Data | Crime | Real Estate

Canton sits along the Big Sioux River, just across the border from Iowa. Though not an official suburb of Sioux Falls, only a half-hour drive separates the town from South Dakota’s biggest city.

Defying the usual expectations for this list, Canton doesn’t suffer from a weak economy. In fact, with a 5.6% unemployment rate and a $71,064 median income, the commercial part of community functions rather well.

The town falls short in other realms, however. Specifically, amenities are scarce in town (unless you want to make the trek into Sioux Falls). At the same time, diversity is thin and housing often disappoints.

9. Beresford

Beresford, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Jon Platek | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 2,419
Average Home Price: $265,826
Median Income: $71,343
Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0149
More on Beresford: Crime | Real Estate

10. Flandreau

Flandreau, SD

Source: Flickr User Sarah&Boston | CC BY-SA 2.0
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Population: 2,246
Average Home Price: $184,387
Median Income: $54,821
Unemployment Rate: 2.2%
Crime Per Capita: 0.0178
More on Flandreau: Crime | Real Estate

Crime is a factor in Flandreau’s ranking. Among cities over 2,000 (and excluding towns on Native American land), Flandreau has the 18th 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 (2.2%) and home prices ($184,387) are also far below the state average.

Flandreau is located north of Sioux Falls.

Methodology: How we determined the worst places to live in South Dakota for 2024

To figure out the worst places to live in South Dakota, we used Saturday Night Science to idenift 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 the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a more significant weight. If you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are typically 7x more common and bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered — leaving 38 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 38 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 — Belle Fourche. Read on for a detailed look at the ten worst cities in South Dakota. This article is an opinion based on facts meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2024. This list is our tenth time ranking the worst places to live in South Dakota.

Summary: 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 little to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Belle Fourche ranks as the worst city to live in South Dakota for 2024.

The worst cities in South Dakota are .

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

  1. Tea (Pop. 5,922)
  2. Parkston (Pop. 2,003)
  3. Volga (Pop. 2,043)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Worst Places To Live In South Dakota

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Price Median Income Crime Per Capita
1 Belle Fourche 5,670 9.2% $281,636 $55,448 0.0143
2 Chamberlain 2,538 3.5% $208,864 $59,375 0.0355
3 Sturgis 7,121 2.4% $338,025 $49,564 0.0306
4 Box Elder 11,905 5.0% $330,877 $71,532 0.0197
5 Hot Springs 3,465 3.1% $297,368 $47,337 0.0046
6 Winner 2,905 8.7% $194,481 $52,500 0.0179
7 Sisseton 2,564 7.2% $136,506 $40,100 0.0047
8 Canton 3,060 5.6% $269,665 $71,064 0.0150
9 Beresford 2,419 4.9% $265,826 $71,343 0.0149
10 Flandreau 2,246 2.2% $184,387 $54,821 0.0178
11 Redfield 2,253 2.8% $141,554 $56,205 0.0281
12 Spearfish 12,268 2.3% $418,769 $58,734 0.0267
13 Mitchell 15,656 1.7% $234,575 $51,763 0.0280
14 Sioux Falls 193,401 2.3% $311,972 $71,785 0.0375
15 Vermillion 11,667 10.0% $229,091 $47,813 0.0168
16 Milbank 3,506 4.0% $180,583 $63,269 0.0281
17 Watertown 22,718 1.5% $272,742 $61,320 0.0179
18 Custer 2,043 4.1% $436,701 $66,141 0.0000
19 Lead 2,993 0.0% $337,837 $54,555 0.0164
20 Huron 14,179 2.7% $176,399 $57,702 0.0153
21 Fort Pierre 2,522 0.2% $314,973 $81,150 0.0281
22 Summerset 2,950 1.9% $395,362 $98,194 0.0200
23 Aberdeen 28,388 4.2% $216,009 $62,684 0.0192
24 Yankton 15,421 1.1% $247,438 $60,180 0.0301
25 Springfield 2,216 4.5% $180,408 $55,139 0.0000
26 Pierre 14,105 0.5% $272,719 $80,473 0.0225
27 Lennox 2,603 0.0% $283,904 $64,663 0.0069
28 Harrisburg 7,157 0.8% $340,010 $89,966 0.0375
29 Brookings 23,530 5.1% $281,909 $57,824 0.0150
30 Mobridge 3,130 1.4% $128,702 $54,868 0.0077
31 Hartford 3,340 2.9% $387,714 $93,762 0.0067
32 Elk Point 2,177 2.4% $255,272 $80,500 0.0005
33 Madison 6,271 1.7% $235,746 $62,756 0.0077
34 Dell Rapids 3,953 1.3% $340,437 $88,958 0.0067
35 Brandon 10,919 1.2% $362,304 $101,747 0.0067
36 Tea 5,922 1.2% $354,610 $99,153 0.0186
37 Parkston 2,003 2.0% $208,021 $70,982 0.0000
38 Volga 2,043 1.1% $289,554 $66,285 0.0150
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

29 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

  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 it’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. 😉

  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. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. this is so wrong , there are towns with less people , that have twice the crime , less desire and jobless rate . do one just by the Statistics and forget Population . I bet it will shock everyone

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