Article Table Of Contents
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 2,000 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 2020.
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In South Dakota
- Cheapest Places To Live In South Dakota
- Most Dangerous Cities In South Dakota
The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2020
Crime is a factor in Flandreau's ranking. Among cities over 2,000 (and excluding towns on Native American land), Flandreau has the 14th 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 (5.4%) and home prices ($88,600) are also far below the state average.
Flandreau is located north of Sioux Falls.
When you're looking at science and data, Belle Fourche is the 2nd 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. Belle Fourche is the 16th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 45.2 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $122,800, which is the 12th 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 Belle Fourche.
Income levels are just about $43,796, the 6th lowest in South Dakota.
When you add it all up, Belle Fourche really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
What the heck is going on in little Mitchell? The crime is the highest in the state of South Dakota. Here, residents have a 1 in 27.4 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and didn't have something stolen from you, there's a good chance your neighbor did.
That ratio is one of the highest we've seen in the nation. Perhaps the high unemployment rate has something to do with it. More than 3.6% of Mitchell residents were without jobs in the latest numbers we collected, which is the 12th highest in the state.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Mobridge is the 10th most dangerous city in South Dakota. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 41.9 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That's lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Mobridge might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Mobridge are really low. People here earn about $46,466 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Mobridge are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in South Dakota than in Mobridge.
Canton is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $127,800. That means it ranks as the 15th lowest in South Dakota.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Canton has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 2worst in the state, it's one of the worst places you can live in South Dakota.
Lennox is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Lennox is the 4th most dangerous place you can live in South Dakota.
Residents in Lennox have a 1 in 32.9 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 Lennox, where average homes are valued at only$125,000. That's the 13th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
When you're looking at science and data, Sisseton is the worst place you can live in South Dakota. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 9.8%. The schools are underfunded, and property values are well below the state average. A home costs $71,000, which is a sure sign of lack of demand.
You have a 1 in 80.2 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime here every year. That's not fun, either.
Sisseton is a far drive south from Louisville.
You might have passed through Chamberlain once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here's what science says about why Chamberlain needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 3.1%, residents earn about $48,314 a year, and home prices are just over $156,300. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn't anything to do in Chamberlain.
The city of Box Elder is the 9th worst place you can live in the state of South Dakota in 2020.
It's unlucky for Box Elder, which has the 13th highest unemployment rate (3.5%), the 23rd lowest household incomes ($52,793) and the 24th lowest home prices in the state ($157,000).
Basically, a lot of people in Box Elder are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it's not one of the most dangerous places we'll look at, it's in the top 20%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in South Dakota.
When you're looking at science and data, the city of Redfield is the worst place you can live (outside of a town on a reservation) in the state of South Dakota. Let's see why.
First of all, homes are priced according to demand, and frankly, there isn't a lot of demand to live in Redfield, where homes average $60,000 each. That's the lowest in the state.
The unemployment rate in Redfield is 3.9%, which is the 7th highest in the state. That's far lower than the national average, but when you're comparing cities within South Dakota to one another, it's high. And the median income levels in Redfield are $33,000, which are the 6th lowest household salaries in the state.
Plus, there's the boredom factor. While most of the cities in South Dakota are pretty isolated from one another, some are further away from the rest of society. Redfield residents have a 75-minute drive to Watertown for fun.
How we determined the worst places to live in South Dakota for 2020
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. You can download the data here.
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 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in South Dakota:
- Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,669)
- Tea (Pop. 5,098)
- Brandon (Pop. 9,867)
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In South Dakota
- Richest Cities In South Dakota
- Safest Places In South Dakota
- Best Cities For Singles In South Dakota
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In South Dakota?