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:

Here are the 10 worst places to live in South Dakota for 2019:

  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:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2019

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 one of the poorest cities in the state of South Dakota. This city has 3.8% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $41,145 a year.

Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Belle Fourche has the 24th highest crime rate in South Dakota. While the numbers aren’t staggering (South Dakota is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it’s still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Mount Rushmore State.

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

Say what you want about how beautiful Mitchell might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.

The unemployment rate rankss 9th highest in the state at 4.8%. Homes are the 16th lowest priced ($133,900), and the median income per household is just a tad over $45,264.

The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.

Review Of Mitchell by HomeSnacks User

Crimes arent quietly heard of here, if so mostly drugs, c*****e, m**h, marijuana, etc. Schools are great here, teachers very respectful and discipline well. Neighborhoods usually quiet and quite peaceful.

Twin Dragon Chinese, Bike Trail, Pump Track.

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.

Review Of Custer by HomeSnacks User

I lived in Custer and it is a much better cleaner town.

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

You can’t blame them for living in Mobridge since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.

Not only is the unemployment rate the 6th highest in the state here (5.2%), the residents in Mobridge earn the smallest household income in the state of South Dakota. At a combined income of $43,243, families of four are barely above the poverty line.

In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in South Dakota. Mobridge has the 23rd highest crime rate in the state.

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 has a 3.0% unemployment rate (18th in SD), below average income levels and the 3rd highest crime rate in the state.

This random City-Data comment sums up Spearfish.

“I visited Spearfish over the weekend and I have to say the place just seemed completely depressing.

“I saw lots people around Spearfish who looked…well bad. Like former alcoholics and drug addicts.

“And what’s with the poorish looking area, where there were a lot of people in run down homes?

“Just looked sad.”

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

If, by some reason, you were driving through Sisseton, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.

It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($38,500) and they can’t get good jobs (9.6% unemployment rate).

Sisseton ranks as the 7th wost place in South Dakota.

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 in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $111,600. That means it ranks as the 9th lowest in South Dakota.

You can make a case that based on the fact that Lead has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 32nd worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in South Dakota.

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

Sturgis needs some tough love as it ranks as the 9th worst city to live in South Dakota for 2019.

Crime in Sturgis is the 7th highest in the state, where 1 in 34.8 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.

Additionally, the income is almost dead last in South Dakota.

If commute time is important, Sturgis residents have the 12th longest commute of any residents on our list.

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 is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.

Box Elder residents earn the 21st-lowest salaries in the state. At $49,290 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $130,700, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.

Crime is the 18th highest in South Dakota per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 15th highest in the state, at 3.5%.

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.

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:

Where Are 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

29 thoughts on “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 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. 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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