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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 2,000 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
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- 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.
Sure, it's in a beautiful area, and there's lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you're measuring desirability, it's the 2nd worst in South Dakota.
Belle Fourche residents had a 1 in 45.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Belle Fourche is through the roof, as more than 5.0% of the population can't get a job. At least their mortgages aren't too high; at $122,800, Belle Fourche has the 12th-lowest home prices in the state of South Dakota.
Mitchell needs some tough love as it ranks as the 3rd worst city to live in South Dakota for 2020. There's not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it's not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Mitchell is the highest in the state, where 1 in 27.4 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Mobridge ranks as the 4th-worst place in South Dakota due to a variety of factors, placing in the bottom third for unemployment, median income, and crime.
On top of that, residents have the 19th-worst commute of any place in the state.
Out of all the places to live in South Dakota, Canton ranks as the 5th worst -- not something to brag about.
Canton's unemployment rate stands at 4.8%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $59,191 a year in salaries. That's not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 15th cheapest in the entire state at $127,800. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there's not a lot of demand to live way out in Canton. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 2worst in the state. You have a 1 in 57.5 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 424 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
Here in Lennox, you have some of the highest crime and the highest unemployment rates in South Dakota. That's not a good combination.
Located in Lincoln County, you have a 1 in 32.9 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Lennox city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (2.5%). That's good for the 2highest unemployment rate in South Dakota.
Sisseton doesn't have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 9.8%, and people average less than $38,167 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $71,000, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in South Dakota.
And again, in terms of the overall 'enjoyment' factor, it's not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
If, by some reason, you were driving through Chamberlain, 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 ($48,314) and they can't get good jobs (3.1% unemployment rate).
Chamberlain ranks as the 8th wost place in South Dakota.
Box Elder, where there's absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 9th worst city in South Dakota.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Box Elder has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 3.5%, and families earn around $52,793 a year. It's also the 17th highest in South Dakota for crime, where 1 in 53.8 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
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:
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Where Are The Worst Places To Live In South Dakota?