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:
- Flandreau (Photos)
- Sisseton (Photos)
- Belle Fourche (Photos)
- Mitchell (Photos)
- Mobridge (Photos)
- Custer (Photos)
- Lead (Photos)
- Huron (Photos)
- Vermillion (Photos)
- Spearfish (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.
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
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.
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.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Sisseton is the 31st 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 159.2 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 Sisseton 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 Sisseton are really low. People here earn about $38,500 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Sisseton 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 Sisseton.
Belle Fourche, SD needs a big hug right now. Residents here are underpaid, underemployed and possibly lonely.
Additionally, crime is 24th worst in the state, which is very high considering Belle Fourche is so far removed from the rest of South Dakota.
If you know anyone in Belle Fourche, 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 Mitchell is the 4th worst place you can live in the state of South Dakota. Let’s see why.
Residents who live in Mitchell, located in Davison County, have the 1st most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower income level–per resident–and homes valued around $133,900, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of South Dakota, that is.
Welcome to Mobridge, which might be one of the poorest areas in South Dakota. Residents average $43,243 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 10.1% of Mobridge residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $86,800 and the unemployment rate hovers near 5.2%.
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.
Lead has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 32nd-highest in the state of South Dakota. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 7.7%.
Additionally, 13.4% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Huron has the 6th lowest home values in the state ($95,200), which indicates little demand to live here. Additionally, the student spending levels are some of the lowest you’ll find in South Dakota. Crime is above average.
And, unless you enjoy shopping at Walmart, you have quite a drive into Sioux Falls for a little fun.
Vermillion is one of the poorest cities in the state of South Dakota. This city has 7.7% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $34,972 a year.
Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Vermillion has the 16th 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.
When you’re looking at science and data, Spearfish is the 10th 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.
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)
For more South Dakota reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In South Dakota
- 10 Safest Places In South Dakota
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In South Dakota
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In South Dakota