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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
- 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.
Belle Fourche ranks as the 2nd worst city on this list.
Belle Fourche has the 16th highest crime rate in South Dakota, where residents have a 1 in 45.2 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 12th cheapest in the state ($122,800), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Mitchell, part of Davison County, is the 3rd worst place to live in South Dakota for 2020.
Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $43,788, and crime worst in South Dakota.
Additionally, the poverty level is 14.3% in Mitchell.
When you're looking at science and data, Mobridge is the 4th 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. Mobridge is the 10th most dangerous place you can live in the state, where you have a 1 in 41.9 chance of being the victim of some type of property crime. Meaning lots of people are getting robbed here.
Homes here average $83,700, which is the 4th 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 Mobridge.
Income levels are just about $46,466, the 10th lowest in South Dakota.
When you add it all up, Mobridge really is quite an undesirable place to live. The people who have to live in here could use a big hug right about now.
Here in Canton, 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 57.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime when inside Canton city limits every year. Some of those crimes might be due to the relatively high unemployment rate (4.8%). That's good for the 7th highest unemployment rate in South Dakota.
Lennox needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Lennox. That's not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Lennox. Of the 36 cities considered in this ranking, Lennox had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Lennox have South Dakota's 13th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 21st and 4th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of "Worst City in South Dakota."
If you know anyone in Lennox, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
Sisseton takes the 7th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons -- below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Sisseton its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index -- the 26th worst in the whole state.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Chamberlain is the 6th 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 40.8 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 Chamberlain 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 Chamberlain are really low. People here earn about $48,314 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Chamberlain 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 Chamberlain.
If you're looking to live in South Dakota, Box Elder might not be the best choice as it places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
The unemployment rate here is 3.5%, and households bring in a combined $52,793 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of South Dakota.
Crime is the 17th highest in the state in Box Elder as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
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?