The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota

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 2020. This is our sixth 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 2,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of South Dakota:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota For 2020

  1. Flandreau
  2. Belle Fourche
  3. Mitchell
  4. Mobridge
  5. Canton
  6. Lennox
  7. Sisseton
  8. Chamberlain
  9. Box Elder
  10. Redfield

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.

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 2020

Flandreau, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,438
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $88,600 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (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 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, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,610
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $122,800 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (6th worst)
More on Belle Fourche:  Data | Photos

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.

Mitchell, SD

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Population: 15,722
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $141,200 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (12th worst)
More on Mitchell:  Data | Photos

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.

Mobridge, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,422
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $83,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (8th worst)
More on Mobridge:  Data | Photos

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, SD

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Population: 3,392
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $127,800 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (7th worst)
More on Canton:  Data | Photos

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, SD

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Population: 2,437
Rank Last Year: 30 (Up 24)
Median Home Value: $125,000 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (21st worst)
More on Lennox:  Data | Photos

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.

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,486
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $71,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (1st worst)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

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.

Chamberlain, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,486
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $156,300 (23rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (16th worst)
More on Chamberlain:  Data | Photos

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.

Box Elder, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,407
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $157,000 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (13th worst)
More on Box Elder:  Data | Photos

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.

Redfield, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,582
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $74,000 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.5% (20th worst)
More on Redfield:  Data | Photos

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

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. 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:

  1. Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,669)
  2. Tea (Pop. 5,098)
  3. Brandon (Pop. 9,867)

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 2,438 5.4% $88,600
2 Belle Fourche 5,610 5.0% $122,800
3 Mitchell 15,722 3.6% $141,200
4 Mobridge 3,422 3.9% $83,700
5 Canton 3,392 4.8% $127,800
6 Lennox 2,437 2.5% $125,000
7 Sisseton 2,486 9.8% $71,000
8 Chamberlain 2,486 3.1% $156,300
9 Box Elder 9,407 3.5% $157,000
10 Redfield 2,582 2.5% $74,000

How Is The Area In ?

29 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In South Dakota

  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. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. this is so wrong , there are towns with less people , that have twice the crime , less desire and jobless rate . do one just by the Statistics and forget Population . I bet it will shock everyone

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