Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2020

Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in SD are the 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 small places to live in South Dakota.

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Most Americans have never been to South Dakota. However, as the people who live there know, South Dakota is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, South Dakota has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Mount Rushmore State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 54 of South Dakota's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in South Dakota where you'd never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in South Dakota for 2020:

  1. Porcupine
  2. Fort Thompson
  3. Rosebud
  4. North Eagle Butte (Photos)
  5. Eagle Butte
  6. Mission
  7. Sisseton (Photos)
  8. Wagner
  9. Gregory
  10. Lemmon

So what is the worst small town to call home in south dakota for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Porcupine is the worst small town to live in South Dakota.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since South Dakota has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in South Dakota or the worst places to live in South Dakota.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2020

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,517
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $20,500 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 27.7% (4th worst)
More on Porcupine:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,260
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $48,800 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.3% (5th worst)
More on Fort Thompson:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,715
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $35,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (8th worst)
More on Rosebud:  Data

North Eagle Butte, SD

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,191
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $54,400 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 36.2% (2nd worst)
More on North Eagle Butte:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,134
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $53,800 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 32.4% (3rd worst)
More on Eagle Butte:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,231
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $31,700 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 21.3% (6th worst)
More on Mission:  Data

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,486
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $71,000 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (9th worst)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,525
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $90,500 (20th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (10th worst)
More on Wagner:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,467
Rank Last Year: 11 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $69,600 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.3% (42nd worst)
More on Gregory:  Data

Lemmon, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,265
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $66,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (12th worst)
More on Lemmon:  Data

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in South Dakota, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in South Dakota for 2020

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 54 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In South Dakota

If you're analyzing teeny places in the Mount Rushmore State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in South Dakota, according to science:

  1. Dell Rapids (Pop. 3,669)
  2. Dakota Dunes (Pop. 3,067)
  3. Crooks (Pop. 1,363)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In South Dakota

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Porcupine 1,517 27.7% $20,500
2 Fort Thompson 1,260 22.3% $48,800
3 Rosebud 1,715 11.2% $35,600
4 North Eagle Butte 2,191 36.2% $54,400
5 Eagle Butte 1,134 32.4% $53,800
6 Mission 1,231 21.3% $31,700
7 Sisseton 2,486 9.8% $71,000
8 Wagner 1,525 7.4% $90,500
9 Gregory 1,467 1.3% $69,600
10 Lemmon 1,265 6.3% $66,000
11 Flandreau 2,438 5.4% $88,600
12 Tyndall 1,167 2.7% $81,900
13 Webster 1,730 1.8% $82,500
14 Clark 1,448 2.0% $74,400
15 Lead 2,998 7.0% $118,800
16 Winner 2,839 3.8% $86,000
17 Salem 1,393 4.0% $103,200
18 Deadwood 1,463 1.7% $154,300
19 Mobridge 3,422 3.9% $83,700
20 Arlington 1,048 1.5% $98,700
21 North Sioux City 2,781 5.1% $125,300
22 Redfield 2,582 2.5% $74,000
23 Chamberlain 2,486 3.1% $156,300
24 Custer 2,113 3.8% $144,000
25 Whitewood 1,051 3.4% $111,400
26 Canton 3,392 4.8% $127,800
27 Freeman 1,408 2.7% $81,000
28 Hot Springs 3,515 1.9% $113,800
29 Blackhawk 3,148 4.3% $166,100
30 Clear Lake 1,319 0.0% $114,000
31 North Spearfish 2,339 2.3% $193,500
32 Springfield 2,045 0.7% $79,100
33 Piedmont 1,030 1.0% $153,700
34 De Smet 1,109 0.2% $102,000
35 Lennox 2,437 2.5% $125,000
36 Platte 1,501 1.2% $116,800
37 Miller 1,433 0.4% $115,900
38 Gettysburg 1,258 0.4% $91,500
39 Parkston 1,649 0.8% $97,700
40 Beresford 2,235 2.4% $121,000
41 Elk Point 2,168 1.8% $147,000
42 Garretson 1,214 0.7% $149,100
43 Milbank 3,210 1.3% $127,600
44 Fort Pierre 2,297 2.0% $162,700
45 Hartford 3,145 2.4% $176,700
46 Summerset 2,412 3.4% $222,500
47 Volga 1,799 1.5% $149,200
48 Baltic 1,069 2.6% $156,100
49 Groton 1,712 1.7% $166,300
50 Britton 1,792 0.0% $84,100
51 Worthing 1,025 1.4% $139,000
52 Dell Rapids 3,669 0.0% $166,600
53 Dakota Dunes 3,067 0.0% $329,200
54 Crooks 1,363 0.5% $187,300

How Is The Area In ?

10 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In South Dakota, 2020

  1. You forgot Fruitdale SD. Population is about 50 people if we are lucky. It’s 10 miles outside of belle fourche on Highway 212. Lots of crime. Low house costs. Low income. But it’s a town.

  2. Can’t believe Eureka was so low on the list – 2 lakes for fishing, water skiing, and jet skiing, golf course, bowling alley, 2 softball fields, tennis courts, nice park, 6 churches, hospital, dentist, chiropractor, museum, fitness center….

  3. I would live and die in any of these fine cities. Gary is my home. At least this rating will keep the rif raf away.

  4. I’ve been seeing this go around. I have some personal thoughts. The first thing I seen was “using science and data,” the second thing I noticed is that they are all reservation areas, and finally the word choice being “the Mount Rushmore state.” SO to me that all just looks like self-serving data done on the outside of tribes. This “research,” is similar to the two studies (ASU & Havasupai lawsuit-research study & Barrow alcohol study) that were used to demoralize Indigenous Peoples and led to tribally own research data because of the research stigma between tribes and outside institutions/universities. Hmmm… Also “data,” does not include the beautiful culture and values of these communities, which is a colonized concept of deeming something unworthy (in this case, the smallest worst towns in SD). Like I said, self-serving, creating these unworthy notions about these places. Interesting how America made reservations as a place not intended to prosper and yet individuals share “science and data,” on this, but forget to add in the historical aspect of genocide and colonization. These are my thoughts. Oh! Also, the word choice on Mount Rushmore state, in which the black hills are sacred to the Oceti Sakowin and was taken from us because of gold and tourism, as a means to be materialistic and make a profit. Hmmm…I think they should redo it and make their platform more useful by covering the beauty of our people, culture, language, and RESILIENCY.

  5. Maybe instead of demeaning reservation towns with “unbiased” statistics, we actually begin to understand the reasons these places aren’t up to your privileged standards. Please next time understand the context of the areas you’re putting down. The reservation towns are rich in culture and rich in beauty..something that most do not understand. These are resilient communities with loving, generous individuals, and if you cannot see that, that is your own problem.

  6. This is very sad. I would suggest you check out these communities. You will discover several things:
    1. Most are on or near a Native Indian Reservations. The Natives, historically, were given no choice on where they an go. To leave, it takes money. To get money, it takes jobs. There are no jobs in many of these communities.

    2. Geographically, they are not near anything major. Again, they were not given choices (read #1)

    3. Some of the best people I know either live there or were from there.

    What you are doing is socially unacceptable. Go there, visit, experience, then talk about the worst places to live. I can tell a lot worst places than some on that list.

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