The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2023

We used Saturday Night Science to determine the worst small towns in South Dakota.

Most Americans have never been to small town South Dakota. However, as the South Dakotan who live there know, small town South Dakota is an awesome place to call home.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, South Dakota has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using Saturday Night Science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Mount Rushmore State. Don’t freak out, we will use data to show which places have high crime, poverty, and unemployment.

After analyzing more than 61 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 2023:

  1. Oglala
  2. Porcupine
  3. Rosebud
  4. North Eagle Butte
  5. Fort Thompson
  6. Agency Village
  7. Lake Andes
  8. Pine Ridge
  9. Kyle
  10. Eagle Butte

So what is the worst small town to call home in South Dakota for 2023? According to the most recent census data, Oglala is the worst small town to live in South Dakota.

While many of these small towns have seen better days, they have wonderful communities and people. This report in no way means to knock the folks that call towns like Oglala home. Everyone

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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2023

1. Oglala

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,177
Median Home Value: $37,800 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 27.7% (3rd worst)

2. Porcupine

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,289
Median Home Value: $32,200 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.4% (6th worst)

3. Rosebud

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,994
Median Home Value: $39,100 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 26.8% (4th worst)

4. North Eagle Butte

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,731
Median Home Value: $50,000 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 29.3% (2nd worst)

5. Fort Thompson

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,266
Median Home Value: $96,900 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.4% (5th worst)

6. Agency Village

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,068
Median Home Value: $1,000 (1000th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (34th worst)

7. Lake Andes

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,019
Median Home Value: $45,000 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (8th worst)

8. Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,085
Median Home Value: $52,400 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (7th worst)

9. Kyle

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,398
Median Home Value: $1,000 (1000th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (36th worst)

10. Eagle Butte

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,421
Median Home Value: $48,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 35.8% (worst)

Methodology: How do you decide if a small place in South Dakota is lousy or not?

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

We then analyzed the criteria using Saturday Night Science, the thinking you’d use at a bar. It seems like even your crazy Uncle would agree that a town with high crime is worse than a town with low crime; all else the same.

Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2017-2021 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 many – 61 to be exact.

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

We base all our research on facts, which is meant as infotainment. We updated this article for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the worst small places to live in South Dakota.

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. Aurora (Pop. 1,339)
  2. Dakota Dunes (Pop. 3,688)
  3. Crooks (Pop. 1,365)

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 Oglala 1,177 27.7% $37,800
2 Porcupine 1,289 19.4% $32,200
3 Rosebud 1,994 26.8% $39,100
4 North Eagle Butte 1,731 29.3% $50,000
5 Fort Thompson 1,266 24.4% $96,900
6 Agency Village 1,068 2.7% $1,000
7 Lake Andes 1,019 9.7% $45,000
8 Pine Ridge 3,085 10.5% $52,400
9 Kyle 1,398 2.3% $1,000
10 Eagle Butte 1,421 35.8% $48,900
11 Mission 1,216 8.9% $45,000
12 Winner 2,882 8.0% $101,600
13 Sisseton 2,433 6.2% $92,100
14 Gregory 1,317 5.2% $90,300
15 Lemmon 1,252 4.5% $69,900
16 Wagner 1,533 5.9% $112,800
17 Hot Springs 3,407 5.2% $130,200
18 Tyndall 1,210 4.1% $88,400
19 Clark 1,152 5.0% $76,400
20 Chamberlain 2,400 3.6% $149,800
21 Deadwood 1,317 3.0% $168,000
22 Martin 1,212 4.2% $78,400
23 Mobridge 3,215 3.6% $92,800
24 Lead 2,989 4.9% $157,800
25 North Sioux City 2,956 8.2% $183,400
26 Springfield 2,108 4.6% $97,700
27 Blackhawk 3,081 7.5% $196,700
28 Flandreau 2,298 2.9% $123,700
29 Custer 2,067 6.7% $158,700
30 Salem 1,221 2.8% $120,600
31 Canton 3,054 4.8% $149,100
32 Gettysburg 1,464 1.7% $133,200
33 Freeman 1,711 2.2% $118,400
34 Webster 1,772 1.2% $100,000
35 Clear Lake 1,396 0.6% $124,200
36 Ipswich 1,183 1.5% $129,600
37 Garretson 1,367 5.4% $161,400
38 Miller 1,338 0.0% $110,800
39 Platte 1,178 2.5% $143,400
40 Redfield 2,160 0.9% $106,700
41 Beresford 2,359 4.3% $171,000
42 Elk Point 2,248 1.9% $163,400
43 Milbank 3,488 2.7% $136,100
44 Green Valley 1,184 0.0% $212,000
45 Lennox 2,617 0.5% $162,000
46 North Spearfish 2,198 1.4% $240,100
47 Piedmont 1,017 1.0% $238,000
48 De Smet 1,128 0.0% $139,400
49 Fort Pierre 2,426 0.3% $154,900
50 Parkston 1,761 1.7% $121,500
51 Volga 2,146 1.8% $183,300
52 Summerset 2,875 1.8% $246,900
53 Hartford 3,263 3.0% $179,200
54 Groton 1,641 0.8% $139,900
55 Britton 1,096 0.8% $118,600
56 Baltic 1,263 1.0% $189,200
57 Dell Rapids 3,940 0.3% $224,400
58 Colonial Pine Hills 2,425 0.7% $290,400
59 Aurora 1,339 0.0% $176,900
60 Dakota Dunes 3,688 0.5% $376,900
61 Crooks 1,365 1.8% $211,900
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

10 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2023

  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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