Known as the ‘Mount Rushmore State’, South Dakota is located at the upper midwest of the United States with a population of around 884,659 according to the census of 2019. The name comes from the native tribes of Lakota and Sioux who historically dominated the place in the past. If you are a person who loves mountains and want to explore America’s most amazing peaks, then South Dakota is the place for you. The Black Hills and Mount Rushmore are the perfect spots for you to explore the state’s breathtaking views.

You are sure to be captivated by the landscape of the Missouri River in the west where you will get to experience the state’s rolling hills, ravines and plains. The 6,000 sq mi range of The Black Hills will blow your mind with its peaks rising from around 2,000 to 4,000 feet above their bases in the southwestern part of Dakota. The state’s beauty is not just limited to the mountain ranges, you will also get to see a rich variety of animal species like the paddlefish in the Missouri River.

What Should I Know Before Moving To South Dakota?

South Dakota has a variety in terms of the weather, culture, nature and economy and therefore it is known as the land of infinite variety. It is the 17th largest state in the U.S with around 77,116 sq mi. North Dakota, Minnesota, Lowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana border South Dakota.

The Sioux Fall, which is the largest city in South Dakota will give you the pleasures of the state’s festivals like Days of 76, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo where you will get to experience the state’s ethnic and historic heritage. If you want to take up some sports, there are lots of things to explore in South Dakota. You get to experience a variety of recreational activities like fishing and cycling in the state apart from sightseeing and exploring the state’s wildlife.

Crime Rate In South Dakota

You need to look at the crime rate before moving to any state. The total crime rate in South Dakota is around 21.70 per 1000 people of which violent crimes around 3.99 per 1000 people and property crimes are around 17.71 per 1000 people. What this means is that your chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes is 1 in 251 and being a victim for property crime is 1 in 56 according to neighborhoodscout.

South Dakota Weather

You get to experience four distinct seasons in South Dakota from cold, dry winters to semi humid summers. The Missouri river divides South Dakota into two halves in which the eastern side has relatively moderate humid climate compared to the western side that experiences a dry climate. The summers tend to be very warm and sometimes you will experience hot and dry spells as the average temperature is between 32 degree to 49 degree celsius which can be the highest. The temperature varies depending on the place you are living in. The city of Usta is known to have the highest temperature of upto 49 degree celsius in summers in the year 2006.

The month of January in South Dakota can be the coldest month for you because of the cold winters. The average temperature ranges from around -12 degree celsius or sometimes below that depending on the place you’re living in. If you are a sports enthusiast, then you should definitely experience the ice-fishing, road tripping, hockey and ice skating in South Dakota and enjoy the snow in the state. However, you need to be careful if you’re planning to visit the state in winters as South Dakota also has reportedly frequent thunderstorms, winds and blizzards that occur in the month of January in winters.

You will get to experience the semi arid conditions in South Dakota in the northwestern part of the state with an average annual precipitation of around 380 mm to 640 mm depending on the area you’re living in. If you decide to go explore The Black Hills, then you will witness the highest precipitation of around 760 mm every year.

Is It Expensive To Live In South Dakota?

This is something you need to ask yourself before you decide to move to any state. You need to check your budget, the state’s facilities in terms of education, healthcare and most importantly your housing expenses and expenses for other essential utilities. So make sure you consider all these factors before deciding to move to a new state altogether.

Cost Of Living In South Dakota

According to Payscale, the cost of living in South Dakota is relatively lower than the national average. The best thing about living in South Dakota is that the state does not charge any state tax and also does not levy a personal income tax. So if you plan on moving to South Dakota, you can definitely save some precious bucks in this regard.

Based on the analysis of smartasset, the average income tax is around $12,005, average sales tax is the lowest in the country of around $726 and the average tax charged for fuel is around $231. Your average property tax would be around $3,324, which is relatively lower than the other states in the U.S. If you add that up, your overall tax burden would be around $16,287.

The basic items for your breakfast like a gallon of milk would cost you around $1.82. If you like to have eggs and bread then your cost for a carton of eggs would be around $1.70 and for a loaf of bread would be around $3,13. If you want to grab a bunch of bananas for your breakfast, it would cost you around $3.16. When you feel like having outside food for a brunch, a typical hamburger would cost you around $3.98.

Also See: Best States to Retire

Buying A House

An important thing to note is that South Dakota has witnessed a spike of 6.3% in the price of home values since last year. As per February 2021’s data shared by Zillow, the average home value in South Dakota stands at $230,530. The good thing is that it’s still lower than the US national average of $272,446. Meaning buying a house here won’t necessarily lead to you having to break the bank. Of course, the price would vary depending on the city you choose to live in and the size of your house.

Renting A House

Again, the rent rates for houses and apartments will differ based on the area and also on the size of the house and number of bedrooms. But if you want to rent a house in the state, you can expect to pay an average of $1,175 on a monthly basis, as stated by HomeSnacks. The data shared was calculated for December 2020. Just know that this calculation is based on an average of $0.872 per square foot, where 1,346 sq ft was recorded to be the average size of the apartment.

Utility Bills

The good news is that the electricity bill in South Dakota happens to be 7.48% lower than the US national average, with the monthly cost being $99 approximately in the state. Similarly, even the water bill here is one of the least expensive in the country, with the amount being $24 per month. In case you were wondering how much the gas bill would be on the average, then you would have to set aside approximately $95 per month in South Dakota. Your internet bill per month would be give or take $70 if you take a good unlimited package. Keep in mind that your usage of electricity and gas would also play a part in the final cost.

See Also: Utility Bills : All you Need to know

South Dakota Economy And Employment Opportunities

South Dakota has a GDP of around $55 billion with agriculture and tourism being the two most flourishing industries. The unemployment rate in South Dakota is around 2.7% which is relatively lower than the U.S average rate of around 3.7%. You must always take into consideration the tax rates of the state you’re planning to live in. Fortunately, there is no state tax charged in South Dakota. The sales tax rate in South Dakota is around 6.0% which is relatively lower than the average U.S sales tax that is around 7.3%.

Agriculture constitutes for around 6.4% of the population as it is the prominent industry in South Dakota. There are different types of jobs associated with agriculture. You can explore jobs related to fishing, forestry or hunting if you want to work under this sector. Apart from the agricultural industry, around 9.9% of the population is engaged in the manufacturing industry whereas 8.8% of the population constitutes for the educational services in the state. So basically it means that you have a variety of jobs to explore in terms of agricultural, manufacturing and educational sectors.

In South Dakota, the median household income was recorded to be in the range of $64,255 approximately in a year, back in 2019. All the same, the average income for an individual was roundabout $30,000 per year.


If you are looking for places that have good colleges and universities, then the Rapid city and Sioux Falls are two most important metropolitan cities with many different universities and private colleges. South Dakota has around 22 colleges and universities and that’s why you have plenty of institutions to explore. You can also seek employment opportunities in the mining industry as it is one of the prospering sectors in the state. You also get to study engineering and applied sciences in the state’s only specialized institution at the South Dakota Schools of Mines and Technology.

If you are interested in the city of Vermillion, then the best institution for you is the University of South Dakota where your out of state tuition fees would be around $12,807 and your in-state tuition fees will cost you around $9,332. The South Dakota State University in Brookings is another popular university where your out of state tuition fees would be around $12,065 whereas your in-state tuition fees will cost you around $9,200. You can also explore other private schools and colleges based on the area you want to live in, however you will find the best institutions in the cities of Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

Getting Around South Dakota

There are a variety of modes of transport available for you to explore the beautiful South Dakota while sightseeing and discovering the different pleasures of wildlife and mountain peaks the state has to offer.

Buses: There are a total of 19 cities in South Dakota for you to explore and travel. The average cost for bus tickets for top routes in the state will cost you around $122.00 with $224.00 being the most expensive tickets according to wanderu. However, if you are looking for relatively lower price tickets, the cheapest ticket will cost you around $22.00. The Jefferson Lines will provide you the most efficient bus service in 15 cities within South Dakota. The Greyhound bus service will not offer you any scheduled bus services within the state of South Dakota. But if you want to visit South Dakota from other locations, the company has around 59 destinations and around 81 routes to take you through the other states to South Dakota.

Taxis: If you are not comfortable travelling by bus, then taxi would be the best option for you. Your average taxi fare would be around $4 where your average cost for a ride of 1km would be around $1.24. The Uber prices in the state depend upon the distance travelled by you. Your average cost for an UberX in the Rapid City will be around $1.75 per km. The uber prices may vary depending on the city you are traveling in and also the distance that it takes to reach your destination.

Best Cities To Live In South Dakota

1. Brandon

The city of Brandon is located five miles east from Sioux Falls in South Dakota. With the population of around 9,934, the city of Brandon offers you a variety of recreational activities and events. You can enjoy various sports like tennis, volleyball, softball and baseball if you go to the south of the city in the famous Aspen Park. Another important place for you to explore would be the Pioneer Park which is located in the northeast of the city of Brandon. You can enjoy golfing, basketball or just take a nice walk through the huge park. Brandon would be the best and safest place for you to live in as the crime rate here is around 75% lower than the national average which makes it the safest.

  • Median Home value: $225,200
  • Median Home rent: $875
  • Unemployment rate: 1.6%

2. Harrisburg

The city of Harrisburg has a population of around 6,087 and is considered as the state’s fastest growing city. If you want to enjoy swimming, boating or fishing with your family, then you should explore Lake Alvin. You can spend some quality time with your family at the beach or just take a walk and explore the 59 acre Lake Alvin Recreational Area. If you are a person who likes to explore the flora and fauna of places, then you can explore the forest ravines, bird species and sunny grasslands at the Good Earth State Park of 615 acres for a pleasant time in nature. If you are planning to move to Harrisburg with your family, there are many elementary and high schools like the Harrisburg High School in the north.

  • Median Home value: $199,200
  • Median Home value: $625
  • Unemployment rate: 0.9%

3. Brookings

The city of Brookings in South Dakota has a population of around 24,108 and is located in the northeast of the state. If you want to explore the city’s historical heritages, then you should visit the Children’s Museum and South Dakota Agricultural Museum to experience the rural history of the state. You can also have a picnic with your family at the gardens of McCroy which have 25 acres of gardens with different flowers, trees and grasses to explore. You will also find the popular South Dakota State University in Brookings. The best thing about living in Brookings is that your average rent for a house would be around $753 on a monthly basis and naturally quite affordable.

  • Median Home value: $181,000
  • Median Home rent: $675
  • Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Is South Dakota A Good Place To Live?

If you are planning to move with your family, then South Dakota has various schools and universities spread across the state in places like Brookings, Sioux Falls and Harrisburg. The state also offers you a range of recreational activities like fishing and if you are a retiree, you can make the most of the sights and pleasures of the state. If at all you are a single person and want to move to an affordable place, South Dakota can qualify as one as it has relatively low taxes and 0% state tax which makes it quite affordable to live in. In terms of the climatic conditions, the thunderstorms and heavy winds can be a problem, the summers here are also humid and warm. So sit back, see if the state’s educational, healthcare facilities and employment opportunities appeal to you and then decide and plan your move.

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