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Best Places to Live in South Dakota

15 Best Places to Live in South Dakota

Searching for your dream home? Look no further! South Dakota offers a variety of alluring destinations that cater to every lifestyle. Whether you’re seeking bustling city vibes or the serene call of nature, you’ll find it here. Discover the 15 Best Places to Live in South Dakota in this comprehensive guide. We’ll delve into what makes each spot unique, from schools and job opportunities to local culture and outdoor amenities. Don’t miss out on finding your ideal South Dakota haven. Stay tuned!

1. Sioux Falls: The Largest City

Falls Park and Downtown 09 17 23 result
Photo by Maxpower2727 /

Ah, Sioux Falls! The crown jewel of South Dakota. The largest city in the state, it’s bustling with activities, offering something for everyone. Looking for urban sophistication with a slice of Midwestern charm? Sioux Falls is your destination.

Key Stats: All the Numbers You Need

PopulationApprox. 183,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$950/month
Median Household Income$60,000/year
Walk Score45
Transit Score25
Bike Score50

The Numbers, Decoded

Sioux Falls isn’t just about statistics. The low rent and decent household income offer a comfortable lifestyle. However, the city is more car-dependent, reflected by its Walk and Transit Scores. But hey, if you’re a biking enthusiast, the Bike Score isn’t too shabby!

Entertainment & Activities: Get Your Fun On

Some of the Best Things to Do in Sioux Falls

  1. Falls Park: Natural wonder in the heart of the city. Perfect for picnics!
  2. SculptureWalk: An outdoor art marvel. Great for Instagram shots.
  3. Sioux Falls Bike Trails: Time to put that decent Bike Score to good use!
  4. Washington Pavilion: Arts and Science. Best of both worlds!
  5. Denny Sanford Premier Center: Catch a live concert or sporting event.

My Take: Falls Park is a must-visit. I mean, the city is named after these falls for a reason! Washington Pavilion offers a more cultured outing, while the Bike Trails make good use of the city’s bike-friendliness.

So, if you’re a nature buff, an art aficionado, or simply someone looking for an affordable, well-rounded lifestyle, Sioux Falls is the place to be. Keep scrolling to learn about more amazing cities in South Dakota!

2. Rapid City: Gateway to the Black Hills

Rapid City, where the Wild West meets modern life. Second in size but not in charm, this city is your gateway to the iconic Black Hills. Want to get your history fix and outdoor adventure in one place? Say no more!

Key Stats: The Nitty-Gritty

PopulationApprox. 77,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$800/month
Median Household Income$54,000/year
Walk Score32
Transit Score20
Bike Score40

Crunching the Numbers

The rent? More affordable than Sioux Falls. The Walk and Transit Scores? Lower, but you’re here for the great outdoors anyway. The Bike Score? Let’s just say you can pedal your way around the local trails.

Entertainment & Activities: Where the Action Is

Some of the Best Things to Do in Rapid City

  1. Mount Rushmore: The monumental tribute to U.S. Presidents.
  2. Custer State Park: Wildlife roaming freely. A true nature’s spectacle.
  3. Downtown Square: Food, fun, and shopping galore.
  4. Reptile Gardens: Snakes and lizards and gators, oh my!
  5. Art Alley: Urban art scene at its finest.

My Take: Mount Rushmore is iconic; it’s an American symbol you have to experience firsthand. Custer State Park provides a unique, untamed look at South Dakota’s natural beauty. Reptile Gardens offers a mix of education and thrill, especially if you’re into exotic creatures.

In a nutshell, Rapid City serves as a perfect base for exploring the Black Hills, while offering a vibrant local scene. And remember, you’re getting this slice of American paradise at a lower cost of living than many other places. Stay tuned for more South Dakota gems!

3. Aberdeen: Hub of the Northeast

Aberdeen, where the prairies meet progress. Often overlooked, but a hidden treasure in South Dakota’s northeast corner. It’s smaller than Sioux Falls and Rapid City, but don’t let size fool you. Aberdeen packs a punch in terms of quality of life.

Key Stats: Breaking Down the Basics

PopulationApprox. 28,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$700/month
Median Household Income$52,000/year
Walk Score38
Transit Score15
Bike Score30

The Numbers, Explained

Cheaper rent than both Sioux Falls and Rapid City. The Walk Score and Bike Score are reasonable, giving you options for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride. Public transit? Well, it’s limited, but you’ll find your way.

Entertainment & Activities: Small Town, Big Fun

Some of the Best Things to Do in Aberdeen

  1. Wylie Park: Nature walks and family picnics are a go!
  2. Storybook Land: An amusement park that brings fairy tales to life.
  3. Dacotah Prairie Museum: Diving into regional history.
  4. Richmond Lake Recreation Area: Fishing and boating paradise.
  5. Aberdeen Community Theatre: For the love of the stage.

My Take: Wylie Park offers an ideal setup for both adventure and relaxation. Storybook Land is an unexpected joy, particularly if you have kids. The Dacotah Prairie Museum gives you a cultural backdrop, and Richmond Lake Recreation Area offers outdoor enthusiasts an escape.

So, think of Aberdeen as a cozy, cost-effective hub that combines historical charm with modern amenities. It’s the unsung hero of South Dakota’s northeast corner. Keep scrolling to discover more about what makes this state so unique!

4. Brookings: A College Town Atmosphere

Brookings: the thinking person’s playground. Thanks to South Dakota State University, this small city brims with youthful energy. From academics to late-night pizza, Brookings serves up a balanced mix of college-town staples and family-friendly amenities.

Key Stats: What’s the Score?

PopulationApprox. 24,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$750/month
Median Household Income$49,000/year
Walk Score33
Transit Score12
Bike Score55

The Stats Speak Volumes

Rent? Affordable. The Walk Score and Transit Score are lower, but you’re likely here for the campus life, right? And don’t overlook that high Bike Score!

Entertainment & Activities: Where Life’s a Party

Some of the Best Things to Do in Brookings

  1. South Dakota Art Museum: A splash of color in the prairies.
  2. Children’s Museum of South Dakota: Fun for the whole fam.
  3. McCory Gardens: Blooms in abundance.
  4. Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill: A local hotspot.
  5. Daktronics: Tours of one of the world’s leading scoreboard manufacturers.

My Take: Don’t miss the South Dakota Art Museum, where you’ll find a variety of art that defies the state’s rural stereotype. Children’s Museum is a hit for families, and Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill is where you’ll feel the pulse of the city.

Brookings is vibrant, youthful, and steeped in academia. Whether you’re here for the college experience or for the quality, affordable lifestyle, Brookings doesn’t disappoint. Stay tuned for more South Dakota highlights!

5. Watertown: Lakeside Living

Ah, Watertown! A jewel nestled between two lakes. Think small-town charm meets aquatic adventures. You’ll be hook, line, and sinker for this quaint yet vibrant community.

Key Stats: Dive Into the Details

PopulationApprox. 22,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$725/month
Median Household Income$50,000/year
Walk Score31
Transit Score8
Bike Score25

Breakdown: By the Numbers

Rent? Not bad at all. Walk Score? A tad low, but who needs to walk when you can swim? Transit Score and Bike Score? Well, you’ve got lakes, not subways.

Entertainment & Activities: The Water’s Fine!

Some of the Best Things to Do in Watertown

  1. Lake Kampeska: A boating and fishing haven.
  2. Codington County Heritage Museum: Time travel, anyone?
  3. Redlin Art Center: For the culture vultures.
  4. Pelican Lake Recreation Area: More water, more fun!
  5. Goss Opera House: Live shows and more.

My Take: Lake Kampeska and Pelican Lake Recreation Area offer water-based fun that you can’t find just anywhere. The Codington County Heritage Museum and Redlin Art Center add a dash of intellect to the scene, while the Goss Opera House offers variety in entertainment.

Watertown, with its lakeside backdrop, is a sweet escape for those craving both serenity and social life. Whether you’re sailing on Lake Kampeska or taking in an opera, Watertown delivers. Flip the page for more of South Dakota’s best-kept secrets!

6. Spearfish: Scenic Beauty in the Hills

Ah, Spearfish. Nestled in the Black Hills, it’s a place where Mother Nature’s splendor is the main character. Think majestic cliffs, forested trails, and a town so picturesque it almost feels surreal.

Key Stats: The Lay of the Land

PopulationApprox. 11,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$800/month
Median Household Income$45,000/year
Walk Score39
Transit Score5
Bike Score30

Data Dive: What’s the Catch?

Sure, rent’s a bit steeper, but you’re paying for the view! Walk Score decent; Bike Score reasonable. Transit? Let’s just say the scenery’s too good to pass by on a bus.

Entertainment & Activities: Hills, Thrills and More

Some of the Best Things to Do in Spearfish

  1. Spearfish Canyon: Nature’s masterpiece.
  2. DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery: Get fishy!
  3. Termesphere Gallery: Sphere-seriously cool art.
  4. High Mountain Climbing Gym: Test your vertical limits.
  5. Crow Peak Brewing Company: Cheers to local brews!

My Take: Spearfish Canyon is a must-see, offering natural beauty that’s hard to beat. DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery provides a unique educational experience, and the Termesphere Gallery is an out-of-the-box art venture that’s worth your time.

Spearfish offers a one-of-a-kind blend of outdoor wonders and small-town allure. Whether you’re hiking through the canyon or sipping a local craft beer, life here is both serene and stimulating. Keep reading for more South Dakota gems!

7. Mitchell: Home of the Corn Palace

Mitchell! Ever heard of a palace made of corn? Yep, it’s real. No, you’re not reading a fairytale. This town is an ear-full of wonder. Or should we say ear of corn?

Key Stats: The Kernel of Truth

PopulationApprox. 15,800
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$700/month
Median Household Income$48,500/year
Walk Score35
Transit Score20
Bike Score25

Get the Lowdown

Affordable living, ahoy! But you’ll need a car. Walking? Sure, if you want to stroll leisurely. Biking? Possible, but not ideal. Transit is not the star of the show here.

Entertainment & Activities: A-MAIZE-ing Fun!

Some of the Best Things to Do in Mitchell

  1. Corn Palace: It’s corny in the best way!
  2. Dakota Discovery Museum: Dive into history.
  3. Lake Mitchell: Get your water kicks!
  4. Villa Rosa Wine: Pour yourself a glass of local.
  5. Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village: Step back in time.

My Take: You can’t visit Mitchell without seeing the Corn Palace, an architectural marvel that’s part kitsch, part amazing. The Dakota Discovery Museum offers an enriching look at regional history, while Lake Mitchell is your go-to for aquatic activities.

Mitchell is the kind of town that takes its corn seriously but knows how to have a good time. Whether you’re wading through prehistory or paddling on the lake, Mitchell provides a blend of quirky and quintessential. Onward to discover more South Dakota treasures!

8. Yankton: History Along the Missouri

Yankton’s got a bit of everything: history, water, and small-town charm. Nestled along the Missouri River, this town flaunts its past like a badge of honor. Let’s dive into what Yankton’s all about!

Key Stats: The Quick and Dirty

PopulationApprox. 14,500
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$750/month
Median Household Income$50,000/year
Walk Score45
Transit Score30
Bike Score40

Some Clarity

Living costs? Reasonable. Walking and biking? Better than Mitchell, but not New York City. Public transport? Let’s just say, you might still need a car.

Entertainment & Activities: Where the River Meets Fun

Some of the Best Things to Do in Yankton

  1. Lewis and Clark Recreation Area: Nature’s Calling!
  2. Dakota Territorial Museum: History, but make it fun.
  3. Gavins Point Dam: Marvel at man-made wonder.
  4. Meridian Bridge: Walk the double-decker.
  5. Fantle Memorial Park: A playground for all ages.

My Take: The Lewis and Clark Recreation Area is a gem for outdoor lovers. And for history buffs, the Dakota Territorial Museum paints a vivid tapestry of Yankton’s past. Gavins Point Dam is a testament to human ingenuity, while the Meridian Bridge offers a unique stroll with scenic views.

Yankton doesn’t just sit along the Missouri; it revels in it. The river isn’t just a backdrop; it’s a character in Yankton’s ongoing story. Whether you’re kayaking or uncovering history, Yankton delivers. Now let’s paddle onward to more South Dakota wonders!

9. Pierre: The State Capital

Ah, Pierre. It’s not just a name; it’s the nerve center of South Dakota. Located smack-dab in the middle of the state, Pierre is where governance meets the Missouri River. Buckle up; it’s Pierre’s time!

Key Stats: What Numbers Say

PopulationApprox. 13,980
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$800/month
Median Household Income$52,000/year
Walk Score55
Transit Score20
Bike Score50

A Bit of Context

Prices in Pierre are moderate. Commuting? Consider walking or biking, because transit isn’t stellar.

Entertainment & Activities: A Capital Time

Some of the Best Things to Do in Pierre

  1. South Dakota State Capitol: Where laws are born.
  2. Farm Island Recreation Area: Take a hike or a swim.
  3. La Framboise Island: Nature within the city.
  4. South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center: Culture, uncut.
  5. Steamboat Park: For the family outing.

My Take: The South Dakota State Capitol is an architectural marvel and a must-see for anyone remotely interested in politics. Farm Island Recreation Area? The outdoorsy should make a beeline. Steamboat Park is a magnet for families looking for quality time.

Capitol, nature, culture—Pierre wraps it up neatly. Want to experience governance in action or wish to retreat into nature? Pierre’s got you covered. On to the next South Dakota standout!

10. Vermillion: A Cultural Center

Vermillion, oh Vermillion! Where culture and academia do the tango. Home to the University of South Dakota, this city is an artsy hotspot. Let’s paint the town red or Vermillion?

By the Numbers: Stats to Know

PopulationApprox. 10,500
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$750/month
Median Household Income$41,000/year
Walk Score63
Transit Score32
Bike Score58

Ponder This

Affordable rent, more walking, less transit. Students and art lovers rejoice!

Entertainment & Activities: Where Culture Shines

Some of the Best Things to Do in Vermillion

  1. National Music Museum: An orchestral wonderland!
  2. Prentis Park: Green and serene.
  3. W.H. Over Museum: South Dakota’s past, today.
  4. University of South Dakota: More than just classes.
  5. The Bluffs: Nature at its dramatic best.

My Take: The National Music Museum is the bee’s knees for any music aficionado. If you’re an outdoorsy person, The Bluffs are your stage. As for the University of South Dakota, it’s not just an educational institution but also a cradle of culture.

Where college vibes and cultural ripples coalesce, Vermillion stands out. Whether you’re here for the semester or just visiting, this city offers a medley of experiences. Stay tuned for the next gem in South Dakota!

11. Huron: Agricultural Heartland

Huron, a patchwork of crops and community. Wheat fields meet friendly faces in this down-to-earth locale. Tractors, trucks, and tight-knit gatherings. Huron’s the stomping ground of agriculture and it’s anything but corny.

By the Numbers: Basic Stats

PopulationApprox. 13,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$650/month
Median Household Income$47,000/year
Walk Score45
Transit Score22
Bike Score38

Chew on This

Super affordable living! Less walking, more driving, and a bicycle could come in handy.

Entertainment & Activities: Farmland Fun

Some of the Best Things to Do in Huron

  1. South Dakota State Fair: The fairytale of farming!
  2. Weskota Memorial Medical Center: Healthy as a horse.
  3. Wheel Jam: Vroom with a view.
  4. Splash Central Waterpark: Slide into summer.
  5. Huron Event Center: Where the community gathers.

My Two Cents: The South Dakota State Fair isn’t just about prize livestock; it’s a festival of the state’s agrarian spirit. Wheel Jam, on the other hand, offers mechanized thrills that contrast nicely with Huron’s bucolic landscape.

In Huron, it’s all about sowing seeds and reaping rewards. The community here is as warm as the freshly baked bread made from their local wheat. Check back for more on what makes South Dakota’s cities tick!

12. Brandon: A Growing Suburb of Sioux Falls

Brandon is on the rise, literally. Skyscrapers and homes, both! Close enough to Sioux Falls for the action, far enough for a backyard barbecue. A busy-bee town with small-town vibes.

By the Numbers: Get the Lowdown

PopulationApprox. 10,000
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$900/month
Median Household Income$70,000/year
Walk Score32
Transit Score18
Bike Score40

Quick Take

Housing costs a bit more, but hey, you’re closer to the city! Walk less, drive more—biking’s a toss-up.

Entertainment & Activities: From Parks to Pubs

Some of the Best Things to Do in Brandon

  1. Huset’s Speedway: Pedal to the metal.
  2. Big Sioux Recreation Area: Nature’s playground.
  3. Tailgators Sports Bar & Grill: Where the locals meet.
  4. Brandon Golf Course: Fore!
  5. Charley’s Restaurant & Lounge: Cuisine with a view.

My Two Cents: Don’t miss out on Huset’s Speedway. The roaring engines and nail-biting races make it a thrilling visit. Big Sioux Recreation Area, on the flip side, offers a serene escape from the city grind.

Brandon melds small-town charm and city-edge amenities perfectly. Families find balance here. Singles find diversity. There’s something in Brandon for everyone. Stay tuned for more pulse-pounding details on South Dakota living!

13. Box Elder: Military and Aviation Hub

Jets zoom. Flags wave. Box Elder isn’t just a name; it’s an anthem. An undeniable military aura, sprinkled with the freedom of the skies.

Vital Stats: What’s the Rundown?

PopulationApprox. 9,500
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$1,050/month
Median Household Income$58,000/year
Walk Score21
Transit Score14
Bike Score28

Crunching Numbers

Apartments are pricier here, but that’s the cost of airbase proximity. Not a walker’s paradise, but hey, everyone drives!

Entertainment & Activities: Thrills and Skills

Some of the Best Things to Do in Box Elder

  1. Ellsworth Air Force Base: A salute to service.
  2. America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit: A walk through history.
  3. Box Elder Creek: Fish, anyone?
  4. Patriot Park: Picnics and play.
  5. Box Elder Event Center: Gather ’round, folks!

Personal Take: If you’re here, you have to visit Ellsworth Air Force Base. Whether you’re a history buff or an aviation geek, it’s an experience you won’t forget. On the flip side, Box Elder Creek offers a more subdued outing—perfect for fishing or simply soaking in nature’s beauty.

Box Elder is the kind of place where tradition meets innovation. It’s more than a military hub—it’s a community. Check back for more snippets on South Dakota’s towns!

14. Sturgis: Motorcycle Rally Capital

Roar of engines. Smell of leather. Sturgis isn’t just a city; it’s a pilgrimage for bikers.

Vital Stats: The Lowdown

PopulationApprox. 6,900
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$900/month
Median Household Income$46,000/year
Walk Score36
Transit Score18
Bike Score42

Dollar Talk

Rent’s affordable. Incomes are modest. It’s a city for those who’d rather invest in two-wheels than four walls.

Entertainment & Activities: Rev Up Your Life

Some of the Best Things to Do in Sturgis

  1. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Biker Paradise.
  2. Fort Meade Museum: A touch of history.
  3. Sturgis Off-Road Rally: More than just bikes!
  4. Bear Butte State Park: Nature meets torque.
  5. One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon: The iconic watering hole.

Personal Take: If bikes are your thing, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a must-see. You’ll feel the pulse of the city. But for a breather, Bear Butte State Park offers hiking trails that give you panoramic views, which could be the calm before the rally’s storm.

Sturgis is the sound of an engine and the smell of the open road. A place where the adventurous come to gather. Keep an eye out for more features on South Dakota’s fascinating locales!

Related article: 19 Best Places to Live in San Francisco

15. Hot Springs: The Veteran’s Town

Welcome to Hot Springs—where patriotism and relaxation coalesce.

Vital Stats: Numbers Don’t Lie

PopulationApprox. 3,500
Median Two-Bedroom Apartment Rent$750/month
Median Household Income$40,000/year
Walk Score50
Transit Score30
Bike Score35

Money Matters

Affordable living, modest incomes. A town where your dollar stretches like the warm springs the city is named after.

Entertainment & Activities: Valor Meets Leisure

Some of the Best Things to Do in Hot Springs

  1. Battle Mountain Sanitarium: Hallowed grounds for veterans.
  2. Hot Springs State Park: Relaxation galore.
  3. Wind Cave National Park: Nature’s Cathedral.
  4. The Mammoth Site: Prehistory, today.
  5. Freedom Trail: Walk where heroes walked.

Personal Take: The Battle Mountain Sanitarium isn’t just any old place; it’s a piece of living history. It offers a tangible link between the town’s veteran community and its commitment to healing. Wind Cave National Park provides an adventurous edge, presenting a labyrinth of caves just begging to be explored.

This town reveres its veterans but also knows how to chill—literally. You’ll find thermal springs and national parks as abundant as the flags on every porch. Stay tuned for more unique South Dakota towns you won’t want to miss!


We’ve journeyed through caves, military bases, hot springs, and even motorcycle rallies. The diversity of South Dakota towns is like a multicolored patchwork quilt. Each square is a unique blend of culture, adventure, and Americana.

Your South Dakota Bucket List

  1. Biker Vibes: Don’t miss the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
  2. Mammoth Discovery: Dig into prehistory at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.
  3. Underground Marvels: Wind Cave National Park is a must-see.
  4. Veteran’s Tribute: Pay a visit to Battle Mountain Sanitarium.
  5. Local Cuisine: Get some real bison burgers.

Personal Take: South Dakota isn’t just a ‘flyover’ state. It’s an American kaleidoscope that can only be understood by dipping your toes into the myriad of experiences it offers. Each town exudes its own charm. From Sturgis, the thundering heart of motorcycle culture, to Hot Springs, where you can enjoy a different kind of rumble—the soothing gurgle of healing waters.

Last Words: The Highlights

  • For Nature Lovers: Huron and Vermillion bring you close to Earth’s treasures.
  • For History Buffs: Pierre is a lesson in American governance.
  • For Thrill-Seekers: Sturgis is your playground.
  • For Zen Masters: Hot Springs is your meditation room.

You’re not just a tourist here; you’re an explorer. Each town invites you to don a different hat. We’ve unraveled the threads of this state’s varied tapestry. But remember, we’re just scratching the surface.