Historic State Capitol of South Dakota in Pierre, USA

Historic State Capitol of South Dakota in Pierre, USA (Photo by Traveller70 on Shutterstock)

South Dakota is a ruggedly beautiful state with majestic mountains, pristine forests, and deep canyons. Home to the iconic Mount Rushmore and the notorious Badlands, South Dakota’s cultural offerings are as diverse as its landscapes. With small-town charm and rich Native American heritage, the adventurous spirit, warmth, and hospitality of South Dakota run thick. An extraordinary place to call home, the best places to live in South Dakota embody breathtaking scenery, historical significance, and a deeper sense of community. 

For future residents who enjoy the outdoors, South Dakota has all you need, which is essential as a newer study found that “the closer you live to nature, the happier you’ll be.” Showcasing a diverse arts and culture scene, the city provides ample opportunities for the community to get together through events like the Black Hills Powwow and the Main Street Square Concert Series. 

However, the appeal of South Dakota doesn’t stop there. Birthplace to several prestigious universities and historical sites, this state is perfect for raising a family. This cannot be overlooked, as a recent study found that American families only spend an average of 37 minutes together a day. Fortunately, the rural feel of South Dakota has a way of slowing down time and improving the quality of life, as 60 percent of people claim their day feels hectic.

So, are you ready to discover the natural beauty and stoke that spirit of adventure within? We’ve compiled a list of the best places to live in South Dakota, rated by popularity, cost of living, economy, community, and unique attractions. Don’t happen to see your favorite city? No worries, drop us a comment below! 

The List: Best Places to Live in South Dakota, According to Experts

1. Aberdeen

“With a youthful vibe, buzzing nightlife, diverse communities, and plentiful employment opportunities, Aberdeen is a great place to live,” writes Movingist. As the “third most populous city of South Dakota, Aberdeen has a population of 28,495” and a below-average cost of living. As a family-friendly community, this mid-size town features “a lot of parks, local restaurants, boutique shopping malls, and top-rated public schools,” making it a great place to raise a family.

“Home to Northern State University, Aberdeen is a vibrant community that is still very much a family-oriented community,” explains Money Inc. Renowned for its Midwestern hospitality, there’s a strong sense of community that runs through town where neighbors often lend a helping hand. With a “good selection of schools and a low crime rate, families can feel relaxed” with making this town their new home

“Aberdeen offers a wonderful array of nightlife activities, good public schools, and low housing costs,” mentions The Crazy Tourist. With a favorable job market and robust economy, Aberdeen is considered a great place to lay down roots in the state. In addition to having an airport, this rural community “is a popular spot for Millennials with great housing opportunities.”

2. Brookings

The Crazy Tourist claims, “Out and out the best place to live in South Dakota is Brookings.” Offering some of the best public schools in the state, “Brookings has a small town feel, teamed with the large variety of student bars providing animated nightlife that make Brookings feel like home.” With “median home value and median rent well below the national average,” this best-rated place to live in South Dakota makes home ownership easier for growing families. 

“Considered the second safest city in South Dakota, Brookings has a reputation for being family-focused and has many local attractions,” explains Credit Donkey. With an “average commute time of just under 13 minutes” and diverse job opportunities across healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture, this city’s economy can support a growing family while its small-town feel brings everyone closer together as a community

“Home to South Dakota State University, Brookings is the fourth largest city in the state,” states the Chamber of Commerce. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and recreational areas, Brookings is a nature lovers’ paradise and fosters a culture of learning and innovation. As the best-rated city to live in South Dakota, Brooking also benefits from “an economy strengthened by the presence of large manufacturers like Daktronics and 3M.”

3. Brandon

“Brandon has a lot to love and keeps topping the list as the best place to live in South Dakota,” says Home Snacks. With a “crime rate 75% below the national average and the third lowest high school dropout rate in South Dakota,” this city is an excellent destination for young professionals and those raising children. With access to all the modern amenities of a large city and a small town‘s tranquility, Brandon has a way of making everyone feel at home.

“Brandon of Minnehaha County offers residents a dense suburban feel,” reports KKRC. Home to “young professionals and many families, Brandon residents tend to be more conservative while the public schools are highly rated.” Locals can immerse themselves in the great outdoors and enjoy the benefits of a more active lifestyle with nearby state parks like Palisades State Park and Big Sioux Recreation Area.

“Brandon is a fantastic town to live in South Dakota,” explains Movingist. With one of the lowest crime rates, average housing costs beneath the national average, and magnificent parks, shops, outdoor recreation, and restaurants, “Brandon is one of the best places to live in South Dakota for families.”

4. Sioux Falls

“Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city and lies within the eastern portion of the state,” mentions Rocket Homes. Named after the cascading waterfalls within Falls Parks, Sioux Falls is ranked as “one of the best cities for young people and professionals.” With its affordable housing costs, rich culture, and plentiful job opportunities, Sioux Falls is “one of the best cities for affordable cost of living in the Midwest.”

Sunflowers at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls, SD
Sunflowers at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls, SD (Photo by Bobbi Gaukel on Unsplash)

Zumper describes “Sioux Falls as the crown jewel of South Dakota, offering an abundance of popular destinations and exciting events.” With median rent well below the national average and stores, schools, healthcare, and entertainment thriving, Sioux Falls provides a favorable environment for starting a family, career growth, economic stability, and lifelong learning. 

“Home to over 70 parks with walking trails, waterfalls, and fishing lakes, Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city and is particularly green,” explains the Chamber of Commerce. Sioux Falls is a family-friendly environment and boasts numerous recreational and family attractions such as the Big Sioux River, the Great Plains Zoo, and The Washington Pavilion. In recent years, the “absence of a state corporate income tax has strengthened this city’s local economy and continues to supply ample job opportunities.”

5. Pierre

“Pierre is the capital of South Dakota and features streets lined with trees, splendid natural scenery, and a historic Downtown,” writes Nomad Lawyer. With an affordable cost of living and substantial employment opportunities, Pierre may be the perfect place for you to call home. In “close proximity to the river and home to the South Dakota Discovery Centre and Hillsview Golf Course,” there are always recreational opportunities available in Pierre.

Sunset in Pierre, SD
Sunset in Pierre, SD (Photo by Shiva Prasad Gaddameedi on Unsplash.com)

“Lying right along the Missouri River, Pierre is a prime location for outdoor enthusiasts and avid anglers,” says Rocket Homes. With charming shops and local eateries lining the streets, Pierre is known for its welcoming community, historical roots, and beautiful landscapes and is “home to 14,901 people.” With median home values below the national average, the cost of living is more affordable making the capital city an excellent place to improve your standard of living. 

“Pierre is a premier destination for outdoor recreation, which is one of the many reasons why residents love it here,” states Credit Donkey. Located near the state’s geographical center, Pierre “overlooks the Missouri River and the Fort Pierre National Grassland area,” and is home to “one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, Lake Oahe.” With no shortages of restaurants and an average commute time of just over ten minutes, Pierre continues to be “one of South Dakota’s oldest continuously occupied settlements” with its small-town charm and hidden gems. 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Tim Lanoue

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