The 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

The best places to live in South Dakota for 2024 are Brandon, Tea, and Volga. Find out where your city or town ranks.

The best places to live in South Dakota offer some great perks for the people living there. You can root for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits in Brookings or enjoy a bike rally in Sturgis.

While South Dakota is downright lovely, some spots in the Mount Rushmore State deserve special attention for being extraordinary.

How did we determine the best place to live in South Dakota for 2024? We used Saturday Night Science to compare the most recent FBI, Zillow, and Census data for places with 2,000 or more residents.

The best places to live in South Dakota include areas around college towns like Vermillion, up-and-coming towns like Harrisburg, and quintessential Midwestern towns like Martin.

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

The 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

  1. Brandon
  2. Tea
  3. Volga
  4. Dell Rapids
  5. Hartford
  6. Parkston
  7. Harrisburg
  8. Elk Point
  9. Madison
  10. Summerset

What is the best place to live in South Dakota? The best place to live in South Dakota is Brandon.

So where are these amazing places in South Dakota where everyone wants to live, jobs are plentiful, and neighborhoods are safe? Read on.

For more reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota For 2024

Best Places To Live In South Dakota Map

Brandon, SD

Source: Wikipedia User TCN7JM | CC BY-SA 4.0
Stat Brandon South Dakota
Population 10,919 890,342
Rank Last Year 1
Median Home Value $362,304 $293,181
Median Income $101,747 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.2% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0067 0.0246

More on Brandon: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

We’ve been covering the best places to live in South Dakota for awhile now, and Brandon just keeps topping the list. A suburb of Sioux Falls, Brandon has a lot to love. It topped our list of South Dakota’s safest cities, with a crime rate 75% below the national average. GreatSchools gave Brandon’s district a 9/10 average score, and the city has the 8th lowest high school dropout rate in South Dakota.

The poverty rate in Brandon is a measly 2.7%, the 2nd lowest in the state. And 93.8% of residents have health insurance, the 12th highest rate in South Dakota. While the cost of living is slightly higher than the statewide average, that’s mostly due to higher housing costs. In any case, Brandon’s residents enjoy the highest median household income in the state at $101,747. People agree that Brandon’s pretty awesome, seeing as the city has grown by roughly 20% in the last decade. Even better? Income and property values in Brandon also went up by more than 5% in the last year alone. After moving to Brandon, toast to your smart planning with a glass of vino from the local Wilde Prairie Winery.

Stat Tea South Dakota
Population 5,922 890,342
Rank Last Year 2
Median Home Value $354,610 $293,181
Median Income $99,153 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.2% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0186 0.0246

More on Tea: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

We turn to Sioux Falls’ southern suburb, Tea, for our 2nd best city in South Dakota. Tea is one of South Dakota’s fastest-growing cities, swelling by nearly 50% since 2010, and it’s easy to see why. It’s one of the premier family cities in the state, with top-quality schools that have achieved the 4th lowest high school dropout rate in South Dakota There are also loads of kid-friendly activities around, like Wild Water West Waterpark, which provides oodles of summer fun for the whole family. And Teapot Days, a summer festival complete with a parade and carnival, is a real treat for the whole community.

Tea has the 6th lowest poverty rate in the state at 5.2% and unemployment is safely below 3%. Tea has the highest rate of residents with health insurance in the state, so unwelcome medical surprises are a little less menacing here. Homes in Tea might be the 6th priciest in the state, but Tea’s residents don’t mind, seeing as they earn $99,153/year, the 2nd highest median household income in South Dakota.

3. Volga

Volga, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Jake DeGroot | CC BY-SA 3.0
Stat Volga South Dakota
Population 2,043 890,342
Rank Last Year 5
Median Home Value $289,554 $293,181
Median Income $66,285 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.1% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0150 0.0246

More on Volga: Real Estate

Located in Brookings County, Volga is a city in South Dakota that offers a high quality of life. With a population of 2,043, Volga is known for its friendly community and welcoming atmosphere. Volga ranks as the number 3 best place to live in South Dakota.

Volga is a great place to live thanks to its low cost of living. The median home price in Volga is $289,554, which is relatively affordable compared to other areas in the state. Additionally, there are plenty of recreational activities and attractions nearby. Residents can enjoy outdoor adventures in the nearby parks, take a stroll along the picturesque Volga River, or explore the charming downtown area with its local shops and restaurants.

Dell Rapids, SD

Source: Wikipedia User AlexiusHoratius | CC BY-SA 3.0
Stat Dell Rapids South Dakota
Population 3,953 890,342
Rank Last Year 3
Median Home Value $340,437 $293,181
Median Income $88,958 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.3% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0067 0.0246

More on Dell Rapids: Data | Real Estate

Located a half-hour north of Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids is the 4th best place to call home in South Dakota for 2024. Between opportunities for history buffs, enthusiasts of fine arts, and golf courses, there’s really something for everyone in Dell Rapids.

A typical home in Dell Rapids sells for around $340,437 and rent will set you back about $915/month. The median household income in Dell Rapids is the 6th highest in South Dakota at $88,958/year and the poverty rate of 7.1% ranks as the 10th lowest in South Dakota. Dell Rapids spends about 10% more per student than the statewide average, and the public school district consistently outshines the rest of South Dakota in test scores and graduation rates. We just hope you like your neighbors because Dell Rapids is the 7th most densely populated spot in the whole state.

Hartford, SD

Source: Wikipedia User Jon Platek | CC BY-SA 3.0
Stat Hartford South Dakota
Population 3,340 890,342
Rank Last Year 4
Median Home Value $387,714 $293,181
Median Income $93,762 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 2.9% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0067 0.0246

More on Hartford: Data | Real Estate

Hartford is a suburban city of 3,340 situated about 20 minutes northwest of Sioux Falls. Good schools, safe streets, and an unemployment rate of just 2.9% are just some of the reasons why Hartford ranks as the 5th best place to live in South Dakota. There’s Buffalo Ridge Brewing for thirsty folk with a taste for craft beer, a golf course for those looking to hit the links, and the city park and swimming pool are a big hit with just about everyone.

Hartford takes care of all its residents, as evidenced by its poverty rate of 3.5%, the 4th lowest in South Dakota. Homes are the 4th most expensive in the state, and the median rent price of $740/month is a bit higher than the statewide median. However, Hartford’s residents earn the 4th highest median household income in the state at $93,762/year, so it all evens out.

6. Parkston

Stat Parkston South Dakota
Population 2,003 890,342
Rank Last Year 0
Median Home Value $208,021 $293,181
Median Income $70,982 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 2.0% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0000 0.0246

More on Parkston: Real Estate

Parkston, dating back to 1886, ranks as one of the best places to live in South Dakota for 2024. This town of only 0.91 square miles has affordable housing, showcased by a median home value of $208,021, the 30th in the state. The competitive 70,982 median income reflects a strong economy, which ranks 14th statewide.

Educational attainment is high, with 25% of adults being highly educated, coinciding with negligible crime rates, with zero incidents in both violent and property crimes.

Stat Harrisburg South Dakota
Population 7,157 890,342
Rank Last Year 6
Median Home Value $340,010 $293,181
Median Income $89,966 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 0.8% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0375 0.0246

More on Harrisburg: Data | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

South Dakota’s 7th best place to live, Harrisburg, is also the state’s fastest-growing city, adding more than 60% to its population in the past decade. Having South Dakota’s biggest city nearby opens up your entertainment options, but Harrisburg has plenty going on to keep its residents happy without a 20-minute drive. Country Apple Orchard is a great spot for families and anyone with a sweet tooth. The whole community loves Harrisburg Days, a 4-day annual event chock full of locally-made food and live entertainment.

The first thing to know about your neighbors in Harrisburg is that they’re smart; over 40% of folks have a college degree, and 10% have a master’s, PhD, or professional degree to boot. We just hope you’re comfortable rubbing elbows with the state’s elite because Harrisburg is one of South Dakota’s richest cities. Harrisburg enjoys the 5th lowest unemployment and poverty rates in South Dakota, so you know everyone gets a piece of the pie here. Harrisburg residents enjoy the 5th highest median household income in the state at $89,966/year.

8. Elk Point

Elk Point, SD

Source: Public domain
Stat Elk Point South Dakota
Population 2,177 890,342
Rank Last Year 8
Median Home Value $255,272 $293,181
Median Income $80,500 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 2.4% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0005 0.0246

More on Elk Point: Real Estate

Located in southeastern South Dakota, 20 minutes northwest of Sioux City, Iowa, Elk Point comes in as the 8th best place to call home in the Mount Rushmore State. Main Street is packed with thriving local businesses that help support a sub-2% unemployment rate. And for such a small city, there’s plenty of recreational hotspots in and around town.

Schools in Elk Point do better than the statewide average in test scores and graduation rates, so your kiddos will be ready for college when the time comes. Folks here earn the 8th highest median income in South Dakota, $80,500/year. If you just want to try Elk Point out without committing to a $255,272 mortgage, you’re in luck; Elk Point has the cheapest rent on this list at $771/month, which is less than half the average rent in South Dakota. Income and property value both grew by more than 3% in the last year, so there’s no time like the present if you’re planning a move.

Madison, SD

Source: Public domain
Stat Madison South Dakota
Population 6,271 890,342
Rank Last Year 16
Median Home Value $235,746 $293,181
Median Income $62,756 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.7% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0077 0.0246

More on Madison: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Madison, situated in Lake County, combines the educational opportunities provided by Dakota State University with the comfort of small-town living, making it one of the best places to live in South Dakota.

Established in 1873 and reminiscent of Madison, Wisconsin, it has grown to a population of 6,271. The city has a low cost of living, reflected in a median home value of $235,746, and ranks 13th in the state for low unemployment with a rate of 1.7. Its residents benefit from quick commutes and local landmarks like the historic train depot.

10. Summerset

Stat Summerset South Dakota
Population 2,950 890,342
Rank Last Year 7
Median Home Value $395,362 $293,181
Median Income $98,194 $69,457
Unemployment Rate 1.9% 3.1%
Crime Per Capita 0.0200 0.0246

More on Summerset: Crime | Real Estate

We’re taking our first departure from the Sioux Falls suburbs to reach our 10th best place to live in South Dakota, Summerset. A suburb of Rapid City, Summerset is the newest city in South Dakota at just 14 years old. Animal enthusiasts will find plenty to love on day trips from Summerset; whether you’re checking out bears, elk, mountain lions, buffalo, and reindeer on your car trip through Bear Country USA or enjoying a snake show at nearby Reptile Gardens, there’s enough wildlife around to satisfy your craving for the exotic.

Before making the move to Summerset, be forewarned that it ranks among the most expensive cities in South Dakota. Homes are the 3rd costliest in the state at $395,362, and you won’t find a place on this list with a higher median rent than Summerset’s $1,276/month. Luckily, Summerset’s residents are also the 3rd best-paid in the state, with a typical household bringing in around $98,194/year. You get some nice perks for all that money, like living in the place with the 9th lowest poverty rate and 5th lowest violent crime rate in South Dakota.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in South Dakota

Best Places To Live In South Dakota Size Requirement

Before we even started to collect data on the best places to live in South Dakota, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Pierre, with a population of 14,105, against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So, to create our ranking, we broke the best places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities — Populations over 2,000
  • Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 2,000
  • Small Towns — Populations below 1,000

This filter left 38 cities, 37 towns, and 239 small towns.

We then decided no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in South Dakota have more of everything, and therefore, you need over 2,000 people to truly be ‘the best.’

Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In South Dakota

Now that we had our set of the best possible cities, it was time to rank them using Saturday Night Science.

We ranked each place in South Dakota across a number of criteria from one to 38, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, crowning the city posting the lowest overall score, the “Best Place To Live In South Dakota.”

The criteria we looked to determine the best places were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data, FBI Crime Data, and Zillow. We updated this article for 2024. This report is our tenth time ranking South Dakota’s best places to live.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in South Dakota. Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Brandon at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Summary: The Best Places In South Dakota

If you’re looking at areas in South Dakota with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

The best places to live in South Dakota are Brandon, Tea, Volga, Dell Rapids, Hartford, Parkston, Harrisburg, Elk Point, Madison, and Summerset.

Brandon made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in South Dakota for 2024.

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in South Dakota according to the data:

  1. Winner (Pop. 2,905)
  2. Sisseton (Pop. 2,564)
  3. Chamberlain (Pop. 2,538)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Best Places To Live In South Dakota Table

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value Median Income Rent Crime Per Capita
1 Brandon 10,919 1.2% $362,304 $101,747 $972 0.0067
2 Tea 5,922 1.2% $354,610 $99,153 $1,131 0.0186
3 Volga 2,043 1.1% $289,554 $66,285 $994 0.0150
4 Dell Rapids 3,953 1.3% $340,437 $88,958 $915 0.0067
5 Hartford 3,340 2.9% $387,714 $93,762 $740 0.0067
6 Parkston 2,003 2.0% $208,021 $70,982 $704 0.0000
7 Harrisburg 7,157 0.8% $340,010 $89,966 $1,161 0.0375
8 Elk Point 2,177 2.4% $255,272 $80,500 $771 0.0005
9 Madison 6,271 1.7% $235,746 $62,756 $806 0.0077
10 Summerset 2,950 1.9% $395,362 $98,194 $1,276 0.0200
11 Fort Pierre 2,522 0.2% $314,973 $81,150 $917 0.0281
12 Lennox 2,603 0.0% $283,904 $64,663 $788 0.0069
13 Pierre 14,105 0.5% $272,719 $80,473 $914 0.0225
14 Brookings 23,530 5.1% $281,909 $57,824 $856 0.0150
15 Yankton 15,421 1.1% $247,438 $60,180 $754 0.0301
16 Custer 2,043 4.1% $436,701 $66,141 $885 0.0000
17 Springfield 2,216 4.5% $180,408 $55,139 $822 0.0000
18 Lead 2,993 0.0% $337,837 $54,555 $836 0.0164
19 Mobridge 3,130 1.4% $128,702 $54,868 $825 0.0077
20 Aberdeen 28,388 4.2% $216,009 $62,684 $741 0.0192
21 Sioux Falls 193,401 2.3% $311,972 $71,785 $965 0.0375
22 Watertown 22,718 1.5% $272,742 $61,320 $866 0.0179
23 Spearfish 12,268 2.3% $418,769 $58,734 $913 0.0267
24 Huron 14,179 2.7% $176,399 $57,702 $812 0.0153
25 Milbank 3,506 4.0% $180,583 $63,269 $454 0.0281
26 Beresford 2,419 4.9% $265,826 $71,343 $836 0.0149
27 Box Elder 11,905 5.0% $330,877 $71,532 $1,217 0.0197
28 Redfield 2,253 2.8% $141,554 $56,205 $636 0.0281
29 Sturgis 7,121 2.4% $338,025 $49,564 $763 0.0306
30 Vermillion 11,667 10.0% $229,091 $47,813 $746 0.0168
31 Canton 3,060 5.6% $269,665 $71,064 $668 0.0150
32 Mitchell 15,656 1.7% $234,575 $51,763 $761 0.0280
33 Flandreau 2,246 2.2% $184,387 $54,821 $629 0.0178
34 Hot Springs 3,465 3.1% $297,368 $47,337 $813 0.0046
35 Belle Fourche 5,670 9.2% $281,636 $55,448 $884 0.0143
36 Winner 2,905 8.7% $194,481 $52,500 $882 0.0179
37 Sisseton 2,564 7.2% $136,506 $40,100 $552 0.0047
38 Chamberlain 2,538 3.5% $208,864 $59,375 $613 0.0355

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.