10 Pros and Cons of Living in South Dakota Right Now

What To Expect When Moving To South Dakota

Today, let’s walk through the pros and cons of living in South Dakota.

Because we are here to help you out. Whether you are asking yourself:

Is South Dakota a good place to retire?

Or, have other reasons to move to South Dakota. Be they work, family, or recreation.

Whatever your situation. We have East River and West River covered. I will explain what that means in a moment.

So, let’s get moving. Since it’s time for our top living in South Dakota pros and cons.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros And Cons Of Living In South Dakota

Here’s my top 10 list of living in South Dakota pros and cons:

  • Plenty of jobs
  • Productive economy
  • Low cost of living
  • Outstanding tax benefits
  • Limited effects of urbanization
  • Extreme weather
  • Small-town mindset
  • Low wages and salaries
  • Lacking urban amenities
  • Limited diversity and economic disparity

We will go through each of these advantages and disadvantages of South Dakota in just a bit. But first, allow me to answer an all-important question.

Given you found your way here. I suspect it is on your mind…

Is South Dakota A Good Place To Live?

Like any state, life in South Dakota has its benefits and detriments. So, let me give you the big picture view.

This is a big state based on land area. It is divided by the Missouri River.

When speaking of this geographic divide. Locals refer to the two areas as East River and West River.

Most noteworthy, each region is different. So, depending on what you are looking for. The state has diverse living options to consider.

I will touch on the differences. As we continue our journey through the pros and cons of South Dakota.

However, I first want to present some overall conclusions for you. About the South Dakota quality of life.

Also known as “The Mount Rushmore State”…

Benefits Of Living In South Dakota

First of all, the state has a solid economy. With a good job market for anyone interested in working.

And to further your personal development. Or, your children’s, for that matter. There are some good in-state colleges and universities to choose from.

Furthermore, the average cost of living in South Dakota is very affordable. But what makes it even better for your finances?

It is this: South Dakota is a low tax state full of tax benefits. Allowing you to keep more of the money you make. Versus other states in the country.

Rather than giving up your hard-earned cash to the government. For a range of tax charges.

Put all of these money matters together. And this is a top state for your finances.

Finally, even in the most densely populated areas. You won’t feel the negative effects of urbanization.

Since there are lots of open spaces, small-town living options, little traffic, and minimal crime.

Now, you might be thinking. That these sound like some good reasons to live in South Dakota.

And you are right. But…

Not so fast.

Because all of the living in South Dakota reviews you read. Including this one.

Would not be complete without addressing a few bad things about South Dakota too…

Reasons Not To Move To South Dakota

First of all, you won’t experience much moderate weather in the state. Since it is often very hot or extremely cold. With a fair amount of wind.

Furthermore, even the largest cities here. Aren’t that big.

So, get used to the small-town mindset. And people being familiar with your business. Whether you like it or not.

While urban amenities. Especially in West River. Are limited at best.

Whether you are looking for commercial entertainment options, popular restaurant chains, or access to great shopping.

For the most part, you aren’t going to find it in South Dakota. As compared to other states in the country.

Finally, the state won’t wow you with its diversity either. Whether we are talking about ethnic, political, religious, or economic. Meaning the breadth of diversity available in larger population centers.

Okay now. That’s my quick view about South Dakota living. But, we are just getting warmed up. So, stick with me.

Because it is now time to plow through each one of the 10 living in South Dakota pros and cons…

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Plenty Of Jobs

First of all, the state has a rock bottom unemployment rate. Well below the national average. And one of the lowest state rates in the country.

In West River, employment mainly consists of basic, but important work. Such as retail, fast food, housekeeping, janitorial, and real estate.

Plus job opportunities at hotels, casinos, and other hospitality-based businesses. Catering to tourists venturing out to enjoy this very scenic part of the state.

On the other hand, East River is more urban. With Sioux Falls being the center point.

This area too. Has jobs similar to West River.

But East River also has more work options in banking, finance, business management, manufacturing, and health care.

And if you or anyone in your family. Is looking to become more upwardly mobile.

Then you will like this next item. On our list of perks of living in South Dakota…

Good Education Options

Since some solid higher education options exist here. Plus the state does a quality job of preparing kids for college too.

Being well regarded for its K-12 educational system.

As a result, U.S. News ranks South Dakota very highly. Versus other states. Across a variety of factors about schooling and educational attainment.

While a college education is rarely cheap. No matter where you go to school.

South Dakota’s in-state tuition is quite competitive. Versus all of the other states in the country.

What is underlying the positive employment and educational outlook here? It is another one of the best things about South Dakota…

Productive Economy

Because the state’s economy has a diverse mix of industries.

First of all, mining and agriculture play a big role. As this state has many natural resources.

Farmland, crops, and livestock are vast. Benefiting from some of the richest soil in the United States.

Thus, agricultural activities are common. With cattle, calves, corn, soybeans, wheat, and hogs topping the state’s output.

If you are interested in farmland. As part of relocating to South Dakota.

Then check out the opportunities at AcreTrader.

Since farmland has proven to be a good investment. And a chance to enjoy living in wide-open spaces.

But there is more to the economy than farming.

For example, major financial services firms have located operations in the state. Partly due to lenient banking laws.

And the fact South Dakota charges no corporate income tax. Very similar to the business tax perks in Wyoming.

So, this makes it a good state for entrepreneurs to start a company too. And for businesses of any kind. Since you keep more of the profits.

Finally, Sioux Falls is a regional provider of healthcare. Which creates many jobs.

And attracts talented individuals. In the medical profession to the East River area of South Dakota.

Okay. Let’s continue with the South Dakota pros and cons. Most noteworthy, I’m not done with money matters just yet…

Low Cost Of Living

Because South Dakota offers a low cost of living for residents. As compared to the national average.

Allow me to do a brief review of the numbers. According to BestPlaces.net.

Let’s start with housing….

As the state’s median home value is nearly 18% less. When compared to the United States as a whole.

And apartment rents are a bargain. For example, a 2-bedroom apartment is about 35% less in South Dakota.

Then there are groceries to stock your fridge. And utilities to power your home.

Each runs 3-4% lower. When compared to averages across other states.

Finally, transportation costs are cheap. Since CNN Money ranks the state as one of the lowest for the annual cost of car ownership.

Since you won’t waste gas sitting in traffic. And with light road congestion. It lessens the wear on your auto. Reducing maintenance costs.

All of this adds up to low-cost living in South Dakota.

But in case you are still looking for ways to balance your budget.  I have a few tips and tools you should consider…

Ways To Save More Money Living In South Dakota (or anywhere)

First of all, keep your great credit score in good condition. So you can get the best deal on a mortgage. Or, apartment lease.

You can check your score for FREE. Using Credit Karma. Then let them help you improve it.

When it’s time to buy a home. Then shop for the best mortgage rates online at Lending Tree.

Next, get cashback. Off all of your online purchases.

By signing up for the Rakuten cash rebate app.

As a bonus. Rakuten gives you 10 dollars in cash. Just for coming on board.

Then offers cash rebates on almost everything you buy online. No matter where you shop, including Amazon.

Next, cut your grocery bill. When you shop at the store.

To do so, use the cashback app from Ibotta.

Last but not least. It is important to get a handle on your entire financial picture.

Including all of the money saved as part of life in South Dakota. Or anywhere for that matter.

Whether it’s preparing your monthly budget. Checking your accounts online. Or, managing your investments.

Do these tasks quickly and for FREE. By using the online tool from Personal Capital.

Because Personal Capital saves time. And makes managing your money less of a chore.

Don’t miss out. Since all of these tips and tools work anywhere you choose to live!

Furthermore, they are all FREE to sign up and use.

Next up, I have additional great things about South Dakota. And it’s another big way to improve your finances.

Just another one of the advantages of living in South Dakota…

Outstanding Tax Benefits

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Because the tax benefits of living in South Dakota are excellent.

First of all, the state is one of only nine in the country. And the only state in the Midwestern region. That does not levy an individual income tax.

Furthermore, it is one of only two states that charge neither a corporate income tax. Nor gross receipts tax on businesses.

The other one is located just west of the state border in Wyoming. So, you can’t go wrong locating your business in either one of these states. At least from a tax perspective.

Finally, for the seniors in the audience. Considering retiring in South Dakota pros and cons.

The state charges neither estate tax nor inheritance tax. So, for whatever money you have leftover.

Keep it in the family. Or donate it to your favorite cause.

So, if you are considering moving to the upper midwest. Taxes are a big reason to consider South Dakota. Over a state like Wisconsin or Minnesota.

Okay. I’m finally done with money topics. But, I’m not done with the pros and cons of living in South Dakota.

Next up, another one of the things that may be a nice addition.  To your South Dakota lifestyle…

Limited Effects Of Urbanization

Since even the state’s metropolitan areas. Aren’t overly populated.

Leading to a more relaxed South Dakota life. Very distant from the hassles of big cities.

Here is what I mean…

Open Spaces When Living In South Dakota

With fewer people comes more space. And the feeling of freedom that comes with it.

While South Dakota is the 16th largest state based on its landmass.  It is one of the least populated.

Thus, the state has a low population density.

Furthermore, West River is the site of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Black Hills, and Badlands National Park.

The landscape here is amazing. In addition to the scenery that goes with it.

Thus, the area provides for a laid-back outdoor life. And ranch-style living options. In and around Rapid City.

Heading east are vast rolling prairies, Indian reservations, and the Missouri River. Before you arrive in the more populated areas. In and around Sioux Falls.

Then, near Brookings, in the central west part of the state. Close to the border state of Minnesota.

There are a few good-sized lakes. Many of which have homes, boats, and all the good things that come with lakeside living.

But, no matter where you choose to relocate in “The Mount Rushmore State”. One of the cool things about South Dakota is this…

Small Town Living In South Dakota

Since most towns are sparsely populated and rural. There is a good feeling of belonging.

In addition to friendliness among residents. Who possess a straightforward and welcoming nature.

While the metropolitan areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Hold nearly half of the state’s population.

By all accounts. They are still small towns. When compared to the big cities across the United States.

And if you want a good place to raise a family. Where kids can get a little more attention in school. Then this state may be a good option.

As we continue with the pros and cons of living in South Dakota. Here’s another thing to consider…

Little Traffic And Crime

People measure the time it takes to get somewhere not by the time it takes. But by the number of miles between destinations.

Since it’s rare to get caught up in a traffic jam. Although summer road construction can be a minor inconvenience.

Furthermore, the family-friendly characteristics continue. Since the state’s crime rate is relatively low.

Ranking in the best half of all states. Both for property crime and violent crime.

The state has good scores. Although not an ultra low crime state like Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine.

Okay. That wraps up the great things about living in South Dakota.

But a thorough article about the 10 living in South Dakota pros and cons. Would not be complete without addressing some of the negatives.

That’s next. So let’s keep moving deep into South Dakota…

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Extreme Weather

South Dakota suffers from extreme weather.

Winter Weather When Living In South Dakota

First, there are the winters. Since they can arrive as early as September and last until May.

They can be long and tough. Even for those of hearty stock.

With cold temperatures diving below zero. More often than you may like.

Plus, there is plenty of snow too. Often making for a white Christmas.

Since the state gets 30-40 inches of the white stuff each year. Being a common amount.

On the other hand, it’s dry snow. Due to the cold temperatures.

Not the heavy wet variety. That makes for difficult shoveling and blowing.

Then there is the wind. That can make for blizzard-like conditions when snow is involved.

Reducing visibility. And dropping wind chill factors to dangerous levels.

Then we have the other weather extreme…

Summer Weather Living In South Dakota

Since the summers here are hot and humid.

That will have you hiding out in air conditioning. Just when you want to be outside more often than not.

So, get ready for extremes and volatility.

Since summer temperatures can rise above 100 degrees at times. And winter temperatures drop south of zero routinely.

With plenty of unpredictable changes. From one day to the next. No matter the season.

This next item of the list may be one of the worst things about living in South Dakota. It depends on your perspective.

Small-Town Mindset

Yes. There are many benefits of living in small towns. As I previously mentioned.

But, it’s not a perfect environment. Since everyone knows everyone.

And your personal affairs may not be as private as you like. The state doesn’t offer anonymity. That large urban areas have.

On the other hand, depending on where you choose to move to in South Dakota. You may feel remote and isolated.

Far from the vibe and hustle offered in and around larger population centers.

Okay. So far we know that the benefits of moving to South Dakota are great for your finances.

But there is one drawback to living in South Dakota. That may impact your money situation…

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Low Wages And Salaries

Because many jobs in the state do not pay well. Since South Dakota ranks in the bottom half of all states based on median household income.

Bringing up the average is the more professional. And higher-paying occupations located in East River.

So, if you work remotely and can retain your current pay. Or, have well-paying employment lined up before you move to South Dakota.

Your finances will benefit from the low cost of living.

On the other hand, if you are relocating to South Dakota with the hopes of finding high-paying work after you get there. Then you may be disappointed.

Furthermore, for anyone liking the bright city lights. That burn all night.

This next item may be one of the worst things about living in South Dakota…

Lacking Urban Amenities

Because the state is not overflowing with urban amenities. Especially in West River.

As the population in this area is very scattered. And other towns can be long distances away.

Thus, shopping is limited outside of Walmart. And small stores with few options.

Also, nightlife activities are few and far between. Other than bars. With many businesses closing up shop by 5 pm.

And statewide, there are no professional sports teams.

So, you might find yourself adopting a team from Minnesota. And needing to travel a long distance to see a game in person.

So, if these limitations will bother you. Be sure to consider moving to the Sioux Falls area.

It won’t be like Chicago, New York City, or Los Angeles. On the other hand, it is considered one of the better mid-sized cities in the United States.

Known for family-friendly living, the arts, and culture. In addition to parks and recreation. And good access to quality healthcare services.

Finally, here is the last one of my reasons not to live in South Dakota…

Limited Diversity And Economic Disparity

Similar to other states with a small population. South Dakota has limited diversity.

And it’s on display in several different ways. Here is what I mean…

Outdoor activities: If you like to snow ski in high mountains. Or want to live by the water. Then this state may not be your best option.

Economic: The Native American population experiences economic inequality. As the reservations are some of the most impoverished places in the United States.

Furthermore, many young people leave this state. After graduating from college.

Taking their skills and fresh ideas elsewhere. Reducing the potential for economic diversity.

Ethnicity: Nearly 85% of the population is white. Some will say that those outside the majority. Will feel the effects of discrimination.

Religious: The largest religion by far is Christianity.

Political: Residents hold strong to their political views. With the state being mostly conservative.

As a result, Republican candidates hold sway. Almost always carrying the vote during presidential elections.

So, as you think about moving to South Dakota pros and cons. You will want to consider how easy it will be for you to fit in. And feel comfortable in the environment.

Based on your background. And views about the world.

Doing so means you won’t get there. And decide to leave.

Okay. That’s all I have for today. Allow me to close out with a summary.

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Pros and Cons Of Living In South Dakota

My top 10 living in South Dakota pros and cons include:

  • Plenty of jobs
  • Productive economy
  • Low cost of living
  • Outstanding tax benefits
  • Limited effects of urbanization
  • Extreme weather
  • Small-town mindset
  • Low wages and salaries
  • Lacking urban amenities
  • Limited diversity and economic disparity

Hopefully, this discussion has helped you with some important questions. Such as…

1) Why move to South Dakota?


2) What is it like living in South Dakota?

Best of luck with your decision. No matter where you choose to settle down.

More Reading About Living in South Dakota And Beyond

For Your Money Matters Living In South Dakota (or anywhere)

As you now know, there are many financial benefits of living in South Dakota. But there are plenty of ways to make the most of your money no matter where you live.

I have summarized my favorite resources here. They were mentioned throughout the article.

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Author Bio, Disclosure, & Disclaimer: Please join me (Tom) as I try to achieve my goals, find my next place to live, and make the most of my money. However, I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial counselor, real estate agent, or tax professional. Instead, I’m a 50-something-year-old, early retired CPA, finance professional, and business school teacher with 40+ years of DIY dividend investing experience. I’m here only to share my thoughts about essential topics for success. As a result, nothing published on this site should be considered individual investment, financial, tax, or real estate advice. This site’s only purpose is general information & entertainment. Thus, neither I nor Dividends Diversify can be held liable for losses suffered by any party because of the information published on this website. Finally, all written content is the property of Dividends Diversify LLC. Unauthorized publication elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In South Dakota Explained