If you’re asked to mention something about South Dakota, what would it be? Our guess is Mount Rushmore. But this state has a lot more to offer, and if you’re planning to move there, you should know. So, what’re the pros and cons of living in South Dakota?
Most locals in South Dakota adore the state for its zero income tax, affordable towns, empty spaces, natural views, and multiple opportunities. But they have things to complain about, such as natural disasters, unpredictable weather, extreme seasons, car dependency, low wages, and sparse population.
Living in South Dakota isn’t for everyone. So, if you’re planning to move, it’s best if you know what you’ll be getting. This article will help you as you weigh both sides.
Pros of Living in South Dakota
South Dakota is one of the least populated states in the country despite its large size. However, there are several benefits you’ll get from moving here.
1. Incredibly Affordable Place
No matter how cliche it might sound, low cost of living is always a catch when moving to a new place. Luckily for those moving to South Dakota, the cost-of-living index puts the state at 88.3 compared to 100 for the US. So, this is one of the cheapest states to live in the country. So, if cutting costs is essential for you, South Dakota is likely the right place to move.
Housing here is also cheap. Suppose you have to choose between buying and renting; renting costs way less than buying. But buying is also affordable, with the typical value of a home being $246,012.
2. Zero Income Tax
A significant positive for the state is its zero income tax. Yes, you read it right. South Dakota charges no income tax, which means all you earn is yours; what a better way to ensure that your money stays in your pocket than that. Unfortunately, however, it charges other taxes. But you don’t have to worry because the rates are also low.
The sales tax for the state is 4.5%, but local municipalities can increase it. So, the highest you could pay is 6.5%. South Dakota also collects property tax, which is 1.22%, making it one of the lowest in the US. With its low taxes and exemptions, the South Dakota tax structure is very beneficial to the residents.
When a place is as big as South Dakota and has a population that’s not up to a million, you can expect there’ll be lots of space. The sparse population, which leads to the spaciousness, is quite beneficial. Light and noises pollution is rare in the state, and you’ve got all the freedom you need to explore. The sparse population also ensures that the state is close-knit whether you stay in a big city or small town.
4. Pristine Natural Environment
The state of Mount Rushmore is big on tourism. But visitors here aren’t just coming to check out the four presidents’ faces cut into the stone. They are here to see the natural environment, wildlife, and beautiful scenery South Dakota boasts of. The Missouri River splits the state, and you’ll find the best natural environment here. The sparse population means there’s minor encroachment on the natural habitat.
5. Multiple Opportunities
Despite the sparse population, South Dakota has a great economy with many opportunities for residents. It’s the 30th state economically in the union. Major sectors of the economy include finance, agriculture, tourism, bioscience, manufacturing, cyber security, transportation, etc.
South Dakota is one of the most likely places to get a job in the country. Due to its banking laws, it hosts several top banks, including Wells Fargo and Citibank. As a result, the unemployment rate is 2.9%.
Cons of Living in South Dakota
As you’ve got reasons to move here, so do you have reasons to think twice about making a move at all. Knowing both will guide your decision.
1. Unpredictable Weather
The weather in South Dakota is as wild as its environment. It’s difficult to tell what will happen as the temperature can change at any time. The state has two regions, East River and West River, divided by the Missouri River. Even though both zones have different climates, high winds and unpredictable conditions are common to them.
2. Extreme Seasons
This is an issue that residents will have to adapt to. Winter or summer, the seasons in South Dakota are everything but mild. The summers are scorching, and the winter is icy. So if you choose this Midwestern state as your home, get ready for these extremities.
3. Prone to Natural Disasters
South Dakota is at risk of flooding, earthquake, blizzards, wildfires, ice storms, and tornadoes. Flooding is the most common, but these disasters are rarely severe.
4. Low Wages
Another thing that residents do complain about is that they earn less than they do in most states. Even though the cost of living and housing is attractive, the income isn’t encouraging. With such low incomes, you start to understand why the state doesn’t charge income taxes. The median household income is $59,533, which is lower than the US average. However, it’s not the city with the least median income. Some states pay less and still collect income tax. So, it’s not as bad as it might look.
5. Sparse Population
Just like you, we’re wondering how a state that’s the 17th largest by size will be the 5th smallest by population. But that’s South Dakota for you. While some might enjoy the limited population and large spaces that this city offers, some don’t. Sparse population means towns are farther apart than they should normally be. It also means the cities all over the state have a small-town vibe which could be intrusive as everyone knows everyone’s business.
6. Car-Dependent State
The sparse population of the state means communities are far apart. While traffic is almost non-existent in towns and very limited in the bigger cities, the modes of transportation are also limited. Most people have their means of transport. South Dakota is one of the few states where Amtrak doesn’t operate.
The beautiful state of South Dakota is widely known for its natural environment and Mount Rushmore. But it’s also a fantastic place to live with many great qualities. However, there are disadvantages to living here too. Be aware of them before you make your move.