States – South Dakota

south dakota

Although there are places in the country with more friendly weather, midwestern states like South Dakota have a lot of other factors in their favor. ranked South Dakota as one of the ten best states in the U.S. for retirement for two years running, citing a low cost of living, low crime rate, low tax burden, quality health care, and generally satisfied residents. The cost of living in South Dakota is nearly 11% lower than the national average. The median home price is just $116,900 and the Mount Rushmore State is one of just seven with no state income tax. The state sales tax is also well below average at just 4 percent.

And with a size of 77,000 square miles and a population of around 800,000 there are many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. The western half of the state consists mainly of rolling hills and plains. Hunting and fishing are popular pasttimes. There are 400 miles of nature walks and hiking and bike trails, and South Dakota is also an ideal location for bird watching.

The state has the highest concentration of parks, monuments and memorials in the country. Three million visitors come to the area’s national attractions; there are also 19 golf courses, 14 lakes, and Although much of the state consists of small towns, some are close to larger cities that have big-city amenities like shopping, restaurants, and healthcare. The state has a well-developed system of highways and streets; I-90 enables you to cross the 380 miles of the state in under six hours.

It does get cold in South Dakota, and snowy. Average daily lows are often at or below freezing in January and February. In the spring, temperatures get to the 50s. Summers are very comfortable, with normal temperatures around the mid-80s.

Here are several retirement destinations to consider in South Dakota.

Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota with 154,512 residents and a high ranking for quality of life according to With the desirability comes a high price tag: Rapid City is above the state average in median income, home price, and rent rank.

The city has a humid continental climate with mild, humid summers (mostly around 73 degrees) and cold winters (16 degrees in January). The city maintains a system of over 70 parks and green spaces, including a 16-mile paved walking and bike trail that follows the Big Sioux River. The state department of game, fish, and parks maintains several areas devoted to fish and wildlife. It also sponsors stargazing, snowshoeing, and other activities. In the winter, Great Bear Recreation Park also offers snowboarding, skiing, and tubing.

In the summer the city has a SculptureWalk with outdoor exhibits that change annually. On the first Friday of each summer month, stores and restaurants participate in “First Fridays” with live music. Party in the Park is an annual musical event, and the Sioux Empire Fair is a regional fair held at the local fairgrounds. The Sioux Falls JazzFest is another yearly event held at a local park.

The city arts council encourages the arts and literature in Sioux Falls. Mayor’s Awards are given annually to residents in several categories. The Writer’s Voice sponsors 38 nationally known authors and poets to perform readings and hold youth workshops.

One downside is the crime rate. which is relatively high 3,305 crimes per 100,000 people, which is three times the state average.


Located in the northern part of the state, Aberdeen is a small town (population 26,000) but has many attractions and amenities. The most well-known attraction is Storybook Land, a theme park that has a castle, a yellow brick road and Wizard of Oz exhibits, a train, and petting zoos.

Other places of interest include the Dacotah Prairie Museum, which is housed in a historic building and traces the history of the region, and the Kuhnert Arboretum, a 19-acre nature area that displays deciduous, coniferous, and ornamental trees and also has a nine-hole disc golf course. Wylie Park Recreation Area offers go kart racing, sand volleyball courts, and camping and picnic areas. Wylie Lake provides opportunities for swimming and paddleboating. The Richmond Lake Recreation Area also provides places for camping, fishing, boating, and swimming.

The town is also active in the arts. The Aberdeen Community Theatre performs downtown in the Capitol Theatre. The South Dakota Film Festival is held annually in the fall and has hosted national stars like Kevin Costner, Graham Greene, and Adam Greenberg. The ArtWork Cooperative is a community of artists who collaborate and market their work in a gallery environment. The South Dakota Film Festival held each fall sponsors showings of works by national and regional filmmakers.

Rapid City

Rapid City is located in the western part of North Dakota, in the Black Hills region. Mount Rushmore is just a few minutes away. The proximity to Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, and other attractions make Rapid City a popular tourist destination.

Because of the importance of tourism, Rapid City has many amenities that are unusual for a town of 70,000. These include artistic venues like the Prairie Edge Art Gallery, the Dahl Arts Center, Art Alley Gallery, the Black Hills Community Theatre, Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, and Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Museums include the Museum of Geology and the Journey Museum, which depicts the history of the Black Hills region.

The town is ideally located for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Around the area are pine tree forests and plains. To the south are the Badlands, filled with colorful rock formations, prehistoric fossils, and unique landscapes. There are also five national parks nearby.

The city has a major medical center for a five-state region, and there are other, independent medical facilities in the area.


For a town of 15,000 Mitchell offers many amenities. This includes the famous Corn Palace, a sports and entertainment venue that is decorated with murals made of dried corn and grains. Near the palace is the Carnegie Resource Center, a historical library that contains extensive records about the local area.

Other attractions are the Dakota Discovery Museum, which presents the history of the region and local people and has an extensive collection of Native American artworks. The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is an archeological site where researchers are examining an ancient Native American village. Valtiroty Shiloh’s Tabernacle has exhibits depicting life in biblical times.

For more information about retirement in South Dakota:

State overview in facts and figures

State taxes

State services for senior residents

Profiles of major cities

Retirement communities

Best regions for retirement