A Guide to Buying a House in: South Dakota

(Because there's more to love than Mount Rushmore)
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.


Rumor has it you're considering buying a house in South Dakota - maybe. Well, you're in luck - we've already put together a little guide to all things home-buying in The Mount Rushmore State (their super-cool nickname). It'll hit on all your major points of concern, as well as some lighter-hearted stuff, just for fun. So let's dive right in, shall we?

The Most and Least Expensive Cities in South Dakota

When you start crossing options off your list of potential move-to's, it's helpful to know which areas require the most/least moolah. We whipped up a little list of a few of each for you. 

Most expensive cities:

  • Brandon
  • Tea
  • Harrisburg
  • Hartford
  • Sioux Falls 

Least expensive cities:

  • Redfield
  • Winner
  • Mobridge
  • Hot Springs
  • Huron 

There you have it. You're ready to make a more financially informed choice on which city will be your next home - and it didn't even take that long. No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

South Dakota's Housing Market

Before buying your new house in South Dakota, it could help to know something about the housing market there. So let's outline a little overview of that next.

Interest rates and home prices are currently on the rise - but never fear, because houses are apparently still super-affordable. Though it's currently a seller's market, buyers should still feel that inspiration to buy. South Dakota's job market is strong and the housing market is healthy. Home inventory is going up, which will eventually help prices to go down.

If you wanna move to the state's current hot spots, head to Harrisburg or Brandon. WHY Harrisburg? Well, it's got plenty of attractions - zoos, aquariums, museums and art galleries, to name a few. The median home list price in the city is $234,900. 

And as for Brandon? It's supposedly a great place to raise a family, and is full of parks, wineries, nature areas, memorials and museums. Current home values here average $230,100, and homes are listed for around $256,900.

One more thing - South Dakota's a bit lacking in the new construction department, at least at the moment. There's a little bit of development happening on the west side of the state, around Rapid City. There's also a bit more central, around Pierre, and a little to the east, around Brookings and Sioux Falls. If you're set on getting a brand-new place, you'd better book it on over to one of these areas.

 Home Property Values and Costs in South Dakota

Fantastic, we've got some insight on WHERE to search for a new home, but how much is the thing gonna COST? Next up, we're diving into home values/prices.

For starters, the average home value in the state is $185,900, and that homes are currently listed on the market for around $217,950. The price per square foot is about $163. Renting a house will cost you about $1,100. And as far as home appreciation is concerned, values have increased 5.6% in 2018, and are expected to rise another 3.5% within the upcoming year.

And while that's all great, we can't leave out our apartment/condo peeps. According to bestplaces.net, this is how much you'll pay for a one-bedroom place per month in the following areas:

  • Sioux Falls - $720
  • Brandon - $800
  • Redfield - $550
  • Winner - $550
  • Hot Springs - $620

Alright, townhouse-seekers, now it's your turn. The range in average rent for townhouses in South Dakota starts at $650/month for a two-bed/one-bath place, and ends at $1,700/month for a four-bed/three-bath place.


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Be Sure to Review Your Tornado Coverage in South Dakota

So now you've got an idea of where to house hunt and about what it'll cost you - but what about your homeowners insurance? Do you know about South Dakota's specific mandatory policies? Then you might wanna listen to this - South Dakota makes friends with tornadoes - sometimes several times a year. Depending on which map you look at, half the state, or all of it, is located in Tornado Alley. 

So what does this mean for you? Well, that you'll need to review the insurance you've got, to make sure you don't need any more. Luckily most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for tornadoes, but you'll need to check out your specific policy in order to have bulletproof confidence.

Some policies may require you to get an additional, separate tornado insurance rider, or to specifically name tornadoes among events that you want them to cover. Damage to your actual home and personal possessions is typically covered by a regular homeowners policy. 

If you're a renter, your renters insurance should cover your personal property, while your landlord should cover building damage. Your policy is also likely to provide short-term housing in case the storm is extra-nasty and leaves you temporarily homeless, which wouldn't be cool.

You've gotta know EXACTLY what's covered by YOUR policy, because who wants to find out, too late, that they weren't covered after a disaster hits? That's right, nobody. So double-check your policy, and don't be shy about hitting up your agent if anything is even a tiny bit unclear. You'll thank yourself later for asking in advance. Trust us.

Quality of Schools in South Dakota

If you're interested in getting some more learning done after you make your move, you might wanna know about South Dakota's school system. We've put together a little overview for you.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how South Dakota schools ranked in the country:

  • #25 overall for the US
  • #23 for quality
  • #24 for safety 

The top-rated schools in South Dakota are Alcestor-Hudson High School, in Alcester, and the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion.

Reasons to Move to South Dakota (...or not)

Alright, now the serious stuff is out of the way, so we can move onto the more-fun stuff. (Alllriiight.) Maybe you're asking yourself why even move to South Dakota, at all? Well, we checked in with some folks who actually live here already.

PROs (as voted by real-life South Dakotans):

  • Big/small-town vibe: As in, the entire state "feels like one big, small town," according to locals. In fact, about half of the entire population lives in Sioux Falls and Rapid City - and that's only about 900,000 folks. Fans of the neighborly vibe will love it here - everyone knows each other. Everyone.
  • Banks that make bank: South Dakota can thank its major banks for its thriving economy. Citibank relocated to Sioux Falls in 1981, and Wells Fargo wasn't far behind it. The state has some chill banking laws, and that apparently attracted these giants like moths to a tiny light. Now, South Dakota's raking in more than $2.5 trillion in bank assets, which makes them #1 in that area. Pretty impressive.
  • (Lack of) population density: Though South Dakota's the 17th-largest state by landmass, it's the fifth-most-sparsely populated. There's lots of wide-open space, and plenty of "unspoiled environments." If you're a fan of seeing nature intact and not feeling super-people-y all the time, this could be your oasis.
  • No state income tax: It's true - South Dakota doesn't pay state income tax. Need we say more?

CONs (also from the mouths of real South Dakotans):

  • Big/small-town vibe: Yup, it's on both of our lists. Because while that small-town feel is nice in a lot of ways, it can also be invasive. With the sparse population you won't be running into other intelligent life all that often, but when you do, they'll probably know all your personal business. It's almost like everyone here is a celebrity within their own state...and that's just weird.
  • Wacky weather: Locals say that the weather here is either hot or freezing. They don't have the luxury of those milder seasons like "spring" and "fall" - they've only read about them in books. If you're a fan of extremes, you'll love it.
  • Wages: South Dakota has a lower-than-average cost of living, but it also has lower wages to go along with that. It's ranked 34th in the country for average annual household income ($68,419). It's also ranked third-lowest in the US for hourly wages ($19.27).

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Stuff to Do in South Dakota

Cool, so now we know WHY people move to South Dakota, but WHAT do they do for fun?! Obviously this state's got more to it than Mount Rushmore. We talked to the locals, who offered up some super-insider secrets to entertaining yourself here, from parks to landmarks and more.

Here are just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • Deadwood: Once home to Wild West legends like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, this National Historical Landmark was the core of South Dakota's scandalous gambling history. It all started during the Gold Rush of 1874-1877. You'll find some casinos here, of course, as well as plenty of history. There's also a Wild Bill Days Festival every June.
  • Custer State Park: If you wanna check out the Black Hills where that Gold Rush took place, you can head to this massive, 71,00-acre park. You can also go hiking, mountain biking or fishing. Just be on the lookout for the wildlife that lives there - you don't wanna become a snack.
  • Badlands National Park: About 75 miles east of Rapid City, this park spans 244,000 acres covered in prairie grasslands and rock formations that look like they're straight out of a painting. Explore the nature, go camping and say hello to those adorable, but endangered, black-footed ferrets. Aww..
  • Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: America's oldest/largest biker rally is held in Sturgis, South Dakota annually...for some reason. About halfa million people attend, too, so it's obviously a big deal.
  • Crazy Horse Memorial: Forget about Mount Rushmore - why not check out the WORLD'S LARGEST mountain carving, instead? Not far from Custer, this memorial is only 8 miles from the other one, but it's arguably wayyy more impressive. It all started when Lakota Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear reached out to the dude who helped carve Mount Rushmore. Work started in 1948 and is still in progress to this day. And the thing's massive - it'll be 641' long x 563' tall when it's completed, and Crazy Horse's head is 27' taller than any of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. Take that, Lincoln.

Carving Out Your Memorial in South Dakota

Well folks, that's it - our snea -preview of South Dakota's home-buying details and goodies. We know we're not able to cover ALL the things you might be concerned about before deciding on where to buy your house (we're chiseling away at a mountainside right now), but hopefully you're closer to confidently pulling that trigger than when you arrived.

If buying a house in South Dakota, with its wide-open prairies and epic mountains with faces carved into their sides sounds good to you, then get on over there and make it so. Make sure your new home is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck.

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