Safest Cities in South Dakota

  • Population
    878,698
  • Avg Annual Rent
    $8,904
  • Avg Household Income
    $48,593
  • Cost of Living
    18.60%
  • Violent Crime Rate
    10.8
  • Property Crime Rate
    215.7
  • Primary Care Ranking
    34
  • Mental Health Provider
    38

South Dakota's most famous monument is none other than Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located in the Black Hills National Forest in the southwest corner of the state. Tourism accounts for about $2 billion in the state's economy each year, but South Dakota's main industry is agriculture. Common crops include hay, sunflowers, rye and honey, produced primarily in the plains region around the Missouri River. South Dakota has a population density of about 12 people per square mile, so small-town life is the norm here. In fact, only two cities — Sioux Falls and Rapid City — have a population above 30,000. Discover which of the state's many small towns made it on our list of the safest cities in South Dakota. 

How We Determined the Safest Cities in South Dakota

We narrowed down the safest cities in each state based on two primary categories. First, we evaluated public safety factors including violent, property and hate crimes in each area to help determine the safest areas to live. We then evaluated financial and socioeconomic factors including household income, average rent and health insurance. In addition, we evaluated each state for natural disaster safety and public health safety. You can find a detailed breakdown of our methodology and links to sources here.

Here are the public safety factors we counted for each city:

*Public safety data is based on a population of 10,000 (for example, a “2” means two incidents for every 10,000 people).

  • Property crime – Number of property crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Violent crime – Number of violent crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Aggravated assaults – Number of aggravated assaults reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Hate crime – Number of hate crimes reported in the city (FBI Hate Crime Report)
  • Officer-related incidents – Number of officer-involved shootings reported in the city (Gun Violence Archive)
  • Mass shootings – Incidents in which four or more people are shot/killed in the city (Gun Violence Archive)

Here are the financial safety factors we counted for each city:

  • Annual rent – Annualized median rent
  • Unemployment rate – The average rate of unemployed residents in each city
  • Cost of living – The average annual rent and household income per city
  • Poverty rate – Percentage of families that reported experiencing poverty in the last 12 months
  • Uninsured employed – Percentage of employed residents that reported not having health insurance
  • Uninsured unemployed – Percentage of unemployed residents that reported not having health insurance

7 Safest Cities in South Dakota

  • No. 1 Brookings

    Brookings is the proud home of South Dakota State University. The student population may be why Brookings is the fourth-largest city in the state in terms of population. It’s also the third-largest city to grace our list. Poverty is rather high overall in the state, but Brookings boasts the lowest poverty rate among the safest cities in South Dakota. 

    91out of 100

    Public Safety

    56out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    6.196811 (3rd)12.80674 (1st)133.8511 (1st)0.826241 (4th)0.826241 (4th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    8724 (5th)50182 (4th)0.038 (4th)0.072 (7th)0.021 (5th)0.255 (6th)
  • No. 2 Vermillion

    The University of South Dakota is located in Vermillion, which lies in the far southeast corner of the state near Nebraska and Iowa. The town’s population is just over 10,000 people, although the number of people living in Vermillion nearly doubles when USD students come for the semester. Although Vermillion has the highest cost of living and the lowest average annual income on our list, it also boasts the highest percentage of household internet access. 

    87out of 100

    Public Safety

    44out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    3.702332 (1st)20.36283 (2nd)199.926 (4th)0.925583 (5th)0.925583 (5th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    8928 (4th)34517 (7th)0.07 (1st)0.167 (2nd)0.026 (4th)0.463 (4th)
  • No. 3 Huron

    Huron is a popular destination for pheasant hunters, and it celebrates this notoriety with a sculpture of the World’s Largest Pheasant. It also hosts the South Dakota State Fair each year. In terms of financial safety, Huron has the lowest unemployment rate on our list and one of the lowest costs of living.

    73out of 100

    Public Safety

    55out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    7.579777 (4th)34.86697 (5th)167.5131 (2nd)0.757978 (3rd)0.757978 (3rd)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    6996 (6th)46884 (5th)0.013 (7th)0.221 (1st)0.036 (3rd)0.72 (2nd)
  • No. 4 Box Elder

    Of all the cities on our list, Box Elder has both the second-highest average annual income and the highest average annual rent. It’s located just outside Rapid City and houses the Ellsworth Air Force Base and the adjacent South Dakota Air and Space Museum. Box Elder is known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills,” as it’s the first town you’ll encounter when arriving in the Black Hills region from westbound I-90. 

    73out of 100

    Public Safety

    52out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    6.146911 (2nd)37.90595 (6th)179.2849 (3rd)1.53657 (6th)1.53657 (6th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    11796 (1st)52793 (2nd)0.035 (5th)0.112 (5th)0.051 (2nd)0 (7th)
  • No. 5 Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls is best known for Falls Park. It spans 123 acres and has a 7,400-gallon waterfall that falls 100 feet. There’s also Queen Bee Mill, a seven-story mill that created mill to cut the cost of shipping it. Other historic sights to visit include the Horse Barn and Falls Overlook Cafe.

    60out of 100

    Public Safety

    58out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    12.9204 (5th)30.77606 (4th)293.232 (7th)0.332714 (2nd)0.332714 (2nd)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    9492 (3rd)59017 (1st)0.035 (5th)0.086 (6th)0.01 (7th)0.365 (5th)
  • No. 6 Flandreau

    The area surrounding Flandreau is home to indigenous burial grounds and numerous hunting artifacts such as arrowheads, indicating that it has been a popular place to live for hundreds of years. The modern-day residents of Flandreau pay the lowest average annual rent out of all the cities on our list, which also contributes to the town’s low cost of living. With a population of just over 2,300, Flandreau is also the smallest of South Dakota’s safest cities. 

    61out of 100

    Public Safety

    50out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    17.15266 (6th)21.44082 (3rd)244.4254 (5th)8.576329 (7th)8.576329 (7th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    6600 (7th)46020 (6th)0.054 (2nd)0.159 (3rd)0.056 (1st)0.818 (1st)
  • No. 7 Rapid City

    As the closest city to Mount Rushmore and the site of 43 bronze statues depicting the U.S. Presidents, Rapid City is also known as “The City of Presidents.” Despite its northern location, Rapid City experiences mild weather and reportedly gets more sun than Miami and Honolulu. Notably, Rapid City has the lowest hate crime index of all the towns on our list despite having the second-highest population.

    46out of 100

    Public Safety

    49out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    22.04808 (7th)43.29924 (7th)291.4066 (6th)0.13282 (1st)0.13282 (1st)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    9792 (2nd)50742 (3rd)0.045 (3rd)0.13 (4th)0.015 (6th)0.491 (3rd)

South Dakota State Safety

Natural Disaster Safety

South Dakota is considered the 38th state most at risk of natural disaster damage, according to Insurance Journal, making it one of the less-susceptible locales. According to data from USA.com, hail is the most common type of extreme weather event recorded in South Dakota, with nearly 10,000 occurrences recorded since 1950. Thunderstorm winds, floods and various types of winter weather events are the next most commonly experienced weather extremes in the state. The 1972 Black Hills flood is considered the worst natural disaster in South Dakota to date.

38out of 50

Natural Disaster

Health Safety

America’s Health Rankings’ 2019 report ranks South Dakota as the 28th healthiest state. South Dakota leads the nation in having the lowest percentage of adults experiencing frequent physical or mental distress. It also boasts the second-lowest percentage of drug deaths in the nation. Smoking, excessive drinking and occupational fatalities represent the areas of greatest concern in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that South Dakota has the second-highest rate of chronic liver disease/cirrhosis in the U.S., making it the 10th-leading cause of death in the state.

24out of 50

Health Safety

Top 7 Safest Cities in South Dakota

Brookings24,206121
Vermillion10,804272
Huron13,193333
Box Elder6,508344
Sioux Falls180,335615
Flandreau2,332556
Rapid City75,290767