Best counties to live in South Dakota

Written by:
June 17, 2021
Jon Platek // Wikimedia Commons

Best counties to live in South Dakota

What makes a particular county the best? Oftentimes, it's a good mix of opportunities for fun outdoor activities and cultural attractions. Throw in some historical sites, good schools, job opportunities, and affordable housing, and the county will most likely have happy residents.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to live in South Dakota using rankings from Niche. Niche ranks counties by a variety of factors including: public schools, educational attainment, cost of living, and housing.

Many counties on the list are experiencing growth due to their job opportunities, education, or home values. Others are adored for their historic or well-designed value, or devotion to cultural opportunities. Keep reading to see if your county made the list.

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Runner1928 // Wikimedia Commons

#25. McCook County

- Population: 5,548
- Median home value: $137,800 (76% own)
- Median rent: $575 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $61,507
- Top public schools: Canistota Elementary School (A), Canistota Junior High School (A), Bridgewater-Emery Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Salem St. Mary's Elementary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Canistota (A), Grant Township (A), Montrose (B+)
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Meade County

- Population: 27,717
- Median home value: $190,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $877 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $60,578
- Top public schools: Whitewood Elementary School (B+), Sturgis Elementary School (B+), Sturgis Intermediate School - 06 (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Summerset (B+), Blackhawk (B+), Sturgis (B)
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#23. Codington County

- Population: 28,026
- Median home value: $174,500 (65% own)
- Median rent: $754 (35% rent)
- Median household income: $56,376
- Top public schools: Lincoln Elementary School (A), Jefferson Elementary School (A), Watertown High School (B+)
- Top private schools: Great Plains Lutheran High School (B), Immaculate Conception School (unavailable), St. Martin's Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Watertown (B+), Richland Township (B+), Kranzburg Township (B+)
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Jon Roanhaus // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Grant County

- Population: 7,149
- Median home value: $133,700 (81% own)
- Median rent: $620 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $58,158
- Top public schools: Big Stone City Middle School (A), Big Stone City Elementary School (B+), Milbank Middle School (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Lawrence School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Milbank (B), Stockholm (B+), Alban Township (B)
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#21. Beadle County

- Population: 18,346
- Median home value: $109,700 (66% own)
- Median rent: $619 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $52,313
- Top public schools: Wolsey Wessington Elementary School (B), Huron High School (B), Huron Middle School (B)
- Top private schools: James Valley Christian School (B)
- Top places to live: Huron (B), Valley Township (B+), Richland Township (B+)
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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Tripp County

- Population: 5,458
- Median home value: $101,200 (76% own)
- Median rent: $579 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $57,720
- Top public schools: Winner High School (B), Winner Elementary School (B), Colome Elementary School (C+)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Winner (B+), Colome (B+), Lamro Township (B)
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#19. Lawrence County

- Population: 25,478
- Median home value: $207,900 (65% own)
- Median rent: $761 (35% rent)
- Median household income: $52,641
- Top public schools: Spearfish High School (B+), Creekside Elementary School (B), Spearfish Middle School (B)
- Top private schools: Black Hills Christian Academy (unavailable), Black Hills Classical Christian Academy (unavailable), Chrildren First (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Spearfish (B+), Deadwood (B), Lead (B)
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JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Hamlin County

- Population: 6,025
- Median home value: $157,100 (81% own)
- Median rent: $558 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $67,105
- Top public schools: Castlewood Elementary School (A), Hamlin Middle School - 02 (B+), Hamlin High School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Castlewood (B+), Lake Norden (B+), Bryant (B)
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Jimmy Emerson, DVM // Flickr

#17. Moody County

- Population: 6,507
- Median home value: $133,700 (71% own)
- Median rent: $568 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $61,538
- Top public schools: Flandreau High School (B+), Flandreau Middle School (B), Flandreau Elementary School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Flandreau (B+), Fremont Township (B), Riverview Township (B)
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Charles W. Chapman // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Davison County

- Population: 19,871
- Median home value: $154,700 (60% own)
- Median rent: $759 (40% rent)
- Median household income: $50,570
- Top public schools: Ethan Elementary School (A), Ethan Middle School (A), L.B. Williams Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Mitchell Christian School (B+), John Paul II Elementary School (unavailable), Abbott House (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Mitchell (B+), Mount Vernon (B), Ethan (B)
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Jimmy Emerson, DVM // Flickr

#15. Day County

- Population: 5,486
- Median home value: $100,500 (75% own)
- Median rent: $532 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $46,679
- Top public schools: Webster Area Elementary School (A), Webster Area Middle School (A), Waubay High School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Webster (B+), Bristol (B), Waubay (B)
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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Charles Mix County

- Population: 9,349
- Median home value: $116,700 (71% own)
- Median rent: $558 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $50,481
- Top public schools: Platte-Geddes Elementary School (A), Lakeview Colony Elementary School (B), Platte-Geddes High School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Platte (B+), Geddes (B), Wagner (B)
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Amphibol // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Brule County

- Population: 5,258
- Median home value: $152,600 (62% own)
- Median rent: $679 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $57,196
- Top public schools: Kimball Elementary School (A), Chamberlain Elementary School (B), Kimball Junior High School (B)
- Top private schools: St. Joseph Elementary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Chamberlain (B+), Kimball (B+), Chamberlain Township (B+)
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#12. Lake County

- Population: 12,717
- Median home value: $168,400 (75% own)
- Median rent: $597 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $61,846
- Top public schools: Chester Middle School (A), Madison Elementary School (B+), Chester Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Thomas School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Madison (A), Lake View Township (A), Wentworth Township (B+)
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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Yankton County

- Population: 22,717
- Median home value: $148,300 (65% own)
- Median rent: $644 (35% rent)
- Median household income: $58,342
- Top public schools: Stewart Elementary School (A), Lincoln Elementary School (B+), Yankton Middle School - 02 (B+)
- Top private schools: Sacred Heart School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Yankton (B+), Walshtown Township (B+), Mission Hill Township (B+)
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Sdgjake // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Hutchinson County

- Population: 7,308
- Median home value: $94,100 (77% own)
- Median rent: $536 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $57,089
- Top public schools: Parkston Elementary School (A), Menno Elementary School (A), Parkston High School (B+)
- Top private schools: Freeman Academy (A)
- Top places to live: Parkston (A), Molan Township (A), Freeman (A)
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Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Union County

- Population: 15,368
- Median home value: $179,300 (69% own)
- Median rent: $854 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $70,378
- Top public schools: Dakota Valley Elementary School (A), Elk Point-Jefferson Middle School (A), Dakota Valley High School (A)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Dakota Dunes (A+), North Sioux City (B+), Big Sioux Township (A)
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Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Walworth County

- Population: 5,457
- Median home value: $88,200 (74% own)
- Median rent: $692 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $55,583
- Top public schools: Selby Junior High School (B+), Selby Elementary School (B+), Mobridge Upper Elementary School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Mobridge (A), Selby (B+), Java (B+)
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Winkelvi // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Brown County

- Population: 38,915
- Median home value: $166,800 (64% own)
- Median rent: $695 (36% rent)
- Median household income: $58,216
- Top public schools: Warner Elementary School (A), Frederick Junior High School (A), Warner Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Roncalli Junior/Senior High School (B+), Aberdeen Christian School - Elementary Campus (B+), Roncalli Primary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Aberdeen (B+), Bath Township (A), Prairiewood Township (A)
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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Lincoln County

- Population: 56,826
- Median home value: $228,800 (77% own)
- Median rent: $963 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $82,473
- Top public schools: Endeavor Elementary - 07 (A), Liberty Elementary School (B+), Explorer Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Sioux Falls Christian Schools (A), Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls (B), Central Baptist Preschool & Kindergarten (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Harrisburg (A), Tea (B+), Canton (B)
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tochichi//Wikicommons

#5. Pennington County

- Population: 110,685
- Median home value: $187,800 (69% own)
- Median rent: $842 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $57,039
- Top public schools: Wall Elementary School (A), Wall Middle School (A), Hill City Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Rapid City Catholic School System (A), Rapid City Christian School (B+), St. Elizabeth Seton School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Colonial Pine Hills (A), Rapid City (A), Green Valley (B+)
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Seabear70// Wikimedia

#4. Minnehaha County

- Population: 188,674
- Median home value: $186,800 (63% own)
- Median rent: $813 (37% rent)
- Median household income: $61,772
- Top public schools: Fred Assam Elementary School (A), Brandon Elementary School (A), Brandon Valley Intermediate School (A)
- Top private schools: O'Gorman High School (A), Saint Mary Catholic Schools (B), Holy Spirit School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Brandon (A), Sioux Falls (A), Dell Rapids (B+)
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#3. Hughes County

- Population: 17,608
- Median home value: $177,500 (69% own)
- Median rent: $673 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $64,783
- Top public schools: T.F. Riggs High School (A), Buchanan Elementary School (B+), Kennedy Elementary - 08 (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Joseph Elementary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Pierre (A)
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Jon Platek // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Brookings County

- Population: 34,601
- Median home value: $179,000 (59% own)
- Median rent: $750 (41% rent)
- Median household income: $58,136
- Top public schools: Deubrook Elementary - 03 (A), Brookings High School (A), Mickelson Middle School (B+)
- Top private schools: Volga Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Brookings (A), Medary Township (A), Eureka Township (A)
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User:Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Clay County

- Population: 13,957
- Median home value: $168,300 (54% own)
- Median rent: $741 (46% rent)
- Median household income: $50,724
- Top public schools: Vermillion Middle School (A), Vermillion High School (B), Jolley Elementary School (B)
- Top private schools: St. Agnes Elementary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Vermillion (A), Meckling Township (A), Norway Township (A)

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