South Dakota is a wild state, known for the Black Hills, abundant wildlife, low population and vibrant culture. The state is rooted in Native American and frontier history. And people tend to be quite friendly in the Mount Rushmore State! Even in the “big” cities, there’s no escaping the small town feel. Neighbors chip in when needed, folks smile and say “hello” when passing on the street, and are generally open to starting conversations with strangers on any number of topics.
- Summer months tend to be hot. If you are moving to South Dakota during the summer, avoid heavy lifting in the heat of the day and make sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
- Winters are extremely cold and often bring heavy snow, so try to avoid moving during the colder months. The best time of year to move is the fall, when temperatures are more moderate and there’s less chance of storms or tornadoes.
- Spring and summers bring tornadoes, especially in the east of the state. Always make sure to listen to the weather forecast and take cover if you hear a tornado warning.
- People in South Dakota are really quite friendly and helpful, so if you need information or assistance, don’t be afraid to ask!
Change your address online. To make your move from California to South Dakota easier, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, inexpensive, and will ensure that your mail arrives to your new home with you.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in South Dakota is over 18 percent lower than the US average. Housing prices, food costs and consumer good prices are generally pretty low. The average house price in 2011 was $158,900, but it must be noted that housing prices differ depending on the region, with the cities being more expensive. There’s a homeownership rate of just over 68 percent, which is slightly lower than surrounding rural states, even despite the fact that property taxes are in the lower half of the nation.
In addition, the state does not levy any taxes on individual wage income. With an average gross household income of $39,265, most households are extremely grateful for this tax break. Voted the #4 best job market in the country, skilled and talented professionals are in demand in South Dakota.
The South Dakota housing market has experienced tremendous growth in the past ten years, with the COVID-19 pandemic marking a significant increase in South Dakota housing prices. Property prices in rural markets, in particular, have increased faster than ever before as remote work became a reality for many employees, allowing them to move further away from their place of employment into more affordable locations with plenty of space to roam for the entire family. The pressure from newcomers, many of them coming from other more expensive states, into these small rural communities with an extremely limited inventory and a typically steady demand for housing has caused property prices to increase by 20% to 25% within a year, according to local experts.
South Dakota home prices have traditionally been sitting well below the national average, but the sharp increase in demand during the pandemic has caused local real estate prices to catch up. However, the skyrocketing housing costs have significantly slowed down since the Federal Reserve Bank initiated an aggressive interest rate hiking policy as its principal means to fight back against inflation, which stands at a forty-year high. Nevertheless, the South Dakota housing market remains highly competitive, and property prices are still climbing in the double digits.
The median house value in South Dakota was evaluated at $306,633, representing a 14.4% increase compared to the year before, according to data collected throughout October 2022, the latest available at the time of writing.
Be prepared for hot summers and very cold winters. Summer daytime temperatures are an average of 84 degrees Fahrenheit, but oftentimes, there are periods of intense heat, with temperatures of over 100 degrees and little rain. In the winter, temperatures average 26 degrees Fahrenheit, and blizzards and ice storms can create hazardous traffic conditions. The entire state receives a relatively low amount of rainfall, except for certain regions in the Black Hills. Summers often bring severe thunderstorms, as well as tornadoes in the eastern part of the state.
Families moving to South Dakota will be pleased to hear that the Mount Rushmore State has the highest number of educational institutions per capita of the entire country. Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to South Dakota.
- Elementary: Challenge Center, Discovery Elementary School and Harvey Dunn Elementary School in Sioux Falls are three top-ranked elementary schools.
- High School: The top three high schools are Warner High School in Warner, Corsica High School in Corsica and Emery High School in Emery.
- Higher Education: University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Augustana College are some of the best universities here.
You can find lots of up-to-date information about moving to South Dakota, as well as working and living here, at the Official South Dakota State Government Website.
- No moving permits are required, but it’s a good idea to check parking regulations in the major cities before moving to South Dakota.
- The state does not levy any taxes on individual wage income. For more tax information visit IRS.gov.
- When moving to South Dakota, you will have to pay an excise tax of three percent on your vehicle. However, if it was already taxed in another state, you only have to pay the difference.
- There are no toll roads in South Dakota.
- You can register to vote when applying for your driver’s license, online at the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website, or by mailing in a voter registration application to your county auditor.
- Trash and recycling are handled by the municipality if you live in an urban area. If you live in a more rural area, you’ll need to contact a private company or take your trash to the landfill yourself, as well as use local recycling stations for recyclable materials.
- After moving to South Dakota, you have 90 days to apply for a South Dakota driver’s license at the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. The cost is $20 for a five-year license.
- You are required to register your vehicle at the Motor Vehicle Division within 90 days of moving to South Dakota. Fees vary and are based on the weight and year of your vehicle. It costs $5 for a title and $5 to record any lien.