AARP has rated downtown Sioux Falls has one of the ten most livable neighborhoods in the U.S.:
The hub of this fast-growing midsize city features a mix of small-town and big-city characteristics: affordable multifamily housing, high-quality health care, low levels of income inequality [“10 Most Livable Neighborhoods in the U.S.,” AARP Bulletin, 2015.04.21].
Note that AARP picks crowded downtown, not the sprawling new housing at the edges of Sioux Falls that the state economic development office’s advertiser prefers to feature.
The other neighborhoods on AARP’s list are…
- Mifflin West, Madison, WI
- Upper West Side, Manhattan, NY
- Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA
- South of Market, San Francisco, CA
- Washburn, LaCrosse, WI
- Southside, Virginia, MN (pictured with a guy shoveling snow off his sidewalk—thanks a lot, snarls the Virginia MN Chamber of Commerce)
- Downtown Bismarck, ND (what?! Not Fargo?!)
- Downtown Seattle, WA
- Downtown Los Alamos, NM
The South Dakota AARP office says downtown Sioux Falls ranked sixth on the neighborhood list, while Sioux Falls as a whole ranked third on the AARP list of livable medium-sized cities (St. Paul was 2nd; Minneapolis was 5th).
But before Mayor Huether calls a press conference, note that within South Dakota, Sioux Falls did not get the top livability score. Mitchell, home of the Corn Palace, beat Sioux Falls by two points, 68 to 66. Plus, Pierre and Dell Rapids tie with Sioux Falls on overall livability. Among South Dakota’s largest towns, the most livable are…
- Mitchell (68)
- Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Dell Rapids (66)
- Watertown and Yankton (64)
- Rapid City, Aberdeen, Brandon, and Milbank (63)
- Spearfish, Sturgis, and Lemmon(!) (62)
- Brookings and Harrisburg (61)
- Vermillion, Tea, Flandreau, and Lennox (60)
Because my day doesn’t start until I’ve created a spreadsheet, I’ve recorded the scores for 32 South Dakota cities on this Google sheet.
You can punch any town you like into AARP’s Livability calculator.
- Housing: affordable and varied
- Neighborhood: compact, close to daily needs
- Transportation: emphasis on affordable alternatives to driving
- Environment: clean air, clean water, good natural disaster-response plans, policies promoting energy efficiency
- Health: smoke-free policies, walkability, opportunities for exercise, access to healthy foods, even lower speed limits!
- Engagement: Internet access, opportunities for social engagement and civic participation
- Opportunity: jobs, education, living wages, inclusivity and diversity
As a whole, Sioux Falls gets its highest score in engagement (83 out of 100) but the lowest scores in neighborhood (54), health (60), and housing (61).