The Movoto Blog tags itself as “The Lighter Side of Real Estate.” I suppose we should thus take lightly ranking of the top ten places to live in South Dakota. A California content for Movoto apparently looked at numbers for the 24 South Dakota towns with populations over 3,000 last year and came up with this preference list:
- Sioux Falls
- Rapid City
- Dell Rapids
- Belle Fourche
- Box Elder
- Hot Springs
Brookings is a lovely town. SDSU makes it lovelier. I can conceive of reasonable arguments that Brookings could be the comfiest town in South Dakota to work, raise kids, and recreate. From my happy perch in Aberdeen, I can work a little harder and conceive of arguments that say Aberdeen is just about but not quite as nice as Brookings. (Wait a minute: which town has two colleges?)
But Huron over Sioux Falls? Pierre over Rapid City? Lead, Madison, Belle Fourche, and Sturgis over Spearfish?
With all due respect to my hometown of Madison, which I called home for four decades, Spearfish, where I lived and taught for two years, offers better education, jobs, shopping, recreation, and views than Madison. This ranking, along with the general cluster of top rankings in East River, shows the sterile numerical view of a content creator who has never climbed Crow Peak.
Sure to outrage some of our MinneLinc metro mavens is Movoto’s declaration that booming Harrisburg is hardly better than Box Elder:
Hot Springs is hardly a hot spot for job seekers, and has the highest unemployment rate anywhere on our list. Harrisburg had a terrible weather score and crime rate, which brought it to second-to-last, just above Hot Springs. Finishing up our bottom bracket is the whimsically named Box Elder. There’s nothing whimsical about these scores, however: third-worst weather, second-worst amenities, and fifth-worst quality of life keep the small city firmly in the bottom three [Laura Allan, “These Are the Ten Best Places to Live in South Dakota,” Movoto Blog, 2015.06.04].
Such is the madness of numerically distilled click-bait lists versus real experience. Fire away, readers: by stats, experience, or love, how would you rank you favorite South Dakota towns?