The 10 Happiest Places To Live In South Dakota

By Kathy Morris
Nov. 10, 2020

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Ever wondered where in the country people are happiest? Better yet, what cities in your state have the secret sauce for happiness?

Just like where you work and what you do, where you live can have major implications for your quality of life. We set out to find the cities in South Dakota where life is sweetest, the wages are high, and people aren’t wasting their lives away in cars,

The results? Happiness comes in small packages.

The result is this list of the best cities for :

  1. Harrisburg, SD
  2. Tea, SD
  3. Pierre, SD
  4. Brandon, SD
  5. Watertown, SD
  6. Sioux Falls, SD
  7. Aberdeen, SD
  8. Spearfish, SD
  9. Rapid City, SD
  10. Brookings, SD

These are the happiest places in South Dakota. Keep reading to see what has everyone grinning so much.

How did we determined the happiest places to live in South Dakota?

We turned happiness into a science and scoured the state to find the cities with all the ingredients for happiness:

  • Being well educated (Population with at least a bachelor’s degree)
  • Percent of households earning above $75,000
  • Median home prices
  • A short commute to work (Traffic = unhappiness)
  • Having a family (Getting, and staying married, has a ton of happiness benefits, on average)

We examined over 19 cities, to find the cities that have all of the above in spades.

While some may be confused to see marriage rates included in our metrics, studies show that married people are typically happier than unmarried people. However, it is worth noting that marriage doesn’t cause happiness. In fact, people leaving a bad marriage experience spikes of happiness. However, a happy marriage and positive social interactions are important for mood and mental health.

Similarly, if you’re scratching your head to see $75,000 as the cut-off for happiness, blame Purdue University. Their study found that amount meets basic needs and frees people from the pitfalls of deep financial insecurity that cause unhappiness.

All of our data comes from the most recent American Community Survey.

Keep reading for more on why each of these 10 places is brimming with happiness—or hop to the bottom to see where your city landed on the list.

1. Harrisburg

Population: 5,760
Earners Over $75k: 57.8%
Average Commute: 18
Marriage Rate: 38.0%

Harrisburg is the happiest city in all of South Dakota. What makes Harrisburg residents so happy? They aren’t wasting their lives on long commutes for one. The average Harrisburg resident only drives 18.7 minuted to work. Toss in affordable housing and the fact that most Harrisburg residents are coming home to a loving partner and it’s easy to see the city has a lot going for it.

2. Tea

Population: 5,098
Earners Over $75k: 59.5%
Average Commute: 19
Marriage Rate: 33.0%

In 2nd place we have Tea. Residents of Tea are highly educated, with an impressive 39.0% having at least a bachelor’s degree. And in this modern day, education means options, and folks in Tea have plenty of them.

3. Pierre

Pierre, SD

Population: 13,988
Earners Over $75k: 42.1%
Average Commute: 9
Marriage Rate: 30.0%

Pierre is the third happiest city in South Dakota. Why so happy? 30.0% of Pierre residents come home to a partner to share their life burdens. Bonus? Short commutes give them more time to spend with all their loved ones or on hobbies they enjoy.

4. Brandon

Brandon, SD

Population: 9,867
Earners Over $75k: 56.4%
Average Commute: 19
Marriage Rate: 28.0%

Folks in Brandon have a lot to smile about. An impressive 56.4% of Brandon households earn $75,000 or more. That means families in Brandon can afford peace of mind.

5. Watertown

Watertown, SD

Source: Public domain

Population: 22,124
Earners Over $75k: 32.7%
Average Commute: 12
Marriage Rate: 34.0%

Watertown is the 5th happiest city in the whole state. Watertown residents’ moods are kept high by reasonable home prices (the median home price in this South Dakota city is only $162,600), happy marriages, and short commutes.

6. Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, SD

Population: 174,151
Earners Over $75k: 38.6%
Average Commute: 16
Marriage Rate: 25.0%

Looking to relocate? Data says you should give Sioux Falls a second look because it has all the ingredients for happiness. A staggering 38.6% of households earn over 75,000. Toss in high marriage rates and reasonable commutes, and it’s easy to see those who call Sioux Falls home have a lot to be happy about.

7. Aberdeen

Aberdeen, SD

Source: Public domain

Population: 28,124
Earners Over $75k: 32.6%
Average Commute: 10
Marriage Rate: 29.0%

Aberdeen is the 7th happiest city. Aberdeen residents pull in respectable salaries and manage to do it, on average, within 10.9 minutes of their home. They can use all that extra time saved from a long commute to indulge in hobbies they’re passionate about.

8. Spearfish

Spearfish, SD

Population: 11,393
Earners Over $75k: 33.2%
Average Commute: 16
Marriage Rate: 22.0%

Spearfish residents are highly educated with good incomes, decent marriage rates, and reasonable commutes. What’s not to be happy about?

9. Rapid City

Population: 73,721
Earners Over $75k: 31.3%
Average Commute: 15
Marriage Rate: 22.0%

The 9th happiest city in all of South Dakota is Rapid City. The average commute in Rapid City is only 15.9 minutes. That means they are only 15.9 minutes away from the loving spouse 22.0% of them have.

10. Brookings

Brookings, SD

Population: 23,863
Earners Over $75k: 34.0%
Average Commute: 13
Marriage Rate: 17.0%

In 10th place is Brookings, South Dakota. What makes Brookings so great? Affordable housing, reasonable commutes, and healthy incomes. If happiness is contagious, moving here might be worth a try.

And that’s our list of the happiest cities in South Dakota

There you have it, happiness is a place.

While we can’t guarantee everyone living and working in the top 10 cities is happy, they have a better chance the most.

If you are looking to improve your own happiness, check out how you can help improve your personal factors: housing costs, job satisfaction, income, and education.

If your city didn’t make the top 10, check out the list below to see whether it missed the cut by a hair or if folks there are struggling to escape despair.

Detailed List Of The Happiest Cities In

Rank City High Earners Average Commute Marriage Rate
1 Harrisburg 57.8% 18 38.0%
2 Tea 59.5% 19 33.0%
3 Pierre 42.1% 9 30.0%
4 Brandon 56.4% 19 28.0%
5 Watertown 32.7% 12 34.0%
6 Sioux Falls 38.6% 16 25.0%
7 Aberdeen 32.6% 10 29.0%
8 Spearfish 33.2% 16 22.0%
9 Rapid City 31.3% 15 22.0%
10 Brookings 34.0% 13 17.0%
11 Rapid Valley 43.1% 18 28.0%
12 Yankton 28.2% 13 29.0%
13 Mitchell 27.4% 10 33.0%
14 Madison 28.1% 10 27.0%
15 Vermillion 29.4% 13 10.0%
16 Sturgis 25.7% 18 39.0%
17 Box Elder 22.8% 16 12.0%
18 Huron 25.3% 13 26.0%
19 Belle Fourche 21.8% 16 22.0%

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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Topics: Rankings