Sioux Falls is a strong, silent type of city – unpretentious and modest about its exceptional quality of life – and that’s probably why this commercial and cultural center of South Dakota is one of America’s best-kept secrets. Well, modest – but maybe a little arrogant! Sioux Falls locals proclaim that ‘East River’ rules – vital to know if you move to Sioux Falls. They say everybody else in South Dakota is ‘West River’ from the west side of the Missouri River.
OK then, why does East River rule, and why is it so cool? A thriving economy, affordable cost of living, short commute times, amazing parks system, and trendy historic neighborhoods are just some of the reasons East River folks love their vibrant, thriving, artsy, and fun city.
Among Augusta University’s key rankings report, Sioux Falls is at or near the top of several ‘best of’ lists: ZipRecruiter ranked Sioux Falls #3 ‘Hottest Job Market in 2020’; smartasset.com named Sioux Falls #1 ‘Best City for Young Professionals’ three years in a row. In the livability.com 2019 report, Sioux Falls ranks #7 ‘Top 100 Best Places to Live’. Those must be some of the reasons why Sioux Falls’ population has exploded, increasing by 22% over the last 20 years.
Ready to move to the Gateway to the Plains? Get free moving quotes from vetted Sioux Fall movers now! Then, keep reading our moving guide below.
Living in Sioux Falls, SD: What to Know Before Moving to Sioux Falls
Located in southeastern South Dakota, Sioux Falls has 190,750 city residents – but about 265,653 people live in the outlying metro area. Sioux Falls glimmers and gleams – from the renewed historic downtown to the strong economy based on finance, retail trade, and health care. A beautiful park system and quality preschool through post-secondary education are added perks of this Minnehaha County jewel.
Pros and Cons
Is Sioux Falls for you? Check out some of the pros and cons to see if you’ll enjoy being an East River resident.
- Cost of living: Sioux Falls’ cost of living is about 11% lower than the US average.
- Housing costs: The median home value is $209,760.
- Employment: At 2.1%, the unemployment rate is 1.6% lower than the US average.
- Zero state income tax: SD is one of only seven states that doesn’t levy an income tax.
- Cold winters: Long, windy, darkish winters are brrrrrr . . . cold.
- Tornadoes: Spring and summer twisters can stir things up.
- A little white bread: Slightly lacking for those who want more cultural and ethnic diversity.
- Isolated: You may need to rely on Sioux Falls more than you’d hoped because other major cities are a trek.
- Property tax: If you buy a home in Sioux Falls, you’ll pay 1.429% in average property tax. On a home valued at $250,000, your annual property tax bill would be $3,573.
- Sales tax: The combined sales tax rate in Sioux Falls is 6.5% – lower than the US average of 7.3%.
- State income tax: South Dakota doesn’t levy a personal state income tax. And zero corporate income tax has attracted savvy financial companies.
As of February 2020, the median home value was $209,760, and the median list price was $229,900. Home values went up 3.3% in 2019, and by the end of 2020, the industry expects that they’ll rise by 4.2%. About 45% of Sioux Falls housing was built before 1970, so depending on the home you buy, you may face some repairs or remodeling.
Prefer to join the 38% of Sioux Falls residents who rent? The median rent price was $1,099 as of February 2020. Whittier and Garfield are two neighborhoods to consider If you’re looking for the most affordable Sioux Falls housing.
Cost of Living
The Sioux Falls overall cost of living index is 88.6, just over 11% lower than the US average of 100. Below average cost categories include health at 91.6, housing at 81.4, utilities at 96.4, and transportation at 74.8. Average or close to average costs are grocery at 100.1 and miscellaneous (insurance, repairs, clothing, eating out, etc.) at 101.9.
The family median income is $74,598, almost $4,000 higher than the US average of $70,850. If you’d like to know how much you’ll need to earn for a moderately comfortable lifestyle in Sioux Falls, review the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator. They estimate that for the Sioux Falls metro area, you’d need to earn $6,467 per month or $77,607 per year.
Weather and Natural Disasters
If you love four clear-cut seasons, you’ll have them in Sioux Falls. The humid continental climate produces hot, humid summers with warm nights; colorful, crisp falls; cold, snowy winters; and short but lush green springs. The average summer high temperatures are about 84, and lows are about 62. In winter, you can expect average highs of 29 and average lows of 10. Expect about 26 inches of annual rainfall, with most of it falling during the summer. You’ll need snow gear to enjoy all the fun winter sports – the yearly snowfall total is 45 inches.
In Sioux Falls, the most common natural disaster threats are severe rain, hail, lightning, high winds, and spring and summer tornadoes. In September 2019, an EF-2 tornado damaged over 37 buildings, a shopping center, and a hospital. That’s why you’ll want to review the City of Sioux Falls Emergency Management site – it’ll help you properly prepare for weather threats.
Economy and Job Market
At 2.1%, the Sioux Falls unemployment rate is much lower than the US rate of 3.7%. Job growth in 2019 was 1.7%, ever so slightly higher than the US job growth rate of 1.6%. Forecasts predict strong future job growth over the next ten years – 36.6% compared to the US average growth of 33.5%.
In 2018, Forbes ranked Sioux Falls the #1 ‘Best Small Places for Business and Careers.’ The major industrial sectors include health care and social assistance, retail trade, finance and insurance, advanced manufacturing, data centers, food processing, and educational services. The top employers are Sanford Health, Avera Health, Smithfield Foods, Sioux Falls School District, HYVee Food Stores, Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, Walmart/Sam’s Club, Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society Healthcare, and the City of Sioux Falls.
Before you review online job boards and check out Sioux Falls employment agencies, make sure your resume is updated and ready to present in electronic format. Also, take a look at Workforce Information Now (WIN) for job options and to start networking.
Traffic and Transportation
Sioux Area Metro operates 29 buses on 16 bus lines, mainly Mondays through Saturdays and the Downtown Trolley is not only fun for tourists, but handy for locals. Walkscore.com’s 17/100 transit score indicates that Sioux Falls has minimal public transportation – only 1% of residents use public transit, and only 9% carpool.
The average Sioux Falls walk score is 37, and the bike score is 46, so you’ll need a car to get around, commute, and run errands. If you’d like to live in a walkable neighborhood, check out Downtown, Beadie Greenway, and Folsom.
Sioux Falls traffic isn’t particularly bad. Your one way commute time of 17 minutes will be a lot shorter than the national average of 26 minutes. As you navigate the city, you’ll want to know that the significant thoroughfares include north-south I-229, north-south I-29, and east-west I-90.
For long-distance transportation options, the Sioux Falls Regional Airport is five miles northwest of downtown and offers direct flights to and from nine US cities. Jefferson Lines operates long-distance bus routes to and from Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City, and Grand Forks.
What to Do
Tune in to SDPB-FM 90.9 for “In the Moment,” a popular daily podcast that reports on Sioux Falls’ local culture and news. This podcast will give you a great idea of all the fun and exciting things to do in and around the city.
- The arts scene: Thanks to the Sioux Empire Arts Council, the city’s art scene is flourishing. The council is responsible for the popularity of The Northern Plains Indian Art Market, the Northern Plains Tribal Arts Collection, the Horse Barn Gallery, and the Summer SculptureWalk. Downtown’s First Fridays provide concerts and live music with stores and restaurants keeping their doors open late.
- Festivals and more: Every summer, people flock to the three-day, camp-out, Christian LifeLight Festival, one of the country’s biggest outdoor music festivals. The Festival of Bands, Downtown Riverfest, Sioux Empire Spectacular, Sioux Empire Fair, annual Party in the Park musical event, Sioux Falls JazzFest, and SiouxperCon convention offer more exciting things to do. The Kirby Science Discovery Center is popular with kids, and parents love the Sioux Empire Farmers Market, every Saturday, May through October. If you’re literary-minded, the community hosts writing and poetry events throughout the year.
- Parks and the great outdoors: Great Bear Recreation Park is popular for winter skiing and snowboarding, and summer hiking and cycling. In Downtown, you can walk, run, bike, and rollerblade the paved trails around Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway. About 30 minutes from downtown, Palisades State Park and Newton Hills State Parks offer hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and exploration. The 205-acre Sherman Park offers so much recreational variety – it’s home to The Great Plains Zoo, Delbridge Museum of Natural History, Indian Burial Mounds, the Softball Hall of Fame, USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial, plus bike paths, picnic areas, and softball diamonds.
- Sports: You’ll be able to choose from a variety of teams to support:
- The Sioux Falls Canaries (part of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball) play baseball
- The Stampede (a Tier 1 junior ice hockey team) play ice hockey
- The Storm (part of the Indoor Football League) play indoor football
- The Skyforce (part of the NBA G League) play basketball
- The Thunder (a club team in the National Premier Soccer League North Conference) play soccer
Schools and Universities
The Sioux Falls School District serves over 23,000 students. The district runs 25 elementary schools, six middle schools, and five high schools. Sioux Falls Catholic Schools serves about 3,000 students among 8 schools, plus you’ll have other private school choices. Based on greatschools.org ratings, some of the top public schools are Fred Assam Elementary 9/10; Challenge Center-51, 9/10; Endeavor Elementary-07, 8/10; and Sonia Sotomayor Elementary-65, 8/10.
You’ll have some great higher education options in Sioux Falls: Augustana University, Sioux Falls Seminary, the University of Sioux Falls, National American University, South Dakota School for the Deaf, Southeast Technical Institute, the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine-Sioux Falls campus, and the South Dakota Public Universities and Research Center.
Sioux Falls crime rates are slightly higher than US averages. The US average for violent crime is 22.7, and in Sioux Falls, the rate is 25.5. The US average for property crime is 35.4, and in Sioux Falls, it’s 44.4. The suburbs of Hartford and Harrisburg have slightly higher crime rates than the city proper.
- Combined gas and electric service: Mid American Energy, 888-427-5632, or request service online; Northwestern Energy, 800-245-6977, or open your account online; Xcel Energy, 800-895-4999, or start service online.
- Electric service: Sioux Valley Energy, 800-234-1980; Southeastern Electric, 800-333-2859, or apply for assistance online.
- Water service: Sioux Falls Utilities, 605-367-8131, or create a new account online.
- Trash pick-up and recycling service: Ace Garbage Service, 605-334-4223; Novak Sanitary Service, 605-338-7126; Waste Management, 605-679-6954, or start service online; City of Sioux Falls, 605-367-8276 or find out more online.
- Internet and cable service: To find providers who serve your new neighborhood, enter your new zip code on highspeedinternet.com. The site will list providers, their download speeds, reviews, and pricing.
Best Neighborhoods in Sioux Falls, SD
Six of the best neighborhoods we’ve outlined are located close to Downtown and provide that charming small-town feel Sioux Falls is known for. If you prefer a suburban lifestyle, the last two are highly desirable neighborhoods located about twenty minutes east of Downtown.
Downtown Historic District
Bordered by E Falls Park Dr on the north, N Weber Ave on the east, E 14th St on the south, and S and N Minnesota Ave on the west, Downtown is the heartbeat of Sioux Falls. With a mix of housing and commercial areas, you can find homes in apartments, condos, townhomes, and some two to four-bedroom single-family homes. Phillips Ave is where you’ll find most of the historic buildings in this ethnically diverse neighborhood.
The Downtown Sioux Falls Residents Association organizes community events and is one reason the Downtown area has an intimate, small-town vibe. About 6% of residents walk to work, 80% drive their car alone to work, about 8% carpool, and the remainder utilizes public transit.
Living in Downtown, you’ll enjoy the benefits of some beautiful green spaces. Surrounded by Falls Park, Beadle Park, and Riverdale Park, the Big Sioux River runs diagonally from the northwest to southeast in Downtown and is. Locals enjoy Josiah’s Coffeehouse & Café, The Source, and Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar.
- Population: 2,540
- Median home price: $324,427
- Average rental price: $1,127
- Schools: Laura B Anderson Elementary School, Eugene Field Elementary School, Whittier Middle School, Washington High School
Located adjacent to Downtown’s east border, Whittier’s northern border runs just south of E Rice St, Leaders Park is on the east, W 10th St is on the south, and N Weber Ave is the western border. Housing is affordable and ranges from one-bedroom older cottages, four-bedroom two-story older homes, and some apartments. This area is a great place to buy or rent if you want to live in a house with character that’s convenient to Downtown.
The Whittier Resident Association works with locals to host family movie nights in the three neighborhood parks, organizes park beautification projects, and community events. The three lovely parks that residents enjoy year-round are Heritage Park, Meldrum Park, and Whittier Park. A top-rated place for a bite and brew is Monk’s Hous of Ale Repute and Gandy Dancer Brew Works, plus Jacky’s Restaurant, and Tortilleria Hernandez.
- Population: 3,587
- Median list price: $139,900
- Median rent price: $940
- Schools: Terry Redlin Elementary School, Whittier Middle School, Washington High School
The Garfield neighborhood borders include W 12th St on the north, S Western Ave on the east, W 18th St on the south, and S Kiwanis Ave on the west. Garfield is about ten minutes southwest of Downtown. You’ll find some apartments and three to five-bedroom homes, some with charming vintage architecture, on tree-lined streets. The Garfield Neighborhood Association organizes a variety of events for the community, adding to the friendly, close-knit neighborhood vibe.
It’s easy to walk to Sherman Park and the Great Plains Zoo, directly west of Garfield. There are several churches in the neighborhood and lots of restaurants, fast-food spots, banks, grocery stores, and pharmacies along W 12th St on the northern border.
- Population: 4,104
- Median home value: $138,400
- Median rent price: $914
- Schools: Garfield Elementary School-19; Challenge Center-51, grades 2-5; Edison Middle School; Roosevelt High School
McKennan Park Historic District
Bordered by E 19th St on the north, S 6th Ave and S 7th Ave on the east, E 26th St on the south, and S Phillips Ave on the west, the McKennan Park Historic District is about six minutes south of Downtown. Housing is mainly three to four-bedroom historic houses that are architecturally interesting. Lovely gardens add to the charm of this well-kept, friendly neighborhood. The majority of homes date back to pre-WWII.
Almost 90% of residents are homeowners, and about 41% of households are families with children. The McKenna Park Neighborhood Association coordinates events that unite the community. The median household income in McKennan Park Historic District is $82,400, quite a bit higher than the Sioux Falls median household income of $56,867.
Beautiful McKennan Park, with tennis courts and a bandshell, is the hub of the neighborhood. Try the popular Kaladi’s Bistro for comfort food or Minervas Restaurant for some upscale dining.
- Population: 1,697
- Median home price: $319,000
- Median rent price: $718
- Schools: Laura Wilder Elementary School; Challenge Center-51, grades 2-5; Edison Middle School; Lincoln High School
Pettigrew Heights is about ten minutes southwest of Downtown, bordered by W 9th St on the north, S Minnesota Ave on the east, W 16th St on the south, S Covell Ave on the west.
You’ll find architecturally charming single-family historic homes, townhomes, and some apartments. As of March 2020, home prices ranged between $105,000 and $465,000. The Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association organizes neighborhood cook-outs and other community events. With ethnic diversity, friendly residents, walkability, and charm, Pettigrew Heights is a great neighborhood to consider.
There are lots of convenient amenities and many churches in Pettigrew Heights. The Co-op Natural Foods and Azteca Mexican Restaurant are favorite shopping and dining options.
- Population: 3,760
- Median home value: $279,819
- Median rent price: $884
- Schools: Lowell Elementary School, George McGovern Middle School, Lincoln High School
Cathedral Historic District
Bound by W 4th and W 6th Streets on the north, N Spring Ave on the east, W 10th St on the south, and N Summit and N Prairie Avenues on the west, the Cathedral Historic District is directly west of Downtown. Located on a knoll, the neighborhood has beautiful views of Downtown and the Big Sioux River valley. In the late 1800s, this was the neighborhood of choice for the city’s most powerful and prominent citizens, which is why Cathedral Historic District has some of the most ornate historic homes in Sioux Falls.
Nearly half of the homes were built before 1900, with the remainder completed by 1920. Some houses were converted into apartments in the mid 20th century, so you may be able to find an apartment that hasn’t been converted back into a restored home. The original residents were the first to bring trees to the South Dakota prairie, and the neighborhood maintains its late-1800s era historic integrity with gorgeous, beautifully maintained homes built along streets with impressive mature trees.
The neighborhood is not only a window to the past with iconic homes, the Pettigrew House and Museum, and St Joseph Cathedral, but it provides updated conveniences. Five bus routes and fifteen transit stops are within one block of the Cathedral Historic District. A very walkable neighborhood, walkscore.com awards it 67/100.
- Population: 3,933
- Median home price: $215,012
- Median rent price: $1,100
- Schools: Hawthorne Elementary School, Middle School Immersion Center, New Technology High School, Lincoln High School
About fifteen minutes east of Downtown, Anderson Subdivision is bordered by Arrowhead Parkway on the north, the Big Sioux River on the east, 69th St on the south, and Hwy 11 on the west. Housing consists of three to five-bedroom single-family residences, and a few apartments. Most homes sit on large, well-maintained lots. Some are executive style homes with pools, entertainment patios, and surrounded by several acres of land. In this newer community, 63% of homes were built starting in 2000.
Anderson is considered a top neighborhood for its high-quality schools, safety, and 97% of owner-occupied homes. This community is a family-friendly neighborhood that’s welcoming and has a strong sense of community. In addition to families, Anderson is also an attractive neighborhood for executives and suburban sophisticates.
Although you’ll find just about all the amenities you need here, you’ll need a car to commute or go out for a meal, like at the locally popular Perkins Restaurant & Bakery.
- Population: 1,203
- Median home price: $487,466
- Median rent price: $1,618
- Schools: Rosa Parks Elementary, Harvey Dunn Elementary, Patrick Henry Middle School, Lincoln High School
Shindler is located about 25 minutes southeast of Downtown and is bordered by E 57th St on the north, Good Earth State Park along the eastern border, 271st St on the south, and S Southeastern Ave on the west. In Shindler, the demand for real estate is robust. Housing options include two to six-bedroom single-family homes that are newer builds, attached homes, a few apartment complexes, and some mobile homes.
Shindler is almost 100% owner occupied – 97% of residents own their homes. Although a suburban feel with newer homes, the development sits in a rural area on the prairie. In general, trees are sparse, and homes appear to stand out on their lawns without much softening landscaping.
According to neighborhoodscout.com, Shindler is among the 15% of the highest income neighborhoods in the US. Based on the educated and wealthy professionals and managers who enjoy living here, Shindler definitely appeals to executives. But it’s also an excellent choice for families with school-aged children. Once people move here, they tend to stay, appreciating their strong community.
An interesting little factoid is that Shindler residents love their cars – 36% of residents have four or more. Shindler is friendly for walkers, but even if you’re not a car collector, you’ll need one to commute and run errands.
- Population: 1,020
- Median home price: $402,807
- Median rent price: $1,296
- Schools: John Harris Elementary, Harrisburg North Middle School; Lincoln High School
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