How is South Dakota? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have posted here before, but it has been awhile. My USMC husband will retire in about 2 yrs, we live in southeast Va and want to move where we can get land, or land and a house etc...I don't think we would go homesteading "all the way" and I don't know if that is ok to be on this list! I saw a suggestion to take some classes (like canning, gardening) through the extension agent in our area and I am going to research that. We visitied South Dakota in June, but only the Black Hills area, we have been researching the Sioux Falls area and want to visit there soon. Can anyone give me any info on the areas around Sioux Falls as far as more rural living? Like is it expensive, lots of regulations, zoning problems? I'm sorry this is long...we have to be somewhat near town as my husband is an aviation mechanic and will still need to work. But we want property to have animals again! Thanks for any help!

-- Kathy (, July 16, 2001


Hi Kathy!

I don't know how much I can help but I will surely try. I live in Northeast South Dakota 20 miles east of Aberdeen near a small town of 1300 called Groton. Aberdeen has a population of 25,000 and is the largest city in the northeast part of the state. We live about one mile out of town and are on asphalt road. We are lucky in that part. We both work fulltime in town, although I am considering working in Aberdeen for more pay. (Or maybe I should just forget the rat race and make money at home?) So, we are not homesteading all the way as you put it. And yes, in my opinion, you are most welcome on the forum. There is a lot of very useful information here. Don't forget to check out the archives. Sioux Falls is about a three hour drive from here. Sioux Falls is a larger city, I believe the population is 95,000. If you were in Rapid City when you were in the Black Hills, you could compare it to that. There are several, several smaller towns surrounding Sioux Falls and plenty of farmland. The towns would not allow farm animals but no regs in the rural setting. I don't think you should have a problem finding a rural homestead to raise animals and get off the streets. Zoning problems are not really a problem that I know of. Of course, you can't open a commercial hog raising facility without zoning but for your purpose of simple homesteading, I don't think there would be a problem. Of course if you are going to get a mortgage from the bank, they would most likely request a septic system, tested well or rural water system, insurance, etc. And the insurance agent will request most the same but will insure mobile home, old farm house or the like. I have never heard of anyone having problems with zoning out in the country. Life is pretty simple here. Nice honest people, for the most part,not a lot of hustle and bustle, clean air, the four seasons. Yes, we definitely get winter too! It can get pretty nasty but if you are bundled up and think smart, you will be just fine. Sioux Falls area is a tiny bit warmer than the northern area but not by much. The Black HIlls area is quite touristy and the weather is definitely warmer. Winters in the Black Hills are never as cold or as long as the eastern half of the state. Sioux Falls has a larger airport and I am sure your hubby can find work there. I have never been to the Sioux Falls airport, but will be going there on the 28th of July to fly out to Los Angeles for a convention. Sioux Falls is a port of entry so the air traffic must be large enough to support a few mechanics. Around here, a lot of people drive 20-30 miles to go to work just so they can live in the countryside. As for cost, three years ago we purchased our 59 acres with one large dairy barn, hog barn, chicken coop, brooder house, garage/granary, garage, small creek runs through the land too, and four bedroom two and half story home built in the 1920s for $53,000. Our taxes are around $680 per year and our suburbanite insurance coverage runs us $600 per year. We raise sheep and meat chickens,but are trying laying chickens this year. We started out with bottle lambs to build our flock. Although my parents were raised on farms, neither myself or hubby were. We are just figuring it out. We read a lot of books and ask a lot of questions. So, welcome aboard, start planning now, and if you have more questions, post them here or email me directly. Nice hearing of your interest.

-- JoAnn in SD (, July 16, 2001.

Kathy, you're in VA and you want to move to SOUTH DAKOTA? Seriously consider spending some time there in the winter before you commit. Winters are serious biz in the Dakotas. Also check into average rainfall. I'm not sure what it is in SD but its unlikely to be much like VA.

I had an uncle who used to visit Wisconsin every summer. He and his wife thought it was great, they went every summer for like 15 years. They decided to retire there. They moved back to IN after the first winter. And the Dakotas are a lot worse than WI.

Maybe you'll like it, no telling. Some folks do. But give it at try - IN THE WINTER - before you sink money into it.

How 'bout Missouri instead? There's aircraft stuff in St. Louis I'm pretty sure. Maybe Kansas City?

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), July 16, 2001.

Thanks for the responses....I am gathering all I can to have our retirement go as smooth as possible! I know that SD is diff than Va, and we are planning to go there this winter, so hopefully that will be helpful. My sis and her family live in Cheyenne, Wy and we want to find a place to go where we can live close. They retire from AF next June. We are looking to go where there is more of a distinct 4 seasons than here...I know SD winters can be "distinct"! We are always just outside of the snow here...we are in the southeast corner of Va. Always wishing we would have more real winter. I do know the precip here in Va would be more than in SD, and our humidity is more severe and longer...but we feel a little adventurous, I guess. Plus, there are other good points to crime, crowds, health in general, and specifically health care, air quality and niceness of people! We have family in Omaha and Minneapolis, also. My sis would not come here as she hates our humidity and we all hate the crowds and traffic here that has exploded in the last 15 yrs. What do y'all know about Wyoming? Thanks for the input!

-- Kathy (, July 17, 2001.

HI! I lived for six months in South Dakota in the Black Hills area in 1995 and I loved it! It snowed on September 22 and there was still snow on the ground when I left to come back to Alabama the first week in November.

Then I came back to Alabama and almost froze to death! It is a different kind of cold here...I don't know what the difference was!

Anyway, it seems a lot of richer folks are buying up the large parcels of land in that part of the west (like CNN's Ted Turner) but I think there are still lots of good farms for sale in the state.

I don't know about zoning and that kind of thing but I do know that everything seemed to be at a slower pace than anywhere else I had lived. I have a good friend who still lives and works in Rapid City and I can send you her e-mail address if you like more info on that area.

-- Suzy in Bama (, July 17, 2001.

Hi, I was raised in South Dakota. If you have a map, we lived 7 miles south of a little town called Pickstown. It is in the Missouri River hills and is a lovely area. One downfall, is the fact that there is alot of racial tension there, as it is on the Sioux Indian Reservation.

My two sisters live in Pierre, SD, and have for many years. The weather is harsh there. The wind blows on the prairie, the winters are bad, and the summers are very hot and usually dry. They seem to enjoy it there though. I could give you their email addresses if interested.

My DH's sister lives in Corson, which is a town just east and north of Siouxfalls. I think they have 17 acres there and have a small horse farm. She and her DH both work in Sioux Falls. I could give you her address as well.

My other dear sis spent 20 years in Dakota Dunes, SD, which is right out of Sioux City, IA. There is much developement there, and they had 5 acres, but couldnt have livestock, so I am not sure what the zoning would be.

As far as the difference between Sioux Falls and Rapid City, it is like day and night in my opinion. Sioux Falls is mostly flat and open, with less trees and vegitation. Rapid is hilly, touristy, evergreens everywhere. Sioux Falls is definately not anything like Rapid City. The Missouri River hills would be more like Rapid City, but then again, you would be very far away from an airport.

As far as the winters, it can be very cold and windy, but not unbearable. We now live in MN and it was great training for us to handle the even harsher winters up here.



-- Maylene (, July 17, 2001.

Lived in SD as a child, and was always colder in MO than SD, mainly because of the humidity (you don't know cold until it's cold, windy, and wet!) Beeeeeautiful place to live, in the Spearfish area, anyway (Black Hills area). Even as a kid, I recognised that. ONe thing that got slightly mentioned - it is very touristy, and that means that during tourist season (mainly summer and fall), prices double for everybody, local or transient. If you do decide to live in the BH area, just keep in mind that basic stuff like food, gas, repair work (especially auto) and other seasonally changing prices will need to be budgeted higher for during this time. Some things that aren't affected by the tourist trade stay steady (medical care, automobiles purchases, livestock feed).

Be prepared for long lines everywhere at this time as well, and during Sturgis Bike Week, expect lots of strange, hairy guys on Harleys to literally overrun the western half of the state (nothing against any bikers, just a reality).

Summers are hot and dry, as noted, and fires can be a problem (watch those Independence Day grills and fireworks, kids), but the winters are relatively mild in the BH. I remember walking home from school in a blizzard, not really sure why we were being let out early - due to the lack in humidity, the snow was lighter and less "wintery" than I remembered from MO, and we were never let out in the show-me state for less than catastrophic conditions. After going through several MO winters before moving to SD, I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about!

-- Soni (, July 17, 2001.

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