Spearfish & Belle Fourche SD (Anyone From...?)

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We are considering relocating to the Black Hills area. Specifically Spearfish or Belle Fourche. Can anyone give us some personal experience living in the area. Are people open to new comers, jobs, schools, weather, crime, homestead lifestyle, good place to raise a family?

Any imput would be appreicated.

Thanks, Dave

-- David McDermott (dkmcd@msn.com), December 08, 2001


Response to Spearfish & Belle Fourche SD

My husband grew up in the black hills and we looked at property up that way in October while visiting his family. Getting a job might be a problem depending on what you do. A really nice town that I liked the best was Sundance, Wyo. Even the little kids were so polite there. Most of the people that I met were friendly and they are the type to stop and help you if you need it. I wasn't raised in a town like these where everyone waves at others on the roads etc. When I asked my husband why they do that he told me if you wave to them, they are your friend, now if you break down on the road they will stop for their 'friend' to see if they can help. I was stranded on an interstate for 5 hours with a baby and my mini stallion and no- one stopped to see if I needed help. Not even the cops. Wish I had a 'friend' then.

One thing you should think of up that way is the South Dakota State and Property Tax. It is quite a bit so living in the Wyo part of the Black Hills is much cheaper. If you find a great location let us know.

-- miller (smillers@snowcrest.net), December 08, 2001.

Response to Spearfish & Belle Fourche SD

I grew up in the Montana/Wyoming area and lived in northern Wyoming for many years, had relatives in the Rapid City area so am very familiar with the area (just moved some 5 years ago).

I think you will find that this specific area has some drawbacks ... there are a lot of people that are moving into the "beautiful" areas of the west ... Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado ... and this is one of the areas that is getting hit with the influx of "outsiders" ...

Weather is typical of northern/western ... lots of snow, cold ... hot summers, little rain. Acreage will NOT handle the livestock that you would see in midwest/southeast areas and most of the area is not under irrigation. Water rights are very important, as is available water. Wells are deep, expensive to drill and not always successful. You will also find that small acreages are going to be expensive. If electric and phone lines are not already in (some of the bigger places are being purchased and subdivided) you may find it a shock to find out what it will cost to get them in.

You didn't say where you are from but raising livestock, farming, gardening can all be very much different from what you are used to in terms of productivity, climate, rainfall, winters.

Generally speaking, the "natives" are friendly, but I think you will find that they are starting to be a little wary of newcomers ... most of the long-time residents (especially in the ranching communities) have had some less than pleasant experiences with outsiders coming in and complaining about how livestock was treated/raised ... dogs running ... or their dogs running (now that they lived in the country) and chasing stock.

Schools are generally good, crime is definitely lower than more urban areas anywhere ... the jobs are likely somewhere between scarce and non-existent unless you have a very marketable skill. There simply is no industrial base ... the small towns are supported by the neighboring farms/ranches ... the college in Spearfish ... tourism in the summer and not much in the winter.

Had some friends from Sheridan, Wyoming who retired and moved to a 30- acre place near Sundance and the last I heard they were trying to sell and move. Relatively high expenses, land was not productive and adequate water was not available. He had "locally marketable" skills, long-time manager for a big Wyoming ranch, draft horse trainer, could do "fill-in" type summer ranch work in just about any field ... and they were still having trouble making ends meet.

I think the most important thing to consider in that entire area "out West" is water ... and it's availability.

I love the area ... I like the people and general "feel" of that entire region. I would still be living in the general area myself if circumstances had permitted, but it is not always an easy relocation for newcomers.

-- SFM in KY (timberln@hyperaction.net), December 08, 2001.

Response to Spearfish & Belle Fourche SD

It would be helpful to know where you are moving from, thus we would have your point of reference

Water rights are a big issue . Our Black hills water bill was higher than our electric is now. Our electric from a small co-op was also steep. Taxes weren't too bad, compared to Michigan (and remember no income tax, unless things have changed) Weather is semi arid, ~ 17 inches of rain annually. Two weeks (each) of brutal summer and winter, otherwise quite enjoyable.

Schools are based upon your location in the county, in the city is one system in the county another. In the sticks you get a higher rate of indians, which makes no difference except for a high dropout rate (just stating the facts) this makes the high schhol crowd in a state of flux to a certain degree.

Most every type of fresh vegtable is shipped in; nothing is grown there, not because it can't be, just it is cheaper to grow where water is cheaper.

One final thought: Bring your own job in a state with 800,000 there are not alot of extra jobs to go arround

-- Mark (toymeister@hotmail.com), December 08, 2001.

Response to Spearfish & Belle Fourche SD

I live in South Dakota, but I live "east river". There is no state income tax here and property taxes vary alot depending where you live. There are not many jobs to be had in the Black Hills area and land prices there just keep going up. The soil there is sandy and the rainfall is sparse. If you are interested in the other half of our beautiful state, the people are friendly, the land is good for crops, and recently I was looking at ten acres with a yearly property tax of under 200 dollars.

-- Tracy (tbrock@splitrocktel.net), December 08, 2001.

I live "west river" and water is a big issue. We looked at the Black Hills area but found it too "touristy". It is one of the current "in" places to buy. Small plots of land sell for outragous prices. And remember the motorcycle rally at Sturgis. It is probably fun to go to but must be awful if you live there. It affects a large area (including Spearfish etc.) for over a month. The roads are extremely crowded and locals don't even go to town for that month. But then it is all in what you are used to and want.

-- Barb (MBRanch@POP.ctctel.com), December 09, 2001.

Lived there as a child, but do remember a few things that are bound not to have changed much:

1) It's gorgeous. Simply beautiful. Of course, so are many other parts of the country. But still, it's gorgeous.

2) During tourist season, the price of nearly everything, from milk to gas to parking, goes up by a good percentage.

3) It snows. A lot. But even as a cold-natured child, I much preferred SD winters to MO winters. Remember walking home from school in a SD blizzard wondering what all the fuss was about.

4) The water's too cold to wade in, even in July and August. Spearfish Creek will numb your feet in about 15 seconds when it's 100 degrees outside. BRRRR.

5) It's gorgeous. (Did I mention that it's gorgeous?)

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), December 10, 2001.

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