This City in South Dakota Has Been Named the Worst City to Live


With attractions such as Mt. Rushmore and an abundance of outdoor activities, South Dakota has much to offer visitors and locals. While some towns are perfect for settling down, others pose difficulties. High crime rates, restricted career possibilities, poor incomes, and underfunded schools all have an impact on certain neighborhoods.

According to current FBI and other data, Belle Fourche is the least desirable area in South Dakota in 2024. Here are some reasons why.

Read more: This City in Delaware Has Been Named Worst City to Live

Increased Crime Rates

Belle Fourche, a tiny community with 5,760 people in the western section of the state, serves as the county seat and the geographic center of the United States. Unfortunately, it also has South Dakota’s highest violent crime rate (1,043 per 100,000 inhabitants). This means that inhabitants have a one-in-96 risk of becoming victims of violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, or assault. The property crime rate is likewise concerning, at 4,474 per 100,000 inhabitants, which translates to a 1 in 22 probability of becoming a victim of property crimes such as burglary, theft, or arson.

Belle Fourche’s safety worries are growing, as seen by increased crime rates over time. In 2020, the city recorded 60 violent crimes and 258 property crimes. By 2023, these rates had risen to 82 violent crimes and 348 property crimes, reflecting a 36.7% increase in violent crime and a 34.9% rise in property crime in just three years.

Economic Challenges

Belle Fourche suffers economic challenges, with a citywide unemployment rate of 7.2%, higher than the state average of 5.1% and the national average of 6.1%. The median household income is $42,857, which falls short of both the state average of $59,533 and the national average of $62,843. Additionally, the city’s poverty rate is 18.7%, which is higher than the state average of 12.6% and the national average of 13.4%.

Belle Fourche residents have challenges in finding jobs, education, and promotion possibilities. The city falls behind in educational attainment, with just 17.8% of people having a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to the state and national norms of 28.8% and 32.6%, respectively. Economic diversification is low, with most industries centered on agriculture, mining, and retail.

Subpar Quality of Life

Belle Fourche offers people a mediocre quality of life, as seen by its AreaVibes livability score of 57 out of 100. The city does poorly in terms of amenities, weather, education, and housing. There are few entertainment, recreation, retail, and food opportunities.

Also read: The City in West Virginia Has Been Named Worst City to Live

The city has extreme weather conditions, including frigid winters, scorching summers, and frequent storms. The school system does badly, with an 83% graduation rate and a student-teacher ratio of 16:1. The typical house value is $172,300, while the median rent is $833, both of which are more than the state average.

Belle Fourche residents struggle to maintain a comfortable, healthy, and rewarding existence. The city has a lower life expectancy of 76.4 years, compared to the state and national norms of 79.5 and 78.9 years, respectively. The obesity rate is significant, with 33.9% of individuals categorized as obese, which exceeds the state and national rates. The well-being index is low, measuring 62.3 out of 100, compared to the state and national standards of 66.2 and 65.9.


Belle Fourche, South Dakota, emerges as the least desired place in 2024, owing to high crime rates, economic issues (high unemployment and low salaries), and a poor quality of life. Increasing crime tendencies, economic issues, and a lack of facilities all add to inhabitants’ difficulties in obtaining work, education, and a satisfying life.

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