Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The Queen City

The BUZZ

What's it like to live in Sioux Falls

Why have you chosen to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

We lived in the Silicon Valley. Incomes had stagnated, housing was expensive, and the schools in the areas we could afford to live were not very good. We needed a change.

We researched other areas in the country and eventually settled on the Midwest. So for six months I collected rejection letters from Oklahoma to Michigan. Finally we got a good response in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but that fell through as well. Then I got an on-site interview with Sencore in Sioux Falls.

As we explored the city in early fall, we really liked it. The job was interesting, the schools were good, the city was clean, housing was relatively cheap. We negotiated the offer and arrived in Sioux Falls the day before Thanksgiving.

That first winter was brutal. It was a normal winter for Sioux Falls, just brutal for us. But we adapted. Now we struggle to get the kids to wear jackets if it’s over 0F/-22C.

After 11 years here, I cannot imagine living anywhere else. It’s got low crime, decent entertainment, low cost of living, top notch public schools, and some very good medical facilities.

What is it like to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA?

I moved to Sioux Falls in 2004 and lived there until 2014. I loved the city, the culture and the people. The river runs in a circle around the city so there is a lovely ring of parks that offers plenty of recreation year round. There are also other recreation areas within a short drive so its easy to get away.

The downside to Sioux Falls, as many have mentioned, is the weather. The weather certainly gives people plenty to discuss and complain about. “Remember the Christmas Blizzard” or “The killer Ice storm” are common conversation starters.

Though the summers can be hot and humid, it is not fair to call the weather oppressive. You typically will have only a few weeks of really nasty heat, and the weather changes all the time. some days will be 100+, but most of the time the summers are in the 80’s. We ran our heater far more than the air conditioner.

The winter is very oppressive. I always hated hearing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” because heck the same snow at Christmas was there on Halloween - and it may still be there in May.

If you move to Sioux Falls invest in a good snow shovel, but treasure the summers. I suggest Frisbee golf at Tuthill park, or go camping at the Palisades.

What is it like to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

You have to make your own fun. There’s the Falls, and the pretty lights there at Christmas time. It’s also fun to walk around downtown and sometimes there’s festivals or whatever, but most of the time there’s not a whole lot you can do.

Not only this, but you have to be prepared for the unpredictable weather. There’s been many days where it went from 25 degrees and snowy to the next day being 50 and sunny. We’ve had 45 degrees December days, but -10 degree days in March. Only in the Midwest right?

Despite all this, there’s no place I’d rather call home. My parents raised me here because of the safety it provides. Sure, it’s small, but I never feel worried about intruders or creepy people all that often, as long as I’m being smart. Even though Sioux Falls is relatively small compared to the big name cities, it’s expanding rapidly. It had a population increase of 22% between 2000 and 2010. It won’t be very small for long.

I’ve traveled to many small towns but also many large cities over the US, and although there are many nice people to be found, there’s something about Sioux Falls and it’s citizens. You walk down the street and people will smile and say hi to you whether they know you or not. You can go up to random people and they’ll gladly have a conversation with you.

My friend and I decided this summer that we were going to do a project. It consisted of going downtown, and approaching random people asking for their best life advice. We approached people of all ages including kids younger than 10, elderly people, middle aged parents, and college students.

We then put their answers into a book. I always find myself reading it because of the joy it brought me. One older woman’s life advice was “always remember your roots, no matter where you go” and that’s exactly what Sioux Falls will forever be to me…my home.

My thoughts after a year in Sioux Falls
Discussion
This is for all the people asking what it’s like to live here. I honestly didn’t know this place existed before about a year and a half ago and I moved after one week of searching for a home. I’m from the north east and was living in the deep south for about a decade so the Midwest and South Dakota were not on my radar at all. I feel like I have a good perspective as I have lived in a handful of other states so here we go.

The city itself is beautiful and historic in a way that you don’t expect. The art and parks here are for a city it’s size second to none. So many cities have sprawled out and neglected to maintain green space or a small town feel but somehow Sioux Falls has done that while also developing an amazing food scene. This unfortunately does not apply to the developing areas which are 110% parking lot sprawl. That being said I dont have to travel 3+ hours to a major city because somehow what I need is here but also only 10 minutes away.

The downtown is incredibly picturesque especially when it snows. It’s like looking into a nostalgic film from the past somehow. The community putting up lights and developing new areas is honestly unheard of in many places. They could work on the streets away from the river a bit more as Main feels quite dead. Also I have never lived in a place where you have to fix the sidewalk.

The sense of community is great while you honestly don’t need to know people to see it working. The development at Falls Park, the Zoo, and new artwork appearing all the time is a testament to this. It seems like people love the city and want it to thrive.

The food scene is amazing compared to other cities this size. While the city lacks a signature food style it makes up for it with delicious options at the low and high end. From Morries to Watecha Bowl to Pizza Cheeks there are a ton of quality options all at different price points. While chains are prolific there seems to be an equal number of local places.

There are constantly events largely free that are actually worth going to. Riverfest, The Parade of Lights, and Levitt at the Falls provide a great atmosphere for anyone. There are also plenty of theatrical performances and random concerts as well as every type of sports team.

The economy is solid and while there are always issues many of them seem to be at the state level like teacher pay and culture war stuff. I have yet to be accosted in the streets for my views and parts of the town are accepting if not fairly progressive. The town skews religious and conservative but not in an uncomfortable way. While I find the state politics a dumpster fire that doesn’t come across in day to day life.

The type of area you want to live in exists here. City living? The area south of downtown is great. Suburbs? Plenty of that on the west side. Rural living? A ton of farm land just outside of town.

The weather you get over almost immediately. Yea it gets cold just run between all doors.

Concerns?

It seems new development ignores what people love about the town (or at least what I love). The downtown area is being developed but the other areas are just large shopping centers or housing. If they spread the vibe downtown around the city we can avoid where others have struggled.

Traffic. As it gets worse the response seems to be tactics that clearly don’t work. It is by no means bad but it could get there with rapid growth.

State politics. This is obviously personal but in the year I have been here it’s been scandal after scandal with no end in sight. People just seem ok with it because it’s their team. The state can do better red or blue.

Overall I love it here. Everyone who has visited me has loved it. I hate the thought that I will inevitably have to move. It feels like home.

Living in Sioux Falls Pros and Cons