Off grid living in South Dakota ( Easy Living? )

South Dakota is the home of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills if you have ever visited this state you already know how beautiful the scenery is. South Dakota’s population is around 900k people, although the vast majority of people live in rural areas. The biggest city is Sioux Falls with around 180k population, and this is the place where most young people move to from the entire state to find a more or less stable job.

Living off the grid in South Dakota is legal, although this doesn’t mean that South Dakota is actually a good state for off grid living. The main problem with South Dakota is that the property tax can be fairly high, in addition to this the climate is also fairly harsh during the wintertime. Although South Dakota is not the best place to live off the grid but with some sacrifice, you could manage like all the other people living off the grid in this state do.

One of the main challenges of living off the grid in South Dakota is the harsh winters especially if you are heating with firewood, my personal recommendation is to use an EPA certified wood stove which has a heat output of up to 100,000 BTU/h Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

At first glance this is an ideal place to live off the grid, there are several communities that have been living off the grid for generations already. The sparse population means that land is not in such high demand in the area which makes buying land in this state fairly cheap. Although not a lot of people are rushing to this state, but if you want to live off the grid then this is definitely a big bonus.

Remember that living off the grid is all about self-reliance, and in my personal opinion, the cheaper life is in a particular state is the better it is, especially if you want to slowly transition to live off the land. South Dakota has the qualifications to become a great state to live off the grid, and in my opinion, it is a lot better than the state of Mississippi, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Mississippi ( Top 12 Pros and Cons ).

South Dakota climate

The climate of South Dakota has all 4 seasons, as this is more or less a northern state you will notice that the winters are fairly cold. If you come from another state then you will instantly notice how massive the temperature difference is between day and night, even during the summertime. During the summertime, the average daytime temperature is around 90 °F, and this drops off to  60 °F during the nighttime.

During the wintertime, the average temperature is around 10 °F during the daytime, and it drops off to around – 10 °F during the nighttime. The coldest temperature ever recorded in South Dakota was −58 °F in 1936. As you can see the summers are fairly mild and the winters are fairly cold. From the perspective of somebody wanting to move to South Dakota to live off the grid means that it is going to be hard work, especially during the wintertime, although if you do not shy away from manual labor then this might be a big bonus for you.

During the wintertime, you will need a lot of firewood, depending on how well your off grid cabin or homestead is insulated. When it comes to firewood you can either get them yourself or you could buy them in bulk. In virtually almost every county in South Dakota, there are at least a couple of companies that do deliver firewood and it is fairly cheap. One thing to note that if you are far away from any towns then you will notice how pitch dark it can get, especially if clouds are present. If you are not a fan of the local climate then you should definitely check out my recent article Off grid living in Arizona ( The Grand Canyon State ).

Best crops to grow off the grid in South Dakota

One thing you will definitely notice in this state that there are a lot of farms, and the vast majority of them do grow wheat. Although there are other crops that also grow here like flax, alfalfa, barley, and so on, but if you want to live off your own crops you probably have to grow wheat. Growing other crops for a profit is a good idea but if you have never done farming then I wouldn’t hold my breath for it to work out.

Growing crops in this state is a good idea although the problem is that you can not rely on them as much as you can in other states. Generally speaking, the summers are fairly short and in the northern area of the state, they are even shorter. Even at the end of the summer, it is not unusual to have below-freezing temperatures during the night, which could probably wipe out your crops after a few days. If you want to make some extra income with your homestead then you should consider making a homesteading blog for more info check out my recent article How to start a homesteading Blog ( In 10 Steps ).

Freshwater availability in South Dakota

Freshwater is fairly abundant in South Dakota, although there can be a big difference between the northern and the southern part of the state. Generally speaking, the northern part of the state gets plenty of rain to feed the creeks and the rivers. On the other hand in the southern part of the state during summertime, there might be droughts or even floods. You will probably not have any problems finding water for your off grid home, although you should definitely make more research depending on the county rather the whole state in general.

South Dakota wildlife

In South Dakota, you will have no shortage of wildlife, you can find anything from American bison, deer, bighorn sheep to coyotes.  As the state is crossed by several rivers you will have plenty of options when it comes to fishing. Just keep in mind that you will need a license both for hunting and fishing, the fees for the licenses are fairly cheap and the waiting time to get the licenses is also short, https://gfp.sd.gov/hunt-fish-license/.

South Dakota off grid laws

There are several communities that live either completely off the grid or have some kind of semi off grid situation. There are no laws in the state to prohibit you from living off the grid as the population is fairly spread out and it would be extremely difficult to connect everybody to the grid. As I have said before, you probably will not have any problems living off the grid especially in remote areas, although the closer to cities you move the higher the chances are that you will have to make some sacrifices and even consider a semi off-grid living situation. If you want to know which are the best places to live off the grid in this state are then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In South Dakota ( Top 8 Counties ).

South Dakota price of land

The price of land in South Dakota is fairly cheap, especially in the more remote areas. Although the closer you get to the cities the higher the prices will be, but that is to be expected in any state. You will have no problem finding dirt cheap land in remote areas, generally speaking, most remote areas will not even have a dirt road connecting to it, so take this also into the calculation.

South Dakota property taxes

The property tax in South Dakota is 1.32% of the market value of the property. This means that if you have a $100k worth property then you will pay $1.3k as property tax every year. There are definitely a lot of states which do have lower property taxes like Mississippi, although you will probably have an easier time living off the grid in South Dakota than in Mississippi mostly due to the climate, https://smartasset.com/taxes/south-dakota-property-tax-calculator.

If you are on a tight budget then you should probably take a look at North Dakota as its property tax is 1.01%, although North Dakota has a lot harsher climate than  South Dakota.

South Dakota cost of living

The cost of living is below the national average according to this statistic https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/south_dakota. So even if you pay a little bit more for your property tax you will still have a fairly cheap cost of living in this state, especially when it comes to groceries. Just keep in mind that no matter how cheap the cost of food is, if you have a long way to travel to get your supplies then you will be paying a lot more due to the fuel consumption.

South Dakota road access

The road access will directly impact the price of the land, it is not unusual for remote areas not to be connected to a road. The further you go into the wilderness the cheaper the land will be but the more difficult will it be to get there. This is extremely important especially if you are somewhat older, as in case of an emergency you will have an extremely hard time getting back to civilization.

Generating power off the grid in South Dakota

As South Dakota is in the northern part of the country, you will not be able to rely on solar panels for generating power all year round. During summertime, you will be able to use solar panels as long as it isn’t very cloudy. The problem comes during the wintertime, as the days are fairly short and most solar panels need a lot of time to function properly.

Wind power is where South Dakota shines, the state currently produces over 30% of its electricity with wind power. In fact, South Dakota is one of the best states for wind power as it is almost always windy. You will have no problem powering your off grid home both during the winter and summer with wind power, although you will probably have to invest in some batteries for the days when the wind isn’t blowing.

South Dakota natural disasters

You can expect several natural disasters in South Dakota, anything from floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, heat waves, and even earthquakes. The state is considered to be in Tornado Alley, which is not great if you want to live there off the grid. The truth is that generally only the southern part of the state is impacted by these tornadoes, and even most of the floods occur in this area. On the other hand, thunderstorms are fairly common, no matter which part of the state you live in.

The unique geographic position of this state makes for some fairly powerful thunderstorms, although in most cases these do not produce property damages. One of the most devastating floods in the area happened in 1972 in Rapid City, this is also known as the 1972 Black Hills flood. As you can see it is not that common for floods to be very destructive, although you should never underestimate nature’s power.

South Dakota crime rate

South Dakota’s crime rate is below the nationwide average, which is a good thing, the problem is that due to the remoteness of certain areas most crimes are probably not reported. On the other hand, the crime rate has been dropping off for a couple of years already.

In conclusion

South Dakota can be an option for people who want to live off the grid, provided that you are familiar with the climate. If you come from the southern part of the country then you will be in a massive shock when it comes to the local climate. Even during the summertime, the temperature drops off a lot especially once the night comes. My recommendation is to take a couple of weekends off and visit the state both during the summer and wintertime to have an idea of what the climate actually feels like.