The Ultimate Guide to Living Off the Grid in South Dakota

Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills are located in South Dakota, and anybody who has visited the state knows how gorgeous the environment is. The population of South Dakota is estimated to be over 900,000 people, with the vast majority of residents living in rural areas. This is very conducive for living off the grid in South Dakota. Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city, has a population of roughly 180,000. It is here that most young people from across the state come to find a more or less permanent work.

living off the grid in south dakota

General Statistics for Off Grid Living in South Dakota

Although it is allowed to live off the grid in South Dakota, this does not mean that the state is ideal for off-grid life. The primary issue with South Dakota is that the property tax can be rather high, and the environment can also be quite harsh during the winter. Although South Dakota is not the finest spot to live off the grid, you could make due with some sacrifices and live off the grid like the rest of the state’s residents.

At first appearance, this appears to be a great location for living off the grid; numerous communities have been doing so for centuries. Because of the small population, land is not in such great demand in the area, making it relatively inexpensive to purchase land in this state. Although few people are flocking to this state, it is unquestionably advantageous if you wish to live off the grid.

Remember that living off the grid is all about independence, and in my opinion, the less expensive life is in a given state, the better, especially if you want to gradually move to living off the land. South Dakota meets all of the criteria to be a fantastic state for living off the grid.

What is the Climate in South Dakota?

South Dakota’s climate has all four seasons, however because it is more or less a northern state, the winters are quite frigid. Even in the summer, if you come from another state, you will immediately notice the huge temperature change between day and night. During the summer, the average daily temperature is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, dropping to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

During the winter, the average temperature is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and – 10 degrees Fahrenheit at night. In 1936, the coldest temperature ever recorded in South Dakota was 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are moderate, while winters are bitterly frigid, as you can see. From the standpoint of someone who wants to migrate to South Dakota to live off the grid, it will be difficult work, especially during the winter, yet if you are not afraid of manual labor, this might be a significant plus.

Depending on how effectively your off grid cabin or homestead is insulated, you’ll need a lot of firewood in the winter. When it comes to firewood, you have two options: acquire it yourself or buy it in bulk. There are at least a handful of companies who supply firewood in almost every county in South Dakota, and it is reasonably priced. One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re far from any towns, you’ll notice how dark it can get, especially if there are clouds.

What are the Best Crops to Grow in South Dakota?

One thing you’ll note about this state is that there are a lot of farms, and almost all of them cultivate wheat. Although other crops such as flax, alfalfa, barley, and others grow here as well, if you want to live off your own harvests, you’ll probably have to plant wheat. Growing other crops for profit is a fine concept, but I wouldn’t hang my breath for it to work out if you’ve never done farming before.

Growing crops in this state is a smart idea, but you won’t be able to rely on them as much as you could in other states. The summers are generally brief, and in the northern part of the state, they are much shorter. Even at the end of the summer, below-freezing temperatures are not uncommon at night, which might wipe out your crops in a matter of days. If you want to supplement your income from your homestead, consider starting a blog.

What’s Freshwater Availability Like in South Dakota?

South Dakota has a lot of freshwater, yet there is a huge disparity between the northern and southern parts of the state. In general, the northern section of the state receives enough rain to keep the streams and rivers flowing. During the summer, however, droughts or even floods may occur in the southern section of the state. You will most likely have no trouble acquiring water for an off-grid home, albeit you need do more study based on the county rather than the entire state.

Interested in checking more off the grid states? I recommend reading my Complete Guide to Off the Grid Living in North Dakota.

What Type of Wildlife is in South Dakota?

There is no shortage of wildlife in South Dakota; you can see everything from American bison, deer, bighorn sheep, and coyotes. Because multiple rivers run across the state, there will be lots of opportunities for fishing. Just bear in mind that you’ll need a license for both hunting and fishing; the rates are reasonable, and the wait time for the licenses is minimal. You can find the licenses here.

What Off the Grid Living Laws Exist in South Dakota?

There are a number of communities that live entirely off the grid or in a semi-off grid position. There are no rules in the state prohibiting you from living off the grid because the population is quite dispersed and connecting everyone to the grid would be incredibly difficult.

As I previously stated, living off the grid is probably not an issue, especially in isolated places; nevertheless, the closer you get to cities, the more likely you will have to make sacrifices and even consider a semi-off-grid living arrangement.

Check out South Carolina for a state that has not many off the grid living laws.

What’s the Price of Off the Grid Land in South Dakota?

Land in South Dakota is quite inexpensive, especially in the more isolated places. Although the rates will rise as you approach closer to the metropolis, this is to be expected in any state. You won’t have any trouble obtaining dirt cheap land in remote locations; in fact, most remote areas won’t even have a dirt road linking them, so factor that into your calculations as well.

What’s the Property Tax in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, the property tax is 1.32 percent of the property’s market value. This means that if your property is worth $100,000, you will pay $1.3000 in property taxes per year. Although you will probably have an easier time living off the grid in South Dakota than in Mississippi, owing to the climate, you will probably have an easier time living off the grid in South Dakota than in Mississippi.

If you’re on a tight budget, North Dakota is a good option because its property tax is only 1.01 percent, despite having a more harsher climate than South Dakota.

What’s the Cost of Off Grid Living in South Dakota?

The cost of living is lower than the national average. Even if you pay a little extra in property taxes, the cost of living in this state is still quite low, especially when it comes to food. Just bear in mind that, regardless of how inexpensive food is, if you have to go a considerable distance to collect your supplies, you will end up paying a lot more due to gasoline use.

Looking for a cheap state to live off the grid? Check out Oklahoma.

What’s Road Access Like in South Dakota?

The lack of access to a road will have a direct impact on the price of the land; it is not uncommon for distant locations to be without access to a road. The land will be cheaper the further you travel into the bush, but getting there will be more difficult. This is especially vital if you are elderly, as you will have a difficult time returning to civilization in the event of an emergency.

How to Generate Off the Grid Power in South Dakota?

Solar power: Because South Dakota sits in the northwestern section of the country, solar panels will not be able to provide power all year. Solar panels can be used during the summer if the weather isn’t too gloomy. The issue arises during the winter months, when the days are rather short and most solar panels require a significant amount of time to perform correctly.

Wind power: South Dakota shines when it comes to wind power; the state generates over 30% of its electricity this way. In fact, because it is almost always windy, South Dakota is one of the greatest states for wind power. You’ll have no trouble using wind power to power your off the grid home in the winter and summer. You’ll definitely need to invest in some batteries for days when the wind isn’t blowing.

Is Off the Grid Living in South Dakota Affected by Natural Disasters?

In South Dakota, you can expect a variety of natural disasters, including floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, heat waves, and even earthquakes. The state is known as Tornado Alley, which isn’t ideal if you want to live off the grid there. The truth is that tornadoes primarily affect the southern half of the state, and most floods also occur there. Thunderstorms, on the other hand, are pretty prevalent throughout the state, regardless of where you live.

Because of the state’s peculiar geographic location, it experiences some extremely intense thunderstorms, however they rarely cause property damage. The 1972 Black Hills flood, also known as the 1972 Rapid City flood, was one of the most devastating floods in the area. As you can see, floods are not typically highly devastating, but you should never underestimate nature’s strength.

What’s the Crime Rate in South Dakota?

South Dakota’s crime rate is lower than the national average, which is a good thing. The problem is that most crimes are likely not reported owing to the remoteness of some places. On the other hand, the rate of crime has been declining for several years.

Can you Live Off the Grid in South Dakota?

If you are comfortable with the climate, living off the grid in South Dakota may be perfect for you. If you’re from the south of the country, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when it comes to the local climate. Even in the summer, the temperature decreases dramatically, especially as night falls. My advice is to take a couple of weekends off and visit the state both in the summer and the winter to get a sense of what the weather is like.

living off the grid in south dakota

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