Wow! You're view is pretty twisted of this place. As I read your post in 2013, the minimum wage in California is 8.25 per hour and back in in 2010 it was less. Now, imagine living in a place like Orange County or Ventura County. You can't! NOT ON minimum wage here. You are literally below the poverty line and everything is very expensive here. Property tax, sales tax, etc. Let me see, in 2013 South Dakota has a maximum state sales tax of 4% but no county I am aware of levies more than 2% in the whole state. Also, if I'm correct, there is no property tax. Washington and Oregon have a unique way of compensating for the lack of income tax or sales tax respectively. Property taxes in Oregon are second to that of Hawaii. I'm sure property taxes in Washington far exceed that of South Dakota as well sales tax. I lived in the Northwest, and its dreary rainy all the time as you move towards Seattle. For the most part, South Dakota has a variety of weather (of course as you move north, that variety probably gets to be less as you approach North Dakota). The low crime rate, the great western history has Washington beat in spades. Washington has the Puget sound, with the pretty expensive islands or the overpriced Cascades with Mount Rainier. The only nice part of Washington is really near Spokane, and even that is not so great. At least its not as spoiled. Redmond ranks as one the best cities to live, but it also costs big $$$ to get the amenities. In South Dakota, you don't need to be rich to live in a safe community, heck its one of the safest states in the Union. That is a rarity and its low tax burden on corporations gives it one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. There are jobs to be had there in the bigger cities. Obviously if you live in an area that is remote, well then the jobs are going to be geared towards the agriculture or resources industry (duh!) and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We need food, we need minerals, we need forests, etc. Very important industry that really is growing and becoming strong wage earners. No less, in regions that are completely inexpensive to live in. $8.00 an hour goes a long way in South Dakota, but in California, you can pretty much kiss half your paycheck goodbye to taxes and the rest to sales taxes and inflation. I work part time retail for over 10 years and I'm quite use to seeing how retail low wage earners struggle to survive out here. Many are living with families or sharing apartments with two or three roommates. In South Dakota they would stand a fair chance of owning a house or town home with their earnings which is probably less than what people in South Dakota earn today in 2013. I like where I live, I just can no longer afford it and the other options out there are not very bright. I like Vegas but its too hot in the summer time and crime is well above average. You are 3x likely to be assaulted or murdered in Las Vegas than you would be in Sioux City. Texas is another option, but the humidity can be unbearable and the crime rate in Texas is only slightly better than Nevada. Texas rates well for cost of living standards, but there's a price to pay for it when you move towards the big cities. Cities of equivalent size in Alberta Canada are far far safer than Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. I would brave the cold of Calgary any old day than take the risk of being killed in Dallas. There's plenty more to do and see in Calgary or nearby than Dallas. It's also about preferences. If you like open expanses of scenery then South Dakota is great, if you want the buzz of urban life with suburban sprawl then Seattle, San Diego or Los Angeles are perfect for that. Your microscopic view on South Dakota is very limited.