This summer, Governor Kristi Noem invited businesses and workers to move to South Dakota in her ‘South Dakota Means Business’ campaign, touting the message that our state will never be shut down or face mandates.

Since then, the governor has made dozens of appearances on national conservative media outlets, sharing how she is handling the coronavirus in South Dakota.

That message seems to be working to attract more new people to the state, even during a pandemic.

“Coming into this year with covid, we really didn’t know what to expect for the year, but talking with ourselves and other realtors, we hear a lot that this has been the busiest year of their career,” Hegg Realtor Brad Stockberger said.

Real estate agents say historically low interest rates are a big factor in the booming moving business this year; out-of-state business is another big factor. 

“Out of my personal last 10 deals, four of them have been out of state buyers,” Exp. Realty South Dakota Broker Jon Mehlhoff said.

“I would definitely say that this year has been a lot more than our previous years,” Stockberger said. “We’ve been seeing quite a few moving in from many states, California, Texas, Minnesota and surrounding areas.”

“I wanted to be further north and closer to my family,” Shelby Shigley said.

Ryan and Shelby Shigley just moved to the Sioux Falls area from Southern California.

“They have really good school systems in the area and that’s really important to us at this age,” Shigley said.

There were a lot of things that drew the Shigley family to the area.

“We chose the area and then looked for the job. I’m a nurse so I can go just about anywhere,” Ryan Shigley said.

As an ICU Nurse, Ryan noticed big differences in how the state is handling the pandemic.

“Everything is still open, we spent 10 months pretty much locked down, so it was kind of different to see that,” Shigley said. 

He says the move to South Dakota hasn’t changed much about how his family it responding to the pandemic.

“For the most part, living like we were in California, just to keep the family safe, staying home mostly,” Shigley said. 

But it’s a different story for many others moving to South Dakota right now.

“We just moved here from New Jersey like three weeks ago and I came here to get away from people that want to push masks on you,” one man said during last week’s Sioux Falls City Council meeting.

Several people who just moved to the area spoke out about Sioux Falls’ mask mandate during last week’s city council meeting.

“I moved to this lovely city nine weeks ago. I jokingly tell people I moved to South Dakota because I missed living in the United States. I came here from Nashville, Tennessee, which is now the People’s Republic of Nashville,” James Gordon said during the council meeting.

“Some of these people have never even been here,” Mehlhoff said. “There are people who have never been in our state and just like what they’re hearing, what they’re seeing and they’re just ready to make a change.”

Jon Melhoff is a real estate broker for all of South Dakota; he and his agents are hearing a similar theme from many new people coming to South Dakota.

“A lot of it too is we love your governor’, we’ve heard that numerous times from clients,” Mehlhoff said.

Mehlhoff also works as an agent in the Black Hills market.

“Some of these people can say now, well if I don’t have to go to an office, I’d rather be somewhere where I have more room,” Mehlhoff said.

He’s not only seeing a lot of people relocating to South Dakota, but also an increase in people choosing to buy a second home in the state.

“In the Lead, Terry Peak area, prices have gone up nearly 30-percent on some cabins in that area…just because demand, there’s not a lot out there now,” Mehlhoff said. 

“They’re finding that they’re getting a lot more for their money out here. They might sell a smaller house out there and get a much bigger house for the same price out here in the Sioux Empire,” Stockberger said. 

The increase in out-of-state home buyers is also helping to drive up home prices in an already tight housing market.

“With low interest rates and low inventory, there’s already a high demand for home buying, they’re just adding to it. It definitely puts us in more multiple offer situations and unfortunately clients missing out on a home or two by being out bid,” Stockberger said.

“It was a struggle, we had to jump on what was available pretty quickly,” the Shigley family said. 

Jumping on an opportunity to create a new home in South Dakota, even during a pandemic.

“It [covid] added some complications I guess, but it wasn’t really a driving force. It’s everywhere,” Shigley said. 

In the Sioux Falls market, real estate agents say the riots and violence in the Twin Cities after George Floyd was killed also motivated several Minnesotans to re-locate to South Dakota.