Some people move because the family outgrows the house; Chris and Kristin Giglio knew it was time for a change when their family of six outgrew a log cabin.
“It was as close to paradise as we were ever going to get, but with four kids, we were going to start needing room,” Chris said. “You can’t just add on to a log cabin.”
After living in the city of Buffalo, New York, in their 20s, the couple opted for the more rural lifestyle. Their love of motorcycling took them across the country on trips, with stops in 28 states along the way. So when they decided to make a move, they drew on all that life experience – and made a long list.
“We were tired of New York for a lot of reasons, and there weren’t really any towns we wanted to live in. We like three seasons, but 100 inches of snow a year gets annoying – plus the mud when it melts,” Chris said. “We looked out west first and checked out Montana and Wyoming but realized the towns were too small and our kids would need more. So we kept looking.”
They’re both remote workers – she works for a defense contractor, and he works in IT – so the options were unlimited. But the criteria quickly narrowed down potential locations.
“Some places were super expensive. In some cases, air quality was an issue. We like a change of seasons,” Kristin said.
They’d only been to South Dakota once – when a storm stranded them and their bikes in Murdo. But they began honing in on the state.
“We didn’t know if we wanted to do Rapid City or Sioux Falls,” Kristin said. “We looked at weather, schools, crime, and our daughter was in gymnastics at the time, so we looked at kids’ activities.”
Their pre-teen daughter lobbied hard for Sioux Falls after watching YouTube videos on both communities.
“We looked at things like what there would be to do – bowling alleys, miniature golf, certain stores, is there a zoo, all the activities we would do in a weekend – and it had everything we would do in New York and honestly more,” Kristin said.
“For us, the population was good,” Chris added. “Going from a metro area of 2.5 million to 250,000 really isn’t that big of a difference, and that mattered to my daughter. She didn’t want to be stuck in a small town. But she is a little worried about being safe, so that was all part of our thinking.”
They moved to south Sioux Falls in the summer of 2022 and enrolled their older kids in the Harrisburg School District. They now have one in middle school and two in elementary school.
“Everything is so hands-on,” Kristin said. “They teach kids through projects and experiences rather than just on a computer or lecturing them. It’s all interactive. The kids actually look forward to going to school every day and were sad when there was a snow day.”
The activities offered in the Sioux Falls area “are honestly more opportunities than we had in New York,” she added.
“Our daughter is now in volleyball and absolutely loves it. Our kids are in boxing at 605 Boxing and MMA, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about the coaching staff and adult fighters that are there. And our son is on the robotics team at school, and it is an amazing opportunity for kids to engage in and challenging and rewarding for them to see their robot in action.”
And that’s just the start. The family’s kids also have done baseball and soccer, and Kristin is part of a parent group helping bring meals to middle school teachers.
“I was invited to a meeting at the school to meet with the principal and teachers, and everyone is so welcoming and inviting,” she said. “They are genuinely happy to have you there to help.”
While they were newcomers with no connections, anyone they met stepped up to help, she added.
“I had to put our Realtor, Sam Adams, down as our emergency contact on school paperwork because I didn’t know anyone,” Kristin said. “We had to put our mortgage team at Plains Commerce as emergency contacts. And you know what? All of them were happy to do it, and I would trust them with my kids!”
Sioux Falls’ health care community also came through for the family when their daughter began complaining about leg pain shortly after the move.
“The medical field here genuinely cares about you as a patient. We went to urgent care on a Saturday, she met with orthopedic the following Tuesday and had surgery the Tuesday after that,” Kristin said.
“The whole process couldn’t have been more wonderful. There are short wait times, they explain things to you, and you never feel rushed. Even my son needs some dental procedures, and we were given options. This is not the case in New York. You wait in doctors’ offices for at least an hour to be seen, you are rushed through and not given options.”
As a remote worker, she appreciates the small-town friendliness she has encountered in Sioux Falls.
“It is a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and being a remote worker, it’s nice because I don’t have that co-worker connection,” she said. “You go to even Walmart or Scheels, and the people that work are always pleasant and talk to you. My kids joke it’s perfect for me because I like to talk to random strangers, and people here are receptive of that.”
Overall, “here is like it used to be in New York,” Chris said. “The schools used to be hands-on. The people used to be outside, and we wanted more of that. That’s what it is here. It feels like 15 years ago.”
The family’s experience is a model of what others can expect with a move to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
“We welcome remote workers, and we know many like the Giglio family who have found this community to be a perfect fit,” she said. “If Chris and Kristin ever want to make a change, they’re also going to find many employers in this community who will embrace their skill sets. And their children absolutely are going to thrive growing up in this community.”
Life here is like moving back to “simpler times,” Kristin said. “It’s more family-centric. I feel like New York was go-go-go and very cutthroat, and here it’s more laid-back and enjoyable. Everyone is so nice here, and it’s all-encompassing. It’s just different here.”
To learn more about making your move to Sioux Falls, email firstname.lastname@example.org.