Alexandria: Best Minnesota City for Buying a House and Raising a Family
Author: The HOMEiA Team & Gloria Russell
7 Key Factors that make Alexandria one of the Best MN Cities for Buying a House and Raising a Family
Alexandria won the No. 5 honors on our list of Five Best Cities for Families in Minnesota, and what family wouldn’t want to live in Alex? It has a gorgeous downtown, an unbelievable number of lakes, and housing to fit the budget. With a low crime rate, it’s got a safe, uncomplicated charm to complement its highly rated school system, excellent healthcare and plentiful job market. This city is perfect for people who thrive in a peaceful country setting yet want the luxury of city amenities.
1. Lifestyle: For that tourist-town turned hometown, families choose Alexandria, affectionately called Alex. You might visit this delightful city while on vacation, but you’ll return again and again until finally deciding to just move in. And, if you grew up in this environment, no matter how far you roam, the decision to circle back and call it home once more is understandable. It’s the perfect combination of big city and small town with an abundance of beautiful lakes.
The home of Big Ole has the most beautifully updated main street and all the amenities of a larger city from necessary services, shopping, restaurants and entertainment to outdoor activities and farmers markets. Travel access is easy on Interstate 94 or from Chandler Field, Alexandria’s Municipal Airport, which offers two runways and service for a variety of aircraft. Or, to reach the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, it’s an easy 2.5-hour drive via interstate.
2. Economy: Business is good, and families are thriving in this midwestern city. At 2.8%, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and, happily, the cost of living is 2.5% lower than the U.S. average. There’s a lot going on in this growing city, and statistics show that the average income falls in line with U.S. averages.
3. Employment: Nothing’s all that far in this fair city, so the typical commute is only 15 minutes—much less than the national average of 26 minutes—and, assuredly, less stressful. Primary employment in Alex centers on manufacturing, retail, healthcare and, naturally, hospitality and lodging. Some of the larger employers are 3M, Alomere Health, Douglas Machine and the Alexandria Public Schools.
4. Housing: In this resort town, homes have been appreciating nicely over the past decade, and the median house price is around $210,000. There’s a wide variety of styles of homes, old and new construction, price ranges and neighborhoods—anything is possible—from small and cozy to large and luxurious. You’re sure to find a family home that’s comfortable for your lifestyle.
There are also apartments for rent, a variety of independent senior living choices and assisted living options. Average monthly rent has decreased over the last year (as of 2019) and is now around $700. The numerous lakes create a beautiful haven for water skiing, fishing boating and swimming, and there are parks, ball fields, swimming pools and skating rinks for even more family fun.
5. Education: As the city has grown, so has the school district. There are now 9 schools serving over 4,000 students, always with the highest standards of excellence. In the 2019 senior class, 49% graduated with a GPA of 3.33 or higher for highest honors. Congratulations!
Students have a wide range of choices for higher education. Some choose Bemidji State University, St. Cloud State University or the many colleges in the Twin Cities metro. Many choose the Alexandria Technical College which ranked as 4th Best Community College in the nation, had the best graduation rate in the state and placed 98% of its graduating students.
6. Safety and Healthcare: With a population of 25,000 residents, Alexandria has a low violent crime rating (per 1,000) of 2.98 and property crime rated at 29.08 (per 1,000). Air quality is judged better than average. Kudos to country living! The regional hospital, Alomere Health (formerly Douglas County Hospital), provides outstanding medical services, specialty physicians and staff, and the city has many fine clinics and specialty services readily available.
7. Climate: Alexandria is an excellent example of Minnesota’s continental climate. With wide ranges of temperatures and weather, each season brings a new sense of adventure. We’ll start with winter since that’s the one people generally worry about the most. Sure, it’s cold—maybe even 30 below (Fahrenheit) at times—and snowy—and icy—but people learn to manage just fine.
The snowplows clear the roads, people go to work and school, and there’s even time to ice skate or snowmobile before settling in by the fireplace. Watch the Grumpy Old Men movie for a preview! A not-to-be-missed event is the annual Christmas in the Fort and Light Up Broadway, the official kickoff when all the holiday lights are turned on along Broadway amid all kinds of celebrations.
Spring is magnificent with new buds on the trees, flowers starting to bloom and fresh air coming in through the windows. You’ll see a gorgeous display of flowers all along Broadway and breathtaking views at each of the lakes. Summertime sparks activity on the many lakes, races at the Viking Speedway and family get-togethers at the County Fair. In fall, you can take in the Grape Stomp, Applefest or live music at the Carlos Creek Winery, find a pumpkin patch or take a drive in the country to view the gorgeous autumn colors.
To sum up: From the Runestone Museum and its Viking legacy to the vibrant lake culture, Alexandria is an endearing city with comfortable neighborhoods, friendly citizens and supportive businesses. Crime rates are low, and strength of character is high. Education is valued, and nature is preserved. It’s a lovely, laid-back town with plenty to do—or not—whichever suits you. It’s a great place to call home.
There you have it—our top five cities that families can call home. They all have their own personality, and the residents share values of safety, education and a well-preserved environment. They are all great places to live, work and raise a family. Check them out. You now have five good reasons for a weekend of family fun and adventure.
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