City Living Guide: What is it like to live in Minneapolis, MN?
Author: The HOMEiA Team & Gloria Russell
What a great question! Whether you’re thinking of relocating for school, work or retirement, Minneapolis offers something for everyone. You may have heard stories (the good, the bad and the unbelievable!) and you’re intrigued with finding more information on the city and all its wonders. You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the common themes about Minneapolis for standard of living, climate, housing, education, business, healthcare and recreation. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Large city with easy access
- 2. Diverse population and cultural interests
- 3. Distinct seasons and natural beauty
- 4. High living standard and excellent services
- 5. Exceptional healthcare with accolades
- 6. Excellent educational opportunities
- 7. Job growth and low unemployment
- 8. Cultural center and variety of activities
- 9. Pros and cons living in Minneapolis
- 10. Neighborhoods with character and appeal
- 11. Real estate options for young and old
- 12. A trusted realtor can help
1. Large city with easy access
Minnesota is a midwestern state bordering Canada to the north, rich in history and adored by many for its natural beauty, forests, prairies, lakes and rivers, and its hard-working, fun-loving residents. The state’s largest metropolitan area is the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and their surrounding suburbs. Minneapolis is the most populous city in the state.
Minneapolis ranked #1 as America’s top 20 Healthiest Cities by Forbes Media. Minneapolis has long been a hub of activity with its strategic location along the Mississippi River and ease of accessibility from its Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a Delta hub with national and international flights and a home base for Sun Country Airlines serving the U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Global accessibility makes Minneapolis a favored destination for travelers worldwide and provides convenient flights for area residents for business and pleasure. Freeway travel is also easy to manage from any direction.
2. Diverse population and cultural interests
With a population of over 400,000 residents, the city of Minneapolis is home to a diverse population with a wide array of cultural activities and interests. According to 24/7 Wall St. reviewed of the 382 metro areas level poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 to identify the cities with the lowest poverty rates Minneapolis ranked #15 with poverty rate of 8.1% and unemployment at 3.2% (bottom 25%).
The City Council and members of the Chamber of Commerce take an active role in striving to improve the economy and quality of life of their beloved city, and statistics show continued, positive economic growth. It is typical to see Minneapolis noted among the “best of” lists for its quality of life, health-conscious population, exceptional healthcare and opportunity.
3. Distinct seasons and natural beauty
Clearly, Minneapolis weather offers full advantage of all four fabulous seasons. It seems clear that Minnesotans know how to appreciate each season for its beauty and variety of outdoor activity. The summers are lovely, sometimes hot and humid, and teeming with outdoor activity in the parks and waterways as well as relaxing social gatherings on the patio or rooftop. Fall creates its own attraction as colorful leaves drop, birds fly south, and neighbors gather around a firepit or at an annual festival.
And yes, winters can be harsh with sometimes below zero temps, but that doesn’t stop the hearty Minnesotan. Whether roads are cleared of snow quickly or driving skills are perfected, local residents still make it to work, attend outdoor parades and festivals, outdoor activities such as snowmobile, skiing, snow tubing and ice fishing. Or simply stay in and watch Grumpy Old Men, filmed in St. Paul, and Grumpier Old Men, filmed in Minneapolis, for a humorous glimpse of winter in the north country.
As winter wanes, spring arrives with beautiful shades of green, blossoming flowers and trees, returning birds and pleasant temperatures. Minnesota might be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but it is also the land of remarkable splendor. Bicycles, motorcycles and convertibles come out of storage, and boats return to the lakes and rivers.
4. High living standard and excellent services
The cost of living and living standards in Minneapolis are typically above average, and generally, residents seem to appreciate the higher standards evident in quality education, well-maintained roadways and excellent healthcare. The city is home to a high percentage of young adults and college students, many living in urban lofts and condos and enjoying local gathering places, parks and biking trails. Residents of all ages enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment at the downtown Nicollet Mall.
5. Exceptional healthcare with accolades
Minneapolis is well known for its excellent healthcare. Hospitals include University of Minnesota Medical Center, Abbott Northwestern, Regency, Children’s Hospital, Park Nicollet Methodist, Hennepin Healthcare and Hennepin County Medical Center. The quality of care is demonstrated by these examples of accolades:
- 93 University of Minnesota Health physicians across more than 30 specialties were honored as “Rising Stars” in 2019 by Mpls St Paul Magazine.
- 140 University of Minnesota Health physicians and associates were recognized by Best Doctors, Inc. for their list of Best Doctors in America.
- Abbott Northwestern Hospital retained first place for the Best Hospital in the Twin Cities and second in Minnesota in the U.S. News & World Report 2018-19 Best Hospitals rankings and ranked nationally in eight adult specialties. (The Mayo Clinic was #1 in MN).
6. Excellent educational opportunities
Based on American Community Survey 5-year estimates from 2013-2017, 48% of Minneapolis residents have a college education. Minneapolis sure has a well-educated population, and education is valued throughout the state. Minneapolis public schools have favorable teacher-student ratios and above average student spend. There are also many private schools as options. For higher education, Minneapolis is home to the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and Dunwoody College of Technology. Residents have access to community education courses, the Minneapolis Central Library, Minnesota Public Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.
7. Job growth and low unemployment
As of December 2018, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 2.8% was well below the national rate of 3.9%. A slight dropped from the 2017 survey. Minneapolis employment opportunities continue to grow, and commute times are reasonable. Employees drive, take public transportation, bike or walk to work. Major industries are food and hospitality, banking, insurance, technology and science, retail, transportation, manufacturing, healthcare and educational services. High-profile employers include Target, US Bancorp, Ameriprise, Wells Fargo and Thrivent Financial.
8. Cultural center and variety of activities
Minneapolis boasts 22 lakes, the mighty Mississippi River, an abundance of parks and outdoor recreation. A few highlights are the 34-acre Loring Park, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the incredible 170-acre Minnehaha Park with the video-perfect Minnehaha Falls. The Chain of Lakes Regional Park includes Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet, Lyndale Park Gardens and Roberts Bird Sanctuary, all with family-fun music, biking, beaches, canoeing, fishing and ice skating in the winter. The winter Holidazzle parades draw a large crowd even though it’s cold, as does the July Aquatennial parade.
The city has many famous landmarks including the Basilica of Saint Mary which provides an active social outreach, center for the arts and music, and far-reaching Catholic services. The Guthrie Theatre houses three theaters for its popular performances and features a distinguished architecture with its Endless Bridge on the fourth floor overlooking the scenic Mississippi river and old mill district. Also along the Mississippi River, outdoor enthusiasts can follow the 9-mile West River Parkway Trail with views of the river and access to downtown or other trails.
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Minneapolis has an abundant variety of performing arts at the Guthrie, Orpheum, Pantages and State Theatre. Incredibly, the Minneapolis Institute of Art offers free admission to view its fine art and exhibits, and the Walker Art Center and Weisman Art Museum are popular destinations as well. Museums include the Mill City Museum with its impressive learning center, the Hennepin History Museum, the Museum of Russian Art and the Baaken Museum.
There’s music in the air with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall and events at the Northrup Auditorium, First Avenue and a variety of venues across the city. Friends and family gather at the Midtown Global Market for international cuisine, shopping, music and events in a unique setting. The renewed North Loop warehouse district is home to boutiques, studios, microbreweries and art galleries.
Sports fans can watch the Minnesota Twins play baseball at Target Field and head to the Target Center for basketball with the Timberwolves and Lynx. The U.S. Bank Stadium is home turf for the Minnesota Vikings and their purple-and-gold football fans. The new Allianz Field designed specific for soccer located in it neighbor city of St. Paul which opened in April, 2019. Residents and guests also flock to the unrivaled Minnesota State Fair in nearby Falcon Heights for end-of-summer fun. The Mall of America in Bloomington is close to the airport and a preferred destination for young and old.
9. Pros and cons living in Minneapolis
As with every large city, there are pros and cons for taking up residence. Living in Minneapolis has its pros and cons as well. One of the negatives can be the crime statistics. As in any large city, there are crimes taking place and particularly in certain areas. Be sure to check statistics to make sure you are choosing a safe, comfortable setting for you and your family.
Another negative for some people who work in the city is that parking can be expensive or inconvenient. Many workers will carpool or use public transportation to avoid the parking issue. Taxes are possibly another issue. If you’re relocating from a state that levies no income tax, you’ll have a shock to find the tax rate rather high in Minnesota. There are also some city taxes but at least no sales tax on apparel.
For some people, the extremes in climate can also be daunting. Summer temps can reach the high 90s (Fahrenheit). In this weather, summer can feel long, hot and humid, and therefore, air conditioning is much appreciated. Most businesses, schools and public buildings have air conditioning. On the other hand, this weather can be very enjoyable if you are near one of the many lakes. Floating down a river or enjoying a waterpark will also do the trick.
If you’re not used to the cold weather and don’t adapt well, the winter can seem long and tedious. If you have to shovel your driveway while the wind is blowing snow in your face at frigid temperatures, it’s not always a fun time. Nor is it fun if your car gets stuck in the heavy snow.
If you and your family are selling but don’t want to miss the holiday spirit and all the beautiful decorations, the big question is: How should you decorate? How can you decorate within your limited space and still attract buyers? Our recommendation is to keep it to a minimum and be creative.
However, the out-of-towner people who live in Minneapolis, and in greater Minnesota for one full seasons for that matter, seem to do quite well. They acknowledged and become more appreciative of all the thing the city has to offers. You’ll notice that the residents here are generally happy, they like to help each other, and severe weather is more often consider it a challenge rather than a roadblock. Typically, winter conditions do not stop the residents from going to work or school, socializing or having fun outdoors. Crazy, but it’s true.
On a brighter note, you’ll likely discover many wonderful reasons to love Minneapolis, including the ample choices of neighborhood settings, the park systems, public transportation, a bike-share program and job opportunities. There are lots of coffee shops, breweries and dining options, along with a wide variety of music, theater, sports and entertainment. There are farmers markets with fresh, local vegetables, fruits and flowers. When shopping, whether it’s a high-end boutique or a local consignment shop, there is no sales tax on clothing or shoes.
Healthcare and education are valued and offer options to help you reach your fitness and education goals. Housing is plentiful and available in a wide range of size and styles. There are condos and lofts within walking distance of all the typical metro services, and senior housing and assisted living options for those who are looking for specialty comfort and care. Families will find single-family homes or duplexes in a wide range of prices and neighborhoods to suit their needs.
The area supports a healthy lifestyle for all ages and plenty of opportunity to enjoy the rich resources of the area. With a strong economy and available jobs, employment possibilities are a plus. In addition to the many attractive economic factors, the people are what you might enjoy the most. As Midwesterners, they are friendly, caring, sharing people who make good neighbors.
10. Neighborhoods with character and appeal
Home buyers find nearly 90 Minneapolis neighborhoods to choose from, ranging from the large colonial homes of the well-established Lynnhurst neighborhood in the southwest to the single-family homes and senior living options of the East Isles neighborhood on the chain of lakes with its parks, green space and water sports. You’ll find families, schools, parks, businesses and shops in the Fulton neighborhood and older Victorian homes in the family-friendly Powderhorn neighborhood with its park, gardens, fishing pier, ball fields, skating rink, festivities and art fairs.
Where’s the best place to buy a house in Minneapolis? With more neighborhoods than you’d expect, you have lots of choices and can find a comprehensive list on the city website. Here are a few areas that might be of interest: North Loop, Northeast, Uptown, West Calhoun, Cedar-Isles-Dean, Diamond Lake, Fulton, Minnehaha, Whittier, Powderhorn Park, Loring Park, Kenny, Tangletown, Bryn Mawr, Midtown Phillips and Linden Hills. These neighborhoods offer a variety of choices in architecture, lot size, public and private school choices, parks, energetic urban or quiet residential, lakes, shopping and green living.
11. Real estate options for young and old
The Minneapolis real estate market offers single-family homes, investment opportunities, Airbnb possibilities, and commercial real estate for business owners or investors. A plus is that Minnesota real estate tax remains close to the national average.
There is a wide range of pricing for residential homes and your realtor can help you find the area and homes best suited to your financial goals. Although mortgage rates are rising, they are still low and favorable. Housing is relatively affordable although it is still a sellers’ market with prices somewhat continuing to rise and competition for listed homes. When pricing will level out remains to be seen. Spring is always a busy time for real estate transactions and, not so surprisingly, winter can also be a great time to buy a house in Minnesota before that spring rush hits.
Who is buying real estate in Minneapolis? Millennials are now a large segment of home buyers as first-time buyers and up-size buyers as their incomes and families grow. Singles and families are buying in neighborhoods to suit their lifestyle preferences. Investors are also buying for business or rental opportunities, and business owners are buying as their needs for space and location change.
Seniors are buying as they downsize, decide on a second home, or look at independent living options with less upkeep. The city has senior housing for active adults or for those who want independent senior living choices in Minneapolis with services available as needed. You’ll find luxury housing with high-end features, economy housing and pet-friendly housing.
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Minneapolis real estate agents are well acquainted with the Minneapolis real estate market, trends and local neighborhoods. They can educate and guide their clients on real estate values, marketing and buying strategies, making an offer and negotiating a winning deal. Taking the time to interview a few real estate agents to see which one will best understand your priorities will be to your advantage. Be sure to look for a communication and personality style that works best for you.
12. A trusted realtor can help
Now that you know a little more about Minneapolis and what it might be like to live there, you might have gained an appreciation for the variety of neighborhoods, education, employment, recreation and weather that you may encounter. If you are thinking of buying or selling a house in Minneapolis, talk with a trusted, experienced real estate agent to make sure you consider all factors. It’s an important decision and a large transaction that requires care and due diligence.
If you’re thinking that it can’t be that hard to put a sign out front and sell a home, you might have overlooked a number of important factors that impact a good selling experience. Buying also can look like an easy task. After all, you just drive around and walk through a few homes, right? Let’s discuss a few of the considerations when buying or selling a home and hiring the agent who’s up to the task. We want you to be successful in your endeavor. Let’s take a look.
Best of luck with your next move! If you have enjoyed this article and learned more about what to consider when you are thinking about buying a house in Minneapolis, please share it with a friend who might also benefit. Thank you!