City Living Guide: What is it like to live in Mankato, Minnesota?
Mankato is a bustling retail and entertainment hub with the feel of a small town where everyone knows your name—in a good way. Neighborhoods feature cozy homes with well-kept yards. The school system is respected. Heck, Minnesota’s new governor, Tim Walz, used to live, teach and coach there. And health care in Mankato comes courtesy of the world-renowned Mayo Health System, which operates clinics and a hospital in the community. Mankato has been recognized with several livability awards.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Small city with easy access
- 2. Diverse population and plenty to do
- 3. Four seasons of nature’s beauty
- 4. Great standard of living draws honors, awards
- 5. High-quality healthcare
- 6. Nationally ranked school system
- 7. Employment opportunities in multiple fields
- 8. Lots of entertainment and activities
- 9. Pluses and minuses of living in Mankato
- 10. New and historic neighborhoods
- 11. Affordable housing no matter what you’re seeking
- 12. Work with a trusted real estate professional
1. Small city with easy access
All roads seem to lead to Mankato. U.S. highways 169 and 14, and Minnesota highways 22 and 60 connect Mankato with points north, south, east and west. You can fly into Mankato Regional Airport on a private or corporate plane.
Situated on the Minnesota River in the heart of farm country, Mankato business and industry support agriculture and draw shoppers from farms and smaller towns for 60-plus miles around. Mankato also draws students to its public and private colleges and universities, downhill skiers to Mount Kato and performing arts lovers to numerous venues.
2. Diverse population and plenty to do
More than 40,500 people call Mankato home, but the city’s population seems larger with more than 13,000 residents just across the river in the separately incorporated North Mankato. While Mankato residents are primarily Caucasian, you’ll find diversity as well. The populace is almost equally split between males and females. The city makes equity and inclusion a priority, noting they are essential for community success.
Mankato is known throughout the region for its beautiful parks and trails. Rivers and lakes abound, attracting those who enjoy fishing, boating, swimming and waterskiing in the summer, and ice fishing, skating and snowmobiling in the winter. The river bluffs, vast woodlands and natural prairies are beautiful year-round. The community’s civic center hosts local, state and national performers, and the Mankato Regional Airport periodically hosts the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ breathtaking air show.
Looking for a new outfit, some vintage décor or farm-fresh vegetables? Mankato’s shopping scene has you covered. The River Hills Mall in Mankato’s hilltop area features more than 100 stores. Salvage Sisters teems with refurbished furniture and home decorating items, and the Mankato Farmers Market in Old Town brims with berries, veggies, meats and baked goods, not to mention music!
3. Four seasons of nature’s beauty
Minnesotans experience the full range of the four seasons. The average Mankato high temp in July is around 84 degrees F. The average January low is 5 degrees. When blustery winds blow, the temps can feel considerably lower, but those bitter days are few, and hardy Mankato folks take them in stride by dressing for the weather. The community averages 43 inches of snow per year and 32 inches of rain. The number of sunny days—193—approaches the U.S. average of 205.
Mankato’s parks and trails provide ample opportunity for residents and visitors to walk, hike, run and bike in the warm months and snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowmobile in the winter. There are plenty of rinks for those who enjoy ice skating and hockey. Children love to visit Sibley Park, where a miniature farm is home to alpacas, goats, peacocks and more. Come to think of it, adults love the park, too, with the farm, koi pond, walking paths, picnic areas and the annual Kiwanis holiday lights display.
4. Great standard of living draws honors, awards
Mankato encourages citizens to be involved in maintaining and improving the community’s quality of life, to attend public meetings and get involved in the strategic planning process.
The city provides 24-hour service numbers for residents to report everything from graffiti to street maintenance requests. The city’s website is vibrant, up to date, easy to navigate and provides an online customer service request form for residents to use in the unlikely event that they can’t find what they’re looking for on the site.
Mankato has earned an array of honors. Here’s just a sampling:
· America’s Promise named Mankato one of the country’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.
· Area Development magazine ranked the Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area in three top lists in its “100 Leading Locations for 2015.”
· NerdWallet ranked Mankato #5 among best small cities in America.
· Thrillist placed the city on its list of the top 14 coolest urban spaces in the country.
· College Values Online named Mankato one of the best small college towns in America, noting its low cost of living, low unemployment rate and low crime rate.
5. High-quality healthcare
You will have no need to leave town for health care. Mayo Health System operates clinics and a major hospital in the community, providing primary and specialty care, including OB/GYN and pediatrics, orthopedics, neurosciences, cardiology and much more. The Mayo hospital also provides high-quality surgical services, emergency care and intensive care.
Mayo is the best-known health care system in the world, but it’s not the only game in town. Mankato also is home to the Mankato Clinic, the largest private clinic in Minnesota, with more than 100 physicians practicing in more than 20 specialties.
6. Nationally ranked school system
Mankato’s pre-K through grade 12 options abound. In addition to the community’s public school system, which ranks in the top 17% nationally, parents can choose from these parochial and charter schools: Loyola Catholic, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Immanuel Lutheran, Mount Olive Lutheran, Risen Savior Lutheran, Grace Lutheran (Baptist), Maranatha Christian Academy and Kato Public Charter School.
The community’s higher education institutions draw students from around Minnesota and beyond: Bethany Lutheran College, Minnesota State University Mankato, Rasmussen College, South Central College and Nova Academy of Cosmetology. And, as noted in an earlier section of this article, Mankato has been named one of the best small college towns in the country.
7. Employment opportunities in multiple fields
More than 1.6 million people live within 60 miles of Mankato and find the city to be a great resource for shopping, entertainment and employment. Many travel from neighboring communities to work in Mankato, where the median income is $42,929 and jobs range from unskilled labor to professor to surgeon. Mankato’s unemployment rate is only 2.4% — and the average commute time is just 15.5 minutes.
Just a few short years ago, in 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Mankato third in the nation among communities its size as one of the “best small places for businesses and careers.” Among the criteria for that honor: job growth, business costs and living costs.
Agribusiness, manufacturing and health care are key industries in Mankato, providing countless employment opportunities and fueling the region’s economy. Printing and food manufacturing, as well as education and retail, also employ many of the area’s residents and contribute significantly to the economy.
Fifty percent of Mankato’s 18.3 square miles is residential with commercial/industrial at 42 percent. The remaining 8 percent of the land is agricultural/open space.
8. Lots of entertainment and activities
Indoors, outdoors, low brow or high, Mankato’s entertainment options just don’t quit. Here is just a sampling of indoor attractions:
· Author Maud Hart Lovelace was born in Mankato. Today, Mankato residents and visitors from far and wide can visit the childhood homes of fictional characters Betsy and Tacy. Betsy’s house is a museum depicting life of more than a century ago. Tacy’s House Interpretive Center and Gift Shop are just across the street.
· The Blue Earth County Historical Society operates two museums in Mankato, the History Center, which aims to bring the county’s history to life, and the R.D. Hubbard House, a 16-room example of French Second Empire architecture that survives in its original form. The house was the first private residence in Mankato to have indoor plumbing, electricity, and a telephone (which connected the home to Hubbard Milling Company).
· The Carnegie Art Center exhibits works by regional artists of all ages, in many disciplines. The center offers studio space and art classes, and features a gift shop.
· The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota offers an array of hands-on activities and unique programs.
· The School Sisters of Notre Dame established Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato in 1912 to meet the region’s educational needs. Visitors to Good Counsel Hill can learn about the sisters’ history and ministries.
· The Mankato Civic Center Arena is home to Minnesota State University Mankato’s men’s and women’s Division 1 hockey teams. The Verizon Center Arena hosts internationally known musicians.
· Local breweries offer tours and samples of their craft beers. If you’re more of a Grain Belt, Miller or Coors guy or gal, bars and pubs are located throughout the city.
Now, let’s look at what’s happening outdoors in and around Mankato:
· Minneopa State Park is a treat, featuring a waterfall and bison in addition to oak savanna, native prairie grasslands and a wind-driven grist mill.
· The Red Jacket Trail is wheelchair accessible. Its asphalt and crushed stone surfaces attract bicyclists, inline skaters, walkers and cross-country skiers.
· The greater Mankato area encompasses more than 60 parks, 50 miles of paved trails, hills to climb, wildlife to observe or hunt.
· Mount Kato is more than a ski slope. You can ski, snowboard and tube there. And in the off-season, it’s open to mountain bikers.
· The Vetter Stone Amphitheater, on the banks of the Minnesota River, is a top outdoor stage for concert goers and has hosted performers such as Willie Nelson and George Thorogood.
· The Minnesota Twins are the state’s professional baseball team, but Mankato has sluggers of its own. The Mankato Moondogs is a Northwoods League amateur team that plays its home games at Fred Rogers Park.
· The Javens Family Vineyard and Winery invites you to sit on the patio, sip some wine and listen to live music.
· The historic Old Town district of Mankato dates to the 1800s and features several historic buildings and unique ships, antique and otherwise. And, surprisingly, Mankato’s first escape room is in Old Town.
9. Pluses and minuses of living in Mankato
If you’re not accustomed to or not a fan of winter weather, you’ll want to cozy up with a book near the fireplace—or you can pull on some cold-weather gear and embrace the cold and snow. Aside from winter, what’s not to love about Mankato? A river runs through it. There’s a farm in a park with goats. Division 1 athletes play hockey in Mankato.
There’s history and nature and low unemployment, and neighborhoods to fit every lifestyle. And Mankato is just a 90-minute drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul if you want to cheer in person for the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Lynx, Wild or United.
10. New and historic neighborhoods
Mankato’s 25 residential neighborhoods give newcomers plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a small house on a narrow lot, a sprawling home on a couple of acres, or something in between, you’ll find it in Mankato. Some Mankato neighborhoods feature active associations that work to build a sense of community and achieve common goals.
If you have a hankering for an historic home, check out the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995. Among the home styles found in Lincoln Park are Greek, Gothic and Colonial Revival, French Second Empire, Queen Anne, Craftsman, American Foursquare, and Prairie School.
More interested in mid-century modern homes? Check out the Sibley Park neighborhood near the Minnesota River.
11. Affordable housing no matter what you’re seeking
The median price of homes currently listed in Mankato is $259,900. The median price of homes that sold is $191,300. Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $924 per month. Condos are available for sale or rent in both vintage buildings and new construction. College and university students can choose among dormitories, traditional apartment buildings or apartments in former single-family homes.
In this article, we’ll discuss those key steps to confidently buying your first home. We’ll also look at several professionals who can help guide you on the journey, so all the details are handled correctly and professionally. Let’s get started on your next adventure.
No matter your age and no matter whether you’re single or part of a young family, Mankato’s real estate market can fulfill your housing needs and wishes. Seniors have choices, including a new senior community that provides independent and assisted living as well as memory care apartments. Amenities include a roof deck for parties and chef-prepared meals!
12. Work with a trusted real estate professional
If you’re planning a move to Mankato, you’ll want to work with an experienced buyer’s agent. An agent working on your behalf can save you time, money and headaches. Your agent will set up as many opportunities as you desire to tour homes and will have current information about mortgage rates and real estate taxes. Why spend your time researching when you can rely on a trusted professional?
Your next move can be everything you want it to be. If you have found this article helpful as you consider buying a home in Mankato, please share it with others. Thank you!