Prior Lake is a good place to consider if you’re looking for the following things – LAKES, parks, space around your house, a cute downtown and proximity to the cities! Watch the video if you want to see for yourself.
Where is Prior Lake?
Prior Lake is a suburb south of the Twin Cities, in Scott County MN. It sits about 20 miles from the Minneapolis border on the SW side of the city, and if you’re concerned about commutes or getting to the airport, it’s approximately 25 minutes to MSP and likely about 10-15 minutes more to downtown Minneapolis or into St. Paul.
If you like the idea of taking a commuter bus line into the city you can ride the express (no stops!) Minnesota Valley Transit Authority bus from Prior Lake into Minneapolis. I think some people have a knee jerk reaction to busses and believe they are dirty and uncomfortable but these busses are similar to tour busses. Pure luxury. 😉 and in true Minneapolis fashion they have bike racks!
Quality of life – from the actual people that live there!
96% of residents rated the quality of life in Prior Lake as good or excellent! There are some happy people down there. Approximately 25,902 of the 27,000 people that live there are happy! You still have a 4% chance of running into someone who is a little salty, but odds are better that you’ll be bumping into someone that’s blooming where they’ve been planted.
Prior Lake has that charming downtown that many people like, but most of the city is zoned as rural subdivisions & “low density residential”. It’s not what I would consider “walkable” for the great majority of residents. I do think this will appeal to people who like a bit more space around their homes, the city does have remaining agricultural areas, as well as denser neighborhoods of townhomes and an older town center with homes that are older, closer together and more walkable.
Prices for homes
Prices in Prior Lake range widely – there were 2 condos that were priced at or around $200K when I looked at current listings, but the median price for homes in Prior Lake is $475K. Single family homes in the $300’s tended to be either townhomes or 1960’s to 1980ish split levels. Homes that were built before the boom of subdivisions down there. Split levels can be a little controversial, I feel like people love them or hate them, but the good points are that they typically have a large amount of living space and if they were built in this time period the lots are generally larger as well. I saw one home listed with deeded lake access (not lake front!) in the mid $500’s. There are new construction homes in Prior Lake starting in the $600’s. But, if you want to be ON the lake you’ll pay a premium and will likely be spending upwards of $1M.
I pulled median pricing for neighboring areas over the past three years as well and here you can see how Prior Lake compares to Lakeville and Savage (which I have a video for, check that out if you’re curious!).
Speaking of lakes – if you’re not one of the fortunate ones that owns a little slice for yourself, Prior Lake does have two swimming beaches as part of their extensive park system. They have two major regional parks – Cleary Lake and Spring Lake which are part of the exceptional Three Rivers Park District, as well as having easy access to nearby Murphy Hanrehan Regional Park.
The city has 55 parks within it, mainly community parks, and lays claim to 100 miles of trails and sidewalks. The park district also has two large athletic complexes, an archery range and 14 lakes with fishing piers, boat slips, beaches and green space. The park district sponsors all kinds of sports including the super popular Pickleball, beanbag, and volleyball leagues. In winter the park district maintains 6 outdoor skating rinks.
Minnesotans love a good festival or celebration and Prior Lake sponsors several. In summer they have a large music festival which attracts bigger acts – Lynyrd Skynyrd headlined this year. Freebird!
In fall they host a candy crawl for the kids, and there is a new and I think, interesting event called Chalk Fest. They invite professional sidewalk chalk artists to create works and non-professionals can compete for prizes as well.
If you have school-aged children they will attend Prior Lake Savage Area Schools. There are 7 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and one high school serving the area. You can look up information on their web site, check out what Great Schools and Niche.com have to say about the schools, but schools welcome prospective parents and students for tours as you consider your options and I always think that’s a good step.
If you love books and all the programming and services that the library provides you’ll find that at the Prior Lake Library, which is one of the six branches of the Scott County Library System. It’s located right in the heart of the little downtown area of Prior Lake. The library also hosts Club Prior which is its senior citizen programing.
Chickens, pets and fences!
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for! You can have up to 4 chickens! but only 3 “regular” pets like cats and dogs. Fences are allowed if they aren’t banned by an HOA (thinking about the Wilds golf community where I believe it’s unlikely that you’ll have either of these).
Fences must have 50% transparency in front (picket etc) and be no higher than 4′ and 6 ft with total privacy in back, if you want to build a great wall higher than 7′ tall you’ll need to get a permit from the city.
You should check out the rest of the places I’ve profiled! I have an entire playlist of neighborhoods and suburbs on my YouTube Channel. Lots of good info out there is you’re trying to pick a place to live.
Reach out if you have questions, always happy to help.