Uncategorized

Is MN affordable? Cost of Living update Minneapolis 2022

A lot of people say that they choose to move to Minneapolis because it’s a nice sized city with an affordable cost of living. Most of the people that I work with are moving to Minnesota from out of state and are often coming from more expensive parts of the country. But not everyone is! Today I want to take a look at the cost of living in the Twin Cities and how it compares to some other areas that I see people coming from as well as other cities in the Midwest.

How is Cost of Living determined?

“Cost of living” is a term used by economists and it’s actually an INDEX, so every place in the US is compared to the national average, which is considered 100%.  If a city has a cost of living lower than the national average, it will be expressed as some percentage less than 100 and a higher than the national average cost of living will be a number that expresses HOW MUCH higher than the national average it is as in 100+ x%.

Cost of living in Minneapolis

The magic number for Minneapolis is close to 103% of the national average. This index is broken down into segments like housing, transportation, food, and entertainment and then the number given is the one that consolidates all of these.

Having a cost of living index of 103% of the national average is really a comforting number if you’re looking for an affordable city! I’m going to give you the current COL #’s for other cities in the US as well as cities specifically in the Midwest so you can see how we stack up. Remember that this is looking at ALL areas of the country and typically urban areas are much more expensive. 

Housing

black handled key on key hole
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Housing is the most expensive part of nearly everyone’s budget. Minneapolis is at 117% of the national average. If you’ve ever seen one of my market update videos you’ll understand what drives that, but its a combination of low housing supply, low interest rates and a big bubble of first time buyers that are hitting the market right now.

Food

Here in Minneapolis we are right near the national average for food pricing, sitting at 101% of the national average.Β 

info from Numbeo 2/6/22

Transportation

For transportation costs, Minneapolis sits higher than the national average at 108%. This includes an average of cost of gasoline, car insurance and maintenance expenses, and mass transit fare for the area. I was a little surprised by this one because I just returned from a trip to NE Ohio and gas prices were consistently higher than what I have paid in MN everywhere east of us. According to AAA, auto fuel prices in MN are LOWER than theΒ national average.Β 

info from AAA

Healthcare

computer desk laptop stethoscope
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Healthcare is at a wonderful 75% of the national average!  The past couple of years have shown us all how important this piece is for everyone, and not only are our costs lower here, but we also have access to some of the best healthcare in the world with the Mayo Clinic being located within easy driving distance of Minneapolis and many high quality hospital systems within the twin cities area itself.

Micellaneous Costs

people in concert
Photo by Sebastian Ervi on Pexels.com

Miscellaneous costs come in at 108% these include those goods and services not included in the other cost of living categories, including clothing, restaurants, repairs, entertainment, and other services.

Compared to other large metros across the US

If we compare Minneapolis to large metro areas like New York, San Diego, or Chicago we see that, no surprise, it’s more affordable here.

Housing in NYC is 441% HIGHER than Minneapolis, and cost of living there is 141% higher, San Diego is 35% higher overall with housing 110% higher, and Chicago – where I came from – is 15% higher overall but housing in particular is 54% higher than Minneapolis. 

Housing is the biggest driver of whether an area is affordable or not – we all need a roof over our heads! 

Coming from Texas

I see a lot of people coming to Minneapolis from Texas, most commonly the Austin area, but definitely from all over and Austin is actually coming in at 4% less expensive than Minneapolis. Rents are higher in Austin, but median price to purchase a home is slightly lower there. 

Other Midwestern Cities

Looking closer to home, at smaller cities in the Midwest, Madison WI is actually MORE expensive to live in than Minneapolis – housing is 8% higher, food 3% more expensive and healthcare a whopping 19% more expensive. 

Minnesotans will definitely question why anyone would pay MORE to live in Wisconsin. I mean. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Milwaukee WI (if you love your Pabst!) is the bargain area with overall costs being 2% less, but still getting you where it hurts if you need to go to the dr. 

Bargain Cities of the Midwest

Saint Louis has a 17% lower cost of living index than Minneapolis. Everything from housing, transportation, entertainment is lower – they do come in slightly higher on food and Des Moines Iowa is also a bargain, coming in with a lower cost of living on every metric and the net saving is 24%!

grey arc building under blue sky
Photo by Brittany Moore on Pexels.com

If you have questions about living in or moving to Minneapolis or the twin cities reach out! I’m happy to help! If you’re curious about different neighborhoods or suburbs, check out my playlist on my YouTube channel where I talk about exactly that!

Home Buying · home selling · Uncategorized

I had other plans for this week’s post…

Next week I’ll give you another neighborhood profile – I’m excited about my small town series, and I have one I love and plan to talk about, but this week I’m going to beat a dead horse a bit and talk some more about what is happening in the real estate market in the Twin Cities metro area. I don’t usually do “market update” posts or videos on my YouTube channel, but the fact of the matter is that right now I’m actively helping 6 buyers try to navigate this market and I want to share a bit of how we look at the market and measure it and then also show you what that means for the Twin Cities right now.

I swear … it was this big!

I feel like anecdotal evidence about how many offers a listing gets, how fast something sells or how far over list price the offers are is shocking at times or maybe sounds like a fish tale that we like to tell – “the big one that got away” kind of thing. Stories are great and interesting, but in this post I want to talk about DATA. Weee! Exciting!

Not exciting? Well, I disagree. I think this tells a very clear story and because it looks at the entire market and then breaks it down by price it might tell the story in a way that makes sense in a different way to more people. This is the WHY behind the HOW that I’ve talked about before when I’ve done videos/posts about making the best offer.

How DATA tells you if it is a buyer or a seller’s market: Meet the “Absorption Rate”

These are my words, not something from a real estate dictionary somewhere.

When we look at a market and try to decide who it favors we look at the number of active listings available in a 30 day period and then look at the sales. It’s a ratio. But the way that I think is easiest to visualize this ratio is as the “absorption rate”. This rate shows us how long it would take for ALL houses actively listed to be sold if NO OTHER homes were put on the market during that time.

We are measuring time in months for this exercise, and the magic number of months where REALTORS feel that the market is in balance is 5 (not set in stone, some argue for 6 months etc). This means that when it would take 5 months for every home to be sold should no other homes be listed, the market does not favor either a buyer OR a seller.

Any number smaller than 5 indicates a sellers market. The smaller the number the more it favors sellers. This works in the converse as well, the LARGER the number over 5 the more the market favors buyers.

What is the Twin Cities absorption rate today?

Emphasis on TODAY because this rate changes seasonally and with market forces – I’ll talk a bit about what those are too.

The current absorption rate for the Twin Cities metro is 0.86. LESS than one month’s supply of homes. Very much in the favor of the seller. And it is not getting better – in the past 6 weeks the rate has consistently decreased from 1.32 the first week of January to where we are today.

The last half of 2020 was a crazy market, due to Covid hitting in spring and the uncertainty that brought with it there was a lull in what would typically be the busy spring market, but once everyone got their bearings it was off to the races and it never really slowed, even during the holidays. Add extremely low interest rates into the mix (under 3% for a pretty extended stretch), and a bubble of Gen Y aging into home ownership and bumping up what was already high demand from buyers, and things have just not cooled at all. All of this to say we sold a LOT of homes last year and possibly ate into what would have been inventory for this year. January 2021 started with 38% FEWER listings than we had in January 2020.

Supply continues to drop, particularly in the under $300K price range where new listings are down 15% YTD. The over all market YTD has 6.9% fewer listings. If you’ve taken any economics classes at all you’ll know that price is a function of supply and demand. We have low supply and high demand and that is pushing prices higher as people bid against each other for homes.

Absorption rate by price point

The best way to show this is to give you a screen shot of the table that we looked at in our data meeting this week. I love this table because it breaks it out by general price points and you can see the trend over the past 9-10 months for each. You’ll notice that higher price points have slightly looser markets because there are fewer buyers that can manage those budgets. I do think that the $500-$1M may need to be broken up a bit because at $500K there is still a quite a large bubble of buyers that are able to enter the market and compete for homes at that price. There may be a break closer to the mid $600’s where the ratio gets closer to 1.4, but I think $500 is still quite competitive.

credit to Tim Sipprell who pulled this together for our office
baby data geek

So, that is the data geek light version of the market at this point in time in the Twin Cities. An opportunity again for me to encourage you to be as prepared as you possibly can be before you enter the fray. You really need to be in the best position possible if you want to land at the top of the heap when you get into this market.

Let me know if you have questions… πŸ™‚

Uncategorized

The hard truth…

I did a video about winning as a buyer in a seller’s market last summer. I thought it was bad then. I was right, but I was wrong. I really didn’t conceive of how much harder things would get for buyers and I have all of my fingers and toes crossed hoping that it gets easier soon for buyers – I represent a LOT of them and it can be really hard to keep trying and not succeeding.

The only way that it will get easier is if more people decide to put their homes on the market. If you have been thinking about listing your home – now is the time! You may not even need to show it.

New construction is an option for people that want to buy, but at the same time demand for that is very high as well and they will be happy to take a contract now and begin to dig… in September, October or later.

Right now you have something like a 65% chance of NOT having your offer accepted right now. And that is if you’re in a GOOD position and well qualified and throw everything you have at it.

It’s come to this.

At our team meeting today we were talking about this subject and people are saying things like “37 offers”, “25 offers”, on a single listing in a couple of days. How can you possibly win in a situation like that? Sellers are looking at a spreadsheet of offers – what will make YOURS stand out in this crowd? List price isn’t going to do it.

Someone in my office said that one of the questions they now ask every buyer is “what can you bring to the table that no one else can? What will make YOU stand out?” At a certain point you can’t throw any more money at the problem and you have to get creative.

Examples that she gave of things that made sellers select their offer over others were tickets to a Packers game, a weekend at their cabin, etc.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I know this ridiculous on some level, like … this should be about getting a fair price and good terms for a home. It should not be the Hunger Games. But it IS the Hunger Games. If you understand this going in, you may have a shot at winning instead of making offer after offer and NOT winning, growing discouraged and frustrated and possibly homeless in the process.

The seller holds all the cards.

Price

When you make an offer on a property there will be several things that you’ll have to decide on, and I’ll give you a list of the fundamentals but you have to go beyond that. In a balanced market or in a buyers market you would not have to throw absolutely everything at the wall to see what actually sticks, but we are in a market that is so firmly in the seller’s favor that you have to ask yourself “what am I NOT willing to do to get this property?”

In this market, the price is not the price. The price is the floor. If you find a magical property with no other offers you may be able to get away with list price. When I think I have found one of these I STILL encourage an escalation clause that will bump my buyer’s offer over the net price of the next highest offer in the event that one (or more) come in between when we submit it and when they evaluate the offer.

So understand what the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay for a property and then put that number in there and know that if you do not get the property you did AS MUCH as you could price-wise, and price is the number one consideration, but it isn’t everything!

Earnest money

In Minnesota, it is normal and typical to give 1% of purchase price for earnest money. In this market you want to demonstrate seriousness by giving MORE. You can pick a lump sum, or decide on a percentage. In normal circumstances this is refundable if the purchase agreement is cancelled because it doesn’t meet a contingency – inspection or financing or something else.

Some clients are designating an amount as NON-REFUNDABLE.

Financing

There is no offer without a pre-approval from a reputable bank. Not a pre-qualification – a pre-approval! Without some sort of statement that you can execute on the contract your offer will be placed directly into the trash bin.

The MOST desired form of financing is CONVENTIONAL. The reason for this is that there are no FHA or VA appraisers that may find inspection issues with a home. It’s one less potential hurdle to a successful closing.

Conventional financing has some misconceptions – many people think that means that you have to have 20% down. You do NOT have to have a 20% downpayment to get conventional financing. Talk to a loan officer about what your options are.

Speaking of downpayment, having a large one available is also a bonus. It shows financial health and stability and again gives the seller a feeling of comfort that the sale will actually close.

Not everyone can do it, but if you can, a cash deal carries weight! It’s one less contingency that has to be cleared before the transaction can close. If you do have the means, you will include proof of funds with your offer in the form of a statement or a screen shot of an account with the relevant account numbers removed from the image.

Close Date

Sometimes this is an important criteria for a seller, and if you have the flexibility to be able to meet that sate, it is certainly a factor.

Written statement

A purchase agreement has an option to indicate that the lender will supply a written statement to the seller that the loan is basically approved and ready to go. Having this in your offer is another thing that the listing agent will be looking for, not having that is a point of weakness.

Inspection

This is a biggie.

Inspection periods are being reduced to very short time periods – 3 to 5 days instead of what was typically 10 as recently as one year go.

Buyers are waiving inspection, OR putting in writing that they will not ask for any repairs under x$ in value. You’re taking that risk either mostly or entirely off the seller. I would be selective on the homes that I chose to do this on if it were me buying. Some homes give a relative sense of comfort, while others you walk into and just feel that there is work that probably needs to be done. If the surface isn’t good, the subsurface likely isn’t much better.

A question to ask yourself when considering inspections and their value to you as a home buyer is to think about what information they give you and what would make you walk away from the home?

Home inspections can give you a certain amount of information, but even they are not a guarantee that the home will be problem free. It’s a status check. Do the appliances work they way they should, do the mechanicals? How is the roof? Is there anything frightening about the electrical? The inspector is looking for health and safety concerns.

If the inspector found that the the electrical needed a $1000 fix, would you walk away or would it take more than that?

If they find that the dishwasher works but is on it’s last legs and needs replacing soon, would that be enough? (If so, you’re probably not buying the right property).

I’m saying this because if you waive inspection and find a $1000 or a $5000 fix after you move in, will you still be happy you bought the home or will you regret your purchase?

If it means that you will not get the home if you’re in competition with someone that removes this contingency are you ok with that?

Appraisal

Because list price is basically the floor right now, sellers are getting large sums of money over asking price and that raises questions about meeting appraisal value if the home is being financed.

In the past, buyers and sellers would either meet somewhere in the middle or the seller may reduce their price, that is no longer the case.

Now buyers need to give a guarantee that they can make up the difference in cash if the appraisal comes in low. This is one reason why a high down payment is important, if it comes down to it, the amount financed can be higher and that money can be used to make up the difference on the appraisal.

Many of my sales in the past year have had appraisals waived by the bank because they can see that the value of the home is there by looking at neighborhood statistics, but if the other sales don’t support this an appraisal will still happen.

On listings, I have provided appraisers with copies of back-up offers that support the price that the buyers are getting. We work together to make sure that important information is shared.

Common Interest Community Recision Period

In Minnesota, if you’re buying a into a neighborhood that has an HOA, you are entitled to a 10 day right of recision period from the point at which you have received the last HOA document. On a recent offer the agent came back and said that not only did they want inspection waived but they wanted it in writing that the right of recision on the docs would be reduced to 3 days instead of 10.

Closing Costs

In a BUYER’S market, we often ask for a seller to contribute to the buyer’s closing costs. That is a NO right now, the only way it could exist at all is to raise the offer price to cover that difference. In fact, on a listing that I had the BUYER paid the SELLER’S government closing fees. No one had ever heard of this before and now I’m seeing agents mention it all the time.

Home Warranty

This one… well, a home warranty is a 500-700 dollars, it’s not something that you’ll want to ask a seller for at this point. One thing you can do is purchase one of your own.

So! That is the hard truth about buying in this market. Are you ready to get in the mix? Or better yet – thinking of selling? Now is the time – YOU dictate the terms.

Uncategorized

MINNESOTA IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a couple of reasons – the first is that I wonder if my enthusiasm for Minnesota leads to blinders about things that people may not like? And the other is me thinking about times when I have lived in other places and have just felt slightly “off”. I was OK there, but it really didn’t feel like MY place. So here are some things to think about before you make the leap!

Weather

It is no secret that Minnesota gets cold. It’s kind of our claim to fame. It’s also a topic that I sometimes hear talked about with some level of fear or worry. I suppose that is as valid of a feeling as any other, but in my experience if you look it in the face and just know that “hey – that’s a big part of living here” and prepare yourself, you’re a step ahead.

Figure out how you can make it work for you. Learn a new winter sport, decide that you like puffy, down-filled fashion statements, and, if you REALLY don’t like being outside (which I think is unfortunate – Minnesota is really beautiful, even in winter! It’s just not “glamorous” beautiful. And to me – that is a bonus!) anyway – if you REALLY don’t like being outside, then you’ll need to figure out ways that you can be happy by being inside. Finding a place to walk indoors, join a gym, find an indoor sports league – there are a lot of them for adults including fun games that aren’t insane (hi hockey! looking at you!) like pickleball.

Yes! I know I’m writing this during a pandemic and this is all limited right now, but hope in the form of a vaccine is on it’s way! Another side note that I hope looks super quaint super quick is that our state vaccinated more than 40,000 people in one day yesterday and numbers are going up quickly, so hopefully we can put this behind us.

The other thing that I have (easily) embraced in winter is seeking the cozy. We like to build a fire in the wood stove in the evening, light candles, have warm drinks – anything that gives you that cozy feeling at home. It can be hard to go out when it gets dark early in winter, but if you’re a person that likes and needs to be around a lot of people (when this is over) make sure you get that cozy feeling from the inside of a bar or restaurant.

If your brain is giving an existential scream at the thought of several months of cold… Minnesota may not be the right place for you.

Landscape

lots of the left side in the west, lots of the right in the north
LAKES everywhere, WATER everywhere

If you need to see mountains or rolling hills, this may not be the place for you. It’s not exactly flat, but the south & western side of the state is nearly flat. It’s farm land for the most part and that part of the state is bordering on the beginning of the Great Plains. The south and eastern side is more rolling as it is part of the “kettle moraine” area where the glaciers receded and left “puddles”. One of the towns I want to profile because I’m a little in love with what I’ve seen online (haven’t been there myself yet!) is Lanesboro, MN. Charming small town on a river, there are bluffs and lots of trees and interesting terrain.

The area that is probably most well known outside the city is the “north shore”. This is some wild country bordering Lake Superior and Canada in what we call the “arrowhead” of the state. Lots of dense forests, and not a lot of people once you’re outside of Duluth. Some of the towns up that way cater to people going out on the Boundary Waters. The northern part of the state has a lot of lakes and that is where people head on the weekends here, “up nort”.

*I* think the landscape is pretty, but I know people that have said they just feel too exposed without a lot of hills. To which I say – seek a home elsewhere where you can be happy!

Color

Lake Superior on the right … Split Rock Lighthouse

You have to be able to appreciate a more stark type of beauty to like living in MN – at least in the winter.

MN loses a lot of it’s color in winter too – it goes from very vibrantly colored deep green to fairly monochromatic. Winter makes me think in white, dark purples, violet and bright cold blue. Many times it’s also gray. We can go days in a row without a lot of sun, but plenty of clouds. You have to know that you’ll have those days. The silver lining to it is that clouds hold in the heat, so if you have a cloudy day, you’re likely having a warmer day! Every time I think of the phrase “bright side of life” I get Monty Python stuck in my head. Do yourself a favor and listen to that! πŸ˜‰

Light

4:30 in winter…

We are a northern people. With that comes the tilt of the earth on its axis and the slant away from the sun in the winter. In December when we hit the winter solstice the sun sets around 4:45 and it doesn’t rise again til nearly 8. It’s a long period of darkness. Some people HATE that. I sleep well during winter, so I’m in favor. The flip side is that we get ridiculously long days in the sweet time of summer – the sun is up early around 5:30 and sets after 9:30 at night. So much time to be outdoors and enjoying the weather. And Minnesotans take advantage – we know what is coming and don’t waste summer and that beautiful light.

Some people that live here (and love it) still need to spend some time in front of a “happy light” during winter mornings as they have their coffee. I’m basically a mole and don’t mind the dim of winter. You need to think about how you react to that type of environment. A colleague here heads to Mexico in the beginning of December and stays through May – he needs the sun but wants to be back here in summer.

Progressive politics

OK – I normally stay faaaar away from this topic, but hey, it is what it is and I’m just giving you information that you can take or leave. Minnesota has a reputation for being a “blue” state. Our current governor is a Democrat. The metro areas lean progressive- Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.

As you move out across the suburbs the first rings are bluer than the exurbs and when you’re in rural MN, you are likely to be in some fairly solid red country. This is really no different than any other state if you look at demographics, but if you’re thinking of moving here to be in a blue bubble – well, that’s a stereotype and you’ll have to choose your home wisely.

Likewise, if you’re not feeling the progressive vibe, you are not alone, your people just tend to congregate in areas that are not as densely populated and I’m sure you’re not surprised by this news. Because MOST of the population of the state resides in the metro areas, and most of the people are progressives, you’ll likely also see policies that follow, but we do have loyal opposition in the form of a Republican controlled state Senate and that leads to a more balanced set of policies.

“Minnesota Nice”

I’m sarcastic and an introvert so people here don’t faze me, but you need to know that while people are “nice” they are also passive aggressive. That can be annoying if you let it. I don’t let it. I’m also going to add that sometimes there is a sense that MN has a lock on this attitude/behavior – NOPE. I lived in Atlanta. Land of “bless your heart” (“you idiot” = implied). I also did not find the famously hospitable south to be any more hospitable than any other place I’ve lived. People are people. You have to do the work when you’re new, it’s just a fact. That means you have to JOIN things and INVITE people to do stuff if you want to have friends outside of your house. I don’t think people are any more or less likely to knock on your door here and golly-gee you. Although I will say that when we moved here TWO of our neighbors dropped off food and offered a welcome. That IS two more than have ever done that anywhere else I’ve lived, so maybe it is nicer here?

Housing prices are high

It is not cheap to get into a home here. I don’t know if I’m the only one that was shocked by that information when I moved here, or not. Things are not easing at all, in fact they are getting worse as more buyers enter the market and the number of listings can’t meet the demand. People are staying in their homes longer, and here at least, people are reluctant to list until they have found a new place to live because the market is so tight that their home will be gone in a hurry and they may not find what they want from what is available. Add to all of that extremely low interest rates and people spending way too much time inside and you have demand that is insane. (If you’re thinking of listing – let me know lol! Not joking!) If you’ve ever taken a basic economics class you know that high demand + low supply = high prices.

I’m struggling to come up with anything else. I’m sure someone can help, ha ha! Comment below if you have a reason to stay the heck out of MN.

Neighborhood Tours · Uncategorized

Plymouth MN: one of Niche.com’s best suburbs in Minnesota

Plymouth is another big, popular suburb that lies directly west of the city of Minneapolis.

Who lives here? Download my neighborhood report and find out! It’s full of all kinds of information about the people and housing in Plymouth!

Why do people choose Plymouth MN when looking at Minneapolis suburbs? A lot of reasons! I have my usual suspects that I like to highlight when I do area snapshots and Plymouth scores highly on just about everything.

One thing I’ve started really taking note of lately is the differences between the east and west sides of the city. The western suburbs seem to me to be more established and solidly residential and with that comes a lot of the things that I think make neighborhoods nice to live in. Of course, this is not hard and fast, the eastern side of the city has established neighborhoods as well, but it also has a lot of new construction, which means homes that are built on former farm land, not many mature trees, and infrastructure still being built around it.

Parks

For quality of life, I think having a lot of green space and parks are important. Being packed into neighborhoods without having these spaces to enjoy the outdoors and time with family and friends makes an area less appealing to me.

Plymouth has some great options for green space. Because Plymouth is located out in what I think of as the “lakes area” of the metro – near Lake Minnetonka and the smaller lakes around it – the terrain is more rolling and seems to have more mature trees.

Plymouth has used that to their advantage with 1,855 acres of park land, including 174 miles of trails. Part of the trail system that goes through Plymouth is called the Luce Line Trail which is a 63 mile long converted railway to use for walking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snow mobiling. Some sections have parallel trails for use by horseback riders as well. There are 12 parking lots along the trail for easy access. Check out the web site to see more info on this trail and get a map of entry points.

Another massive undertaking is the Northwest Greenway – they are currently on the 5th addition to this and per the Plymouth Parks and Rec web site have added something that sounds super fun and a great way to get kids outdoors, a Challenge Course!

“The Northwest Greenway Challenge Course, a new park amenity for ages 13 and older, offers unique activity challenges involving netting, climbing, balancing and agility on a variety of structures. The Challenge Course is located on the east side of Peony Lane, south of 54th Ave. N.Β β€”Β view on Google Maps.”

Plymouth also has three public beaches, three dog parks, seven ice rinks maintained by parks & rec. that are open from December to February, as well as the Ice Center which has 3 pro-sized ice sheets that are used for open skating, adult hockey leagues and home hockey games for Wayzata High School & Providence Academy.

Housing

Plymouth housing prices are above the Twin Cities median prices (most suburbs are). Plymouth does have a variety of housing, from townhomes & small single-level homes, to what I think of as a “typical” suburban neighborhoods and on up to very large single family homes. My video has content showing what each of these look like, but I’ll add the median home price graphs here for pricing over the past 3 years.

Median price over all
Townhomes in Plymouth vs the Twin Cities metro
Single Family Homes in Plymouth

Schools

If you are considering Plymouth it may be because of the great reputation of the schools there. One thing to know is that children attend school in one of three school districts (Wayzata, Osseo & Robbinsdale schools) depending on where they live in Plymouth. It’s important to do your own research and know which schools will meet the needs of your children. Some of the schools are considered to be among the best in the state and others don’t rank that high. Your agent can include or exclude homes based on the school districts that you prefer or want to eliminate.

Shopping

I like to cook, and most people like to eat. πŸ˜‰ Everyone has a different budget and a different place that they feel great shopping in. I did a video on the most common grocery stores that you will see in the Twin Cities, so you can check that out if you want to get more of a feel for what is around here. I don’t think MN has the best reputation for having a wide variety of foods available (Nordic people seemed to like things relatively bland?) but things are changing. Most stores have more “obscure” seasonings and ingredients now, but there are also specialty groceries that are around and personally – I love to go into them and pick out somethings to try. You can see from the map below that Plymouth has no lack of options and you shouldn’t have to drive more than a couple of miles to get ingredients to get dinner on the table, I was geeked up when I saw Indian Bazaar, Kadai Foods and the Russian Market. Little treats like this make me really happy. My mouth likes spices and variety.

You’ll also notice Target on here- we have more Target stores per capita than any other state. I made that up. But it’s probably true since the HQ is here. There are several shopping centers with the usual big box stores and smaller shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a mall, the closest one will be Ridgedale Center Mall – right off 394 just on the eastern side of 494. That’s also where you’ll likely find the closest Whole Foods, if that’s your thing.

Library

photo HCLIB.ORG

I love my public libraries! Plymouth library does not disappoint! It is fairly new, the current building was completed in 2010. It’s a bright, clean, open space with meeting rooms and a great children’s area. I’ve been up there for library sponsored talks and they do a great job bringing in content and programming that people may be interested in. The Plymouth Library is one branch of the 41 library Hennepin County library system. Because Hennepin County uses a main library / branch system everything you want is not necessarily at the branch closest to your home, but chances are that they have it and you can get it sent to your local branch fairly quickly.

Commute

OK – last bit. Many of us are working from home, but a lot of people still commute to their job. In Plymouth that means getting in your personal car and driving there. 75% of residents commute 30 minutes or less to their job, and if you look at the map up top you can see why – Plymouth has easy access to the major highways that crisscross the metro, so no matter where you need to be it’s likely about 30 minutes max to get there.

Uncategorized

Winter in Minnesota – things to do OUTSIDE!

Believe it or not, Minnesotans LOVE winter! In other places I’ve lived the attitude has been MUCH different, people thought of winter as something to get through, not something to celebrate. That change in perspective makes ALL the difference, in my opinion. I’m especially grateful for the way that winter is embraced here this year as we look for ways to stay healthy and have fun while staying safe.

Today I’ll give you a list of 10 things that Minnesotans do to have fun OUTSIDE in the winter. Many of these are free or low cost ways to enjoy the season, and they range from simple to more adventurous.

Dog Sledding

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I’ll start with the one I most want to do this winter – mushing on a dog sled! We did a training run in a buggy in Alaska once and it was fun, but I want to do the real deal! There are several outfitters in northern MN that have excursions for regular people. They range from a short run to primitive camping trip accessed by dog sled. I’m not sure that I want to camp in winter, but it’s an option. I’d much rather stay somewhere like the Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais and let them handle the hard stuff while I enjoy the dogs and all of the other fun things they offer all year round.

Minnesota has several dogsled races if you prefer to watch! The John Beargrease Dog Sled Race is run out of Duluth at the end of January, you can head to Ely for the Wolftrack Classic in February, or check out the Gunflint Mail Run … in 2022. 2021 was nixed for our old enemy Covid.

SnowShoeing

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Ok – lets bring this down to something closer to home and easier to access for an afternoon out: Snowshoeing! When the snow gets deep this is a great way to be able to head out an enjoy nature without struggling through snow up to your thighs. The good news about snowshoeing is that you can try it for FREE! Minneapolis Parks have loaners that you can sign out of their “Adventure Hubs”- check the Minneapolis Parks web site, Theodore Wirth Park has an amazing network of trails and they rent snow shoes for $12/day, several Minnesota State Parks also rent snow shoes – for a great price – only $6/day. I advise checking their website and calling in advance just due to potential Covid related closures.

Tubing

If you want more of a thrill and less of a workout, try snow tubing! Our family loves to go to Buck Hill every year and spend a couple of hours ripping downhill on a big inner tube. Buck Hill makes it easy because they have a conveyor style lift that you stand on with the tube behind you and you’re pulled to the top to start again. And at the bottom of the hill is a big bonfire that you can stand around to warm yourself and an outdoor kiosk that serves up hot cocoa. If snow if sparse they make their own, so there is never a reason not to go!

Skiing / Snowboarding

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If tubing isn’t your cup of tea, Buck hill also has down hill skiing and snowboarding. This year you have to buy all your lift passes online before you go. There are lots of options for downhill skiing and snowboarding – the other two that come to mind are Afton Alps near Afton State Park and Hyland Hills ski area. A great option at Hyland Hills if you don’t want to buy a season pass, but think you’ll ski multiple times is a 10 or 6 visit pass. They both rent skis there as well as give lessons.

Nordic or cross country skiing is also very popular! You can rent skis at some parks, like Theodore Wirth, and enjoy miles of groomed trails of varying difficulty. Hyland Hills park also has extensive groomed ski trails and ski rentals as well.

Build a bonfire & make s’mores

Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. You can do this all winter. I walk my dog at night and often see people with fire pits in their driveways, sitting out in lawn chairs around it, chatting and having a drink, and roasting marshmallows. In winter. πŸ™‚ If you like this enough to do it often, check out Solo stoves – they are smokeless fire pits that everyone seems to love and they look really slick too. Perfect for flexing at your neighbors.

Ice fishing

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This one holds ALMOST no attraction for me, except when I think about leaving my house and spending quiet time in another location. I don’t care about the fish.

People in MN LOVE being on the ice. If you get near a body of water in the winter, chances are it will be covered with ice shanties. People leave these little houses out on the ice all winter and hang out in them and fish. And you can catch some seriously large fish here if that’s what you’re into.

If you’re not ready for a shanty – drag your gear out onto the ice in a sled – some people set up little tents or just sit out there with a line through a hole in the ice and fish.

Visit the zoo.

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OK, this one is a plan ahead because they are temporarily closed due to governor’s orders, BUT they are normally open all year and are a great way to spend time outside looking at the animals. We have two zoos to choose from in the Twin Cities – Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul is smaller and FREE. It’s a great zoo to go to if you don’t want to spend a whole day and deal with huge crowds, plus it’s close to home if you live in MPLS or STP.

The Minnesota Zoo is the Mac-Daddy zoo. It’s huge and you’ll have your day cut out for you. We were members for a while and one of the things that we liked was the area where you can pet the stingrays. We also loved the indoor tropical forest path, nice and warm and lots of clear panes on the animal habitats so that you could see them from a lot of angles and in little nooks.

Sledding

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I can’t even begin to guess how many sled hills there are in the metro area. I make a joke that it sounds like an amusement park at the park next to my house because the minute there is snow on the ground the hill is MOBBED with kids AND adults. No one can wait for this. This year I’m extra grateful to have this easy, fun, free and SAFE choice for my kid to gather with her friends outside. They head over there just about every day, and I feel great that they get fresh air, exercise, and social time. Most parks have a sled hill in them somewhere, and the one down the street doesn’t there will be one not far away – guaranteed!

Ice Skating

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Another freebie for the most part! Almost every park sets up an outdoor skating area in the winter. They flood the field, set up boards for a hockey “arena”, and then leave lots of extra space around it for free skating. Parks in Minneapolis have warming houses where you can .. warm up! and change into and out of your skates. Lots of families donate skates that they have outgrown and the warming house has a wide selection of skates to borrow if you don’t have your own. You can also borrow hockey sticks and pucks if you have a pick-up game and I see adults out on the ice at night playing hockey all the time. Side note that Minneapolis has an ENORMOUS pond hockey tournament every (normal) year. It’s held on Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. They set up nearly 30 rinks on the lake!

Winter Festival

If you are more of an extrovert than me and like hanging around a lot of people and maybe you miss that this year – good news! The St. Paul Winter Carnival happens at the end of January /beginning of February. As of now it is still on!

They are featuring a craft brew passport to try some of our great local beers, there is a drive through ice and snow sculpture park, ice fishing and softball tournaments (yes, in the snow!), fun run, art show and more.

That’s about it for now – I’ll be posting some indoor ideas soon!

Neighborhood Tours · Uncategorized

Minneapolis vs St. Paul – What’s the difference?

Moving to the Twin Cities? Wondering what the difference is between Minneapolis & St. Paul? Let’s do a little compare & contrast today!

The Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area is made up of 7 core counties – Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin (Minneapolis), Ramsey (St. Paul), Scott & Washington – all within Minnesota. However, because we border on WI, many people live Pierce or St. Croix counties in WI and work in the Twin Cities. People here refer to this whole area generically as “The Metro” or “The Cities”.

How will you know which of the “Twin Cities” is the right one for you? Today I just want to take a look at how they compare to each other at a high level.

The two cities would probably be one city somewhere else because they are so close to each other, they are separated mainly by the Mississippi River, and yet they each has a distinctive character. Minneapolis feels more buttoned up, polished, new and bustling than St. Paul.

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Minneapolis is home to a sparkling skyline filled with new skyscrapers, and the downtown is constantly under construction as buildings go up to house the population wants to live right at the center of everything. Both of the cities are more than just work day destinations, so if you’re looking for an urban lifestyle you can get get them here. Minneapolis has a healthy condo market in the urban core and a lot of desirable and well maintained neighborhoods within the city limits. St. Paul doesn’t feel as heavy on the condos, but is filled with beautiful mature neighborhoods filled with historic homes.

St. Paul is the capitol of Minnesota, but it feels like the sleepier of the two cities.

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Size

Lets compare them just in size – Minneapolis has about 437,000 residents in the city itself while St. Paul is the smaller of the two with about 305,000 people. The Twin Cities Metro area is actually GROWING, as compared to a many other midwestern cities which are shrinking as their employment base leaves. Minneapolis has grown over 14% since the census in 2010, and has year over year population growth of about 1.35%.

Minneapolis resides within Hennepin County, which a very large county that encompasses Minneapolis as well as several suburbs on the south, west and north sides of the city. St. Paul resides within much smaller Ramsey County and it’s suburbs are part of other counties.

Cost of Living

We all pay just about the same amounts for things like food, utilities and gasoline, but where you will see a difference is in actual housing related costs.

Median Home Prices 11/2020Single familyTownhouseCondo
7 County Metro$336,990$229,500$185,000
Minneapolis$305,000$275,000$265,000
St. Paul$240,000$214,000$185,000
Median Home Price Comparison November 2020
Hennepin County Property Tax Rate (MPLS)1.36%
Ramsey County Property Tax Rate (STP)1.30%
State of MN Average Property Tax Rate1.08%
National Average Property Tax Rate1.15%
Property Tax comparison November 2020

MN as a state has lower than average property taxes, but as you would expect with any urban area, the rates in the city are higher. If you are concerned about housing as a % of your monthly expenditures and you want to live in the city, you are more likely to find a more affordable home AND pay a lower tax rate in St. Paul than you would in Minneapolis.

One thing that no one mentioned to us when we purchased our home, but that we have found to be a nice benefit in MN is that when you file income taxes, there is a third return to file for a property tax rebate if you’ve filed a homestead exemption on your home. Not something to skip! You file the return at the same time as your other tax returns but then we tend to forget about it and get a nice check in the summer.

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Transportation

Commute times for people in both cities are roughly the same at 23-24 minutes. Most people in the twin cities do commute by car, usually alone.

metrotransit.org

However each cities DOES have the benefit of public transportation. The Metro Light Rail serves the downtown areas of both Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as branching to the University of MN, and south to the Mall of America and MSP Airport. But if you want to get around within the cities vis public transportation you’ll need to take a bus. Metro Transit buses run frequently and, in my experience, are quite clean.

When we moved from Chicago, we felt a little disoriented because the public transit isn’t as developed, and we were also used to relying on taxi cabs (is that old school now?). Any rides here will be through Uber, Lyft, or other ride share services. You won’t really see many cabs looking for fares, which is probably normal throughout MOST of the US anyway.

Income / Education

The cities differ in income and education demographics as well. Minneapolis is a little more well-heeled with a median household income of almost $64,000. while St. Paul’s median household income is about $59,000.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

MN in has very educated population in general and when you look at Minneapolis, 49.4% of adults hold a BA or higher and in St. Paul it is about 40.1%.

Arts

If you like the arts, both cities have a wide variety of choices.

St. Paul’s downtown is home to the Ordway Theater, and the beautiful old Fitzgerald Theater. The Fitzgerald was home to the NPR show “Prairie Home Companion” for many years and hosts a wide variety of theater and talks by notable people.

Minneapolis has the Orpheum Theater where you’ll see traveling broadway shows and the Guthrie theater for more independent productions.

Both cities have a lot of small independent theaters as well.

For fine visual arts, Minneapolis has the Walker Art Center where you can see contemporary art, and the newly rehabbed Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is adjacent to it. If more traditional art and antiquities are your thing – the Minneapolis Institute of Art is for you.

Parks

You know I love parks. St. Paul has 179 parks and 100 miles of trails, but the most impressive park in St. Paul (to me) is the Como Zoo and Conservatory. The zoo is absolutely adorable and FREE, and the Conservatory is like a little jewel box. I particularly love going there in the depths of winter to breathe in the warm, clean air that all of the plants emit and just take in the gorgeous displays of flowering plants around the reflecting pool. In the summer there is a small amusement park right next to the zoo, so if you have little kids and want to let them go on rides without the production of going to a large amusement park like Valley Fair, you can take a more low key approach and they will love it.

St. Paul also has several aquatic centers – one of which is indoor (big plus where you have winters like ours!) and multiple municipal golf courses.

Minneapolis has 160 neighborhood parks – each generally has a field, a community building with a gym or a warming house & a playground with a wading pool. These are at the heart of each neighborhood and while everyone is welcome, they feel the front yard gathering spot for people that live there. Minneapolis doesn’t have a zoo (the Minnesota Zoo is in Apple Valley), but it DOES have what are called “The Grand Rounds” which is a series of connected scenic parkways that encompass the Chain of Lakes. In addition there are several larger regional parks that are real destinations for everyone in the metro area and those include Minnehaha Falls & Theodore Wirth Park. If you’re into golf Minneapolis has 7 municipal courses as well.

Sports

Last but not least – professional sports teams. Minneapolis is home to the bulk of the teams, with the Vikings, Timberwolves, Lynx and Twins all playing there. Hockey (the Wild) & Minnesota United soccer are both played in St. Paul.

Are you going to choose where you live based on which professional sports are played in that city? Probably not, but hey – it’s good to have a general sense of the difference between the two cities, and when you get the itch to see something different you can just spend 10 more minutes in the car and check out how the other half lives.

Let me know if you have questions about living here in Minneapolis-St. Paul, or anything related to real estate here. I’d love to help you out!

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Jobs in Minneapolis!

If you’re thinking of moving to Minneapolis or the Twin Cities area, you may also be wondering what kind of employment opportunities are here for either yourself or someone in your household.

If you’re thinking about moving here, check out my FREE relocation guide, you can download it here: πŸš—πŸ‘πŸŒΌ http://bit.ly/MPLSReloGuide πŸŒΊπŸŒ»πŸš•

Today I’m going to give you a run down of some of the top employer in the Twin Cities metro area.

The Minneapolis area is a “hub for headquarters”! We are home to MANY fortune 500 companies including (but not limited to) giants like

  • United Health Group – healthcare & insurance
  • Target – Retail
  • Best Buy – Retail
  • US Bank – Banking & Finance
  • 3M – industry, worker safety, US health care, and consumer goods
  • CHS – Agriculture cooperative & farm lobby
  • US Bancorp- Banking & Finance
  • General Mills – Food processing & maker of many major food brands
  • Ecolab – Hygiene & infection control

Large PRIVATE companies include names like:

  • Cargill – Agriculture
  • Mortensen Construction
  • Anderson Construction

80 of INC’s 5000 fastest growing companies in the US are located here in the Twin Cities.

Other industries that are very well represented here are education & healthcare. The Minneapolis- St. Paul area is home to 25 colleges and universities, from the main campus of the University of MN to smaller private colleges like Gustavus and Augsburg, to community & technical college and even smaller schools that specialize in particular trades. If you are a teacher in k-12, the Minneapolis – St. Paul schools and thee districts surrounding them employ many thousands of teachers and support staff.

Healthcare systems in the Twin Cities area include HealthPartners, Fairview Hospital, Allina Health, Hennepin County Health, and the Minneapolis VA among others.

The twin cities has a very diverse economy & that is one of it’s strengths! Because of this diversity the economy in this area is generally stable and growing – the unemployment rate in MN is consistently lower than the US unemployment rate.

If you are thinking of moving here, chances are that there will be a good fit for you work-wise. If you have questions I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment or contact me via my contact info.

1350 Lagoon Ave, Suite 900
Minneapolis, MN 55408
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Winterizing your home! Steps to take for newbies. Or if you’ve been around a while.

Are you a new home owner? Is this your first winter in the northern part of the country? Your house takes on a whole new meaning when it’s what is standing between you and below zero temps, howling winds and piles of snow.

In this post, I want to give you some tips for winterizing your home and heading off potential trouble right when you want it least. These aren’t in any particular order, and almost all of them are easy to accomplish, but NOT doing them can lead to a world of hurt.

Tune up your furnace. Have someone come out and service it and make sure that it’s functioning well. One thing you’ll notice is that furnaces malfunction at the very worst of times – probably because a lot more is being asked of them when it’s very cold and you want this to be the time when your furnace rises to the challenge.

If you have a high efficiency gas furnace, you will have 2 PVC pipes that exhaust out the side of your home. It is really important that these two pipes are free of any obstructions. And if snow gets high enough, you’ll want to make sure that the snow isn’t blocking them either.

they will look like this!

Make sure you change the filter, and change it monthly when the weather gets cold and it’s running. Contrary to common belief – you want a thinner filter! We had been spending all kinds of money on “good filters” only to be told by our furnace tech that it actually inhibits airflow and that is BAD for the furnace – you want dirt filtered out but AIR going in for best results.

Boilers that service radiators need attention too! Once a year before it gets cold have someone take a look.

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Clean and inspect your chimney. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, before you light a fire make sure that the chimney is CLEANED. Soot builds up in the chimney and it is flammable – everyone wants to be able to put their feet up in front of the fire, but no one wants a chimney fire.

Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

Check the batteries and AGE of your CO/smoke detectors. Winter is when carbon monoxide poisonings are most likely to happen. Make sure your batteries are functioning – we like to change them at the fall time change.

Your detectors should have a date on them, but if not know that they should be replaced every 10 years just due to the fact that dust builds up and makes them less dependable. And if it’s time to replace them – think about going with the photoelectric instead of ionization type of detector. I’ve seen demos of the difference and it can be 15 minutes more escape time gained with a photoelectric alarm.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Turn off exterior water. Before it gets truly cold, shut off water to hoses. And if you have pipes that run along exterior walls INSIDE the house – think about putting some insulation around them. Pipes can & do freeze in winter, and when this happens the water doesn’t stay inside the pipe, it flows freely throughout your walls and causes a LOT of damage. This 10 minute task will bring you a lot of peace of mind.

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Clean your gutters. When all of that snow and ice melts – it needs a place to go. You want your gutters to be able to guide it AWAY from your house. Having them clean is the way to go.

Cover the TOP of your AC unit. if you have central air, don’t put a full cover over the compressor (it will attract animals looking for shelter and hold moisture in), but if you set a piece of plywood on top and put a couple of bricks on it, it keeps things from getting into the unit.

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Change the rotation of your ceiling fans. Fans can switch direction, heat rises and you stay down by the floor, so if you have tall ceilings, change the setting so that the fan rotates CLOCKWISE and the warm air will be pushed downward toward where people are.

Photo by Furknsaglam on Pexels.com

Stock up on GRIT. In MN, that’s what they call it. It’s a mix of sand that you can scatter on your sidewalks and driveway to keep yourself from wiping out. I have a friend who broke her ribs trying to walk to her car because of ice. I highly recommend trying to AVOID this with liberal use of GRIT.

Air Seal. This one… is not really DIY, but I dream of doing it to my house because I fear ice dams which are caused when heat gets into attics and melts snow which then freezes on the edge of the roof. This can cause a lot of problems that I don’t want to have. And it takes a suprisingly small amount of heated air to create this issue, so if you can have someone crawl around up in your attic and seal up any hole from wiring, pipes or chimneys that allows warm air up there, you can potentially save yourself a roof and ceiling if winter conditions cause ice dams.

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Minnesota Pros and Cons

Put on your buffalo plaid flannel shirt, grab your ax, and head to the cabin!

Or something like that.

If you’re thinking about moving to Minnesota you may be wondering if the stereotypes are real – is everyone nice?!? ARE there 10,000 lakes? Does everyone say “you betcha!”? (kinda, more than that & no.)

Why do people like it here?

By “here”, I’m going to say the Twin Cities Metro area + the hinterlands.

PROS:

  • Minnesota Nice. It’s a midwestern thing, I think. For the most part people look out for their neighbors and are willing to pitch in and help when you need it. They will definitely give you some friendly conversation in the grocery store check out line. I often also read that while Minnesotans are nice, they won’t allow you into their inner circle easily. I honestly don’t think it’s any different here than anywhere else I’ve lived. The way to get close to people in the community is to make the effort yourself – get involved in things you enjoy and you’ll find your group.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com
  • Cultural diversity. Yes, nearly 84% of the population of the STATE is white. Look, it was settled by Scandinavians – they are a pale people. However! Minneapolis has a more diverse population – and with that comes the art, culture & food that makes a city vibrant. If you didn’t know better you might believe that the food would be bland here, and while it’s not like Chicago or New York, you will not be stuck eating tater tot hotdish every day (unless you want to- then have at it!). There is a Vietnamese population that keeps everyone happily eating Pho, and one of my favorite restaurants is Ethiopian, among many others.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • Autumn. People talk about going to New England to see the leaves… well, I am 100% sure that New England doesn’t have anything on Minnesota! Autumn here is something to behold. In addition to the leaves, crisp temperatures and apple orchards, if you like birds MN is a hot spot for bird migration in the fall and you can see some very unusual ones. One of my favorite things to do in September is bike over to Longfellow Gardens in the city – it’s a work of art with annuals and perennials and apparently the hummingbirds think so too – they stop on their migration south and there are days when you can see about 100 of them getting rest and fuel for their journey. It gives me awe to see them like that.
Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com
  • Lake Culture. I’m calling it a culture because it really is a way of life here. Even when you live in the city, summers are spent at the MANY lakes in and around the metro area. Swimming at the beaches, eating at the beachside cafes, paddleboarding, kayaking or sailing on the water. Many people have lake cabins here, and spend weekends and holidays there. And winter is no exception, either! If you like cross country skiing on flat surfaces, lakes freeze to depths of many feet and are safe to ski on, many people enjoy ice fishing and park their ice houses out on the lake and while away the day there, and we even have a lot of festivals held on lakes in winter – the Eelpout Festival is HUGE in northern MN, but down in the cities we have things like the Kite Festival and the Art Shanties on Lake Harriet.

CONS! What? yes, there are negatives… according to some people…

  • Winter… I am wincing as I write this because I like winter, but there are some days in winter here where you kind of question your sanity. Average winter temps are about 10 degrees F. Wind chill adds another dimension. It is cold, but not awful (dress properly! See my video about surviving winter in MN!). We do have cold snaps that are significantly below zero for a few days every winter. In northern MN, a friend of mine posted a photo of her car thermostat showing an external temp of -41. School still happens. Life goes on, you won’t hear a lot of moaning and groaning because it is what it is. Anyone can make it through a couple of nasty cold snaps, but what tends to weigh on people are the short days (the sun sets around 4:30pm and rises at around 8am), and while it’s often quite sunny here, that can feel like not quite enough. Winter also feels like it stretches on a ways. We usually have a frost in the beginning of October and first snowfall (that doesn’t stick) by Halloween.
  • Slower pace. Once again – this is how you look at it. Personally, I don’t mind. I’ve lived fast paced in Chicago for a long while – LOVED it, but it can also be a big relief to not. The outdoor lifestyle here is naturally kind of a quieter way to be, people hunker down at bars for a drink and a good time with friends in winter, but it’s definitely got a slower pace. If you have kids, one thing that struck me here that I didn’t have in Chicago is that my daughter could play outside without intense scrutiny and people wanting to call DCFS. Kids still play in the park without parents helicoptering around them. It feels nice.
  • Bland food. Yes – this is the exact opposite of what I said before. But we are talking about MN as a whole here, and while you can find some great options in the cities, you are very likely to encounter a lot of “meat and potatoes” food as a whole. Nothing wrong with meat and potatoes, but sometimes you want something else. Also, the Minnesotan version of “spicey” is comical.

OK – that is IT for me today! Let me know if you think this sounds like something you can handle. πŸ˜‰