Neighborhood Tours

Hopkins MN

Want that small town, walkable feel without a major commute? Think about Hopkins! 


If you like a small town feel, with easy access to all of the things that the city has to offer – as well as access to the joys of the more rural areas outside of the immediate metro, Hopkins may be for you!  

Hopkins MN seems to fly under the radar –  it has a tendency to be overlooked, it’s a bit of a small town tucked into a 4 square mile pocket surrounded by the larger, more well known suburbs of Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Edina.  Hopkins sits just west of Minneapolis, it’s a small suburb with only about 18,000 people and it’s part of in Hennepin County MN.

A little bit of Hopkins history – By the 1920s, growing raspberries had become a big business for Hopkins area farmers. It is estimated that at one time the Hopkins area had over 800 acres planted in raspberries! Most were used for fresh market consumption.  It became known as the “Raspberry Capital of the World.”  Hopkins still celebrates this although now it’s is far from being a farming community – the street signs have a raspberry logo on them and they still hold a festival every year. 

I have done a LOT of videos highlighting different suburbs in the twin cities metro – some of them are circled here, but you should check out my neighborhoods and suburbs playlist on YouTube for more. 

Hopkins
Commute times and other profiled suburbs


Commute times are easy by car – it is only 3 miles to the border of Minneapolis as it is, but driving to downtown takes approximately 20 minutes via 394, or about 24 minutes to MSP airport via 494. 


One of the main things I love about Hopkins is the adorable downtown area.  It still has a historic feel, it’s a walkable city with sidewalks in the city center as well as throughout the neighborhoods which have a lot of pretty, older homes in neighborhoods branching out from the main street area. Main street is lined with shops and restaurants, the local library, post office and city hall are in the town center, as well as the Hopkins Center for the Arts. 


Hopkins has a nice mix of housing – including single family homes, and newer condos that are close to downtown and transportation. Speaking of transportation – Hopkins Station is right on what will be the newly expanded light rail line. Lots of construction around that and the southern portion of the Cedar Lake Trail which runs along side it right now, but once this is completed it should be a real asset to people that live in Hopkins and want to get downtown to to the airport without driving. 


All this charm and convenience and it comes at an affordable price compared to many suburbs in the Twin cities metro area as a whole.  Currently (july 2021) Hopkins Median price for a single family home is $353,100 which is just slightly higher than that of the twin cities as a whole. Property tax in Hopkins is a little higher than in some of the other ‘burbs that I have profiled. The effective tax rate is 1.41%

SFH Median Price
Median price for Condos in Hopkins
current month’s supply of homes (July 2021) – Seller’s Market

While there is a market in the city of Hopkins it isn’t a giant SUPER market – so if you want to do a bigger shop or have a preference for one of the larger chain super markets like Lunds and Byerlys or Cub, or if you want to get to a whole foods, you’ll have to do it outside of the city of Hopkins – but the surrounding suburbs are very close and you probably won’t be inconvenienced much at all to drive to a neighboring town for groceries. 

low angle photography of brown wooden dock at golden house
Photo by Heiner on Pexels.com


It’s not just groceries that require a trip to a neighboring town – Because of it’s small size and easy proximity to it’s neighbors, Hopkins residents share a lot of the amenities offered by the nearby suburbs. 


For example, residents of Hopkins use and get resident discounts at Shady Oak Beach and park in Minnetonka.  I stopped over there and I was so impressed – it looks like a great place to spend the day playing in the water (they have an inflatable obstacle course that looks like SO much fun!) and if you have little kids there is a playground and areas geared that way as well.  In addition to the beach and lake there is a really nice outdoor dining area so you can come and have fun and pack a picnic or order food at the concession stand and stay all day,  You can pay by the day or buy a season pass. 


Other nearby parks include Lone Lake Park which has tennis & pickle ball courts, a playground, sports fields, picnic area, basketball courts and trails.  It is also a part of Minnetonka. 

road nature man summer
Photo by Pack2Ride on Pexels.com


Hopkins has several regional trails running through it, so if you enjoy biking, roller blading or walking you’re in luck.  There are 4 rail trail connections in Hopkins including the 2 branches of the Cedar Lake Trail, the Lake Minnetonka regional trail (just did an out an back bike ride on this one a couple of weeks ago – 30 relatively flat miles past some gorgeous lake views and through some of the most affluent areas of the Twin Cities Metro) and lastly the Minnesota Bluffs Trail an approximately 10 mile section of aggregate trail that runs south of Lake Minnetonka out to Chanhassen and Chaska.

If you live in Bloomington or just want to bike the south section of the metro you can get on the 9 mile creek regional trail which is both segregated bike trail and some lanes on streets, but it connects from Bloomington (and possibly further east) through Richfield, Edina, Minnetonka and up to Hopkins.  I have ridden this one before as well and there are points that I found less than well marked so it’s good to have your phone with you for GPS. The official tally on this one is about 14.6 miles each way, but if you get lost and wander you can really up your mileage. Good times when you’re tired … not. 


Hopkins schools are ranked highly on Niche.com with an A+ rating, but as I always mention, make sure you do your own homework and meet with the administrators and make sure that the schools are right for YOUR child. Everyone is different. 

Even though Hopkins is smaller, the district boundaries kind of weave their their way through several of the neighboring suburbs and there are some kids that live in pockets of Plymouth, Edina, Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka that may attend Hopkins schools. I also did a video on open enrollment in schools in MN, it’s kind of a nice thing to have if you want to send your kid out of district to another school.  Not guaranteed, but an option! 

This post would not be complete if I didn’t let you know where you can get your eye candy – aka books!

Hopkins has a great library and it is right downtown where you can easily bike or walk to it.  It is a part of the Hennepin County Library system, and is one of the 41 branches. If you want a book, they can get it for you!  Hennepin county library has a really impressive budget for books – Ive been looking for the actual number but I can’t find it today! I just remember my jaw hitting the floor followed by green with envy feelings and then realizing that I can read any of those books! The HCL system has recently done completely away with fines too! YAY!! 

photo from hennepin county library


Alright – chickens. I always need to end with chickens and fences.

Chickens are recently permitted in Hopkins – as of August 2020. And fences are allowed – heights vary by where the fence is placed – typically 4′ in front, 6 in back. 

Final recommendation: the Hopkins web site is a very nice source of information for just about any question you can think of regarding the day to day details of living in Hopkins.

If Hopkins is in the running for you I strongly recommend check it out!

market updates

Twin Cities housing market update – June & a bit o’ July 2021

Is the feeding frenzy OVER?!? Not quite, but it seems to be a LOT better? Of course that is relative! and in this case I mean relative to the crazy times we were in in March – May!

In this video and blog post I’m giving you the current conditions of the market for the 7 county Twin Cities area broken down by property type and then I’ll go into a bit about what we see as far as what terms are resulting in accepted offers right now. These are the encouraging signs I’ve been looking for!

This year has definitely been one for the books! It has been the strongest sellers market that anyone I know can remember – and this is AMAZING if you have a home to SELL! Prices are higher than ever and you can dictate the terms for the MOST part – HOWEVER! Buyers! Do not despair!  Things ARE getting easier for you now (at least compared to a couple of months ago when it was an all out SCRUM!)

A note about these graphs – I chose to make them show monthly ups and downs without the smoothing effect that softens the seasonal aspects, so keep that in mind as you look at the dips and heights. the market changes constantly, and this shows those changes month to month.

The median SFH price in the Twin Cities sits at $380,000 – that is UP from $326,100 at the beginning of this year.

Median Price TC Metro Single family Homes


You’ll often hear me talk about the “absorption rate” or the # of months supply of housing available to be sold if no other homes were to go on the market. For context it is considered a BALANCED market if there is 5-6 months of supply.  We have been UNDER 1 month for different segments of the market for much of this year, mainly anything under about about $600K. Right now we are STILL at .8 months for anything under about $400k.  For single family homes in general we are at a little over 1 month’s supply of homes. 

Months supply of Single Family Homes

Homes are only on the market for FIVE DAYS!!! a year and a half ago it was FOURTY FIVE! And only 6 months ago around 20!   So still homes are still flying off the market. 

Days on market – SFH

Let’s look at the 2 softer spots – Townhomes and Condos. 

The median price for a townhome is consistent with the rest of the market rise in prices and is at $271,000 from $240,000 in January.

Median Price for Townhomes

For Townhomes there is a little uptick in supply and we have a full month available right now. 

Months supply of Townhomes

Condos! This is the place if you’re looking for any kind of deal! Sellers are negotiating! You can get an INSPECTION!   🙂
Condo prices are at $171,000 for a median price, up a similar amount from the beginning of the year as other property types are. 

Condo median price

The supply of condos is where the opportunity comes in – Still a sellers market but for people selling condos it can feel like a whole different world. There are 2.5 months worth of inventory available. This has dropped a small amount since January but has been relatively flat this year overall. 

Months supply of condos

Now let’s look at what kinds of offers are being accepted! 

This is a valuable bit of information that the Minnesota Transaction Coordinators gives us on a regular basis and I’ll add my 2 cents to about what I am seeing (although as a much smaller segment of the market)

Offer Acceptance Rate: 42%

Inspections Waived: 31% – we haven’t been in the 30% range since March 

My 2 cents: the last 6 contracts (this past month or so) that I have either written or accepted have had inspections included and accepted. that’s 100% of my sales in the past several weeks. I’ve been thrilled for my buyers and I am 100% fine with it for my seller as well because I feel like inspections protect EVERYONE, the buyer, the seller and ME.

Pre-market Sales that happen without hitting the MLS : 2.8%. This is DOWN from earlier this year! It was over 5% for quite a while – maybe due to pandemic fears about having too many people in a home?

Average Purchase to List Price: 102.7% – about the lowest it’s been since the spring market! 

Still great for sellers, but also good news for buyers! And a lesson to sellers about pricing appropriately. Things change, you want to not have YOUR home sit because it’s been priced too high as well as understanding that unless you have something really special that the insane bidding wars may be over for now.  

I have talked to many agents saying that showings are down from earlier this spring when agents were setting overlapping showings and having the home packed full of people for 12 hours per day.  Now there are private showings again. There may be open spaces in the calendar. More than one offer may come in but they aren’t seeing the literal STACKS of offers that they were before.  

Financing Types:

Cash 11.5%, which is higher than it’s been

Conventional 68.5%, – a little lower than its been 

FHA 8.5%, higher! 

VA 3%, Still a rough spot! People that use VA are often choosing it because it is a no downpayment loan, which means they are short on cash. If you can’t make appraisal gap guarantees, or add other sweeteners that need ready cash available this can be a VERY tough time to buy.

USDA 8.5% (this is a high number and I wonder if it is a function of the sample size that they had – if they had 2 transactions it could hit this #). These loans are generally for rural buyers.

Seller Paid Closing Costs: are at 12%

Home Warranties: 5.7% – I was able to negotiate this recently as well! 

Contingent Upon the Sale of the Buyer’s Property: 8.5% (this seems HIGH to me! I’m still cautious about having this particular contingency, it can be a real weak spot in an offer if you have any competition at all. I would avoid this at all costs or you may have to make it an offer they can’t refuse due to price, or magically find a seller that wants to stay a little longer.

And that is ALL for this week.  I’ll be back next week with some more neighborhood profiles. I’ve been AWOL due to this insane market and actually getting a vacation for the first time in YEARS. No regrets. 😉

See you then! 

Home Buying · home selling

March Real Estate Market Update

My last post & video about this were pretty well received, so even though numbers aren’t flashy, I’m going to try to make this a monthly feature as we navigate through this crazy market. This post has some good little nuggets in it if you’re in certain segments of the market, so stick with me.

A bright spot for buyers?!!

Last time I posted about the market I gave an overview of “absorption rates”, this is going to be a recurring theme, so if you want to check that out you can find that post here: https://twin-cities-living.com/2021/02/26/i-had-other-plans-for-this-weeks-post/

There is an obvious lag in the data because we need to look after homes close and that shows up in the MLS, but I do get some data relatively quickly thanks to Minnesota Transaction Coordinators, a company that helps many of us with processing our transactions.

Let’s start there with their analysis of terms that they see in contracts.

Inspections

In the past couple of months we’ve seen quite a few buyers deciding to waive the inspection in order to release one more contingency ahead of everyone else. By “a lot” I mean 38% of buyers were waiving inspection in the first 2.5 weeks of the month, but when they looked at the first through the 26th the rate went to 31%. That means that enough people have STOPPED waiving them to lower this percentage by 7%. Buyers are insisting on protecting themselves and sellers are acquiescing to that.

Offer acceptance rates

Even better, offer acceptance has gone from 31% for the month last week, to 39% for the month over all as of the 26th. YAY!!!! Sellers are accepting offers! I represent a lot of buyers and it has just been TOUGH. So this is great news.

Homes listed on the open market vs witheld

In an office as large as mine, we often hold listings off market and only market to agents within the office. This shrinks the pool of who looks at the house which is desirable for a lot of reasons – from Covid, to privacy, to simply wanting to not have to deal with the preparation and hassle of selling on the open market. Sellers can name their terms and if another agent has a buyer that can meet those, there is a happy meeting of the minds without all of the associated prep work, exposure, etc and everyone feels satisfied. The number of sales that they have worked on in this status is down to 5.6%. This is good because more homes are hitting the market than have been.

Percentage of list price received

Current purchase price to list price ratio is “down to” 104% from 105% last week. It has been hovering between 103% and 105% in the past couple of months. It’s good to have that number in mind, even though it’s not a fixed price, it’s an idea of what you should think about when offering on a property that has a lot of interest. Price is not the entirety of a an offer, there are a lot of other terms that need to be in line as well, but this is good info for this metric.

Seller paid closing costs

26% of deals include some seller paid closing costs. I have to assume in this market that the offer price was increased to account for these, but I like that we are seeing it because it means sellers are accepting these terms.

Forms of financing

76% of loans are conventional (you do NOT need 20% down for a conventional loan! These are viewed as more favorable and if you can get a conventional loan it’s one more check mark on the list of terms).

FHA loans represent 10% of the offers, CASH 10%, and VA & USDA loans are at 4%.

Traditionally, inventory really increases around this time of year (inventory = homes being listed and available for sale). We currently have less than HALF of the listings we had 6 months ago.

Good news for downtown condo buyers!

Downtown condos are in a balanced market right now! If you are looking for a condo in the central city including neighborhoods like Loring Park, Downtown, University, Dinkytown, Elliot Park etc… now is the time. We believe that this is caused by the pandemic and people wanting to live in less dense housing + fewer people needing to be downtown for work, but don’t expect it to last with the speedy rollout of vaccine and life returning to somewhat new normal.

Days on Market are up to 41 (only from 38), but these are the kinds of indicators that let buyers know that they will not likely have to pay more than list, that sellers will be willing to negotiate because they know you can find another condo to buy and someone will play ball with you.

So that is what is happening! Sellers are still mostly in control of things, but if you’re a downtown condo buyer you’re in the sweet spot!

Let me know if you have questions.

Neighborhood Tours · small towns and exurbs · Uncategorized

“Cows, colleges and contentment”. What is going on in Northfield MN?

Do small towns appeal to you? I love them. They make me think of community and knowing your neighbors and the businesspeople in town. Especially when they have a charming, walkable, central area with great shops and restaurants where people will gather. Let’s see what is going on in Northfield MN!

Even better, in my opinion, is when the town is the home to a college – or in this case, two colleges! Having students and academic institutions around do a lot for small town life. It brings the energy of youth, the cultural pursuits of the college, and it also pumps the local economy full of money spent by students, teachers and staff.

Northfield MN is home to St. Olaf College (approximately 3000 students) as well as Carleton College (approximately 2000 students). Both are private, competitive, liberal arts schools founded in the 1800’s.

Northfield is located on the banks of the Cannon River and the downtown area centers itself on that feature. It was founded in 1855 and the charm of the historic downtown reflects the long history. Watch my video so you can get a live look at the downtown. It’s cute!

Photo of the river in downtown Northfield from Tripadvisor

Northfield Parks

For a small town, Northfield has a LOT of parks! There are 30 city parks!

Northfield has a dog park right on the river, 6 outdoor skating rinks in the winter and the Northfield Ice Arena for year round hockey and skating.

In downtown Northfield you’ll find Bridge Square which is the heart of the city and the site of summer concerts and festivals like the “Defeat of Jesse James Days” fest in September of every year – Northfield’s claim to fame is that the James gang once tried to rob the bank in downtown! Nothing like a little armed robbery to encourage an annual festival…

In addition to typical parks, Northfield has 10 soccer fields at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex, a public pool with a low daily price – I think I read $4.75 / day?!? at the Old Memorial Pool. Sign me up! Our pool up here is closer to $15/day. cray. If baseball is your thing – you will likely be playing at the Sechler Athletic complex home to 4 baseball fields and adjacent to the Mill Towns Trail.

From the state DNR site: “When complete, the Mill Towns State Trail will connect the cities of Faribault, Dundas, Northfield, Waterford, Randolph, and Cannon Falls, for a distance of approximately 25 miles. The trail will be an important link in the developing southeast Minnesota trail system, connecting the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Faribault with the western end of the Cannon Valley Trail in Cannon Falls.” I love a good trail! If you live in Minnesota, chances are good that you do too.

Awards- Northfield brings home the bling

Northfield racks up the awards, they clearly have the attention of those who like to rank cities. If you check out the city web site you’ll find a comprehensive list, but there were multiple mentions for things like “Best Cities to Live in America” and “Safest Cities MN”.

Northfield MN Schools

Niche.com gives the Northfield schools and overall grade of “A”. The district consists of 3 elementary schools: Sibley, Bridgewood & Greenvale Park with a total enrollment of around 1600 students and a student teacher ratio of 16:1. The elementary students then move on to Northfield Middle School & Northfield High School – each also graded “A” by Niche.com.

Demographics – who lives in Northfield?

Median household income in Northfield is higher than the national average at $70,148. The population of Northfield is around 20,000 people.

67% of residents are homeowners and the median single family home price is less than the twin cities metro median, but on a consistent rise over the past 3 years.

I also pulled information for townhomes. Those prices are HIGHER than the median in the twin cities… maybe a function of supply and demand?

Northfield Public Library

Image courtesy of the Friends of the Northfield Public Library

The Northfield library is right in the heart of downtown. It is in yet another historic looking building but the interior is throughly bright and modern. They finished an interior renovation in 2016, but kept the exterior in the character of this charming town. It was originally built in 1908 with a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie! Interesting bit of historical trivia.

Grocery Stores that serve the Northfield area

I did a video on Twin Cities groceries and now I’m adding this to everything… I love food. Knowing what shopping options there are (especially in a small town!) is important to me, so with that in mind I will now unveil the map o’ food:

I think because it’s a college town of relatively decent size, they have a good amount of options from budget choices like ALDI, to Cub & Target and up near the center of town is the co-op. I don’t know what a Minnesota town would be like without a natural foods co-op. It’s a thing here.

Senior Citizens

I kind of stumbled on this while I was researching but wow! I think this looks like such a great resource for the no longer spring chickens… Northfield has a senior center that has an absolutely gorgeous gym, classes in the arts and a bunch of continuing ed / lifelong learning classes. It seems like such a great resource for community and fun. I hate the thought of anyone staying put in their homes when there are options like this available. Check out FiftyNorth.

Other Attractions in Northfield…

The Flaten Art Museum resides on the campus of St. Olaf College and is devoted to the visual arts.

The Cowling Arboretum is a part of Carleton College. It is 800 acres of land that is open dawn to dusk daily to enjoy the outdoors. They do have trails for cross country skiing in winter!

The Goodsell Observatory is on the campus of Carleton College and is such a beautiful old building. In normal (non-covid times) the Goodsell offers open houses for people to come in and take a look. Looking forward to having that option again (soon)!

Goodsell Observatory image from mortarr.com

I think that’s it?

Northfield has a LOT going on for a town this size. I start these profiles thinking it will be short and sweet and end up finding more and more as I look. It’s great because I now feel like I have a good bit of knowledge about a lot of places around the twin cities – I love that for me, but I really love that it helps me help other people who are trying to figure out where they want to live.

Neighborhood Tours · small towns and exurbs · Uncategorized

Elk River and Otsego

I had a request from someone on my YouTube channel to do an overview of Otsego. I admit, that isn’t anywhere near the top of the pile for places that people have asked to see so I haven’t spent much time there. As with all of these neighborhood profiles, I learned a lot about what is out that way and some of it made me pretty happy! This is going to be the beginning of a series where I look at smaller towns an exurbs of Minneapolis – I have some video footage ready for Excelsior as well as Northfield and I’m looking forward to both of those as well.

shopping pins where you’ll see stores

The map give a sense of where Otsego & Elk River are – far NW of Minneapolis. It’s definitely what I would consider a 3rd ring suburb / exurb.

What surprised me most was that Elk River is actually the larger hub of economic activity! This is why it’s important to see things in person! Otsego itself is fairly rural with a lot of subdivisions “planted” on farm lands and still a lot of farm surrounding the neighborhoods. If you want a newer home but in a rural environment you may like it in Otsego.

Elk River has a charming and BUSY little downtown area that is right on the Mississippi River. The primary reason I headed that way after looking at Otsego was that I like to show the public library and any other city services and Otsego had the Elk River library listed as the closest, and it IS right next door. The Elk River library was a surprise to me as well – large and modern. I didn’t go into the building, but it exceeded my expectations by a LOT based on their minimal web site.

Elk River Library

Check out the video to get a good look at the downtown and the library. The police department, utilities and parks and rec buildings were similarly new and located directly across the street form the library- my point would be that the residents seem to be investing in their community infrastructure.

Schools

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Otsego is served by three different school districts depending on where your home is located – St. Michael/Albertville, Otsego & Elk River schools. So again, this is a situation where you’ll ask your agent to include or exclude homes based on which district is best for your family. Elk River is served by ISD 728 – Elk River Schools.

Homes

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Home prices in Otsego are higher than in Elk River and I am guessing that is because most of the available housing is in newer subdivisions on former farmland. The median home price in Otsego for a single family home is $366,248 & the median townhome price is $228, 950. For Elk River the median single family home is $330,000 and the median townhome price is $205,000.

Shopping

Otsego has a Target with a liquor store and a few other small shops, but no real “downtown” per se. Elk River has more available but while it has more options including a Menards hardware store and larger groceries, you’ll need to leave this immediate area if you want more choices.

About 10 minutes away is Rogers MN, and Rogers has a lot of shopping and chain restaurants, and then if you continue south to Maple Grove (about 20 minutes drive) you have just about everything that you would expect in a large metro area, including Costco and stores that cater to a larger audience.

Parks

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

There is a city park next to city hall in Otsego that has a a splash pad, larger playground, ball fields etc and as I was driving by they had their little zamboni-ish contraption going over the ice of the outdoor skating rink. A+ for the creativity of whoever came up with whatever that was to add a fresh layer of water to the surface – don’t ask me to explain, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Elk River takes it’s parks seriously! I just did a google search to see what is up there and made a squinty face at the list because I thought it was giving me parks from other areas – I could not believe that they have as many as they actually do! So even if you don’t LIVE in Elk River it seems like it might be a good place to visit if you’re looking for some time outside. I guess I should have had an inkling from their beautiful new parks and rec building!

In addition to hiking trails, community parks, a public amphitheater on the river, & 4 outdoor skating rinks, Elk River also has an archery range.

Otsego doesn’t have as robust of a park system – they have many small, neighborhood parks, but when your park map highlights areas in the city that have sidewalks… it seems like they may be reaching a little.

If you go just south of Otsego you can take advantage of a Crow-Hasan Park. It has 18 miles of hiking trails, camping, paddling on the Crow River, off leash dog areas, and it is part of the Three Rivers Park District which is a bit of a curiosity to me because it seems independent of any county or city. It has parks across the metro area and my experience with them has been excellent in all ways so far.

To sum up – I think that if you’re looking for QUIET and space – Otsego may be a good option. Its definitely going to be a very slow pace of life out there, but you can get what you need within a reasonable distance. If you like the small town feel that has a bit more going on but it’s not a “CITY”, check out Elk River. It’s really charming! If Otsego is more your speed, Elk River is right next door and easy to get to. 🙂

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. — 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. 😉 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.

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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: 🚗🏡🌼 http://bit.ly/MPLSReloGuide 🌺🌻🚕

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
Neighborhood Tours · Uncategorized

Woodbury – One of Money.com’s “Best Places to Live” 2020

How will you decide where to live if you want to live in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul? When we moved here a friend who grew up here said that most people choose which side of “the river” to live on based on which side they work on. “The river” is the Mississippi which is the dividing line for much of the way through Minneapolis and St. Paul. I suppose that rule holds true for the suburbs as well, although with the fact that so many more people are working from home now, options may be more open.

If you’re partial to St. Paul, or need to be in Wisconsin for any reason, but still want to be in the twin cities ‘burbs, then you might consider Woodbury.

Money.com thinks Woodbury is one of the best places to live in 2020… here are a few reasons why (with creative license to add my own reasons too!):

Schools. Woodbury’s schools are consistently ranked on top 10 lists for best schools in MN. The schools are part of South Washington County School District and public schools consist of six elementary schools, two junior high and two senior high schools. Woodbury also has two charter schools and two parochial schools if you are looking for other options.

Employment / unemployment. Even now when the entire country is experiencing high unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minnesota’s unemployment rate (7.4%) is lower than the national average (8.4%), which is typical for Minnesota, and Woodbury’s unemployment rate (6.2%) is even lower than that.

Where do people work? Big employers in or near Woodbury are 3M (the post-it note people among other things), the Target distribution center, HealthPartners Insurance, and Self-Esteem Brands – aka Anytime Fitness/ BaseCamp etc. Of course just about everything in the Twin Cities is no more than about a 30 minute drive, so if the commute isn’t a big thing, living here and working on the other side of the city would not be uncommon.

Shopping. Woodbury has everything you could want in the way of shopping! I did a video on grocery stores a couple of weeks ago and Woodbury has pretty much every one of them – Costco (brand new!), Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Cub, Lund’s, Kowalski’s. They have 3 main shopping areas – Tamarack Village is enormous and has several large anchor stores like Home Depot, Old Navy, JoAnn’s etc. Woodbury Village is a little smaller with Kohls, Target, Total Wine and many smaller shops. The last shopping center, Woodbury Lakes, is the most charming – it’s set up to give you the feel of a walkable shopping area rather than a particular store that you would park directly in front of, they even have a “walking club” that meets there once a week.

Even though they have these shopping areas Woodbury isn’t what I would consider a walkable city. You definitely need a car to get around.

The most exciting thing about Woodbury (to me!!) is that they are the home to one of a very few locations of the amazing Chicago restaurant – Portillos. 🙂 You may know that Chicago is famous for their hotdogs and all the “weird” stuff they put on them – mustard, NEVER EVER ketchup!!, hot peppers, a tomato, pickle, celery salt. YUM. Portillo’s says they are about hotdogs, but what they are REALLY about is the Italian Beef sandwich, chocolate cake, and milk shakes. You can trust me when I tell you to give these a try. I like my Italian beef with some “sauce”, hot & sweet peppers. It’s super messy and delicious. Having Portillo’s here in the Twin Cities makes me ever so slightly less homesick for Chicago. Do not eat here if calories give you fits.

Parks. Within Woodbury itself are 3000 acres of park land and 140 miles of trails! Carver Lake Park has a public beach for summer fun and if you want to get in touch with nature a little more, head to Tamarack Nature Preserve. We all know winter can be tough if you’re trapped inside especially with little kids, but Woodbury has created what they call “Central Park” which is an INDOOR park and playground to give the kids a place to run off their energy, and parents a place to stay warm while they do it. Another benefit of Central Park is that the park connects to the Washington County Library and the YMCA – so you could make an entire afternoon of it and still be indoors.

Even if you don’t live in Woodbury there may be a good chance that you’ll use their premiere sports complex called HealthEast Sports Center – it is a MASSIVE sports complex with indoor and outdoor sports fields and if you are going there to watch games in the summer and have little kids to keep entertained, they have a splash pad right on site.

Housing.

Woodbury has a wide variety of housing, from townhouses to “quad homes” which are pretty interesting, a lot of typical subdivisions and several areas with custom homes. In addition to these rather typical suburban home choices, Woodbury is not completely built out yet and there are open farm fields in between the neighborhoods as well as some homes that sit on very large private lots, with no HOA. Not everyone loves a planned community and you can live in Woodbury without that if you like.

Home prices in Woodbury range from about $200K for a townhouse, all the way up to just under $1M for a custom built home. The median home price in Woodbury today is $430K.

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Minnetonka – more than a fun thing to say. :)

When we were moving to MN and searching for a home we had a bizarre desire to live in Minnetonka just so we could tell people we lived there and make them say MINNETONKA, too. Side note, our GPS had fun pronouncing it and made us laugh every time. Do GPS’ learn regional pronunciation at some point? I haven’t noticed the weirdness since I moved here, but then again I’ve started saying things like “OPE!” and “UFFDA!” and the most common of them all “Oh, sure!” (it’s not “You betcha” – I think that must be more North Dakota, or “NoDak” if you’re cool)

I also had a strong association with Minnetonka slippers. Warm feet. Cold winters. Fun words.

What is the reality of Minnetonka? Here are 5 things to know if you’re thinking about moving there.

  1. It’s a second ring western suburb of Minneapolis. Commute to downtown is about 20 minutes (14 miles to the heart of downtown). Maybe about 5 minutes further to the airport.

2. Minnetonka is not the most affordable place to live in the Twin Cities metro area. The median home price in Minnetonka is $436K for a single family home, $282K for a townhome. The median income in Minnetonka is $91,374 (national median is closer to $55K).

The population is educated – about 60% of adult residents have some college education. And speaking of education – the schools in Minnetonka are consistently rated A or A+ on Niche and other school rating web sites.

3. Other than nice homes and great schools with an easy commute – what do you get for your money in Minnetonka? Well, how about easy access to a lot of really nice parks like including the Bryant Lake Regional Park (technically in Eden Prairie but close!) which has a beach, trails, disc golf, and a dog park and as well as the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail and easy access to the Dakota Regional Trail which begins in Wayzata.

Per the Three Rivers Park District: “The Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail stretches over 15 miles between Hopkins and Carver Park Reserve, offering scenic views of Lake Minnetonka along the way. This aggregate trail passes through the communities of Minnetonka, Deephaven, Greenwood, Excelsior, Shorewood, and Victoria. For more ambitious trail users, pack a tent and enjoy an evening under the stars while camping at Carver Park Reserve. No car required!” If you really like biking, this trail also connects to the Cedar Lake Trail heading into Minneapolis and the Midtown Greenway which heads east and west across Minneapolis and into St. Paul.

Dakota Rail Regional Trail

Trail

“The Dakota Rail Regional Trail is a popular attraction for bikers, in-line skaters and hikers. The 13 mile paved trail offers spectacular views of the lake and passes through a variety of scenic areas, including wetlands, wooded areas and agricultural land. In Carver County, an additional 12.5 miles of paved trail extends west of St. Bonifacius to Mayer.”

4. Minnetonka is close to shopping – my fave, Costco, is just south of Minnetonka in Eden Prairie. There are a lot of smaller shops and restaurants within Minnetonka as well Ridgedale Mall and shopping center up on the northern side of the city.

5. What do you get from the city?

Things I like to see are places for the community to enjoy outside of their homes. Minnetonka offers the Williston Fitness Center – aquatics, batting cages, indoor pickleball & tennis, fitness center and gym.

They also have the Minnetonka Ice Arena, Lindbergh Center (basketball courts, weight room), Grays’s Bay Marina where you can rent a boat slip or have public boat access to Lake Minnetonka and two public beaches.

PLUS – you get to say “MINNETONKA” all the time!