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.
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.
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 11/2020||Single family||Townhouse||Condo|
|7 County Metro||$336,990||$229,500||$185,000|
|Hennepin County Property Tax Rate (MPLS)||1.36%|
|Ramsey County Property Tax Rate (STP)||1.30%|
|State of MN Average Property Tax Rate||1.08%|
|National Average Property Tax Rate||1.15%|
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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!