Living in Minneapolis · Neighborhood Tours

The Armatage Neighborhood in SW Minneapolis!

I’m sticking closer to home today and taking you on a tour of the Armatage neighborhood in Southwest Minneapolis!  If you want to see what the homes and area look like – watch this video!

Homes in the Armatage neighborhood began to be built in the 1940s, and by 1960 most of the neighborhood was estab­lished. The homes in the area really reflect the time period, a lot of post-war (WWII!) bungalows and as the construction reached the ’60’s they began putting up what Minnesotans call “ramblers” and the rest of the country calls “ranch” homes. You still see some 1 car garages, and most garages are accessed off the alley which gives the street and yard areas of the homes a really beautiful feel because they aren’t broken up with driveways, cars and trashcans.

Easy commutes!

Prices

I did a comparison of median home prices for Armatage and the surrounding areas including Edina which is the suburb which borders the neighborhood on the west, the Kenny neighborhood to the east and the city of Minneapolis over all. You can see where Armatage stacks up and how it compares to prices in the city overall. 

The highest priced home on the market in Armatage today is a house that was originally built in 1948, but has since undergone a complete renovation and has had a second floor added. It was priced at $799,900. It has 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, a 4 car garage and nearly 3,000 sf. This is not a typical home in the area, but we have seen a lot of homes pop upward like this as people try to stay in the neighborhood but want more living space than the 1940’s or 1950’s bungalows provide. 

A more typical house for sale right now is a bungalow priced near the median at $445K, built in 1951 and still reflecting the character of the day. It has about 2000 sf and has 3 beds, 3 baths and a 2 car garage. The lowest priced home I saw currently listed is at $285, a 3 bed, 1 bath home that has been used as a rental and can probably use a bit of TLC. 

Neighborhood association

Armatage has a very active neighborhood association and they hold several events throughout the year including a chili cook off, a holiday light display competition, free movies in the park in summer, a fire-on-ice winter celebration with bonfires and ice skating at the park rink, food truck nights and a summer festival.  If you have children the park district  has after school programs through community education at Armatage Park Community Center and they also have all day programming there throughout the summer. 

children s team building on green grassland
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

In addition to the focus on kids, the community center also hosts events like “Tech Help for Seniors” and a community garden tool swap. 

Schools

boy in green shirt
Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

Children in the neighborhood are currently zoned for Armatage Elementary (formerly a Montessori magnet school) In 1952, the Armatage Community School was built, children move on to Susan B Anthony Middle School which is International Baccalaureate School, and then Southwest High School. 

Neighborhood Amenities

Armatage has a close community feel and has the benefit of easily accessible local favorites for restaurants including Pizzeria Lola, Red Wagon Pizza, Book Club, Colita, &  Cafe Ceres. It’s a quick ride to shopping to Edina for Southdale Mall or any of the surrounding shops and restaurants including the Galleria for more upscale shopping. Groceries are easy to find at nearby Lunds and Byerly’s or Kowalskis, or if you’re just down the street in Edina you can hit Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Costco people will find the St. Louis Park location the closest – but in my opinion it’s also the craziest one – always mobbed and worth it to drive to Eagan or Eden Prairie instead. 

cup of aromatic cappuccino on table in cafe
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

In addition to the large community park, Armatage is well located to reach the paths around Lake Harriet or Minnehaha Creek. As with all areas of Minneapolis, there is a large focus on bicycling and public streets have bike lanes which are heavily used. The city of Minneapolis also has sidewalks lining both sides of the street so you’ll be safe if you decide to walk up to the lake or creek as well. 

white bicycle road sign
Photo by Cristiana Raluca on Pexels.com

If you’re curious about other area of the city or suburbs, check out my playlist on YouTube! I cover a bunch of them and I’m always adding more, if there is an area that you’re interested in and you don’t see a video – reach out and I may add it to the list, but can at least answer questions. 

Uncategorized

Savage MN – a bit of a secret on the south side…

Check out my video if you want an “in-person” look…

The city of Savage wasn’t named for anything terrifying – it’s actually named after Marion Willis Savage. Marion Savage owned the champion race horse  “Dan Patch” in the early 1900’s and if you live in or move to MN you will likely hear that name from time to time.  If you know the origins you’ll be ahead of nearly 90% of the people that live there! You’re welcome!

There is a street on the State Fair grounds named after the horse and Prior Lake HS (which serves kids from Savage) named their football stadium after the horse as well. 

harnessmuseum.com

Savage is what I would consider a bedroom community (if you haven’t heard that term before it simply means a place that people live but don’t work there).

I stopped into the library to check it out and while I was in there I spoke with the librarian to see if I was missing something – a central downtown that I had somehow overlooked?? The librarian agreed with me that Savage is really a community that just grew up in the farm fields as the area near Minneapolis developed rather than growing up around a central downtown.

“City center”

Location and commute times.

So Savage is by definition, NOT a walkable community, cars will be a major part of your life in Savage. 

Instead of a downtown area, there is one central point that I would consider the “civic center” of Savage. You’ll find the Savage library (which is large, modern and pretty – it seems like an enjoyable place to spend some time), the town hall, the post office,& the police and fire stations all in this one area.

A bonus that I noticed when looking at their web site, the city offers free notary services to residents. That could be your tipping point when weighing your options! 

Housing

Before I ventured out to Savage I looked at the homes listed in the MLS to get a sense of the range and what types were available for sale right now – there are some really beautiful townhomes that are in the low to mid $200’s, and prices go up to the mid $700’s for homes. The most expensive listing right now in Savage is for the remnants of a farm and will likely be sold for land development at close to $1M. 

Single family home prices in Savage Sept 2021
Median price for townhomes in Savage September 2021
I added this because I think there is good value in moderately sized homes.

Shopping

Shopping in Savage is limited to a few smaller shopping centers as compared to nearby Burnsville which has an abundance of stores, shopping centers, chain restaurants and a mall.  If you live in Savage you’re likely to get your groceries at the Super Target, the HyVee or Cub Foods. If you like Costco like I like Costco, rest assured that there is one Savage adjacent in Burnsville. 

Savage is mainly residential but there is a LOT of shopping in Burnsville!

Schools

Savage is served by 3 different school districts, so again, this is a case where if you have a preference for a particular school district you should verify the school boundaries and that your home lies within the district that you want to have.  The three districts that serve Savage are:

  • Prior Lake – Savage district 719
  • Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district 191
  • Shakopee District 720. 

There are 6 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school serving Savage.  In addition, Savage has a Spanish immersion school, an alternative school, and 2 early learner schools. 

Parks

black and brown miniature schnauzer lying on green grass field
Photo by Sebastian Coman Travel on Pexels.com

Savage does have a few parks, and I think that there are often play lots for kids in the subdivisions, but they may lean heavily on the regional park that borders the south side of the city – Murphy-Hanrehan Park.

It’s a very large park and it made me think a bit of my other favorite regional Park – Lebanon Hills in Eagan. The Park offers a LOT of activities – Boating, Camping, Single Track Mountain Biking, Fishing, Hiking, Snowshoeing, Snow Mobiling, x-ctry Ski Trails, and 2 off leash dog parks – you can buy a day or an annual pass for the dog parks.  One of the dog parks at Cleary Lake allows the pups to go for a swim. Savage does have one other dog park (I believe this one is part of the Savage Park district rather than the regional park, but it is Free. 

Unlike other suburbs, Savage doesn’t have an aquatic center or anything like that, but they have a partnership with LifeTime Fitness for use of their indoor and outdoor pools. 

Property Taxes

For this one I will defer to the Scott County MN web site because property taxes in Savage vary by which school district the home is in and the value of the home. So you can get an estimated rate quite easily on their site if you are curious as to how they vary. 

Fences, Chickens and BEES

And to answer my always asked questions: YES you CAN have a fence! The city regulates the type, workmanship and height depending on where it will be on your property, so you’ll have to check that out.  Also – YES – you can have YARD BIRDS.  Chickens and BEEKEEPING are allowed. 

Savage is a great place to consider if you want a quieter lifestyle & don’t particularly care if the city provides a bunch of amenities which you may be able to easily access in nearby communities.  If you want a relatively easy commute to either Minneapolis or St. Paul, or need to be able to get to the airport without a lot of hassle, this is a good option. Home prices in Savage are more affordable in pockets than they are in other parts of the metro and may be a good place to look if you are a first time buyer or if you just don’t have thee budget to live in other more expensive areas of the city. 

home selling

Curb appeal for pennies.

You’ve heard that saying that “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”? It’s true. You’ve gotta get them in the front door! And you really don’t want buyers coming in with reservations about the house before they actually walk into your home! 


Today I’m going to give you easy and inexpensive (or FREE!!) ideas for making your house look super inviting and keeping buyers from making their showing a “drive by”. 

If you’re thinking of selling your home, download my “7 Tips to a Fast Sale” – It’s free in the description box below the video or you can email me and I’ll send you a copy. mschumann@kw.com

Here are some cheap and easy ways to make your curb appeal top notch!

Often when we live somewhere for a long time we stop seeing things that are minor and might need some spiffing up, but buyers won’t miss them, and may think that this reflects on the quality of the home overall and the PRICE

I spend a lot of time with buyers and I hear the things that come to their attention as they look at a home and how they perceive them – little changes can go a LONG way toward making buyers excited about coming into your home and it will PAY OFF when offers come in. When people perceive the value to be high they WANT to win the bid.  Obviously curb appeal is just one aspect of that, and it is often a quick and inexpensive fix.

I’ll start with the most expensive of the things I’ll mention (and it’s not expensive!) – updating an exterior light fixture.  This isn’t something we spend a lot of time looking at on our own homes, but I think of them like the jewelry on a home.

LIGHT

Take a hard look at yours – are the light fixtures dated, faded, dirty and crusty looking? Maybe it just needs a good cleaning, or if you are great with spray paint and want to take it down and tape off everything and give it a fresh coat of paint to freshen up the metal, awesome! But if you think it could use an update and make your home appear more modern or current, you can get a new light and install it within an hour for less than $100.  No lie. I’ve installed MANY light fixtures over the years and if I’m still standing, it means you can do it too. 


Speaking of jewelry on the home – while you’re looking at the light fixture, check the house numbers. Our house had tiny squiggly super cheap house number when we bought it, I replaced them with larger, clean lined, fresh ones and was stunned at the difference.  So many times I’m out walking my dog through the neighborhood and I love looking at homes (of course) and one of the things I’ll notice is a great set of house numbers. Some of these can be quite expensive, but they don’t have to be! You can really show your attention to details with a set you pick up from the local Home Depot or another hardware store. 

Make it fresh and HAPPY

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash


Still focusing on the entryway (the place where the buyers will stand examining everything while they wait for the agent to get the door open!) look at your front door. Is it faded, dirty, scuffed up or the does the color lack punch? You should consider painting the front door.  It’s less than a quart of paint and an hour of your time to have a fresh clean happy looking entry way.  Maybe $15?  Then add a pretty wreath if you want – to me a wreath says WELCOME. If you’re in a condo – this can be your curb appeal! easy. 


Now make the rest of the entry shine by making sure you’ve swept down any cobwebs, replace lightbulbs so that the porch or entry has a bright welcome, and replace the welcome mat if it’s not new. Sweep the surface of the stairs, and if your sidewalk or steps aren’t looking very fresh, borrow a power washer and give them a good cleaning.  I know I’m not the only one that loves before and after videos of power washing… so satisfying! Also free and worth doing – clean any glass on the door or windows nearby. 🙂 

Set the stage

Photo by Ian MacDonald on Unsplash


If you are lucky enough to have a porch, put out a chair with a bright pillow that picks up your door color, add a side table to show that it’s a great place to sit with coffee, greet neighbors, or watch the kids play. People want to imagine how they would live in the spaces and making it inviting right from the moment people approach is important. 

Details… Look at your landscaping

Now focus on your landscaping a bit.  Make sure your grass has been mowed, and go the extra step and edge around sidewalks. This looks really sharp and gives the impression of care. 

Photo by I Do Nothing But Love on Unsplash


Make sure you pull weeds! I have seen more than one house with weeds coming up through entry steps or sidewalk cracks. I wince because details matter and this is EASY and FREE. 

Make sure to trim back bushes and trees so that they are easy to walk past, that they are not allowed to obscure the house, which is a double no no – it makes the house look creepy and overgrown from the outside and often blocks a precious FREE resource INSIDE – natural light! Nearly everyone wants a home filled with natural light.  Especially if you live in the north! 
Add a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds and clip back or pull out anything that isn’t looking fresh. 

Adding fresh flowers to a pot or two as you approach the house really adds a welcoming touch but if you aren’t much of a gardener, you can find fake plants easily and for not a lot of money at home stores.  I honestly can’t believe the deals I’ve found on them lately when I’ve been out shopping for staging materials for my listings.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

If you’re selling in winter use evergreen branches as your “potted plants” to add life and warmth to the front of the home. I’ve picked up premade bundles from greenhouses and they last forever out in the cold and really make a good first impression.  This is not 100% curb appeal, but if you are selling in winter, do not neglect to keep your sidewalk absolutely clear of snow and ice. Falling on ice or wading through snow isn’t the best first impression. 

Let me know if you have questions, feel free to download or request those tips for selling, they address things to consider for the house as a whole. 

Home Buying

Reasons you should RENT and not BUY… PLUS a resource if this is you.

Sometimes RENTING is the way to go. If you are moving to (or within) Minneapolis I’ll give you some reasons why you may want to choose RENTING a house or an apartment vs buying one.


I see people juggling this decision about where to live daily.  A lot of people WANT to buy, but certain circumstances may mean that renting is actually the best choice, at least for now. 
The number one reason people that I speak with most often are looking for a rental is that they are moving to the Minneapolis area from out of state.  Not everyone is ready to buy sight unseen (but if you are I have a video about how I help people do that!).  In this tight market, if you can possibly avoid having a home sale contingency on your offer you are FAR better off and that means there will be a period of time where you may be without a permanent home and need a place to rent.


A lot of my clients move to Minneapolis because they have been freed from having to work in an office and now work remotely and can live where they choose.  This means that they have a LOT of options – that’s both a good thing AND a bad thing.  Having the flexibility to explore without committing to a particular neighborhood is a great reason to rent! If this is YOU, let me know – I put together a list of rental options specifically with this in mind, you can email me and I’ll send it to you.


Most often people I work with that are relocating to Minneapolis may be looking for a short term rental to use as a base while they house hunt.  I do not work in rentals for several reasons, but I am happy to email you a list of resources that I have recently compiled of places to start your search. 


When you don’t have to eliminate any particular area because the commute is too long, it means that you have a lot to choose from and likely want to choose carefully based on what kind of lifestyle you want to live. 


Do you want to live downtown in highrise condo overlooking the famous stone arch bridge and the Mississippi River?  Taking advantage of easy access to all of the wonderful restaurants, clubs and outdoor spaces?  

photo weston-mackinnon


Or do you see yourself in a quiet suburban neighborhood with a cul de sac and playgrounds for the kids? Is being close to a large park to pursue outdoor activities important to you?  
Maybe you want to be convenient to shopping or find a single level floor plan?  You may need time to explore and figure out where the things that are most important to you are.

man standing beside his wife teaching their child how to ride bicycle
Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

Juggling a move from one part of the country to the other will necessarily have some uncomfortable times – it’s emotionally stressful and often physically a bit uncomfortable too as you adjust to temporary housing and figuring out your way around the cities. Having a home base to operate out of even for a short time can ease that pain.  

Another thing to mention – because rentals are in high demand if you need to sublet because you found a permanent place to live you’ll likely have an easy time finding a taker – just make sure that the landlord on your rental is ok with that before you sign. 


Not everyone wants to or should be a home owner! Do you need to move often?  Buying a home has a lot of associated expenses and they are typically not easily recouped in a short period of time.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


If you want and need the flexibility to move without all of the expenses associated with buying or selling a home, then you should definitely rent.  Renting can be an option for any type of home or area in the Twin Cities – there are a lot of downtown condos available if you want to be in the heart of it all as well as options reaching out to the single family homes or townhouses in the suburbs.  Most single family homes are rented by owner, and not listed with an agent or a property management company. 


Another reason to rent is that you are saving up for a downpayment on a home because you DO want to become a homeowner eventually. The rental market in the twin cities is very tight, so this may not be the money saving option that you hope for unless you’re able to split the rent with roommates or somehow find something that will be well under your budget. 

Rents vary across the metro area but Average Rents in Minneapolis are: 

  • Minneapolis studio apartment is $1,297
  • Minneapolis 1-bedroom apartment is $1,541
  • Minneapolis 2-bedroom apartment is $2,432
  • Minneapolis 3-bedroom apartment is $2,960

How much do you need to save in order to buy? Probably not as much as you think!  There is a commonly held myth that you need to have 20% of the price of the home for a downpayment. This is just not true.  You can get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down.  Having more cash saved IS better, because you will want to have a cushion available when making offers in this environment.  


If you’ve seen any of my videos this year about how tough of a market it is for buyers, you’ll know that having the option to offer over list or to cover an appraisal gap is going to be very helpful for you in getting an offer accepted.  Even if you do not need to use all of your cash for a downpayment, moving into a home naturally leads to you to want to change a few things and make it your own so you should also plan to have some cash on hand in the event that you have something to change or fix. When you own your own home, there is no landlord and if the AC unit or water heater break that is now your problem, so try not to make your budget too tight.


For comparison to rental costs take a look at these estimated numbers by Nerdwallet.  $380,000 is the median price of a single family in the Twin Cities as of August 2021. We currently have exceptionally low interest rates if your credit is good – 3%! and even if you have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) because you did not have a 20% down payment you are still in a good position relative to renting IF buying is your preference. 

Nerdwallet.com Mortgage calculator


There are some other benefits to buying, including tax benefits and property value appreciation over time, so if you DO buy you’ll likely come out of it better off than when you purchased.  People talk about “generational wealth” or having something to pass down to help the next generation and home ownership is a fundamental element of that.  The National Association of Realtors said that prices appreciated by 22.9% in the past year – this is the result of a very tight supply of homes.  If you had purchased a home last year you actually may have been able to make some money selling it this year, but this is NOT the norm.  Prices rise and fall but the overall trend in values is UP.  Add this to the fact that you’ve built equity by paying your mortgage down over time and a home could be a spring board to other opportunities. 

Photo by Callum Hill on Unsplash


Another reason you may want to rent – if you do not want to be the one responsible for the maintenance on a house – either by paying someone to fix it or putting on that toolbelt and fixing it yourself, stick to renting and leave the headache to the landlord. The fact of the matter is that houses are nearly constantly in need of something and they are the biggest asset that most people own, so keeping them in good shape is important to your comfort AND your bottom line. 


Let me know if you want that list of places to start looking for a rental home, or if you’re wondering about how you can STOP renting and buy your own home – I’m here to help either way.

Living in Minneapolis

5 things that SHOCKED me when I moved to Minnesota!

Maybe the words “confused” or “amused” would also work to describe our reactions… 😉

I held a lot of stereotypes in my head about Minnesota but I also had a pretty large black hole where Minnesota information might have been if I had given Minnesota much thought at all before moving here… but I hadn’t. 


Disclaimer out front – we LOVE living in Minnesota. I’m probably going to get ridden out of here on rails for this video/post, but I’m still going to do it! I am not a native, I’ve lived in Ohio, Michigan, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL and now I’m here, so I’m just coming at this with the eye of an outsider, and I’m sharing it with you. 

#1 STATE PRIDE 

The first thing that struck us when we moved here was that Minnesotans are extremely proud of their state.  I have lived in SEVERAL other states as I mentioned and in none of them has there been this level of state branding worn by the residents.  People wear Minnesota gear ALL THE TIME. I don’t mean gear for just the sports teams, I mean it’s like school spirit day every day because people wear clothing & hats, put bumper stickers on their cars, there is Minnesota themed artwork in their homes –  you name it! All proudly proclaiming that they live in, and LOVE living in, Minnesota. It’s everywhere.  Also, Minnesotans do not tolerate a less than favorable comparison to another state very well, even just a hint of one. 


If there is any glory to be had, even if it’s tied by the very finest of threads, they will mention it. If someone does something notable and their uncle’s in-laws cousin once removed is from MN – well, good enough! Minnesota can lay claim. I really like it here too, I think a lot of this is somewhat justified. BUT this is a video about what stood out to me as an outsider and it is a very noticeable trait when you’re not from around these parts. 


One of my Minnesota born and bred friends explained that Minnesotans are a little sensitive about being in fly-over country, it’s a little out of the way if you’re from the coasts, and it hurts to have your exceptional light dimmed by the fact of geography. The place has a lot going for it and if you know, you know. But if you don’t know …you may be tempted to step in it a bit and not give credit where Minnesotans believe that credit is due. 🙂  If you’re on Twitter follow the account “Indignant Minnesotan” – whoever this is gets it.


#2 Infrastructure 

One thing that I was surprised by, and am now ecstatic over is that the infrastructure of the Twin Cities and the state as a whole is built very intentionally around helping people enjoy being outside. It took me a while to put my finger on it even though I take advantage of this nearly daily.  It’s just so EASY to be a part of the natural beauty and lakes that surround us whether it’s on foot, on bikes or in the water itself.  Chicago had some of this on the lake front, but MN has it EVERYWHERE.  It feels like Minnesotans are born feeling that being outside and having easy access to it is their birthright. 

scenic view of lake in forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


I absolutely LOVE this characteristic and I can’t believe how deeply integrated this is into most of the state – at least the parts that I’ve been in so far.  There are bike trails absolutely everywhere. City, suburb or exurb.  The lakes are an extension of the way people live here and a lot of parks have ways for you to enjoy the water whether it’s through beaches, boat rentals, paddle boards, keeping them cleared for skating and pond hockey in winter or making them accessible for fishing.  Much of the northern part of the state is forest or borders on Lake Superior and the parks and cabins that are available for spending time outside up there are extensive. Trails are used year round, for hiking, fat tire bikes, skiing, or snow mobiling. 

three men riding on bicycles
Photo by Dorothy Castillo on Pexels.com


#3 Cabin culture

This one isn’t too much of a shock based on the last one, but cabin culture here is strong. People clear out of the city pretty much every weekend through the summer to head up to the cabin. All summer long you’ll see lots of photos of people having fun outside at lakes and cabins and you can enjoy easier access to just about everything in the city because no one is here.We don’t have a cabin, but I imagine that would be nice. 😉 but in the meantime, I’ll just be here in Minneapolis enjoying fewer people at the things I want to visit. 

food wood man vacation
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com


4. The weather! 

Everyone thinks COLD when they think of Minnesota, what they don’t tell you is how ridiculously HOT it gets here in the summer.  The month of July is like a sauna. Super humid and super hot, it’s just gross.

man in black shirt drinking water from plastic bottle
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I am a cold weather person, I like to enjoy the moderate days and the sun for a few months but cold weather makes me happy inside. So July is not my favorite. We moved from Chicago which is significantly further south and it is significantly hotter here in the summer.  I like to tell my friends and family in Ohio when they start talking about how awful our weather here must be in the winter that it’s about 10 degrees colder in winter and 10 degrees hotter in summer. 

Most states talk about snow days for school. You aren’t likely to see that here. Kids go to school in the winter. The potential for kids being called off school for weather comes in when spring hits or the early fall when kids start back to school for a “heat day”. When it’s hot out with no AC in some of the schools, it’s intolerable and kids stay home (or go to the lake!).   We do get the occasional day called off for cold or snow too, MPS calls school when its -35F or colder with wind chill or if, there is an extra large and fast snowfall. Whatever you imagine this to mean – double it. 


5. The FAIR.

Minnesotans are OBSESSED with their state fair.  They call it the Great Minnesota Get Together. They love the rides, the CROWDS, the “pronto pups” aka corn dogs and the “sweet martha’s cookies”. People will go to the state fair multiple times during the week that it’s running. This is not an inexpensive endeavor, in 2021 they are honoring 2020 admission tickets. You’re best bet is riding one of the buses from the various park and rides rather than trying to find a place to park.  It’s a relatively inexpensive ticket and gets you there and back easily pretty much whenever you want to go. 

people riding carousel in park
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com


I don’t love it.

I keep trying.

I worry that there is something wrong with me, but then I think – I can’t be the only one that doesn’t love it! There must be more like me! I think we all try to keep it to ourselves to avoid the gasps of astonishment and confusion. 

It’s not personal Minnesota! I just don’t like huge crowds!

If you like being smooshed together with vast swaths of Minnesotan humanity – give it a try!  The one thing I DO love about the fair is the annual  “Crop Art” competition just because it is just SO MINNESOTAN, and so creative. It amazed me all three times I went.

But now I like look at photos instead so I don’t need to be near all those people.   

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!

Neighborhood Tours

New Hope!

Another surprising community! Today I’ll show you around New Hope MN and give you all the reasons you may want to consider living there.


Lately I’ve been working with several first time buyers, and if you remember buying your first home you probably didn’t have a massive pile of money for a down payment as many people who may have equity from a sale do, so you have to look for a starter house in a more affordable neighborhood. 

That’s where New Hope comes in!  A quick look at what is on the market right now illustrates my point – there are 30 active homes in New Hope ranging from a 1 bed 1 bath condo for $115,000 to only a few homes in the mid-upper $500’s with MOST homes being single family homes in the upper $200,000’s to mid $300,000’s.  The MEDIAN price in New Hope is at $309,000 whereas the Twin Cities Median is at $380,000. 

 
If you’re an investor and want to rent out a residential property you must register the property with the city. 


In addition to single family homes and people just starting out in life, New Hope makes senior living a priority as well. They have 3 long term care facilities, some assisted living complexes and senior citizen apartment homes. 

elderly couple holding bouquet of flowers while holding hands
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com


Let’s talk Property taxes… New Hope is in Hennepin County, the effective property tax rate in New Hope is 1.35%.  Hennepin County’s portion is 1.28%, the effective tax rate for the state of MN is 1.08%. Sales taxes since I looked this up as well – MN has a sales tax rate of 6.88% on everything except  (I believe!) food, prescriptions and clothing, and the sales tax rate in New Hope is 7.13%. 

tax return form and notebooks on the table
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com


The beauty of New Hope is not only the affordable home prices, but that New Hope is actually a really lovely community and it has a lot to offer.  


New Hope is an easy commute to downtown or the airport. It’s only about 20 minutes by car to downtown.  and Because I’m such a fan of our regional parks I also want to point out how close New Hope is to the beautiful Theodore Wirth Park. I touched on this park in my Golden Valley video (which you can watch next!) but Theodore Wirth really has it all. It’s just gorgeous, and can keep you busy outside no matter what season we’re in. 


If you are leaving town or going to fetch a visitor, it’s about 26 minutes to MSP airport and while you’re down there you can stop by the Mall of America and get your shopping done or amuse the kids on the roller coasters.  I was a major skeptic because I am not really a “mall person”, but I like “The Mall”!  It has so many great stores that you don’t see everywhere else, some nice food options and my kid and I had fun doing some of the rides the first time we stopped in.  Being close to it is nice because it can just be something you do for an hour or two and you don’t have to feel like you need to spend all day there since you can go back any time.  The Ikea is right next to the mall as well, so if you like. Swedish Meatballs and cryptic assembly instructions for affordable furniture that utilize allen wrenches  – you’ll be in heaven!


New Hope does NOT have it’s own school district, all schools in New Hope are part of the Robbinsdale Schools aka ISD 281.  It’s a pretty big district with 10 k-5 elementary schools, 2 middle and 2 high schools. I always recommend that you do your research and see if the school district that your home is in is one that you will be happy with. You can check out Niche.com or GreatSchools, but another option is to actually VISIT the schools and talk to the administration and see things for yourself.  


Speaking of brain food… New Hope residents have convenient use of 3 branches of the Hennepin County Library system.  They can easily access Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center, Golden Valley’s adorable little library, or the Rockford Library in Crystal. 
One of my favorite topics when giving community profiles is the park systems. I just think green space improves the quality of life for everyone.  New Hope agrees! They are a small city (only about 21,000 residents) but they have 18 city parks and several other venues offering all kinds of recreational activities including: 

  • the new Hope aquatic center which is a community pool and water slide
  • 2 off leash dog parksa 9 hole public golf course
  • disc golf course
  • ball fields 
  • a skate park 
  • tennis / pickleball courts
  • Community gyms with basketball courts that can be rented out for the day
  • and 3 outdoor skating rinks that are open in season. 
sunflowers on rack with price tag near orange canopy tent
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com


The city hosts a Farmers Market on Saturdays from the middle of June through the middle of October at City Hall. 


Lastly – Pets & fencing. Everyone’s favorite topics!

winking black and brown puppy
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com


New Hope allows for a LOT of pets – 3 dogs, 3 cats and 3 “other” household pets, as well as 3 “fowl”, This is not restricted to actual chickens – if you want ducks instead – go crazy!
All dogs, cats and ferrets need to be licensed and vaccinated for rabies. 


Fencing – IS ALLOWED! 🙂 


OK – that is ALL I HAVE on New Hope! It’s a lovely community that I feel lucky to have worked in lately. It offers a lot of great options to people that may be priced out of other areas of the city. It’s 100% worth considering if you’re wondering where to live in the twin cities metro. 
If you like this kind of content – I have an entire playlist of neighborhoods/suburbs on my YouTube Channel that you can look at to see what feels right for you.


Thanks for stopping by!

Living in Minneapolis · Neighborhood Tours

Golden Valley Minnesota

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, real estate is BUSY right now but I have been working on a profile of Golden Valley & I wanted to share that with you.

I’ve been working with some buyers and we have been spending quite a bit of time in Golden Valley.  Housing in the Minneapolis area is very tight right now and the availability of homes anywhere near the median twin cities home price of $330,000 are hard to find and gone within a day or two, and Golden Valley has been a surprising source of homes in this price range. While it definitely ALSO has higher priced homes, this is still an area that can be considered “affordable” and it has a LOT to offer. And I am going to cover it ALL (or at least a LOT of it!) and I’ll answer the 2 surprising questions I get asked so often about just about every area of the metro. 


Golden Valley gets it’s name from flowing fields of wheat, fields of sunflowers OR Irish immigrants that had fond memories of the River Shannon. As a midwesterner, I’m going to put my money on the wheat.

People are HAPPY there…


The city does a periodic survey of it’s residents to find out how they feel about the community, and 98% of Golden Valley residents give the city an “excellent” or “Good” rating for quality of life. The three top reasons for the rating are Housing and Neighborhoods, People, and Government and Services. I can’t really look at the PEOPLE side of things but I will give you a look at housing and government services. FYI the last survey was in 2016 and here is the link if you care to read it. 


Golden valley is in the NW side of Minneapolis and it is very conveniently located to the city. Since it is a suburb, if you are someone that likes to get away to state’s lakes and cabins in the north and west, you won’t really have to fight the traffic to get there.  

Commute


If you need to commute to downtown and you are taking your own vehicle the drive is about 10-15 minutes.  If you don’t want to pay to park, or you are planning to just hit a Vikings or a Twins game downtown, in the (hopefully) not too distant future you should be able to hop on the newly extended Metro Transit Blue Line light rail extension that will go from downtown and stop in Golden Valley on the way to other NW ‘burbs.  This extension will follow a current railway that is in place and not involve any new tracks. 


If you want to head out of town entirely or have someone heading in to visit, it’s only a 20 minute drive to MSP Airport. 

Types of housing


Most homes in golden Valley were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you love midcentury modern architecture THIS is the place – street after street of midmod homes. Some have been updated to a more current aesthetic but others have some true authenticity to them.  There is a market for both!  You’ll see some newer homes in my video tour as well.  A benefit of older housing stock is that they usually built on larger lots than we see today and the landscaping is mature.  The other thing that stands out to me is that typically these neighborhoods have some variation among the homes, you don’t see a lot of the “cookie cutter” feel that you get in newer subdivisions. 


The median home price in May 2021 for Golden Valley is $374,150. This is higher than the Twin Cities Metro as a whole. I have been working with a few buyers that have budgets in the low to mid 300’s and we have found options here! 



What will you pay in property taxes to live in Golden Valley? 


Golden Valley is in Hennepin County which has an effective property tax rate of 1.28% (state average is 1.08%) and Golden Valley property tax is at an effective rate of 1.38%. 

Work


Several large corporations have nice leafy campuses here including the HQs of General Mills and Tennant Company as well as major US offices for  Allianz Insurance, Honeywell & Resideo.  

Parks


Golden Valley, like much of the twin cities, loves their green space and parks.  They are also the home of one of the best parks in the Twin Cities area – Theodore Wirth Regional Park.  It’s 740 acres of happiness and outdoor fun. I’m just going to give you the highlights – in summer enjoy the golf course, disc golf course, beach, walking and biking trails, archery, or fishing and in winter tubing, x-ctry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, fat tire bike trails… 


15% of Golden Valley is PARK!  There are 2 off-leash dog exercise areas in outdoor hockey rinks at Gearty & Medley Parks, both  are FREE to use. Golden Valley does not require dog licenses, but they DO require a current rabies tag. 

curious golden retriever resting on grassy lawn
Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com


Part of the parks are TWO activity / community centers.  Lets start with the basic one – Davis Community Center attached to Meadowbrook Elementary. It’s a 10,000 sq foot gym space with open gym for basketball, pickleball, volleyball, kids gym activities and parks rec leagues. 

basketball team stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


The crown jewel in Golden Valley is the BROOKVIEW Center.  It’s so pretty!  It started life as a private country club and was purchased by the city in the 1960’s.


There is a beautiful building with a bar and grill and lots of patio seating overlooking the golf course and lawn bowling courts. The city grooms trails for x-ctry skiing and fat tire bikes in winter and if you have little kids that are going nuts indoors and need to burn off energy you can take them to the indoor play space at Brookview and buy yourself some sanity for about $5-$6/day depending on whether you’re a resident or not. 

Schools


Let’s talk about schools – Golden Valley does not have a school district of its own, residents in Golden Valley will send their children to either Robbinsdale Schools OR Hopkins Schools depending on the address of the home.  If you have a preference, it’s important to do your research up front and figure out what will work for you and make sure your home is where it needs to be to be in district.  One school that stood out to me is the Perpich school for the arts – its the tuition free state arts high school and if you have a child who is an artist and this is what they are drawn to more than anything, it might be a place to consider! Seems like such a valuable asset to have this available to students who are serious about the arts.  They even have a residence hall!

Library


Golden Valley has a small branch of the Hennepin County Library system.  The architecture fits with the rest of the town – very midcentury.  Despite it’s smaller size, every branch has access to the enormous number of books within the library system which includes 41 branches including the main branch downtown ad larger satellite branches like Southdale.  They will also request books and other material for you from libraries throughout the state via interlibrary loan. 


OK! Here it is! the TWO QUESTIONS I get asked ALL the time! 


1. Can I fence my yard?  YES – unless your’e in an HOA community that won’t allow it or has some restrictions, you may fence your yard!  Front yards may have a 4′ limit and back yards 6″ high, but see the city web site for rules. 
2. Can I have CHICKENS? YES! Up to 4 HENS per lot. Hennepin county municipalities have nearly all agreed to allow yard birds. 


And last thing – if you have chickens you won’t need much of this because they LOVE veggie scraps, but if you live in Golden Valley they do include municipal composting with trash pick up.  We separate compostables into green bins here and it goes to a large composting facility.  The beauty of this is the ability to compost meat or dairy which aren’t a good idea in backyard composting bins. 


That is ALL I have for Golden Valley today!  If you have questions – reach out! I’d love to chat and see how I can help you. 

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.

Living in Minneapolis · 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! 😉

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.