I went out and looked at some of the homes on the Parade of Homes tour and this custom build was so pretty. Click to watch my tour with the listing agent. It was a truly grim day on the outside, but bright and comfortable inside!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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%
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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%.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t know why I’m consistently surprised every time I profile a community, but I seriously underestimated Waconia. I think in this case I may have had a bit of urban arrogance… 😉
Waconia is a small community – only about 11,000 people – and it is 30 minutes directly west of Minneapolis. It’s kind of on the edge of Twin Cities development and there are still farms and fields on the way there and more so as you head west. I did not expect it to be able to offer all that it does!
Waconia has a charming downtown area that is still alive and kicking – businesses were busy when I drove through there on a Wednesday morning. I didn’t notice any vacant store fronts- something that breaks my heart when I drive through small towns. The downtown sits just off Lake Waconia and has the classic central square with the gazebo and a playground.
I’m always interested in parks, schools, libraries, and what things the city offers it’s residents – Waconia scores well on all of these things, plus a lot more.
The location on the lake is a huge plus – Lake Waconia Regional Park has a beach, geocacheing, sled hills, cross country ski and snow shoe rentals for winter fun on the trails. Waconia is a small community but it has has 3 community parks and 18 smaller neighborhood parks.
For such a small town, I was surprised at the amenities offered by the city – Safari Island (the name confuses me a bit, why SAFARI in Minnesota?), has an indoor aquatic center, fitness center, running track, basketball courts, and a kids play area. Hockey & ice arenas are a big deal here, and Waconia is keeping up with the Jones’. You won’t be deprived of your ice time here – and if the prices listed on their site are accurate, it’s super affordable.
Waconia has 3 wineries, a distillery, and a brewery that hosts food trucks or allows you to order or bring in your own food. If alcohol isn’t entertaining enough for you check out Carlson’s Lovable Llamas. Don’t say that there isn’t variety!
There is a wide variety of housing in Waconia – townhomes, and twinhomes, older single family homes near the center of town – either historic, character type homes or more mid century as you move outward a bit. On the outer edges of town are newer subdivisions with large modern homes on smaller lots. The least expensive home for sale in Waconia today was a 3 bed, 2 bath 2015 townhouse listed at $280K, and the most expensive single family home is a brand new lake adjacent build listed at $1.345M, but the median SF home price in Waconia is $340K, so higher than the twin cities median of $290K, but I would say lower than other western suburbs.
Niche.com gives Waconia schools an A rating, so if you have kids, there is lots to do between the parks, lakes and llamas, and they will likely make it out of school with some knowledge stowed between their ears.
I have previously expressed my lack of enthusiasm for cookie cutter neighborhoods. This one isn’t QUITE as unique as Cobblestone Lake (see my last post), but it definitely has it’s charms.
It’s a small neighborhood right near the most beautiful park in this part of the metro area – Lebanon Hills. I feel like I sing the praises of Lebanon Hills every other video / post at this point – but it’s a really nice park! I like parks, sue me.
The homes are all a similar style – 3 or 4 level splits, but the neighborhood is established enough to have mature trees, and people have lived in the homes long enough to have made changes to them.
I also didn’t think I loved split level homes, but it turns out I love THESE split level homes! I’ve been in two of them recently with clients, and both had the same kind of cozy feel – not necessarily SMALL, but because of the nature of the 4 level split it has a smaller footprint and goes up one level, and down TWO levels. They seem to go on and on. I’m one of the rare breed (or silent majority?) that likes a home with WALLS. I’m not opposed to a certain level of openness, and I think high ceilings add a lot (these have them!), but when you have more than one person living in a house, it’s nice to have a separate space that isn’t a bedroom that you can go to and still be OF the house but not necessarily right in the mix. If you’re living in MN, you will also appreciate that they all seemed to have fireplaces for winter coziness and beautiful back yard landscaping – either a deck or a patio – to enjoy the summer and fall.
The neighborhood has a really interesting layout – every street is a cul-de-sac! Until I had a kid I didn’t realize exactly how much I would like a cul-de-sac. The only traffic on any one of the short streets has a purpose for being there, there aren’t ANY cars using the neighborhood as a shortcut and there is only one way in or out, and that way has a bike/walking trail running right down the middle of it.
One of the homes we looked at backed up to the shopping area on this map – at first it was a little startling and we thought possibly not a great idea, but who hasn’t been one ingredient short when making dinner? it was quiet, and the walking/bike path continues from the entrance to the neighborhood on Lexington Pointe Parkway straight back to the shopping area. If you feel like heading over to the Eagan Arms Public House or Theresa’s Mexican restaurant – easy peasy!
If you have kiddos, they can take that same path over to Northview Elementary or Dakota Hills Middle School. Both have “A” grades on Niche.com.
Last but not least – it was apparent that this neighborhood had an active HOA. While it didn’t seem to revolve around ridiculous rules about the color of your curtains, the fees paid in went to maintaining the beauty of the neighborhood – either the abundant gardens lining the entry to the neighborhood, or the neighborhood mailboxes.
The three times I was in the neighborhood I saw people out walking and enjoying time with their neighbors. It just felt like a really welcoming little community.
Right now, single family homes in Eagan have a median home price of $341,000. They spend very little time on the market and they get at least 100% of their asking price.
Have a question about a particular suburb or neighborhood? Let me know!
Calm down, professor! I’m about to tell you!
A lot of these blog posts are actually motivated by me trying to answer the question “why?” about a particular suburb or area of town. I live in Minneapolis and while I spend time in the suburbs looking at homes for clients or visiting a venue or store, I try to take a bit of a closer look when I do these so I can really understand the character of the different communities around the metro areas.
It’s a Bedroom community – Apple Valley is residential with the exception of the shopping centers serving it along 150th & Cedar & parts of Galaxie. If you want to live near your company’s HQ, this is probably not the place. There isn’t really any nightlife or a a wide selection of non-family style entertainment options. But that’s great if what you are looking for is a quiet community that serves your everyday needs and you don’t mind taking a short drive when the urge strikes to do something else.
It’s only about 25 minutes into Minneapolis and less than 20 to the airport.
How do residents keep themselves occupied?
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley. The zoo is great because they actually do more than educate & entertain children, the zoo holds a concert series that has some pretty big headliners and attracts people out of the city down to Apple Valley for some fun as well.
Apple Valley has easy access to Lebanon Hills Regional Park which is the largest park in the Dakota County system. They have really well marked trails that are various distances to get out and get a hike. We’ve been there and had a great time spotting different animals and types of caterpillars. If you’re an equestrian and want a place to ride – there are a lot of trails for you here as well!
The park also has a campground if you want to get a taste of roughing it without driving very far and a beach at Schulze lake.
Galaxie Library is really a gem – big and beautiful and looks to have been newly renovated.
Apple Valley goes for that small time community vibe by having celebrations a couple of times a year to bring everyone together – Freedom Days in summer with the pre-requisite parade and fireworks, but the one that sounds more interesting (and needed) happens in February when everyone in Minnesota has about had it with being cold or in the house – they have what they call “Midwinter Fest”. It’s sad that February is MID-Winter, but who am I to argue? Midwinter Fest has horse drawn wagons, ice skating and ice hockey, bonfires and smores, and indoor activities like pickleball and volleyball tournaments.
About 52,000 people call Apple Valley “home”, and 79% of them are home owners. The median income in Apple Valley is $87,164, and the median single family home price is above the twin cities median at $331,000. However, I thought it was really noteworthy how many townhouses, twinhouses, and condos were in Apple Valley – really great housing diversity. Condos have a median price of $122,000 and Townhomes are at $218,500. Another thing that struck me was that there were a lot of homes that looked to be single-level living and that isn’t the easiest thing to find in the Twin Cities area, so if that is a requirement for a comfortable lifestyle for you, you may want to consider Apple Valley.
And last, but not least, if you have kids and you’re evaluating schools, Apple Valley is ranked an A+ on niche.com. The high schools are really large, but there is a lot of diversity in educational choices for elementary – they have 4 schools that really stood out for specialized programs. They have a School of Environmental Studies, Cedar Park Elementary STEM School, Diamond Path Elementary School of International Studies and Echo Park School of Leadership, Engineering and Technology.
This week I spent some time in Apple Valley and found a couple of neighborhoods that need to be highlighted! Stay tuned for those.