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!

Neighborhood Tours · small towns and exurbs · Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of the river in downtown Northfield from Tripadvisor

Northfield Parks

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

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

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

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

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

Awards- Northfield brings home the bling

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

Northfield MN Schools

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

Demographics – who lives in Northfield?

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

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

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

Northfield Public Library

Image courtesy of the Friends of the Northfield Public Library

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

Grocery Stores that serve the Northfield area

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

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

Senior Citizens

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

Other Attractions in Northfield…

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

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

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

Goodsell Observatory image from mortarr.com

I think that’s it?

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

Neighborhood Tours · Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

Parks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Housing

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

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

Schools

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

Shopping

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

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

Library

photo HCLIB.ORG

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

Commute

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

Uncategorized

Waconia

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.

Photo by Austin on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

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!

Photo by Magnus Martinsen on Pexels.com

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.

Neighborhood Tours

St. Louis Park, MN – a winter tour

Theodore Wirth Park has TWELVE sledding hills + tubing + bike & ski trails… it’s fun to be outside in winter!

I made a video on Saint Louis Park – stop by my YouTube Channel! https://youtu.be/W0ESPeTzz00

When I make neighborhood tour videos for my YouTube channel they always seem to get the most interest, and I stopped doing them when the snow and cold came around. Today I woke up and wondered why I was being such a wimp. I realized I didn’t want to shine a bad light on MN, and people hold so tightly to their convictions about the terrors of snow and cold – in fact a Washington Post reporter that moved to far NW MN from DC and wrote a book and an article about how happy he was and how much he actually enjoyed winter, was fairly viciously attacked in the comments when it posted on line.

So, I guess I was traumatized. undefined

And then I said to myself – NO! I will not let the haters get me down – I will stand in solidarity with Christopher Ingraham and defend winter!

So here goes nothing! Don’t hurt me.

I took myself on a little driving tour of the first ring suburb of St. Louis Park. It sits directly west of the city and abuts the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis on one side and the City of Edina to the south. It is more affordable than the two of them, but because of the proximity to the city and the relatively more affordable prices, it has become a really hot area and things do not stay on the market for very long. The housing stock is pretty typical of SW Minneapolis in general – lots of 1950’s cape style bungalows, gradually giving way to 1960’s and 1970’s ramblers & split levels. I’m adding info about the home prices and the current market to the video….

It would be easy to picture the Brady Bunch living in SLP. I would not say that there is a lot of “historic charm”, but people have done some nice things with the ramblers (for the rest of the world – this is the MN term for a ranch style home). Lots are larger. There are sidewalks – and to me that is worth noting. I like walking without being hit by a car.

I admit to not spending an incredible amount of time in SLP other than driving through or shopping, so this was an enlightening trip for me as well. I was pretty pleased by some of what I found.

The Saint Louis Park rec center is not what I expected AT ALL! I thought it was a gym. It’s actually a park with an outdoor pool and water slides, and THREE full size ice rinks – 2 inside and a gorgeous outdoor rink as well. It’s a hockey paradise. Men with beards and big bags of equipment were pouring in for the open hockey that was happening.

SLP sits right on the the Cedar Lake Trail (temporarily closed because of light rail construction) and that connects to the Midtown Greenway and a whole network of other bike trails throughout the city and the suburbs.

At the “West End” you can find shops, restaurants (I tried “Lucky Cricket” Chinese restaurant and Tiki Bar today – Andrew Zimmern’s place. I was alone so I didn’t order a lot, but loved what I had – ShuMai burger). The insane Costco is over there, so if you’re feeling very Zen and can deal, or alternatively, if you’re feeling aggressive and want your anger to blend in, stop by! It’s mostly the parking lot that can change normally kind people into homicidal maniacs. Side note – there are 8 in the metro area, so if you go to the one in SLP consider yourself warned. There are other (more peaceful) choices. Just sayin’.

Tiki!

SLP has a very nice nature center on the far NW side of the city – I’ll come back in summer. The visitor’s center is being rebuilt and there are trails around a lake there. It’s called Westwood Nature Center and it reminds me a lot of the little oasis in Richfield – the Woodlake Nature Center.

Other outdoor activities… Theodore Wirth Park – an amazing and HUGE park with snow tubing! Groomed x-ctry ski trails! Biking trails – yes, even in winter! 12 sledding hills there alone! Snow boarding!

11 of the neighborhood parks have some sledding, night time lights, ice skating and a few have warming houses. I love this aspect of MN- it’s easy to be outside having fun year round.

Disc golf in winter at Brookview Golf Course! CURLING! I mean – that seems like a very Minnesota thing to do. Don’t ask me what it is.

Indoor – head to Punch Bowl Social for food and bowling. Or take the kids to Roller Garden – it’s old school fun.

That’s all I have for today and it’s way more than I thought I would have when I started out this morning. St. Louis Park surprised me. You may like it too!

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