Minnesota first became a territory of the United States in 1849. Early settlers used Saint Anthony Falls as a way to power the sawmills in the area that would eventually shape the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and power the local economy. When the government built Fort Snelling in the area, more families began to move into the region. It would eventually become the 32nd state in May 1858.
Because of the Civil War and the Dakota War of 1862, the state’s early economy was in a constant state of upheaval. When the railroad finally came through, immigrants moved into the area to establish an agricultural economy. More goods came to the market and innovative milling techniques improved timber production.
Mining became a significant contributor to the growth of Minnesota as well thanks to the iron ore in the region. After the second world war, the state became a regional center for the arts, a technology hub for early computer companies, and a shipping force thanks to the ports at Two Harbors and Duluth.
List of the Pros of Living in Minnesota
1. The state offers a job market that stays relatively strong.
There are several metropolitan areas in Minnesota where work is easy to find, but there are numerous career opportunities here as well. A total of 17 Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the area, including Best Buy 3M and UnitedHealth Group. The unemployment rate hovers around 3% as of 2019, putting it right near the national average. You’ll also earn more than the federal minimum wage because the state requires $9.65 per hour. That’s one of the better rates in the entire Midwest.
2. Housing costs are about average in Minnesota.
According to information published by Zillow, the median home value in Minnesota is about $225,000. The listing price if you’re interested in a purchase is about $40k higher than that. If you look at the average cost for rent in the state, you’re looking at $1,500 per month. Home and rent values have increased by 8% in the past couple of years, especially in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.
There are still some great deals to be found in this area if you live in some of the more rural areas of the state, like Hoyt Lakes. Some one-bedroom apartments are listed for $500 per month compared to the $1,223 per month you’d pay living in Minneapolis for an equivalent space.
3. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes offers numerous opportunities to get outside to start exploring. There are five national parks to visit in the state, over 70 state parks, and you can even access the western-most point of the Great Lakes if you head up north. You’ll discover plenty of trails for hiking, cycling, and trail running. You can go climbing in the summer and skiing in the winter. With all of that lake water, owning a boat can help you to get out of the house as well. It would take several years to run out of new things to do when you start living in Minnesota, even if you try a different activity each weekend.
4. Minnesota provides an interesting culinary experience.
Even the Smithsonian takes note of the dining opportunities that are available in the Twin Cities and the rest of the state. The dishes in the state come from diverse origins, though there is a definite Swedish flare to many of the local dishes. You’ll discover that the first rule of food here is that bread is important – particularly a good rye bread. With over 100,000 Hmong refugees living in the state, you’ll find pop-up restaurants like Union Kitchen providing an introduction to their culture through the dishes they serve, such as larb.
Having dinner lakeside, on the harbor, or during a quiet evening with family or friends helps to warm the heart. It is a much-needed advantage for the cold Minnesota winters you will experience when living here.
5. You can visit the Mall of America.
The Mall of America is a monstrosity of a shopping center. It required over 133,000 tons of steel to create. You can fit 258 Statues of Liberty inside of it because of the overall size. There are so many stores there that you don’t have time to visit all of them on a single trip. You could even fit 7 baseball stadiums inside of it. There’s even an indoor theme park with rollercoasters for you to enjoy. Because of its overall size and the number of people who visit it every day, the facility operates its own counterterrorism unit.
6. There is a festival for everything in Minnesota.One of the great Midwestern traditions in the United States is to celebrate almost anything related to the culture or heritage of your community. You will find that there are festivals to enjoy all year long throughout the state. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is always a big hit. You’ll want to take the time to enjoy the Renaissance Festival as well. It can be a lot of fun to visit the small towns throughout the state to see some of their events too. Here are some examples.
- The Ely Winter Festival held every February for 10 days.
- Oktoberfest in New Ulm.
- Moose Madness Family Festival in Grand Marais each October.
7. The music in Minnesota is some of the best in the world.
When you start living in Minnesota, then you will quickly find that the musical influences that brought us artists like Bob Dylan, Morris Day, and Prince are still present in even the smallest towns. There are international artists who play concerts in the Twin Cities regularly. You can also make it out to different festivals, like the Midwest Music Fest in Winona, to experience this culture.
Minnesota has always had an adventurous spirit, and they are not afraid to experiment with different approaches. They once elected former WWE wrestler Jesse Ventura to be their governor.
8. Minnesota prefers to be progressive in its approach to life.
There is a building boom happening in Minnesota that has been going strong since 2013. The elections in the state tend to trend toward Democrats, but there are conservative places in the rural north where you can find a receptive audience to your ideas as well. Although there is an effort to be centrist here, the state overall tends to lean a little to the left in the political and social spectrums. Unlike some of the other states in the Midwest, there have not been significant budget struggles that have forced cuts to education or services, which means you can purchase a new home relatively free from worry.
9. The educational infrastructure in Minnesota is excellent.
There are over 200 colleges and universities currently operating in the state of Minnesota. Over 15% of them make it onto the annual list of the Best Colleges in the United States that U.S. News and World Report produces each year. The Twin Cities are frequently ranked as one of the most literate urban areas in the country, while the public library system is heavily funded and an excellent community resource in even the small towns. If you have a passion for learning or want to get your kids started on the right foot, then you will find several excellent schools waiting for you here.
10. This state offers an excellent quality of life.
Even if you were to forget the fact that there are over 11,000 lakes to explore in Minnesota, that there are 90,000 miles of shoreline, lots of trees, fresh air, and access to some of the country’s best hiking trails, it would be difficult to ignore all of the other benefits that help families to create a way of life here that feels like a throwback to a different era. There are some neighborhoods where the folks might not be socially friendly until they get to know you, but they’ll blow the snow from your driveway without giving it a second thought.
You’ll also find that people wave to you when passing by because it’s the nice thing to do. So what if they don’t know who you are? If you’re there, then you have a reason to be there that is important, so it deserves to be acknowledged. That’s one of the best reasons to start living in Minnesota.
11. The sun stays out late during the summer months.
Because you are living further to the north, the sun doesn’t like to set until deep in the night during the summer months. It stays light until 9:30 pm in late June, even as far south as the Twin Cities. If you get closer to the Canadian border, then it might be closer to 10:30 pm on some evenings. That means you have even more opportunities to explore because it is easier to stay up late and enjoy the weather.
List of the Cons of Living in Minnesota
1. Winters in Minnesota will challenge you physically and emotionally.
The winter season in Minnesota can be brutal, even if you are living in the Twin Cities. Snowfall totals are usually measured in feet instead of inches, especially if you live in the northern part of the state. Even when the plows are running full-time after a storm, it can be 2-3 days before you get to leave your house again. Then there is the bone-chilling cold that can seep in from the arctic, plunging temperatures to -20°F regularly.
A small city named Tower in Minnesota, in the northern part of the state on the southern shore of Lake Vermillion, recorded a record low of -60°F (without windchill) in 1996. If you like to walk or bike to work, then this disadvantage can present a significant challenge to those efforts.
2. Mosquitoes are everywhere during the summer.
Although the summers are generally cool because of its location in the upper Midwest, the temps get warm enough to encourage the insects to come out to play. Because there are thousands of lakes in the state, it is a natural breeding ground for mosquitoes. Minnesota might be the largest producer of sugar beets in the country most years, but it also leads in the number of bites that you’ll receive from those blood-sucking creatures. You’ll want to invest heavily in some good bug repellent if you want to enjoy many of the outdoor opportunities that are waiting for you here.
3. You’ll want to start loving Caribou Coffee.
Washington State may have given Starbucks coffee to the world, but Caribou Coffee is Minnesota’s contribution to that conversation. If you decide to start living in the Twin Cities, then you are going to see one of these establishments on almost every street corner. If you’re stuck with the winter blues because it is so cold outside and you’re tired of looking at snow, one of their specialty drinks by the fireplace can be a cozy experience.
If you’re used to a different option for your morning pick-me-up, then this change in routine can be jarring to some people.
4. Hospitality isn’t the first urge of many Minnesotans.
The people who live in Minnesota tend to speak their mind. If you have ever heard of the phrase “being honest to a fault”, then that perfectly describes the conversation experience that you’ll encounter here. If someone doesn’t like your political views, the new hair color you’re trying, or the shirt you wear, then you’re likely to receive a sarcastic compliment about what you are doing. It’s a tendency that is often referred to as being “Minnesota nice.” What’s worse is the fact that when you offer a similar response in return, that person will usually become insulted and offended by your “rude” attitude.
5. You will experience the love-hate relationship that all Midwestern states have for each other.
There are plenty of transplants that live in Minnesota from the Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. You will quickly discover that there is a love-hate relationship that exists for everyone with their neighbors. It is not unusual to hear someone say something like, “So, you’re from Iowa? Doesn’t that state represent idiots out walking around as an acronym?” And there are similar complaints about Wisconsin attitudes and drivers from anywhere else.
If you really want to get the blood boiling, talk about how the Green Bay Packers are superior to the Minnesota Vikings. Gridiron football is a passion in the state, including the Golden Gophers and their Big 10 representation in the NCAA.
6. Some of the food options in Minnesota are items you’ll want to skip.
Minnesota might offer you access to some ethnic cuisine and fine-dining opportunities, but the residents of this state are more famous for their desire to fry anything. When it is time for the State Fair, then there is an insane desire to place all of those fried foods on a stick. Some of them are incredible finds, such as the fried cheese curds. You can find fried olives, macaroni and cheese, mango, and alligator sausage all presented in a similar way. Don’t forget to try the teriyaki ostrich on a stick if the booth is open for business.
7. The tax rates in Minnesota are much higher than most other states in the region.
One of the reasons why Minnesota hasn’t had the same budget shortfalls as other states in the Midwest is because of their shockingly high tax rates. There are four income tax brackets in the state, with the minimum rate being 5.35%. It can go as high as 9.85% based on your annual income and filing status. If you move there to retire, then you need to know that the state taxes your Social Security benefits and all other forms of retirement income.
Although the property taxes in the state are about average for the rest of the country, the state sales tax for transactions can vary from 6.875% to 8.875% depending on where you live. That means it can get to be pretty expensive to live here, especially if you are on a fixed income.
8. Traffic can be a significant problem in the Twin Cities and the southern corridor.
If you live in the northern part of the state, then traffic is a non-issue for you. If you live or visit the Twin Cities, then the commute is better than what you’d experience in NYC or Los Angeles, but it is far from being free of congestion. I-94, I-394, and I-35 receive heavy traffic levels during rush hour that can leave you at a stand-still for several minutes. You can’t avoid the arterials by taking the side streets either because they get clogged up too. When you first start living in Minnesota, you’ll want to plan out your routes carefully to ensure that you can get to work on time – especially in the winter months.
9. Road construction is a way of life in Minnesota.
Because there are four distinctive seasons to enjoy when you start living in Minnesota, there is an enhanced need to take care of the transportation infrastructure. The pavement expands and contracts with the temperature extremes, which means road construction is an annual tradition here that most people do not life. When the traffic cones are distributed liberally to repair pot holes, cracks, and other issues, then the lane closures and detours can add a significant amount of time to your regular commute.
10. There is a lack of effective public transportation outside of the downtown sectors.
If you are living and working in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, then the public transportation system is an effective way to get around the city. When you decide that the suburbs are a better option for your family, then it is almost impossible to manage your circumstances without a vehicle. Because there are so many road treatments necessary to control the icy conditions that happen 4-5 months out of the year, you’ll need to invest in an undercoating for your car and be proactive about rust spots.
11. Minneapolis is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
The violent crime rate in Minneapolis stands at 1,063 reported incidents for every 100,000 people. That’s almost three times what the median rate is for the United States. There were 47 murders reported in 2015. Although the unemployment rate is competitive, the jobs tend to be either part-time or on the lower end of the payment spectrum. About 1 in 5 households are living in poverty, which adds more pressure to the overall safety factor that you’ll experience when living here.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in Minnesota
If you are thinking about a move, then living in Minnesota might be an option to consider. The Twin Cities often make it on the “Best Places to Live” lists for most publications. Even the urban parks in the state often rank higher than what you can find in places like Boston or New York City.
You will find some eccentricities in the culture here, especially if you are moving from Iowa or Wisconsin, but much of the teasing is in good fun. There’s an expectation that it will be returned. Just watch out for those who like to be offensive without wanting to get something back.
The pros and cons of living in Minnesota show that it is a genuinely nice place to settle down, find a great job, or start a family. There is a way of life here that still speaks of tradition, even with the presence of modern amenities, and that means your greatest challenge most years is to withstand the cold.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.