Minnesota is literally one of the coolest states in the United States, and yet it seems like everyone but those who live there have one misconstrued notion after another about the Gopher State–mostly that the whole place is just freezing.
Sure, this may be true in the winter (negative 20 degrees in January? Really?), but these freezing temps can only mean one thing: There must be something truly wonderful about this place if residents are willing to stick around throughout the year.
Today, Movoto Real Estate is taking a look at what makes Minnesota so wonderful and, as it turns out, much of it can be found in these 10 places.
So grab your booties and your scarf as we take you on a virtual tour of the best places in Minnesota. Here they are:
Why is Chanhassen the best place in Minnesota? How in the Hugo did we come up with this ranking? Believe it or not, there is a precise Saturday Night Science behind this list, and in the following paragraphs we’ll discuss our methods and just why each of these places made it to the top.
How We Did It
Just like our other Big Deal Lists, in order to come up with the best places in Minnesota, we needed some measurable criteria. We chose the following seven:
- Unemployment rate
- Cost of living
- Crime rate
- High school graduation rate
- Median household income
- Median home price
- Median rent price
We started out with a list of the 100 most populous places Minnesota, some as small as Waseca, all the way up to the state’s largest city, Minneapolis, with almost 393,000 residents. We gave each place, large and small, a rank from one to 100 in each of the criteria above. From there, we averaged the criteria together and gave each an overall score; the lower the number, the better.
Of course, each of these places in Minnesota is unique in its own way, but overall these 10 cities made it to the top of our list for some commonalities: low unemployment rates, low costs of living, and low crime rates; and high median incomes, home prices, rent prices, and a majority of residents hold high school diplomas.
To see how the top 50 places in Minnesota ranked, hop down to the bottom of the post. But first, let’s pay a visit to our winning city, Chanhassen.
Just southwest of Minneapolis in Carver and Hennepin counties lies our No. 1 city. Chanhassen did well in nearly all of our criteria (except maybe cost of living, but we’ll get to that in a minute), but where it really excelled was in employment, education, income, and home value.
With 97 percent of residents holding a high school diploma, Chanhassen is one of the top cities in the state in terms of education; and with an unemployment rate of just 4.6 percent, it is one of the most employed. Speaking of employment, Chanhassen has a median household income of over $100,000, making this the top earning city in Minnesota. It’s a good thing residents make so much money here, too, because the median home price is $360,400.
As mentioned briefly above, though, all of this comes at a price–literally. The cost of living in Chanhassen is 113—13 points higher than the national average of 100. While that isn’t as crazy as, say, San Francisco (152—ouch!), this is still 8 percent higher than the state average.
Lakeville may be just 23 miles south of downtown Minnesota, but as residents will surely tell you, this city stands just fine on its own, thank you. Lakeville is a community dotted with parks like Ritter Farm Park and Steve Michaud Park, and of course, there is the Stick Man.
All of this is not even why Lakeville came in at No. 2 in our study. With a high school graduation rate of 96 percent, Lakeville is one of the most educated cities in Minnesota, and certainly on our list. This city also has a cost of living of 108—and while this is still 4 percent higher than the state average, it is a vast improvement from, say, Edina where the cost of living is 118.
Lakeville also has an unemployment rate of just 4.8 percent, one of the lowest in the state.
This suburb of Minneapolis comes in among the top five on our list, not for its parks, top-rated schools, or unique residential areas; and not even because Money Magazine chose it as “America’s Best Place to Live” in 2008. Plymouth comes in at No. 3 on our list simply because it cleaned up in almost all of our criteria.
Plymouth’s high school graduation rate, for example, is an impressive 96 percent, its unemployment rate is a low 4.8 percent, and its median home price is $320,600—78 percent higher than the state average. Sure, the cost of living may be 111 (6 percent higher than the Minnesota average), but hey, with places like Ketsana’s Thai Restaurant, don’t you think it is worth it?
3. Maple Grove
Another city in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, Maple Grove comes in as our second No. 3 city for its high median household income, rent prices, and the fact that 97 percent of residents holding at least a high school diploma.
The median household income in Maple Grove is an impressive $92,768—that’s 68 percent higher than the state’s average. This comes in handy with a median rent price of $1,164. Luckily, though, the cost of living in Maple Grove is only 4 percent greater than the state average, so even with their monthly rent, residents won’t be stretched too thin in this city. All the more money to spend at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes—one of the Twin Cities’ largest shopping centers, right here in Maple Grove.
Located in Washington County just north of St. Paul, Hugo scored well in our study mostly for its low unemployment rate of just 4.8 percent, its high median rent price of $1,230 (indicating the area’s desirability), and its relatively low crime rate of just 1,344 crimes per 100,000 people—that’s 52 percent lower than the state average.
Even though Hugo is growing quickly these days, this city maintains a good portion of agricultural and undeveloped land, dotted with farms. Of course it’s not all picturesque fields, parks, lakes, and unspoiled shorelines (though there is a lot of this); residents here also enjoy a variety of businesses, restaurants, and things to do; just check out the Blacksmith Lounge for a hearty meal and some good old dive-bar fun. It’s a perfect local haunt to warm up during those cold winter nights.
6. Ham Lake
By far the most uniquely named place on our list, Ham Lake ranked highly for its crime rate 55 percent lower the state average, its median home price of $300,000, and its high median income of $89,472—62 percent higher than Minnesota’s norm.
Believe it or not, this city in Anoka County doesn’t have much to do with ham. In fact, it started out as a potato farming community, and today is known more as a great place to raise a family, with 25 parks, the annual Snow Bowl festival held each February, and, of course, the lowest tax rate in Anoka County—that’s not too shabby at all.
Located in Hennepin County, Rogers made it to the top 10 for its high median income of $92,202, its median home price of $294,100, and its crime rate of just 854 crimes per 100,000 people, making it the safest city on our entire list.
With benefits like these, it is no wonder Rogers has seen such steady growth over the past 20 years. Just from 2000-2010, the population growth rate was 139.6 percent.
Where Rogers really shines, though, is in its sense of community and history. Some of the earliest family names in Rogers still serve as key community members. Otto Scharber, for example, was a prominent businessman, owning a grocery store, hardware store, and John Deere dealership, which is still in operation today.
8. St. Michael
With a median household income of $86,427, a median rent price of $1,047, and an unemployment rate of just 4.8 percent, it’s no wonder St. Michael made it into our top 10. This city also has a cost of living of just 106, and while that isn’t as low as, say, Moorhead’s (86), it is only 2 percent higher than the state’s average, making St. Michael the least expensive city in our top 10.
Located in Wright County between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, this city is ideally placed for many of Minnesota’s northern recreational areas and access to the Twin Cities, but with the added bonus of a rural and small town feel.
Another suburb of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Woodbury caps off our list along with Eden Prairie. Woodbury scored an A with a high school graduation rate of 96 percent, a median household income of $91,383, and a median rent price of $1,169.
Residents seem more than willing to pay the price, which was made clear with the population increase of over 4 percent in the past year. What’s so great about Woodbury? Well, aside from scoring well in our study, Woodbury is the outdoorsy type’s dream. This city boasts over 3,000 acres of parkland, 100 miles of trails, plus the Bielenberg Sports Center, complete with softball, baseball, soccer, football fields, volleyball courts, and an ice arena.
9. Eden Prairie
The final city on our list, Eden Prairie, made it to our top 10 with a score equal to that of Woodbury’s. Where Woodbury scored an A for its high school diploma attainment rate, though, Eden Prairie must have scored an A+, because with 97 percent of residents holding a high school diploma or higher, it is one of the best-ranked in education on our list. Eden Prairie also has some of the highest home values in the state, with a median home price of $334,100; so it shouldn’t be surprising that this city also happens to have one of the highest overall costs of living at 112.
Luckily, with a median household income of nearly $90,000, residents here seem to be able to afford the higher price tag.
Sure, Minnesota may have its cold days, and, alright, some of them are downright frigid, but clearly residents stick out the chilly winters for a reason—and 10 of the best are right here on our list. So, congratulations to our winners, particularly to Chanhassen. We hope that this list has warmed you up, Minnesota. If not, we hear the Hotel Ivy in Minneapolis has one heck of a hot tub.