The Land of 10,000 Lakes has more going for it than just politeness, cheese curds and ice fishing. Minnesota residents enjoy a high quality of life that features excellent school systems, low unemployment rates and lots of amenities--and at a price that's affordable.
In order, here are five of the top places to live in Minnesota without breaking the bank. But know: These cities aren’t necessarily the cheapest places in the state. Instead, we looked at the average cost of living, as well as key components such as transportation, housing, dining options and utilities. From this, we looked for cities that offered a nice balance between affordability and quality of life. Check ‘em out:
Mostly located in the wistfully named Blue Earth County, Mankato is a popular place to call home.
The median home price, here, is a decent $151,100, and median household income sits around $43,000.
Mankato is a great place to raise kids. Sibley Park has a combination petting zoo and barnyard-themed playground. The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is also here.
Mankato bicyclists are pretty active with both the Red Jacket Bike Trail and the Minnesota River Trail in operation.
A short drive from the city allows paddlers – both canoeist and kayakers – to venture along the Minnesota River. Another short drive takes them to Minneopa State Park, featuring camping, the 40-foot-tall Minneopa Falls and a bison drive.
There are also five wineries and breweries in the area.
A St. Paul suburb, Woodbury is near the big city but still maintains a small town feel.
Real estate prices are a little steep, here, with the median home price sitting at $267,500. But the median household income is also higher at $98,974.
For the sports-minded, the Bielenberg Sports Center can’t be beat. The multi-use sports facility features a 90,000-square-foot indoor field house, two indoor ice rinks, an outdoor ice rink, 36 outdoor athletic fields and a splash pad.
In the summer, Woodbury Days presents a carnival-like atmosphere with music, parades, a car show and fireworks.
Known as a “river town” due to its proximity to the Mississippi, Vermillion and St. Croix rivers, Hastings' history is centered on the railroads and boat ports.
Today, the city is a great place to live, according to its residents. In all, 97 percent said their quality of life here was good or excellent during a 2014 survey conducted by the Morris Leatherman Company.
And its easy to see why, as the city supports 400 acres of open space in 33 parks and 28-miles of trails. There are also swimming pools, disc golf and skating rinks.
Hastings also has a strong arts community including the Black Dirt Theater, the Hastings Art Center and BreakAway Arts.
Median home price is $175,200 while median household income is $64,119.
Situated in Steele County, Owatonna has an eye on the past while looking ahead to the future.
The small town is filled with historic structures including a Louis Sullivan-designed bank building, the Orphanage Museum on the site of the former site of the Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children, and the Owatonna Senior High School, which has appeared in a number of movies.
Mineral Springs Park provides a number of trails to hike, bike or cross-country ski, depending on the season. Kapland Woods Parkway also allows a nice way to stretch residents’ legs.
For those looking to cool off on a hot summer’s day, there’s River Springs Water Park.
Median home price comes in at $146,400, while the median household income is $52,790.
With a motto of “first class city, first class service,” it’s no wonder that Rochester ends up in the top spot on our list.
In addition to being affordable, it was also the top city on Livability’s 100 Best Places to Live list in 2016.
And surprisingly, you don’t have to pay a lot to live here. The median home price is $163,400 while the median household income sits at $63,472.
Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic, the largest non-profit medical facility in the world, so there is great access to healthcare and employment opportunities here.
Another big bonus for Rochester is the number of educational opportunities available including the University of Minnesota – Rochester campus.
The number of students here has created a hip music scene, a thriving arts community and other cultural events.
Rochester is also a very green city with more than 3,600 acres of parkland, 85-miles of paved trails and 100 individual park areas.