A Guide to Moving to: Minnesota

(Everything you need to know - and more)

A red canoe rests on a rocky shore in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota

So you're considering moving to Minnesota, but your decision is a few ticks short of 100%. Well, friend, you've come to the right place - especially for you, we've compiled an amazing, TV Guide-style reference list of some of the major points of consideration for people contemplating a cross-country relocation.

Minnesota has several different state nicknames, a few of the most commonly-recognized being the North Star State (which most likely evolved from the state's motto, "L'Etoile du Nord" - meaning "Star of the North"), the Gopher State (due to the prevalence of these adorable little creatures) and the Land of 10,000 Lakes (even though the state actually has 11,842 lakes - but "10,000" just sounds cleaner).

An estimated 5,628,162 people currently live here, with 100,000 people moving here each year. This greatly overshadows the estimated 6,600 people who leave the state each year. The state has three major cities with a population of more than 100,000 - Minneapolis, at 410,939, St. Paul, at 300,851 and Rochester, at 112,225. More than 60% of the population of the entire state resides in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

The North Star State gave us big names like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Prince (locals supposedly worship him) and Bob Dylan, and hosts the annual world championships of the arcade game “Big Buck Hunter.” They're also known for having some of the coldest winters in the country, and for putting the cheese inside their burger patties (known as a "Juicy Lucy"). In addition, there are more golfers per capita here than in any other state.

Still craving more? Well then, friend, read on to discover more tasty tidbits about the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and see if you can envision yourself as a Minnesotan. No matter where you choose to move to in Minnesota, make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Job Market

So we already know that Minnesota has a bustling major-metropolitan area, but the state also has 17 Fortune 500 companies, including UnitedHealth Group, CHS, 3M and Best Buy. Plenty of employment opportunities are created by these companies alone, but what does the job market as a whole look like?

For starters, the state's unemployment rate is a low 3.1%, which is down from the 7.9% it was back in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's minimum wage is also a couple dollars higher than the federal figure, at $9.65/hour, according to minimum-wage.org.

Some of the fastest-growing job fields, include home health aide, personal care assistant, operations analyst, nurse practitioner, massage therapist, credit counselor and physical therapist. The highest-paying jobs include OB/GYN, psychiatrist, general practitioner, dentist, CEO, nurse anesthetist, benefits manager and architect.

That's a nice variety of job fields out in the Gopher State - and with such a low unemployment rate, odds are lookin' good for you to find yourself a satisfying, high-paying new career. 

Housing

Though you may be fantasizing about moving to Minnesota and camping right by one of the thousands of lakes for the rest of your days, it's probably a good idea to look into getting yourself a more permanent housing situation (after all, it gets pretty dang cold in the winter, we're told). So what is the housing market out here like, you ask?

Well, the median home value in Minnesota is $225,210, with homes currently listed on the market at an average of $265,900 - and median rent is around $1,500/month. The average price of homes sold is $218,900. Home values have increased an impressive 8.2% over the past year, and are predicted to rise another 4.9% in the upcoming year.

As far as apartments go, the state's capital, St. Paul, has one-bedrooms going for an average of $1,076/month. Minneapolis is a bit pricier, with one-bedrooms going for $1,223/month, and two-bedrooms for $1,635/month. However, in some of the state's smaller towns, like Hoyt Lakes, you can find places for as low as $450/month for a one-bedroom.

There's a decent amount of new construction popping up, too - mainly in and around the Twin Cities - Minneapolis and St. Paul. There's also a bit surfacing further to the southeast, around Rochester. Additionally, new construction is scattered throughout the center of the state - but there's virtually nothing happening in the northwestern corner.

Homes here are also quite new, which states that the majority of homes still standing were built in the decade 2000 to 2010. So there's certainly a good chance of not just finding a home in an area you like here, but finding a brand spankin' new one, at that.

Culture and Natives

Minnesotans have a unique term to describe themselves - "Minnesota Nice" – because the people are often represented as being considerate and caring citizens who look out for one another. Residents say that those who grew up in Minnesota tend to stay there, and as a result, many social circles are made up of childhood friends - which can make it tough for new residents to make it past acquaintance-status with long-term locals.

Minnesotans like to speak their mind, but they mainly do it in a passive-aggressive way. If they say you look "interesting," it's their polite way of saying "terrible." When locals ask you to bring a "salad" to a get-together, they're probably actually talking about a Jell-O salad (look it up) - so if you show up with greens and carrots, you can bet you'll be laughed at later.

People in the Land of 10,000 Lakes have an accent all their own - for example, they say the word "bag" as if they're going to actually say "bagel". The word "flag" rhymes with "plague" here. They're also fans of making their own catchphrases through combining words - such as, "youbetcha" or "dontchaknow?"

Locals will warn you to check your change closely here - you're likely to end up with Canadian coins in your pocket at some point, due to the state’s proximity to that country. Also, you wouldn't want to be caught dead at a Starbucks - here, it's all about the Caribou Coffee chain (or go home).

North Star Trivia

In Minnesota, the cabin-on-a-lake lifestyle is really idolized. Many residents opt to own both their main home and a cabin (likely near a lake) for vacations and weekend getaways. There's also one recreational boat for every six people in this state - which is more than any other place in the country. 

Proud Minnesotans will boast that the cold makes them strong. Ice fishing is a beloved pastime and recreational activity here (because what sounds more fun that sitting on frozen lake for hours on end?). The state is also well-equipped to handle their winter weather - the downtown area in Minneapolis has eight miles of climate-controlled skyways connecting buildings within an area of 69 blocks, to help residents keep shopping without freezing. 

In addition, the state has policies in place for snow - it's cleared as soon as it finishes falling, for starters. They have certain rules for where to park after a large snowfall, too, including specified streets, or side areas of streets. They're also on top of their salting game when it comes to expecting winter weather, and any damage to the roads is repaired in the summer. Locals are seasoned pros at driving in inclement weather, too.

Kids aren't so lucky in getting out of school, though. Because of the state's precautionary measures and proactive handling of massive snowfall, schools and workplaces are often able to remain open. No video games for you today, kids. 

In addition to putting cheese inside their burgers (instead of on top, like the rest of the world), Minnesotans have a love of all things deep-fried - including fruit. Deep-fried cheese curds are another resident favorite. So if you're invited to a barbeque, go ahead and fry up that veggie platter in advance. Residents here also have a real love of pho – after all, it is super-cold here, and who wouldn't want to warm themselves up with a delicious bowl of the stuff?

Can't-Miss Minnesota Fun + Activities

Whether you're fantasizing about spending your days in a frigid cabin on a frozen lake or you're busy whipping up some tasty(?) Jell-O salad, Minnesota has plenty more for you to see and do.

Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  •  Mall of America: Located in Bloomington, this is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. With more than 500 stores, 60 restaurants and the largest indoor theme park in the nation, this mall will drain your wallet and leave your feet sore for days to come. Some of its features include Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the LEGO store, FlyOver America, the Crayola Experience, the Escape Game, black light mini golf and more. Visitors say that it can take a full three days to explore the whole thing. Prepare to go broke and pass out from exhaustion.
  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival: Minnesotans don't just survive their winters - they celebrate them. One of the main attractions of this annual event is a unique (and chilly) Ice Palace - yes, a palace literally made of ice blocks, that visitors can actually walk through. Over the years there have been 36 different unique designs, some containing more than 25,000 ice blocks. The event also features snow and ice sculpting contests, beer tastings, musical performances, art exhibits, a torchlight parade, a jigsaw puzzle contest and a Vulcan Krewe. Prepare to get funky - and frostbitten. 
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art: One of the largest art museums in the U.S., it holds collections from more than 5,000 years of history and more than 80,000 works of photography, paintings, textiles, drawings, prints and decorative arts. The museum features a comprehensive look at art from several different regions of the world. It offers a variety of traveling collections, as well.
  • Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Spanning more than 11 acres, this is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. There are 40 permanent works of art and several rotating exhibits. While there are many beloved pieces, the garden's most famous display is the "Spoonbridge and Cherry" fountain, featuring a 5,800-pound spoon and a 1,200-pound cherry. The stem of the cherry also acts as a fountain that sprays water into the bowl of the spoon and the surrounding pond. Why settle for looking at normal-sized spoons when you can see the giant version?
  • Paul Bunyan statues: The Gopher State is home to many  intriguing roadside attractions (about 366 in total), including such oddities as the Jolly Green Giant, Big Ole, Lucette (Paul Bunyan's girlfriend), the world's largest hockey stick (maybe because they're so close to Canada?) and Otto, the big otter. But some of the most beloved attractions of all include the Paul Bunyan statues, which are scattered throughout the state. There's a legend that the many lakes of Minnesota were formed when his footprints filled with water - plus, with his flannel shirt and blue ox, he's somewhat of a state mascot, and certainly a big deal.

Pros and Cons of Living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

We're sure that you're already practicing your new Minnesotan accent and picking out your favorite shades of flannel - but break for an intermission, Bob Dylan. It might be a good idea to peruse a list of some pros and cons of living in the North Star State (and we've already made the effort to assemble it for you). 

Here are some Minnesotan-approved PROs to living here:

  • Cross-country skiing: It snows a lot in Minnesota (duh), and a favorite winter activity amongst locals is cross-country skiing. While there are several resorts throughout the state, some resident-favorites are within the Twin Cities, including Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, and Fort Snelling State Park and Battle Creek Regional Park West - both in St. Paul.
  • Awesome autumn leaves: Though there's a heavy focus on winters in this state, locals love to brag about the beauty here that is autumn. For example, St. Croix is a spectacle to behold during this time of year, with the hundreds of trees scattered across the rolling hills, all sporting their vibrant fall foliage. Hello, photo ops.
  • Four distinct seasons: In addition to autumn's beauty, locals also love the fact that their state has four separate, very distinct seasons. Characteristics of each time of year are well-defined (blazing hot summers, mild falls and springs, and frigid winters) and residents appreciate the variety of weather and the changes it brings to the landscape and pace of life at different times of year.
  • Arts scene: In addition to having multiple art museums, the Gopher State has an impressive arts scene. Locals boast about their state having a proud theater district - Guthrie Theater, located in Minneapolis, is home to the performing arts and is involved in production, education and professional training of theater arts. The Twin Cities are also home to several arts festivals each year, including Art-A Whirl and the Edina Art Fair.
  • Cultural diversity: Minnesota has always had a lot of immigration, welcoming people from many different countries and backgrounds. While many of the immigrants were of European descent, there's also a sizeable population of Hmong-Americans, for example. About 84,000 Minnesotans are originally from Central America, while nearly 40,000 claim Somali ancestry, making Minnesota home to the largest population of immigrants from that East African [LS3] country in North America. Others still are from India, Vietnam, China, Korea and more.

Now for the resident-consensus CONs:

  • Extreme winters: Just how cold do the Minnesotan winters get? Darn cold - there are temperatures on record of -35 °F, and while that's not the norm, many days in winter can and do drop to below zero. Locals also report that the first snow typically falls in October, and that it's not uncommon to get the last snowfall of the season in May - meaning that more than half the year is often consumed by winter. Residents have also said that there are days here so frigid that when you walk outside, your snot will instantly freeze inside your nose. That's cold.
  • Culinary blandness: While there is plenty of cultural diversity in the state, it's surprising that the cuisine isn't more exciting. Locals say that the typical Minnesotan dish is "very meat and potatoes," with not much variety or exciting flavor. There's even a resident inside joke that if you want to spice up your meal, just add ketchup. Perhaps when you make your move here, you can bring some favorite recipes from your home state - you'll have locals thinking you're Emeril Lagasse in no time. (Bam!)
  • Difficulty making friends: The small-town-vibe in the North Star State is strong, even to a fault - outsiders can struggle to fit in. Locals who moved here from other states say they had trouble working their way into long-standing social circles made up of residents who had known each other forever. Even though people here are "Minnesota Nice," they're also fiercely loyal to their life-long relationships, and it will take them a while to warm up to you. Just shy away from making any jokes about “Fargo” when you move here, and you'll greatly increase your rate of acceptance and belonging.
  • Smells: Most of the state is made up of farms and mining communities, and naturally that comes with a unique odor. Locals say that half of the state smells like feedlots and corn cribs. (At least they didn't mention manure?) Pack an air freshener.
  • Not the liveliest of places: Locals say that many people here spend their time fishing, hitting up bars, or staying home. On Quora, a resident said, "I often find myself wondering, Where are the people here?” It's a great place for some peace and quiet, or isolated indulgence in cabin living, but perhaps not the greatest choice for social butterflies who just want to get out and mingle.

Weird Laws

We know you're here to get the goods regarding all-things Minnesota, and don't worry - we're here to deliver. That's why we've compiled a list of a few of the tackiest, wackiest, most eyebrow-raising laws still in existence, for your enjoyment.

Here are a just few:

  • Pedestrian through-traffic is prohibited in Minneapolis alleys. No shortcuts for you!
  • Should a wild boar get loose in the Twin Cities, the Agricultural Commissioner must capture and destroy him. So nice that they have appointed someone specific to bear this burden.
  • It's illegal to drive a car in neutral. Aw, this takes all the fun out of cruising along at 5 mph while revving up the engine...
  • It's illegal to import/export live skunks "for any reason." Well, this law stinks - or not?

Point Your Compass to the North Star State

Alright, folks, there you have it - your supremely helpful, yet laughably far from complete, guide to all-things Gopher State, here for your reference and entertainment. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move (there's not enough caffeine in our Caribou Coffee) - but it's our hope that we've brought you to that sweet-spot of just enough information to kick your decision-making burners into high gear.

Now it's over to you to decide if you can envision yourself as a Minnesotan - adopting the cabin-on-the-lake lifestyle, taking road-side selfies with Paul Bunyan, developing a new unmistakable accent, blasting Prince 24/7, lapping your exhausted friends at the Mall of America and exploring the Ice Palace in your super-cozy North Face jacket. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy. 

It's been a sincere delight bringing you this little sneak-preview of the state, and we hope that you've enjoyed it, yourself. Good luck, and we'll be rooting for you.

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