7 Things You Want to Know Before Moving to Minnesota

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Minnesota at a Glance

From the headwaters of the Mississippi to the humble banks of Plum Creek, Minnesota is alive with natural wonders. Vast prairies, forests and grasslands stretch across the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where swaths of wildflowers yield to agate beaches on the shores of Lake Superior. Humans have dwelled in this rich landscape for millennia, from the first inhabitants — like the Dakota and Ojibwe — who arrived more than 12,000 years ago, to the state’s diverse, contemporary residents, 5,717,184 of whom call Minnesota home today.  

Over time, Minnesota has proven to be one of the nation’s most vital resources for trade, agriculture and invention. The North Star State has produced many luminaries of its own, like Judy Garland, Bob Dylan and Prince. Consider where we’d be without the deep-fried joys of the Minnesota State Fair or the Mall of America, the paragon of retail therapy? And let’s not forget the Honeycrisp apple, devised at the University of Minnesota. Or the pop-up toaster, the Bundt cake pan or the refrigerated truck, all of which were invented here. Without Minnesota, one might argue, we might be stuck eating burnt bread with sour milk, partying like it’s 1998 forever. 

With all these treasures, it’s perhaps not surprising that Minnesota’s population has increased by more than 413,000 since 2010. If you plan to be one of the state’s next new residents — whether you settle in the bustling Twin Cities or in the more remote regions to the north — you’re sure to find a place that’s all your own in this friendly and creative state.  

Weather in Minnesota

Like much of the Midwest, the weather in Minnesota can take you on a wild ride. Summers can get dreadfully hot and humid, particularly in the south, and winters can be brutal, especially in the northern climes. But if anything is true about Minnesotans, it’s that they embrace the joys of the season, and each of the four seasons here has something to be joyful for.  

Minnesota is known for its harsh winters. In the northern half of the state, the average winter temperature is only 8 F, and in the balmy southern half, the temperatures average 18 F. One of the glories of living far north in the state is that you just might spy the Northern Lights on a wintery evening, and that will make all the sub-zero nights worth it.  

Spring comes slowly in Minnesota. Temperatures timidly creep above freezing in April, when daffodils and crocus dare peek their heads out to see if it’s safe to emerge from hibernation. Spring temps average 36 F in the north and 44 F in the south. If you’re a gardener, Minnesota occupies zones 2-4, so you’ll want to select cold-loving plants that can handle a shorter growing season. Lilacs, cherry and apple trees and peonies all thrive here, as do native plants like phlox, goldenrod and blazing star. 

Summer is one of the best seasons in Minnesota. Although there can be scorching days — it once reached 115°F in Beardsley — temperatures average only 63 F in the north and 70 F in the south. Because the state is so far north, summer days in Minnesota are blissfully long. On the solstice, the sun will rise before 5:30 a.m. and won’t set until after 9 p.m.  

Fall arrives early in Minnesota — you can expect the first freeze by early October at the latest, and temperatures average in the low- to mid-forties across the state. And although the weather can get wet and windy as the season winds on, the changing autumn leaves are stunning across the hillsides. Check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to see which state parks are in peak leaf form and plan a weekend drive or two to pick apples, pears or pumpkins at the state’s many orchards and farms.   

Wondering when to move to Minnesota? If your schedule is flexible, the best time to move to Minnesota is in the late summer to early fall, when temperatures have cooled and autumn winds have not yet arrived.  

Why People Want to Live in Minnesota

Widely recognized as one of the best states to raise a family, Minnesota’s accolades are many. The Annie E. Casey Foundation recognized Minnesota as one of the best states for overall child well-being, and the CDC identified Minnesota as having one of the highest life expectancies in the U.S with low rates of infant mortality, teen births, and homicide.   

The North Star State also has a stable economy, a strong job market, a low cost of living and a low unemployment rate. These factors, combined with Minnesota’s amazing natural resources, have made the state a highly attractive home for newcomers for the past decade and beyond.  

Cost of Living

Whether you’re comparing Minnesota to neighboring states, other Fortune 500-rich states, or even the whole United States, the North Star State stacks up against the best of them when it comes to the cost of living.  

When compared to the U.S. average, Minnesota has a higher median household income ($77,706), higher homeownership rates and lower poverty rates. Housing values here are roughly equivalent to the national median ($250,200 vs. $244,900), but as they did in many areas of the country, housing prices in Minnesota rose sharply during the pandemic, reaching a median value of $350,000. Thankfully, prices seem to have now plateaued. If you want to estimate what your individual cost of living might be in the state of Minnesota, check out this handy calculator.  

Despite the low cost of living in Minnesota, taxes can be high in the state. The Tax Foundation ranks Minnesota 45th in the nation for its business tax climate, and individual state income tax rates, which are levied on a graduated system, can go as high as 9.85% — that’s if your household income exceeds $304,970. Still, the trade-offs may be worth it. 

Please note: we are not tax experts and are not offering tax advice, other than you should consider obtaining additional information and advice from your legal and/or financial advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.   

Job Market

As the headquarters of the Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealth Group — a company valued at more than $400 billion — it’s no surprise that many Minnesotans work in healthcare, social services and the government. But the Twin Cities’ have made themselves global leaders in manufacturing, medical technology and commercialization. So, when a new product comes to market that you like, you just might have a Minnesotan to thank for it.  

Minnesota is home to a whopping 16 Fortune 500 companies that encompass healthcare pioneers, retail and food manufacturing giants and financial and energy titans. Most are located in the Twin Cities, including Target, Polaris and 3M, so if you’re packing for a frosty getaway and need winter gear, a snow bike and some bandages (come on, how confident are you on that bike?), all your purchases will be local-ish

Because of the strength of Minnesota’s business core, the unemployment rate in the state is now just 2.9% (June 2023) — lower than the U.S rate of 3.5% — and the state has more than 3 million non-farm jobs in the civilian labor force.  

Where (Most) People Live in Minnesota

Minnesota’s population is heavily concentrated around the Twin Cities, and nearly half the state’s residents live in one of the five counties in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: Hennepin (pop. 1,289,645), Ramsey (pop. 553,229), Dakota (pop. 443,692), Anoka (pop. 366,888), and Washington (pop. 270,805).  

Outside this dense, capital region, the state is scattered with medium-size cities, generally ranging from 35,000-100,000 residents, including Moorhead (pop. 44,861) — just across the border from Fargo, South Dakota — and the northeastern port city of Duluth (pop. 86.619), which has some of the most stunning views of Lake Superior of any city on its shores. 

In the Twin Cities region (Minneapolis-Bloomington-St. Paul), unemployment has remained low for the past six months, ranging 2.7-3.3% from February-June 2023. The region’s largest industry sectors — Education & Health Services, Trade, Transportation & Utilities, Professional & Business Services, Government and Manufacturing — have all seen modest growth over the past year. But, Leisure & Hospitality saw the most growth, expanding by nearly 7% since June of 2022.  

Hennepin County encompasses the state’s largest city, Minneapolis, which epitomizes the cool and friendly vibe of the upper Midwest. You’ll find laid-back breweries and indie shops in the North Loop warehouse district and stadiums, and shopping and skyscrapers in the downtown core. The Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, located near the popular Loring Park, are two of the most renowned art venues in the Midwest and in the country. You’ll know you’ve come to the right place when you see Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s iconic Spoonbridge & Cherry.  

The population of Minneapolis — now 425,096 — has contracted a bit since the pandemic, but it has been on an overall upward trend since 2010, gaining over 40,000. The city is part of the state’s largest job base, and Minneapolis is home to numerous global corporations, from U.S. Bank to Valspar. The average household income of $70,099 reflects the strength of the labor force in the city, which 74.3% of residents over 16 participate in — that’s more than 10% above the U.S. average. 

This big city is also big on community, and its numerous events draw thousands of participants, from the fireworks show at the Aquatennial to the annual Holidazzle, where you can shop, skate and toast the winter season with your family, friends, and a 17-ft. Yeti. (Survival tip: he likes hot cocoa.)  

10 miles south of Minneapolis, Bloomington is a popular suburb of 87,797 along the Minnesota River. The city’s growth has mirrored the pattern of its northern neighbor, losing some of the growth gained over the last decade because of the pandemic. Bloomington’s biggest claim to fame is the Mall of America, but it’s also home to The Works Museum — which offers hands-on, engineering-focused children’s exhibits. There are dozens of terrific parks throughout the city to enjoy, as well. Hyland Lake has an amazing playground, hiking trails enshrouded in prairie grasses and wildflowers and a fun ski area for the winter months. Long Meadow Lake has 13 miles of trails to explore, and it’s a popular destination for birders and cross-country skiers.  

Plymouth — a tiny, northwest suburb roughly 12 miles outside the city — is home to 78,683 residents. With the state’s fourth-largest economy, this thriving community west of Medicine Lake has one of the highest average household incomes in the area — $119,813 — an amount that’s nearly twice that of St. Paul’s, and tens of thousands more than either Minneapolis or Bloomington. Plymouth also has very high educational rates: 98.5% of residents graduated from high school and nearly two thirds have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Plymouth’s population is significantly less diverse than the Twin Cities’, however. Plymouth is conveniently located off the interstates, making commutes into the city easy. And the parks system of Plymouth is vast and family-oriented. The community center features a Kids Ultimate Backyard Experience (K.U.B.E.) Indoor Playground, which is a lifesaver in the snow-blanketed winter, when everyone in your crew has the zoomies.  

Ramsey County is home to the state capital, St. Paul. Although it can be overshadowed by its big brother to the west, St. Paul has some of the most beautiful natural features in the region as well as a rich and lively cultural scene that reflects its diverse population. You might see a traditional Irish dance performance at the Celtic Junction Art Center one weekend, eat your weight in Thai street food at the Minnesota Songkran Festival the next and close out the month at the Little Africa Festival.  

Because 20% of St. Paul residents originally hail from other nations, the city has numerous organizations, like the Hmong Cultural Center, that serve as vital hubs for new, international residents and cultural resources for all Minnesotans. The Minnesota History Center — housed in an impressive building constructed from local granite, limestone and timber, tells the full story of the state’s history, from its first inhabitants thousands of years ago to its current residents.  

The capital city now has 303,176 residents and an average household income of $63,483, slightly lower than the national average.  

The cost of living in Minnesota — especially in the Twin Cities region — mostly aligns with U.S. averages, but Plymouth is one of the pricier districts. While the median home value in the United States is just shy of $250,000, according to the U.S. Census, Plymouth’s median home value is $387,800, and rent averages nearly $1,500 per month. Of the four cities profiled here, housing is the least expensive in St. Paul, where the median home value is $232,400 and the median gross rent doesn’t break $1,100. In Minneapolis, home values average $284,400 and rent goes for $1,159. In Bloomington, you’ll pay more for rent ($1,312/month) but slightly less for a home ($279,400) than you would in Minneapolis.  

Poverty rates are high in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, where they top 17%, but they are incredibly low in Plymouth, where fewer than 4% of residents live below the poverty line.  

Explore Your New Home Like a Minnesotan 

Whether you’re looking for summer adventures in the great outdoors or winter diversions in the great indoors, the Land of 10,000 Lakes has a million fun things to do. Here are a few recommendations that your whole family can enjoy. 

Fun Things to Do

With hundreds of shops, restaurants and real and virtual attractions, the Mall of America is no ordinary American mall. This is an escapist’s indoor paradise, where you can escape an actual escape room, ride on a coaster at Nickelodeon Universe and cruise down a 300-ft.-long underwater tunnel with jellies, sharks and rays in the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium.  

The state’s other popular diversion is the Minnesota State Fair, which begins the third week of August and runs until Labor Day, or whenever they run out of pickle fries. Longstanding fair favorites like the Oink Booth and All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash are rivaled only by the food vendors, who concoct new and ever-delicious ways to clog your arteries — please save us a bacon-wrapped waffle dog! But things really heat up during the annual cooking and crafting competitions, when the notoriously friendly Minnesotans become bitter rivals in the domestic arts. Who knows, maybe you will take home the title for Best Vacation Scrapbook or Quilt On-A-Stick! We’re rooting for you. 

If you are looking for a day of Nordic cultural immersion, head to the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, where you’ll find a replica of an ancient Viking ship and the amazing Hopperstad Stave Church. Modeled after the Viking-era architectural wonderwork, the church features dark timber construction and steeply pitched roofs with more than 20,000 wood shingles, creating a look that is both imposingly medieval but cozy and charming at the same time. If the princess bride emerged from this chapel, she would not look a stitch out of place, but 21st-century couples are also welcome to reserve the space for their own nuptials.  

If it’s true that there’s no place like home, there’s really no place like the childhood home of Judy Garland. No need to click your heels three times to get there, just follow the road (sadly, not yellow brick) to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, where you can learn about the famed actress’ early life and how she transformed into the beloved star who would give the world a heart, a brain and the courage to stand up to wicked witches everywhere.  

To see what life was like for early European homesteaders, historic Forestville preserves several 19th-century buildings and sites from this once-thriving railroad town, including the general store, several farm buildings and the Meighen family home. Visitors can play old-timey games like croquet and horseshoes and even pick up some rock candy and bonnets for the little ones at the museum store. Afterward, you can all take a hike in nearby Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park to explore everything that pre-dates the town — the wildflowers and forests, the dramatic bluffs and the largest cave in the state.  

Another ancient site of interest is the Pipestone National Monument, which preserves an area sacred to many of Minnesota’s Indigenous tribes. For more than 3,000 years, people have quarried the stone in this terrain, and in the exposed boulders you can see evidence of an ancient river, which caused rippling in the stone. Bright quartzite cliffs and a shimmering waterfall are two of the more unexpected features on the park’s trail.  

Outdoor Experiences 

With its majestic waterfalls, its acres of unspoiled forests and its shimmering night skies, the North Star State begs to be explored. In the warmer months, you can canoe the sparkling Boundary Waters, tackle the Duluth Traverse (DT) on your mountain bike, or trek the 326-mile Superior Hiking Trail along the north shore of Gichigami, belting out verses of Gordon Lightfoot all along the way. In the wintertime, snowshoeing, dogsledding and snowmobiling are all favorite ways to embrace the beauty of the cold. No matter how you like to experience nature, Minnesota will show you how to embrace your inner outdoorsman.  

When the lakes have frozen over and ice has rimmed the boughs of pine and spruce, Voyageur’s National Park is a snowy wonderland. Thrill-seekers will want to zip through the 110 miles of snowmobiling trails, but those hoping to spot moose, owls or the elusive wolf may want to make a quieter pass on cross-country skis. After dusk, some lucky visitors might even spot the Northern Lights dancing across the skies.  

If you’re an aspiring or accomplished ice fisher, you are definitely moving to the right state. We’ll concede that Leech Lake’s name does not endear one to enter its waters for swimming, but that will be the last thing on your mind in the winter. Located in the northwestern city of Walker, Leech Lake is a favorite among ice anglers looking to reel in walleye and perch. Along the Canadian border, Lake of the Woods — known as the Walleye Capital of the World — offers plenty of spots for ice fishing or snag fishing year-round.  

In the far eastern reaches of the state, Grand Portage National Monument — the homeland of the Grand Portage Anishinaabe — marks the historic site of a significant fur trading outpost as well as the ancient Gichi Onigaming trail — a route mapped by Native Americans that allowed passage around the region’s challenging and sometimes impassable topography. The Heritage Center provides an excellent introduction to the many cultures that have lived here.  

Speaking of passages, Grand Portage is also one of two sites in Minnesota offering ferry service to Isle Royale National Park, located in the middle of Lake Superior on the Michigan side of the border. Although you can take a day trip to Isle Royale, staying overnight is the best way to see all the park has to offer. And, it’s best to avoid ferry service in the afternoon, when sudden storms can roil the lake and make for a very memorable ride back to shore.   

Eat Local Cuisines

Although one can never truly grow tired of Poncho dogs, Scotch eggs, deep-fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or really any food on a stick, in between state fairs, Minnesotans still must find a source of sustenance. Luckily for you, there are a million things to sink your teeth into in the Land of 10,000 Lakes during the other 355 days of the year. 

Minnesotans have mastered the art of both humble home cooking and sophisticated contemporary flavors. There are homey mom-and-pops, like the Ideal Diner (est. 1949), which is too small to have a bathroom, but serves a Denver omelet the size of, well, Denver. And then there are groundbreaking new restaurants like Owamni by the Sioux Chef, that celebrate Indigenous ingredients and preparations. You won’t find any colonial intrusions like dairy, cane sugar and wheat at Owamni’s. Instead, you’ll find hand-harvested wild rice, smoked bison and sumac iced tea on this tempting and nourishing menu.  

The state’s more recent cultural influences from Europe are still prominent in Minnesota’s restaurant kitchens and on domestic dinner tables. If you’re in the market for Scandinavian delights, you’ll discover no greater array than at Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace, where you’ll find packages of tender lefse, julekake and crunchy korppu to pair with slices of caraway Bond-Ost, canned mackerel or cloudberry jam. You can even pick up a Norwegian dictionary and phrasebook to understand what you’re eating!  

Looking for a place to shop for your weekly provisions? Lunds & Byerlys is a third-generation, family-owned supermarket that carries local, organic ingredients from veggies to meat. They also partner with select vendors for sustainable, out-of-state fare, like seafood.  

Though its Pig Pen Egg Rolls and Ultimate Jojos are hot comfort for the hungover and winter-weary, the 5-8 Club’s true claim to fame is the Juicy Lucy, a stuffed hamburger that originated in Minneapolis, either at the 5-8 Club or down the street at Matt’s Bar.  

Without a burger to call its own, St. Paul cemented its meat cred with the hearty soup known as booya. The origins of this oxtail and veggie stew are hotly contested. Maybe it’s Polish? Maybe it’s Belgian? Whatever its ancestry, it is most certainly, now, fully upper Midwestern. You’ll most likely find it in the fall and winter, being slung out of steaming cauldrons at VFW fairs and competitions, warming the bellies and souls of chilly Minnesotans.  

If you’re looking for a culinary escape to more temperate climes, Boludo will take you to the edge of South America with its empanadas. The creamy Puerro is stuffed with leeks and gorgonzola and the spicy Humita is packed with corn, fontina and serranos. Curiously, Boludo is also one of the hottest pizza joints in town, and their Neapolitan-style pies are a bi-coastal inspiration in this landlocked state.  

Relocating to Minnesota? Let Mayflower Get You There

Are you ready to move to the North Star State? Get a moving quote for Minnesota.  

Working with a national, reputable moving company like Mayflower can simplify your upcoming move. No matter how you plan to move to Minnesota — whether you’re moving locally or moving cross-country — Mayflower will be here to guide you Every Step of the Way®. The Mayflower Move Portal will keep all the details of your move organized.  

Are you planning a long-distance move to Minnesota? Our long-distance movers can move your family to the North Star State from anywhere in the country. Mayflower’s custom, full-service moving services can include debris removal, storage services, car shipping, packing and unpacking and more. 

Mayflower’s personal moving coordinators can handle all the details of your move, so you don’t have to worry.  

Moving locally in Minnesota? Mayflower’s Minnesota movers perform local moving services independently under their brands and businesses and can help you move within the North Star State. 

Planning a DIY move to Minnesota? Mayflower’s moving tips and checklists can help you stay on track for moving day and make it easier to settle into your new home. 

Get a quote on moving to Minnesota.  

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