Some people often don’t realize that while they’re called the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul are actually two separate cities. Between the two of them, the Cities, as they’re often called, have a population of more than 733,000 people. Surrounded by dozens of suburbs, the Twin Cities’ metropolitan population runs about 3.28 million.
However, as Minnesota’s largest city with more than 425,000 people, Minneapolis is the hotbed for entertainment, sports and much more.
From the Vikings to the birth of the Jucy Lucy, Minneapolis offers residents a lot to do year-round. Here are 10 things you need to know about living in Minneapolis.
1. Cost of living is a little higher than average, but rent is more affordable
Living in Minneapolis costs a little more than in other cities, with a cost of living about 6 percent higher than the national average. While housing is higher than other cities its size, rent for a one-bedroom apartment — $1,621 nationally — is actually cheaper, averaging $1,473 a month.
- The Uptown neighborhood offers locals excellent public transportation, great dining options and outstanding outdoor activities. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages about $1,900 a month.
- Urban living enthusiasts love calling the Downtown West neighborhood home. With views of the city’s skyscrapers, access to some of the city’s best restaurants and an easy walk to entertainment venues, the area defines living in Minneapolis. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages $1,583 per month.
- Nicknamed a “hipster’s neighborhood,” North Loop is considered one of the fastest-growing areas of Minneapolis. The former warehouse district is home to impressive restaurants, retail outlets and Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. North Loop, a safe walking neighborhood, offers great views with one-bedroom apartments averaging $1,875 a month.
Minnesota’s unique sales tax exempts several items, including clothing, prescription drugs and most food items. Food items considered taxable are ones that are prepared by a person or include eating utensils. The sales tax rate in Minneapolis is 8.025 percent, including state taxes.
2. Public transportation is a great alternative to driving
Getting around town is as easy as hopping on a bus or grabbing the light transit. If you live or work downtown and need to go a few blocks, hop on a bus for only 50 cents in the Downtown Zone. If you’re near Nicollet Mall, look for the “No Fare” buses for a free ride.
The light transit will get you nearly anywhere you want to go for a small fee. The Blue line takes you to stops en route to the Mall of America in Bloomington, while the Green line includes stops along University Avenue and St. Paul.
If you want to leave your car at home, Uber is another great service in the area. It’s fairly inexpensive to order a ride around Minneapolis.
However, if you decide to drive, traffic can easily become congested. The Twin Cities have an excellent interstate system, but it’s challenged by the thousands of vehicles making their way into the downtown area from the suburbs on both sides of the state line, as Wisconsin cities help make up the 16-county metro area.
Drivers spend an average of 56 hours a year in traffic delays, up from 12 hours nearly 40 years ago, according to a report by Minnesota Compass.
3. Minneapolis is home to a unique culinary scene
Living in Minneapolis means you don’t need to head to New York or L.A. for fancy food or coffee. You’ll find some of the nation’s best restaurants in Minneapolis. From Linden Hills’ Martina featuring a Brazilian menu to Asian at Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine, Minneapolis is a hotbed for international dining.
But, if you covet a steak or other traditional American fare, Manny’s Steakhouse needs to be on your must-dine list. Manny’s serves its own beef, as its USDA-verified Angus Beef comes from cattle sired by its own bull from Manny’s own cattle operation.
As a new Minnesotan, you’ll need to visit Matt’s Bar, home to the nation’s original Jucy Lucy. The burger, with oozy cheese cooked inside, is a Minneapolis staple. Matt’s invented the double burger with cheese in the middle shortly after opening in 1954. While some other places claim they created the delicious burger, locals know Matt’s is the place to enjoy it. Be careful when ordering a Jucy Lucy, as you’ll want to give it a few minutes to cool, so you don’t burn your mouth with your first bite as the hot cheese squirts out.
Since you’re in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (more like 12,000), you’ll want to sample the freshwater fish, such as walleye, northern pike and largemouth bass. Open since 1990, Tavern on Grand offers an outstanding menu featuring walleye, including an appetizer sampler, as well as a taco, sandwich and entrée.
With 18 restaurants featuring outstanding food, Midtown Global Market offers an international line-up, from Asian and African to Mexican and Italian. But, one restaurant that stands out is the Indigenous Food Lab, which features Native American food based on natural items dating back to pre-colonial days. Founded by Oglala Lakota (Sioux) chef Seam Sherman, creator of the Sioux Chef food truck, the kitchen is focused on producing natural, healthy food for the community.
4. There’s plenty to do outdoors…
Mention living in Minneapolis to most people, and they’ll ask if it’s home to the Mall of America (it isn’t). But, it is home to unique and historical places, such as the Mill City Museum, site of a grain mill and a major explosion that left remnants of the mill, the museum’s key attraction.
The city’s 170 public parks offer more than 6,500 acres of green space for hiking, walking, playgrounds, picnicking, fishing, swimming, golfing and more. With 15 of the city’s 20 miles of groomed trails, Wirth Park is the largest of the cross country skiing parks in Minneapolis.
The Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi River is another nice pedestrian/jogging/bicycling area. It also makes for the perfect spot to watch the city’s annual Independence Day fireworks show. The Minneapolis City Hall offers impressive artwork, as well as history. The Walker Art Center features outstanding paintings and other works, but its outdoor sculpture garden may be the best part of a visit there. You may recognize the cherry and spoon sculpture from TV or movies.
5. But it can get really cold
Minnesota winters are notoriously long and cold. The average high temperatures in the winter barely get out of the 20s, and lows below zero are not unusual. And that’s without the wind chill. The city also gets about 55 inches of snow each year, and it’s not uncommon to see flakes as early as October or as late as May.
Fortunately, the city is well equipped to handle the chilly temperatures. The Minneapolis Skyway System connects buildings across 80 city blocks and 9.5 miles of downtown, so you never have to go outside. These enclosed pedestrian footbridges are the longest such continuous system in the world.
6. Skol Vikings. And Timberwolves. And Twins. And…
With the Twin Cities home to five professional sports teams, including Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United and the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League in St. Paul, downtown Minneapolis hosts the NBA’s Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx at Target Center and Major League Baseball’s Twins at Target Field.
While those four teams have their fans and allegiances, Minneapolis, and the state of Minnesota, is Vikings territory. No matter how the other teams do, every sports fan focuses on the ups-and-downs of the Minnesota Vikings.
Born in 1960, the team has been to four Super Bowls (unfortunately, winless), and has turned out some of the greatest players in National Football League history, including Fran Tarkenton, Mick Tingelhoff and the Purple People Eaters — Carl Eller, Alan Page, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen. The defensive line foursome accounts for 19 Pro Bowl appearances and two Hall of Fame inductions. Nothing beats attending a sold-out game at U.S. Bank Stadium, led by fans’ Skol chant right before kickoff.
Fans also enjoy tours of their favorite stadiums, and Target Field is among the best in professional baseball. Open since 2010, you’d swear it’s a brand-new ballpark, because of the way it’s cared for. You’ll tour key player areas, a miniature museum and team Hall of Fame, as well as visit the Twins’ dugout and stand near the field. The Twins have won two World Series championships, in 1987 and ’91 (plus a third, in 1924 as the Washington Senators). The Twins have made the playoffs three times since moving to Target Field.
Learn about the Vikings’ history during a tour of US Bank Stadium. Catch the mural of Minneapolis native Prince — the pop star was a Vikings fan — created in purple and gold (team colors) lyrics from his songs. You’ll also see a mural of former Coach Bud Grant, with quotes, won-loss records and other football-related words. Looking up at the seats from field level sends a chill down any Vikings’ fan’s spine.
7. Minneapolis schools face challenges
As with most public school districts in large cities, the Minneapolis Public Schools district faces several challenges in providing a good education for its 36,000 students (pre-kindergarten to 12th grade). With a 70 percent graduation rate for the 2019-20 academic year, the district enjoyed its best graduation rate in 10 years, continuing annual improvements. With an international enrollment, MPS provides documents in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali to meet its goals.
Minneapolis is also home to more than 100 private schools, ranging from elementary to more than 30 high schools. Private schools have enrollments from a few hundred to more than 1,300 students.
8. The job market is booming
With an unemployment rate of about 3.1 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Minneapolis was in a good situation. As the economy bounces back and the unemployment rate decreases, jobs and careers will improve.
Minneapolis is home to six Fortune 500 companies, including US Bancorp, Excel Energy, Ameriprise Financial, Thrivent Financial, General Mills and Target. Other major companies with headquarters in the Twin Cities are Pearson’s Candy Company, Dairy Queen, Best Buy and Cargill.
9. Minneapolis has a real music scene
Prince may be the most famous musician to hail from Minneapolis. The Grammy-award winning singer was proud of his hometown, and could often be seen hanging out at downtown’s First Avenue, home to great live music and parties. A visit to First Avenue is a life-changing experience, as you realize you’re at the same place where Prince performed and hung out. You can visit his home and studio, Paisley Park, in suburban Chanhassen.
With two concert venues, First Avenue features the 1,500-person Mainroom and 7th Street Entry, which hosts up to 250 people. Famous musicians whose performances helped lead to stardom after playing here include Joe Cocker, the Ramones, Depeche Mode and Lucinda Williams.
Living in Minneapolis introduces you to other outstanding live-music venues, including the Dakota Jazz Club, Varsity Theater, El Nuevo Rodeo and Fine Line (now owned by First Avenue).
10. The crime rate is higher than the national average
Crime is up in Minneapolis this year compared to recent years. Several crimes are ones of opportunity, such as people stalking others late at night and targeting who they think may be easy prey. Minneapolis residents have a 1-in-123 chance of becoming a victim of a crime, compared with 1-in-454 across Minnesota.
Living in Minneapolis
Minneapolis offers the best of urban living. From outstanding restaurants and live music to pro sports and a great outdoor sports scene, finding the right neighborhood to call home may be your biggest challenge when moving to Minneapolis.