Minnesota is known by several nicknames, including the North Star State, Gopher State and Land of 10,000 Lakes. One of the state’s most well-known attractions is the Mall of America, which has the largest floor space of any mall in the U.S. There are also dozens of museums, like the Charles Lindberg House and Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota. If you like the outdoors, there are plenty of parks to visit, along with its famous lakes – Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, and over 11,000 others.
Minnesota’s economy is relatively large, coming in at the 17th largest state economy by GDP. The state’s job market is going strong, too, with only 3.1% unemployment compared to 3.9% for the whole U.S. And parents can feel assured that their children will get good schooling in Minnesota. The state ranks 7th on WalletHub’s study of the best state school systems.
A wide range of attractions, strong economy and good school system combine to make Minnesota an attractive place to live for families. But certain spots within the state are better than others. WalletHub compared more than 90 cities across 21 metrics in order to determine most family-friendly cities. Our data set ranges from number of attractions to median family income to the quality of the school system. Read on for the results, insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Live in Minnesota
|Overall Rank (1=Best)||City||Total Score||‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank||‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank||‘Affordability’ Rank||‘Socio-economics’ Rank|
|6||New Ulm, MN||67.93||31||2||6||43|
|7||Eden Prairie, MN||66.29||40||18||15||17|
|9||Prior Lake, MN||65.96||55||27||8||16|
|11||Cottage Grove, MN||65.05||30||33||17||19|
|17||Lino Lakes, MN||63.44||65||11||16||13|
|20||Maple Grove, MN||61.91||56||43||13||18|
|24||North Mankato, MN||61.19||25||1||58||65|
|26||St. Michael, MN||60.49||67||24||35||8|
|30||Mendota Heights, MN||59.90||98||20||3||20|
|32||St. Peter, MN||59.24||21||4||50||71|
|34||Arden Hills, MN||58.87||91||3||54||11|
|36||Apple Valley, MN||58.16||77||48||19||24|
|41||Vadnais Heights, MN||56.71||94||6||47||33|
|45||Elk River, MN||55.50||70||35||57||32|
|47||Fergus Falls, MN||55.36||48||68||28||52|
|49||Big Lake, MN||54.73||39||17||75||59|
|52||Ham Lake, MN||53.40||93||37||49||14|
|53||Golden Valley, MN||53.16||68||46||38||47|
|55||East Bethel, MN||52.59||96||81||24||5|
|56||Forest Lake, MN||52.57||61||75||33||40|
|58||Inver Grove Heights, MN||52.02||72||63||48||50|
|60||St. Louis Park, MN||51.58||60||65||52||53|
|62||North Branch, MN||51.26||63||45||60||63|
|64||Albert Lea, MN||50.32||81||26||44||90|
|65||Red Wing, MN||49.88||52||66||55||69|
|66||Sauk Rapids, MN||49.36||16||25||87||88|
|67||White Bear Lake, MN||49.23||78||60||76||35|
|71||New Brighton, MN||47.73||50||52||82||62|
|74||Coon Rapids, MN||47.30||89||73||64||54|
|75||New Hope, MN||46.30||36||70||79||77|
|79||Brooklyn Park, MN||43.98||53||93||62||66|
|81||St. Cloud, MN||42.81||45||90||81||74|
|82||Grand Rapids, MN||42.62||24||38||98||85|
|86||South St. Paul, MN||40.52||57||92||70||78|
|87||North St. Paul, MN||39.09||95||56||92||67|
|88||Mounds View, MN||38.83||73||69||93||75|
|89||West St. Paul, MN||38.78||64||95||68||86|
|93||Little Canada, MN||37.01||97||9||96||79|
|95||St. Paul, MN||35.65||12||96||94||93|
|96||Columbia Heights, MN||34.89||75||72||90||97|
|97||Brooklyn Center, MN||33.44||46||94||91||94|
Ask the Experts
Deciding where to settle down as a family can be difficult. There are so many factors to balance. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight on how to evaluate Minnesota’s cities. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Minnesota?
- How can local officials in Minnesota make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Minnesota, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Minnesota cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared a sample of 98 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 17.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.