These Are The 10 Best Small Towns In Minnesota


We used science and data to determine which small towns in Minnesota are the best of the best.

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You’ve seen these lists before: Best places to live in Minnesota, Most Beautiful Downtowns, etc., etc. But all of them focus on major cities and towns in the North Star State and no one pays attention to the little guy.

Well, that’s all about to change as we put together a list of the best small towns in Minnesota based on numbers–not opinions or hearsay.

We’ll dive right into our methodology in the next section; but first, we thought you might just want to know which places in Minnesota ranked the based–you know, based on science. Here are the 10 Best Small Towns in Minnesota (in which to live):

  1. Lilydale
  2. Greenwood
  3. Lakeland Shores
  4. Woodland
  5. Loretto
  6. Birchwood Village
  7. Center City
  8. Skyline
  9. Medicine Lake
  10. Sunfish Lake

If you live in one of these small towns like Lilydale, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you–keep reading and we’ll get to just why these small towns made our list. Or feel free to check out the worst small towns in Minnesota.

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How We Determined The Best Small Towns In Minnesota

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the Census’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Housing costs (Higher is better. More demand.)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Higher is better)
  • High School Dropouts (Lower is better)
  • Crime Rates (Lower is better)

We looked at places with populations lower than 1,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 421 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 421, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in Minnesota. Top of that list — Lilydale.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 10 best small towns in Minnesota. Or feel free to check out the best places overall to live in Minnesota.

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1. Lilydale


Population 2014: 742
Median Income: $81,932
Median Home Price: $311,000
Crime Per 100k: 893

2. Greenwood


Population 2014: 752
Median Income: $154,375
Median Home Price: $851,200
Crime Per 100k: 893

3. Lakeland Shores


Population 2014: 295
Median Income: $82,500
Median Home Price: $316,100
Crime Per 100k: 893

4. Woodland


Population 2014: 453
Median Income: $151,875
Median Home Price: $907,900
Crime Per 100k: 893

5. Loretto


Population 2014: 703
Median Income: $69,167
Median Home Price: $205,100
Crime Per 100k: 2,093

6. Birchwood Village

Source: Google Maps

Population: 786
Median Income: $88,750
Median Home Price: $324,700
Crime Per 100k: 895

7. Center City

Source: Google Maps

Population: 628
Median Income: $77,813
Median Home Price: $314,400
Crime Per 100k: 1,386

8. Skyline


Population 2014: 327
Median Income: $75,833
Median Home Price: $191,300
Crime Per 100k: 2,136

9. Medicine Lake


Population 2014: 532
Median Income: $74,286
Median Home Price: $684,800
Crime Per 100k: 893

10. Sunfish Lake


Population 2014: 587
Median Income: $133,125
Median Home Price: $857,100
Crime Per 100k: 893

Science Can Tackle Any Issue, Even Small Ones

We said it once and we’ll say it again — this list: it’s just science. We did the research, we crunched the numbers, and it turns out, these 10 small towns in Minnesota are the best, in which to live.

And who can argue with that?

If you’re curious, here are the worst small towns in Minnesota:

  1. Squaw Lake
  2. White Earth
  3. Naytahwaush

For more Minnesota reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In Minnesota

City Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price Crime Per 100k
Lilydale 1 742 $81,932 $311,000 893
Greenwood 2 752 $154,375 $851,200 893
Lakeland Shores 3 295 $82,500 $316,100 893
Woodland 4 453 $151,875 $907,900 893
Loretto 5 703 $69,167 $205,100 2,093
Birchwood Village 6 786 $88,750 $324,700 895
Center City 7 628 $77,813 $314,400 1,386
Skyline 8 327 $75,833 $191,300 2,136
Medicine Lake 9 532 $74,286 $684,800 893
Sunfish Lake 10 587 $133,125 $857,100 893
Minnetonka Beach 11 646 $124,375 $989,100 893
Rollingstone 12 644 $68,636 $161,800 2,537
Pine Springs 13 398 $102,917 $423,800 893
Long Beach 14 432 $74,375 $283,700 1,316
Sabin 15 649 $62,273 $133,100 2,850
Cleveland 16 685 $54,167 $131,100 2,904
Warsaw 17 804 $68,438 $182,500 2,333
Plato 18 327 $64,063 $151,700 2,451
Courtland 19 664 $68,333 $177,600 2,152
Hamburg 20 543 $60,893 $157,300 2,529
Racine 21 410 $54,107 $145,100 2,748
Pemberton 22 310 $62,083 $113,000 2,949
Minnesota City 23 221 $52,500 $132,500 2,814
New Trier 24 137 $80,000 $215,000 2,016
Searles 25 231 $48,214 $152,500 2,753
Brownsville 26 591 $63,375 $122,200 2,742
Kilkenny 27 454 $45,938 $150,000 2,953
East Gull Lake 28 1,083 $67,109 $365,500 310
Kellogg 29 411 $53,750 $120,800 2,686
Darwin 30 438 $50,000 $183,300 2,575
Gem Lake 31 339 $85,000 $288,000 893
Big Lake 32 10,029 $66,340 $171,600 1,508
Big Lake 33 10,029 $66,340 $171,600 1,508
Dover 34 719 $75,268 $149,700 2,717
The Lakes 35 556 $62,750 $273,600 1,520
Alpha 36 263 $114,167 $63,600 2,695
Soudan 37 437 $68,229 $86,500 2,942
Dakota 38 373 $59,250 $153,900 2,603
Carlos 39 540 $54,115 $122,100 2,943
Clear Lake 40 524 $66,607 $181,900 2,553
Fountain 41 418 $50,000 $115,800 2,885
Ellendale 42 699 $63,250 $116,700 2,912
Willernie 43 602 $57,917 $176,500 2,618
Ranier 44 707 $53,482 $125,400 2,850
Geneva 45 506 $51,250 $123,600 3,005
Prinsburg 46 491 $55,250 $107,200 2,830
Kandiyohi 47 637 $53,000 $112,500 3,056
Minneiska 48 134 $76,563 $182,500 2,191
Vermillion 49 439 $66,111 $193,000 2,254
Forada 50 189 $41,250 $251,100 2,041
Stockton 51 844 $50,809 $135,200 2,826
Rose Creek 52 446 $47,679 $95,200 3,048
Graceville 53 563 $53,102 $69,700 3,072
Silver Lake 54 889 $45,521 $128,700 2,460
Hampton 55 783 $54,423 $201,700 2,438
Good Thunder 56 591 $47,679 $109,500 3,000
Miesville 57 135 $59,375 $222,900 2,068
Bethel 58 456 $42,500 $167,500 2,714
Ghent 59 341 $54,688 $102,100 3,097
Elysian 60 504 $54,286 $164,400 2,443
New Germany 61 434 $57,292 $159,700 2,684
Freeport 62 545 $64,013 $137,700 2,324
Rushford Village 63 1,006 $65,714 $195,700 816
Wrenshall 64 520 $54,219 $142,700 2,754
Ashby 65 459 $46,875 $95,800 3,015
Clarks Grove 66 557 $49,063 $83,800 3,109
Raymond 67 783 $49,750 $104,500 3,138
Elrosa 68 168 $48,750 $110,400 2,876
Mazeppa 69 761 $60,987 $127,900 2,780
Audubon 70 623 $50,893 $122,100 3,095
Ottertail 71 574 $40,694 $187,500 2,429
Mahtowa 72 407 $63,750 $167,900 2,514
Littlefork 73 665 $48,542 $93,400 3,073
Garden City 74 243 $46,750 $111,500 2,955
Randolph 75 381 $72,321 $195,600 2,323
Nerstrand 76 240 $61,625 $159,400 2,552
Brownton 77 724 $26,000 $88,100 541
Alvarado 78 328 $47,917 $92,100 3,108
Altura 79 458 $56,250 $150,800 2,753
Osage 80 300 $39,250 $160,800 2,934
Battle Lake 81 921 $38,011 $141,700 2,630
Henderson 82 830 $47,292 $126,400 2,898
Laporte 83 187 $40,500 $187,500 2,697
Finland 84 180 $54,500 $170,800 2,355
Waldorf 85 166 $54,375 $92,300 3,009
Hokah 86 448 $49,327 $131,500 1,418
Lyle 87 533 $44,375 $89,500 3,134
Lanesboro 88 775 $40,375 $133,100 2,811
Comfrey 89 441 $47,813 $73,000 3,301
Underwood 90 348 $50,000 $111,300 2,861
Brandon 91 416 $50,179 $113,500 3,037
Hills 92 702 $43,636 $89,400 3,233
Alden 93 736 $47,917 $90,300 3,018
Thomson 94 139 $64,375 $168,800 2,526
Holdingford 95 641 $49,531 $135,400 2,723
Fairfax 96 1,093 $43,906 $76,900 1,136
Dennison 97 134 $47,917 $153,600 2,576
Lowry 98 271 $49,309 $96,100 2,974
Chickamaw Beach 99 117 $44,643 $210,000 2,011
Hanska 100 369 $47,054 $72,300 3,239

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