Minnesota is best known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but many are familiar with other fun Minnesota facts like the crazy amount of fun things to do and see.
Affordability, seasons, ice fishing, and their infamous ‘hot dish,’ are just a few of the reasons people flock to this northern destination. But if you’re a true Minnesotan, you know that the real reason people move here is because the locals are so nice and their cities are truly the best.
Word on the street is that Minnesota is a great place to live if you’re a millennial. We can’t say for sure, but our stories safest states and best states to raise a family show that there really is something for everyone.
If you live in or around Minneapolis consider yourself lucky. You live in some of the best cities in the state. Not surprising, cities like Victoria, Rogers, and Maple Grove made our top ten best places to live in Minnesota list, but there can only be one star: congrats to Edina.
We analyzed over 142 cities in our research determining the best places to live in Minnesota for 2019; so if you don’t see your hometown at the top, make sure you scroll down to see where your city ranked.
The 10 Best Places To Live In Minnesota For 2020
Median Home Value: $459,200
Median Household Income: $99,295
We begin our tour of Minnesota’s best of the best with Edina, a suburb of the Twin Cities. Education is taken very seriously in this city of 51,136, with multiple Blue Ribbon award-winning elementary schools and a 7.5/10 average rating on GreatSchools. The graduation rate in Edina is more than 10% higher than the statewide average, so it’s no surprise that the high school dropout rate is one of the lowest in Minnesota. It’s not just the kiddos who love to learn in Edina either; over 30% of adults have at least a master’s degree.
Edina is also the most densely populated city on this list, so you know you’ll never be far from the action here. In fact, Edina residents enjoy the shortest commute of cities we’re covering here at just 20 minutes. The median household income in Edina is $99,295/year and home prices are among the priciest in the state. Meaning you might want a lucrative job lined up before committing to a mortgage.
While Edina often gets overshadowed by the Twin Cities, there’s plenty to do here as well. A local favorite is Centennial Lakes Park, complete with an 18-hole putting course, skating rink, amphitheater, and farmer’s market.
Median Home Value: $288,600
Median Household Income: $94,797
Located about 45 minutes west of Minneapolis, the city of Waconia comes in as the 2nd best place in Minnesota. Waconia really outshines the competition in terms of economic success. With a ridiculously low poverty level of 2.1% and an unemployment rate of 1.4%, you’d better believe that everyone gets in on the good times in Waconia. Of the places we’ll be covering on this list, Waconia has the lowest cost of living, with an emphasis on affordable health care. Speaking of which, Waconia has the 10th highest rate of residents with health insurance in the state at 98.5%.
If you’re an outdoorsman or woman, you’ll also appreciate living beside Lake Waconia, which attracts visitors year-round for its renowned fishing. If that’s too slow-paced for you, paddling your way over to Coney Island to spot some bald eagles might be your jam.
Median Home Value: $378,200
Median Household Income: $118,885
Chanhassen is a Carver County city of 25,357 located about a half-hour outside of Minneapolis. A low poverty level and low unemployment rate create a solid economic foundation for the city. Not to mention that both the median household income and median home price in Chanhassen are in the top ten statewide at $118,885/year and $378,200 respectively. Chanhassen also has the lowest adult high school dropout rate in Minnesota, so the motto “stay in school” is certainly felt deeply here.
It’s easy to stop and smell the flowers in a city as awesome as Chanhassen. Especially when you’ve got the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum right in your neighborhood.
Median Home Value: $427,700
Median Household Income: $147,682
Another western Minneapolis suburb, Victoria ranks as the 4th best place to call home in Minnesota. The unemployment rate and poverty level in Victoria are absurdly low at 1.5% and 3.3% respectively, both of which are lower than half the national average. Unwelcome medical surprises are a little less devastating in Victoria as well, seeing as 99.1% of residents have health insurance, the 2nd highest rate in Minnesota.
We just hope you’re comfortable rubbing elbows with the elite, because we named Victoria the richest city in Minnesota, with a median household income of $147,682/year. Tax dollars go to the right places though, like the Lowry Nature Center, with hiking, winter sports gear rentals, and maple-syrup making workshops. The word is evidently out on how great Victoria is because the population has gone up by about 30% since 2010.
Median Home Value: $351,400
Median Household Income: $106,555
Eden Prairie is one of Minneapolis’ largest suburbs, with a population of 63,900. We gave Eden Prairie a perfect 10/10 for education on our SnackAbility scale thanks to consistently high test scores and top-quality schools. It’s no accident Eden Prairie ended up with such an amazing educational system; the city spends about 15% more per student than the Minnesota average.
Eden Prairie is also known for its low crime rate, solid housing and job markets, and high percentage of college graduates. Homes in Eden Prairie go for around $351,400 and the median household income is $106,555/year. If you do decide to settle down here, you’ll never have to worry about where to go for a day out shopping, because the Mall of America is just down the road.
Median Home Value: $454,600
Median Household Income: $161,392
We’re sticking around Hennepin County for our 6th best place in Minnesota, Minnetrista. Minnetrista’s population has grown by about 25% since 2010, so people are starting to catch on to how great this city is. We named it one of the safest cities in Minnesota due its crime rate being about 65% lower than the national average. So you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your ball when you’re playing mini-golf at the Big Stone Mini-Golf and Sculpture Garden.
Homes in Minnetrista are the 6th most expensive in the state at $454,600. That’s alright though because residents also enjoy the highest median household income in Minnesota at $161,392/year. Still, the cost of living here is about 35% higher than the national average, so keep that in mind before making the move. As a nice cherry on top, 98.7% of residents have health insurance, the 7th highest rate in the state.
Median Home Value: $340,700
Median Household Income: $100,280
Plymouth is the largest Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb we’ll be covering, with a population of 77,213. We don’t hand out perfect 10/10 SnackAbility scores to just any place. Excellent public schools, low crime, and top-notch amenities all make Plymouth an enviable place to live. There’s so much to do at the French Regional Park that I won’t even try to list all the options, and Millenium Garden has been hailed as Plymouth’s best kept secret.
The poverty level and unemployment rate in Plymouth are both substantially lower than the national average, sitting at 4.6% and 2.9% respectively. Folks are doing pretty well for themselves in Plymouth, with a median household income of $100,280/year.
Median Home Value: $636,500
Median Household Income: $144,107
From the very big Plymouth, we turn to the very small Medina, a city of 6,191 and the 8th best place to live in Minnesota. Medina might not be so little for long, though, because it’s added nearly 33% to its population since 2010, making it one of the fastest growing cities in Minnesota. And the newcomers seem to be well-educated because over 30% of Medina’s population has a master’s degree, PhD, or professional degree.
Folks don’t seem to have much trouble getting work in Medina, where the unemployment rate is under 2%. And they’re getting paid well for their time, seeing as Medina has the 5th highest median household income in Minnesota at $144,107/year. However, you pretty much need to be earning the big bucks to make it in Medina, because the cost of living here is roughly 45% higher than the national average and the highest of anywhere we’re covering on this list.
Some other perks come along with Medina. Like having Baker Park Preserve in your neighborhood for everything from golf to camping to sledding. And you don’t have to worry about getting jumped here, because Medina has the 7th least amount of violent crime in the state. If you do get hurt though, it’s probably no big deal, since 98.9% of residents have health insurance.
Median Home Value: $292,800
Median Household Income: $106,069
Located about 15 minutes south of Bloomington, Lakeville is the sole representative of Dakota County on this list. Lakeville is the youngest city to make the cut, with a median age of 35. Evidently, young-uns are moving here in droves, because its population has grown by 15% since 2010. Maybe they’re attracted by the high median household income of $106,069/year. Or the fact that Lakeville has the 8th lowest crime rate in Minnesota. Or maybe they just want to be as close as possible to the Minnesota Zoo.
In any case, Lakeville’s economy can sustain the increased population, because both the poverty level and unemployment rate here are incredibly low.
Median Home Value: $330,900
Median Household Income: $91,374
Wrapping up our list of best places to live in Minnesota is Minnetonka, a Twin Cities suburb of 52,546. Minnetonka’s inclusion on this list means that more than half the best places to live in the state are located in Hennepin County. If you’re looking for a more mature community, Minnetonka might be your best bet, because the median age here is 44, the highest on this list. But there’s good news for young people as well because Minnetonka’s school district has a student expenditure about 55% higher than the statewide average. That’s part of the reason why we named Minnetonka one of the best cities for families in Minnesota. All the family-friendly activities available at Purgatory Park is another reason.
Now, at $91,374/year, Minnetonka has the lowest median household income on this list. Seeing as home prices are in the same ballpark as other cities listed here, it makes sense that we named Minnetonka one of the most expensive cities in Minnesota. Don’t let that put you off though; we think Minnetonka is worth every penny.
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit cities with populations over 100,000 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 144 cities, 215 towns, and 509 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Minnesota have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Minnesota
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Minnesota across a number of criteria from one to 144, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Minnesota”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Minnesota? That would be Edina.
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Minnesota.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Edina at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Minnesota
If you’re looking at areas in Minnesota with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Edina made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Minnesota for 2020.
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