A quick look at Minneapolis, Saint Paul and the Greater Twin Cities Metro

Are You Moving to the Twin Cities? Here's What You Need to Know

Are you moving to the Twin Cities for work, school, or just for the lifestyle? 

Buying a home in new city can be so confusing. I know. I’ve done it. Trying to figure where to live, understanding the housing market, and finding a home that meets your needs based on video showings or weekend speed-shopping trips can quickly become overwhelming.

And unlike a new pair of shoes, if a home isn’t a good fit, you can’t just take it back. So it helps to have a guide with insider knowledge.

In this blog, I offer a quick overview of Twin Cities metro area to show you what it’s like to live, work and play here so you’ll have a better idea about who we are, how we live, and where to focus your home search based on your lifestyle, your needs, and your budget. 

Not to state the obvious, but we’re called the Twin Cities because there are two of them; two cities separated by the mighty Mississippi River. But Minneapolis and St. Paul aren’t identical twins.

Saint Paul is Coffee, Craft Beer and the Blues

St. Paul is the capitol city. It’s a little smaller, a little more relaxed, and it can be a challenge for newcomers to find their way around because the streets, well, they just don’t make that much sense. The city’s contours are curvy, much like the Mississippi River which boarders it. If Saint Paul had a profile on a dating site, it’s favorite things might be coffee, craft beer, Minnesota Wild hockey, and the blues..

Minneapolis is Business, Sports and Entertainment

Diners at Sandcastle restaurant at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis

While St. Paul is the center of government, Minneapolis is more business and entertainment focused. It is home to the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, and the iconic First Avenue nightclub—

the home of Prince. The Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves all play here. The city is a little bigger, a little less laid back, and a little easier to navigate because the streets laid out on an alphanumeric grid.

In a dating profile, Minneapolis might be the sporty type. Known as the City of Lakes, it most recognized feature is a chain of interconnected lakes spread across the southside that provide some of the best opportunities for recreational activities like waking, biking, swimming, canoeing and my new favorite, paddleboarding. 

Many South Minneapolis residents identify where they live by which lake they live closest to—over by Harriet, or west of Nokomis.

Don't Overlook the Greater Twin Cities

Minneapolis and St. Paul make up the core of the Twin Cities, but the greater metro area includes so much more. Depending on who’s doing the counting, the metro area includes 7, 11, or up to 16 counties—we have even laid claim to a small slice of western Wisconsin.

Sorry, Wisconsin.

The central metro, however, spans seven  counties and is home to about 3 million people. People here generally talk in terms of the north, south, east, and west metro. Each quadrant has its own personality and features.

Navigating the Twin Cities Housing Market

The housing market in the Twin Cities can be a challenge for buyers. Inventory is low and the market is incredibly competitive. Homes often sell in multiple offers and buyers may pay thousands over asking. The median home price in the metro was around $360,000 in December of 2022 and continues to rise.

But like any big city, the housing market here is hyper local. You can still find smaller starter homes for under $250,000, often not far from multi-million dollar luxury homes. Housing prices vary from city to suburb, and neighborhood to neighborhood. It can often be difficult to understand why the price of two similar houses just blocks apart may differ by $10,000, $20,0000 or even $50,0000 dollars.

Now that you’ve gotten your toes wet here land of lakes, it’s time to start focusing your home search.  

ln my next blog, I talk in more detail Minneapolis, the housing market, and the neighborhoods where you might find some hidden gems.

J Trout Lowen is a Minneapolis Realtor® and an expert at helping buyers and sellers navigate the Twin Cities housing market.

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