Posted in: Best places to live

Best Minnesota cities for young professionals

Best Minnesota cities for young professionals

As young professionals enter the job market, and others continue their career path and start families, Minnesota cities are offering a lot more than avocado toast and latte art to these first-time homebuyers looking to put down roots.

Minneapolis (#1) and Saint Paul (#2) continue to be a big draw for young professionals, offering convenience, transportation, affordable housing options and flexible space that can be crafted for specific interests and changed on a whim. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the workforce within these two cities is nearing 400,000. There are 17 companies on the current Fortune 500 list and five of them have headquarters in Minneapolis including Target, U.S. Bancorp, Ameriprise Financial, Xcel Energy and Thrivent Financial. And St. Paul is home to Ecolab, also on the list.

Both cities offer an abundance of local flare, entertainment venues, views of the mighty Mississippi River, and the flexibility to get around by bus, commuter rail or bike. Perfect for those who enjoy the social scene or work downtown. However, the suburbs are working hard to get in on the action.

Across the Twin Cities and its surrounding suburbs, the unemployment rate continues to be below the national average and there is an increased focus on transportation options and economic development.

#1 Minneapolis, MN

  • Median sold price: $285K
  • Bikeability score: 82/100
  • Parks, recreation, preserves: 3,517 acres
  • City population: 423,990
  • Unemployment rate: 2.5%

#2 Saint Paul, MN

  • Median sold price: $228K
  • Bikeability score: 63/100
  • Parks, recreation, preserves: 4,585 acres
  • City population: 309,180
  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%

Want to know which side of the river is best for you? Take our Minneapolis vs. St. Paul quiz!

Let’s check out nine other Minnesota cities with standout features perfect for young professionals.

#3 Maple Grove, MN

Not only does Maple Grove come in third for affordability combined with flexibility in housing, but it also leads the way with a centralized hub of activity. Arbor Lakes offers trendy retail stores and access to restaurants, all within walking distance of a movie theater, WhirlyBall Twin Cities, Dave and Buster’s, and Granite City Brewery. The ever-popular Whole Foods is right down the street, and during the week, Maple Grove transit provides express commuter service to and from downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota.

  • Median sold price: $400K
  • Bikeability score: 39, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 3,764 acres
  • City population: 66,814
  • Unemployment rate: 2.1%

#4 Woodbury, MN

Woodbury leads the way in new development as one of the fastest growing cities in the state. According to the city’s website, Woodbury has added more than 950,000 square feet of new commercial construction and more than 160 new businesses within the last three years, offering great opportunity for young professionals. Woodbury Lakes, albeit more mainstream than Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, offers a variety of shopping and dining. And Woodbury’s proximity to the St. Croix River Valley offers endless options for biking and hiking.

  • Median sold price: $410K
  • Bikeability score: 33, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 2,839 acres
  • City population: 69,426
  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%

#5 Blaine, MN

If sports are your thing, Blaine is the perfect fit. Want to try an obscure Olympic sport? Check out the Four Seasons Curling Club. Plan to have a future hockey hero or soccer star? The National Sports Center is the world’s largest amateur sports facility, and Blaine’s renowned soccer fields are home to the annual USA CUP. Or, if you’re looking for something even more above par, the TPC Twin Cities private golf course is now the permanent host for the 3M Championship of the PGA Champions Tour. Thirsty after all those activities? Invictus Brewing Company partners with the Tipsy Steer for a local taste in their beautiful taproom.

  • Median sold price: $330K
  • Bikeability score: 38, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 1,844 acres
  • City population: 65,369
  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%

#6 Rochester, MN

The city of Rochester is deeply committed to environmental efforts and transit options, as proven by achieving the highest ranking from MN GreenStep Cities. Rochester boasts one of the best pedestrian systems in the state. Skyways and underground walkways connect local fare, shopping and nightlife to the convention center, hotels and the Mayo clinic. If you are looking for a compromise between the downtown lifestyle and suburban space, it’s time to give Rochester a second look, especially if you work in the healthcare industry where job opportunities abound. Have a deep commitment to organic foods? Rochester’s Natural Grocers and farmers markets will be the perfect fit for your paleo or keto diet. And, to top it off, Rochester ranks third in the state when it comes to affordable housing availability, just behind Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

  • Median sold price: $260K
  • Bikeability score: 56, bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 3,500+
  • City population: 114,011
  • Unemployment rate: 2.0%

#7 Plymouth, MN

Plymouth is one of the few suburbs to establish its own transit system, Plymouth Metrolink. Rather than simply providing park and ride lots as many suburbs do, Plymouth Metrolink helps alleviate the need for a car altogether by offering a local link to the regional transit system. It may be only 12 miles from Minneapolis, but this suburban retreat is known for its open spaces, parks and extensive trails. Multifamily housing continues to be on the rise in Plymouth, and the city is home to more than 58,000 jobs including the headquarters for Mosiac, a Fortune 500 company.

  • Median sold price: $470K
  • Bikeability score: 41, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 2,306 acres
  • City population: 76,882
  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%

#8 Bloomington, MN

Bloomington likes to do things big. Whether you are looking for a shopping, food and entertainment fix at the Mall of America, or 50 feet long slides at Hyland Lake Park, Bloomington has something for everyone. Learn to downhill ski; experience the calm of the Normandale Japanese Garden; elevate an 18-hole disc golf game across ski slopes; or search the depths of the ocean at the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. You won’t get bored in Bloomington. In addition to the Mall of America, large employers in the city include HealthPartners, Donaldson Company and Toro. The headquarters for Best Buy, number 74 on the Fortune 500 list, is also an easy commute in neighboring Richfield.

  • Median sold price: $290K
  • Bikeability score: 42, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 5,883 acres
  • City population: 88,885
  • Unemployment rate: 2.5%

#9 Saint Cloud, MN

Saint Cloud is the second city outside the Twin Cities metro area to make the list. The Insta-worthy Paramount Center for the Arts historic theater offers something for every type of art lover. While you’re downtown, grab a drink at the Martini Lounge or the Veranda Lounge, or sample award-winning brews at Beaver Island Brewing Company. The local flare of this college town continues with Jules’ Bistro and Books Revisited, and a stroll along the Mississippi River is just steps away. Saint Cloud’s continued economic growth means young professionals may not even have to worry about a commute to Minneapolis and the options for affordable housing make Saint Cloud an ideal place to call home.

  • Median sold price: $175K
  • Bikeability score: 47, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 1,682 acres
  • City population: 68,043
  • Unemploymetn rate: 2.8%

#10 Lakeville, MN


Lakeville is a bit outside the metro hub, but it is home to Angry Inch Brewing and one of the most unique downtown areas around. Start and end your day at the Mainstreet Coffee and Wine Bar. And this just in, Uptown’s ultra-sweet Waffle Bar recently expanded to Lakeville. True to its name, Lakeville is home to five lakes including three offering public swimming and two with public boat launches. Prefer your land legs? Explore 25 miles of walking and biking trails. And when it comes to homes with bonus rooms and flex space, Lakeville ranks top in the state.

  • Median sold price: $410K
  • Bikeability score: 36, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 2,017 acres
  • City population: 61,993
  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%

#11 Eden Prairie, MN

Eden Prairie, like Rochester, has also made a commitment to sustainability, conservation efforts and transit through MN GreenStep Cities. Residents can look forward to even more transit connections in 2023 with an extension of the light rail. Eden Prairie has a young demographic with 72 percent of the population under the age of 45. And for those who are looking for latte art, check out the quaint Smith Coffee and Café. Not only is this suburb home to two Fortune 500 companies, Supervalu and C.H. Robinson, but Eden Prairie is also home to some of the top public schools in the state.

  • Median sold price: $469K
  • Bikeability score: 47, somewhat bikeable
  • Parks, recreation and preserves: 4,667 acres
  • City population: 63,726
  • Unemployment rate: 2.3%

Whether you’re looking for family homes, college towns or simply a great place to live, Minnesota has options for every budget, and Edina Realty can help you find the perfect community to call home. Start your search now.

Ranking criteria and sources:
1. Ranking for this list of top 11 cities is based on cities within Minnesota and western Wisconsin with the most available homes for sale under $300,000 combined with flexible space and/or bonus rooms between May 2018 and May 2019.
2. Unemployment rates sourced from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, September 2019.
3. Active listing data based on MLS as of October 23, 2019. Listing information changes frequently. For up-to-date listing information, visit

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