We’ve all seen it happen — that moment when a Starbucks goes up in a location that was, only years earlier, deemed “not cool” by outsiders. So, how can you tell what neighborhoods are up-and-comers? Even more importantly, how can you determine what location is right for you and your family - regardless of what the cool kids think?
The urban oasis
It’s pretty easy to tell if you’re more comfortable in the city than outside it. If you don’t mind noise, prefer walking and biking to driving, and have made peace with paying more for less square footage, then you’re a pretty clear city-dweller.
With massive condo developments on every corner, dining hotspots like Borough and Bachelor Farmer, and an uber-chic name change (from The Warehouse District), it’s a little late to call Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood an up-and-comer. Still, we’d be silly not to include the area as an obvious choice for those who are looking to move to the middle of the action.
Those more interested in an urban starter home than a sleek condo can look to the Longfellow area in southeast Minneapolis. Located along the Mississippi River, this area has long played second (or third) fiddle to the rest of the city. But young buyers priced out of the rest of the city are finding that the charming riverside community is easily accessible (thanks to the Hiawatha Light Rail Station), affordable and hip. Local restaurants, coffee shops and microbreweries are opening regularly in this fiercely independent area.
The developing suburbs and exurbs
Need a yard, an attached garage, and room for the kids to grow? If you’re a suburban dweller, you’ll find bliss in the large parks, nearby shopping and larger homes available outside the city.
In the western suburbs, Chaska has been growing at a fast rate for the last two decades, but still manages to maintain its small-town feel. With easy access via Hwy 212, a darling, rustic downtown, and plenty of parks and bike trails, Chaska is an easy place to call home. Meanwhile, Chaska’s nearest neighbor, Chanhassen, is also booming with industry, shopping and new developments. The recent split of the local high school (to Chaska High School and Chanhassen High School) was designed to ensure that residential children receive high quality, personalized education.
Heading due east, Woodbury is a St. Paul suburb with major family appeal. Recently ranked as one of Family Circle magazine’s top 10 cities for families, Woodbury offers great schools, healthcare and clinics, and endless outdoor activities in local parks, trails and open space. Plus, its location allows for a commute to western Wisconsin, or further into the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro.
Small town bliss
Long a fixture on “Best places to live” lists, boasts small town living and big city opportunity. The Med City is home to the Mayo Clinic, and the highly educated community enjoys excellent job security from the hospital and other local corporations. Rochester also offers a great cost of living - the median home price in the city is $182,500, and everything from starter homes to large, historic homes are available.
In west central Minnesota, Alexandria was voted one of Livabilitiy’s 2013 top 10 small towns in America. The peaceful, close-knit community has no shortage of local events, including an annual Grape Stomp, summer art festivals and the Douglas County Fair. With big local employers like the Douglas County Hospital, Alexandria boasts a strong local economy and a 3.8% unemployment rate.
Lest we forget our neighbors over the border, we want to make mention of the fast-growing town of River Falls, Wisconsin. The population of River Falls has grown more than 20% since 2000, and the town has an abundance of new life breathed into it when students attending the University of Wisconsin - River Falls arrive on campus each fall. The town showcases new and historic homes, offering great properties for starter home families and those who are looking to upgrade.
Truth be told, there are so many amazing communities in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, we could never highlight them all at once. Stay tuned as we continue to explore all the up-and-coming gems in our area.