My family (two working parents and preschool-aged kids) is considering a move to Minneapolis, a city I've heard great things about but have never visited. Any tips on neighborhoods, general vibe, and most importantly, the best ways to learn about the city from a distance? Would really appreciate any advice!

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RE: Minneapolis? ()

I'm a Twin Cities native, went to undergrad and graduate school at the University of MN, and am generally a booster of the city and region.  I'm happy to be a resource for you if you'd like -- not sure how PMs work (is there such a thing?) on BPN. I think looking at the alternative newspapers (MinnPost and City Pages) are a good place to start on understanding the local landscape. Honestly, I think most travel shows that have done Twin Cities episodes do a pretty good job too.

In general, Minneapolis is seen as the more 'urban' or commercial sibling to St. Paul's blue-collar progressivism. Both places are super livable (great parks, decent transportation, good,  affordable housing stock.) There's certainly more to do music, city, and food-wise in Minneapolis, but they're so close there's not a big barrier to enjoying both.  Housing stock is pretty similar across both cities, with a ton of homes from the 20s-40s, with postwar stuff further out from the city center.

Minneapolis is more or less in four quadrants - South, southeast, northeast and north - with southwest, downtown, and the university being smaller defined areas.  South and southeast are kind of the affordable, urban ideal with more diversity than the regional average, good restaurants, and nice shopping streets.  There are pockets of poverty, and crime has been on the increase in the last year, but generally a family friendly place to be -- lots of starter homes and young families.  North is where most of the African American population lives, and locally has the racist assumptions that go along with that. Minneapolis is much like Milwaukee and a few other cities where there are pretty clear racial lines. Services are harder to come by in North, but that is changing.  Northeast is the hippest area right now, with the bars, restaurants, and breweries to match. Housing in northeast is cheaper, but not generally as high quality as elsewhere.

As for the overall vibe -- it leans toward the Seattle/Portland side of things with pretty progressive politics locally, but outstate MN is growing more conservative. There is a thriving music and theater scene, and people tend to be very outdoorsy - cabins, camping, biking, skiing, etc. It's very well educated and places big value on education and civic engagment, but has historically had a huge blindspot on race issues. It's mostly Scandinavians, with some eastern European mixed in.  There's a historic Irish population in St. Paul.  East Africans and Hmong make up the majority of the immigrant populations -- primarily on the north side of St. Paul and near the University.

The weather can be awful, as is well documented. The people are generally warm once you form connections, but can be chilly if you don't have an existing network.

Happy to answer any other questions you have. Hopefully this is a good start.

RE: Minneapolis? ()

I'm from the Twin Cities and couldn't recommend it higher.  You will cry at the price of housing (in a good way), the quality of schools, access to nature and the good restaurants (if any survive the pandemic).   Great culture for kiddos too, Science Museum, Children's Museum and I have many fond memories of visiting the Children's Theater.  

Yes the winter lasts 5-6 months, which as the former governor says "keeps the rifr raf out" but also scares many people away.  You do get used to it, but something you have to adjust to.  Learn to cross-country ski! People bike with snow tires, everyone still goes outside.  

Not sure how else to help you learn about it remotely but think it will have all that you like in the Bay for a fraction of the cost.  

RE: Minneapolis? ()

We just moved to the East Bay last year after living for a most of our lives in the Twin Cities.  There are a few things to consider:  as transplants, it is notoriously hard to find friends in MN (especially as a person of color--there are articles written about this in the MN newspapers).  The 6 month long winters can take a HUGE toll on your psyche--if you're not into winter sports or activities, it's months of being trapped indoors, and driving can be treacherous on black ice and inches/feet of snow.  As a person of color, I have experienced serious racism and discrimination and was most often the only non-white person various spaces, as MN is still over 80% white (and this percentage increases as as you go further and further away from the cities).  We raised our biracial children in a diverse area of St Paul, and really tried to create a liberal and diverse bubble around us, but we were one of the only houses with BLM signs, our children's friends were still predominantly white, and I would still get followed around in stores  in my neighborhood by white salespeople. So should you move there? I'm definitely biased but my answer is, if you love the Bay Area for the same reasons I do (weather, open-mindedness, diversity, the hills, the ocean), my answer would be no.  We left most of our family and friends to move here and despite all the fires, earthquakes, air quality, etc. we do not regret it one bit.