Minneapolis, Minnesota

Cosmopolitan & Provincial

The BUZZ

What's it like to live in Minneapolis

How do you like living in Minneapolis?

Speaking only for myself here…I love it. I'm originally from California, spent about 6 years in New Jersey, and have been here for a little over 6 years now. To me, Minneapolis is the right scale of city -- it's big enough that it has everything you might want out of a city (food, arts, culture, music, sports, etc) but small enough that it's not overwhelming, either on a physical scale like the sprawl of LA or on a density/people scale like a place like NYC.

There are two things I don't like: Winter, which lasts 5-6 months, and I personally found it tough to make friends outside of work as a late-twenty-something when I moved here. It's only been in the last 2 or so years that I feel I have a solid social circle. Then again, if you're more proactive than I was, you may not have the same problem.

Do you enjoy living in Minnesota?

I have lived here for almost my whole life. I’ve also lived in the Netherlands. I have visited 27 countries and many of their major cities and guess what? You probably guessed, I would rather live here and just continue traveling. I would NOT say that “Minnesota Nice” means that people here will stab you in the back, which is hyperbole. What it really means is that the general culture is afraid of confrontation and will default to politeness. I discovered that parts of Northern Europe are like this and Japan. Our state is beautiful, it (the metro)has been recognized nationally as having wonderful restaurants, breweries, arts. We have many gorgeous state parks around the entire state. If you are embrace the outdoors and the seasons, you too, can love it like I do (and so many others). Get outside, learn how to dress smartly for the cold weather! Hey, some never do and they tend to be miserable in the winter. 🤷‍♂️But that’s their choice!

What is it like to live in Minneapolis, MN?

A mixed bag. Awesomeness, ordinary stuff and crapulosity all thrown together.

There’s a lot of glossy promotional material out there, combined with a bunch of negativity and pessimism. In reality, Minneapolis is a lot of things. It’s a Russian doll. A couple million people in the same place having different experiences of it.

Personally, I agree with the poet James Wright, who after he taught for a few years at the University of Minnesota, just wanted to watch a chicken hawk floating over William Duffy’s farm out in the country.[1] But you can't make a living staring at chicken hawks. So here we are.

Like every other urban area, Minneapolis has pros and cons and everything in between.

It is:

  • Awesome, underperforming, snobby, elitist, ordinary, nice, pretty, ugly, quiet, crowded and empty, vibrant and self-absorbed… all at the same time. That’s called a city.

  • Cosmopolitan and also proud to be provincial. A large(ish) city in an isolated corner of America. Two worlds sharing identical GPS coordinates. That's not a bad thing. There’s a passion for everything “local” here. Local beer, local sports, local books. The local vibe somehow manages to be good and suffocating at the same time. But really, all cities are like that.

  • Progressive, left-leaning, and still one of the most racially segregated metros in the U.S. While proud to be an island of progressivism in the mostly conservative Midwest, the Twin Cities are also where Justine Diamond and Philando Castile were gunned down by trigger-happy cops. This isn’t Mayberry or “Lake Wobegon.” (It's also not "Detroit on the Mississippi.")

  • Gay-friendly if that’s important to you. Seriously, though, most of America is gay-friendly in 2020.

  • One of the more well-educated and literate cities in the U.S., but also one where you don’t have to go very far to find people living in ugly poverty. Then again, if you want to find work in Minneapolis and don't have a criminal record, you’ll find it. It’s not a difficult place to find “a job” in, though that job might not be anything special. The unemployed here are either picky, unemployable, or aren't trying.

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul has one of the few urban light rail systems in the U.S. This is a good thing. But, pssst… it’s in a city. Cities are magnets for mental instability and rude behavior. Light rail suffers from that. At some hours more than others, but people who aren’t aware of this are either blind, really tolerant of that kind of stuff, or don’t actually take light rail and therefore don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • Lot of successful people around, lot of creative talent, combined with plenty of people who are just barely squeaking through. Again, that’s par for the course for American cities.

What is it like to live in Minneapolis, MN?

It's pretty awesome, actually. I was born here but moved to Europe before I was a year old. Moved back at age 7. Moved away. Moved back. Moved away. Moved back. Wash, rinse, repeat. Moved back in 2002, for likely the last time. I don't see myself leaving.

What's it like? The first thing everyone will tell you about is the weather. Summers are hot and humid, and in some places the mosquitoes are out of control. Fall is really nice until late October or early November. After that the bottom drops out, and you are in for a brutal winter. The cold can be really painful, even dangerous. The snow? Not so bad, really, compared to places like upstate New York and anywhere in the path of lake-effect precipitation. Spring comes late. Realistically, you'll switch to shorts in early May.

The people are a mixed bag -- you'll hear about Minnesota Nice. You'll also hear about Minnesota Passive-Aggressive. Both are true, to a point. People are people, though, and there's enough immigration from the outside world where it's all diluted into a really fun mix. We have large Hmong and Somali communities, and a history of taking in refugees, so the food and restaurant options in town are amazing. I'd put our best restaurants on the same level as any other city in the western hemisphere.

Politically, Minnesota has usually leaned Democrat, and the Twin Cities remain that way, mostly. Some of the outer-ring burbs have gone red, and the rural counties are a mixed bag. Generally speaking, we're pretty accepting here, regardless of origin, sexuality, skin color, whatever. Cultural diversity is great, as mentioned in the previous paragraph -- and there's vibrant arts and music scenes here (seriously, like 30,000 people showed up outside First Ave when Prince died). Oh, and the people here are wicked smart -- we're one of the best-educated and well-read metro areas in the country.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF LIVING IN THE TWIN CITIES MINNESOTA