St. Paul, Minnesota

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What's it like to live in St. Paul?

What is it like to live in Saint Paul, MN?

My fiancée and I live about 2 miles from downtown:

I'm from the Chicagoland area, do you see all the green and trees between us and the city behind us, that doesn't exist in Chicago. We live in a very suburban flavored neighborhood, I don't feel claustrophobic despite how close I am to downtown. There are nature preserves in and around both of the twins, it is absolutely beautiful. And while the locals aren't perfect drivers (tailgating and merging issues) they aren't batshit crazy like Chicagoans, I refuse to even consider driving in Chicago but can drive through St. Paul during rush hour and the locals let me make my lane changes in bumper to bumper traffic so I can make my exits/turns, so Minnesota nice!

But the best part of living in St. Paul is that it is in Minnesota. Minnesotans are proud of Minnesota like most people are proud of their state but they honestly have so much to be proud of. They have a thriving economy and take in refugees and take care of their people who are struggling. My fiancée is Deaf, we have not had to fight for her to have medical interpreters for her medical appointments and procedures, they automatically book them without even being asked and find it strange we find that remarkable and wonderful! They have top notch medical care with University of Minnesota and Mayo, which are what brought us up here to begin with but the fact that she is treated like a human being with rights here has made it home.

What is Saint Paul, MN known for?

Mark Twain once said “Saint Paul is the last city of the East; Minneapolis is the first city of the West”. And it’s still true; Saint Paul has a very eastern feel to it; the playwright August Wilson lived in Catheral Hill because it reminded him of the Brooklyn he grew up in; other neighborhods feel like Boston, Chicago or other cities east of the Mississippi. Minneapolis feels a lot like Denver, Seattle, Fargo, or other cities of the west.

Saint Paul is older. In the ’20s and ‘30s, the chief of police, Bill O’Connor, cut a deal with the Chicago mob; keep your nose clean in Saint Paul, and we’ll leave you alone. For years, Saint Paul was the summer home of the Chicago mob; Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, the Barkers and John Dillinger hung out around the city, mostly unmolested (until some of them out out of line, and the feds got involved. The trial that finally put Al Capone in prison took place in Saint Paul).

Personal opinion here: Saint Paul is more relaxed, less stiflingly PC, less anal-retentive; Saint Paul has an air of Irish bonhomie, compared to Minneapolis’ German/Scandinavian passive-aggression.

Architecturally? Minneapolis’s downtown is a lot of steel and glass - very “cold” feeling, especially for a city where it gets as cold as it does. Saint Paul’s is more brown limestone and other “warm” materials; a lot “warmer”-feeling in the winter.

What is the difference between Minneapolis and St. Paul?

Over the past three years I have lived in each City. I should note: I didn’t grow up here. The cities are only a ten minutes drive between city centers, and the neighborhoods mesh pretty seamlessly in the middle so there is not so much a stark distinction between the two as a gentle gradient.

Saint Paul is considered more ‘quiet’ and staid. The demographic is maybe a little bit older. Downtown is generally quiet, though there a some things to do there. There are a handful of private colleges within Saint Paul, so there are these pockets of college students within the neighborhoods. There are a lot of very old, very expensive houses, especially along Summit avenue. There are old and rich people that live in these houses. Saint Paul is predominantly home to the Hmong, Latino and Black communities, which is really cool. There are two Hmong markets, great south east asian food, and Asian grocery stores all over the place. There is also some very stark and very disheartening segregation between these minority neighborhoods and the more wealthy, white neighborhoods. Saint Paul has the Minnesota river flowing through it on the south side and the Mississippi on the west, there are a few small lakes and parks but nothing really impressive and there are not many very good places to swim or hangout outside in the city.

Minneapolis is much more cosmopolitan. Downtown MPLS is a bit larger than downtown Saint Paul and there is more to do there. The neighborhoods feel a bit more integrated and interesting. I live in North East Minneapolis now, which has Black, Latino, Somali, Indian and White residents living in it. It is the most diverse neighborhood I have ever lived in and it is really cool. Minneapolis has Lake Calhoun, Lake of The Isles and Cedar Lake which are great as well as parks like Minnehaha falls and Theodore Wirth among others. The University of Minnesota is in minneapolis so there is a pretty large, consolidated student population around there.

Both cities have sports venues: Saint Paul has the hockey team and a minor league baseball team, Minneapolis has the VIkings and the Twins.

The general rule is: if you like to go out and do things, go to restaurants or clubs or whatever, move to Minneapolis, if you want to find some place to raise a family, or buy a two million dollar house, move to Saint Paul, but you will find exceptions for each of these.

What’s it like living in St. Paul?

I've lived in St. Paul for most of my life. It's a really great place and has an ever-booming food, beer, pub, bar scene, which is really nice depending on what you're into. Housing prices in Minneapolis and St. Paul proper are kind of crazy high. Rent for me nearly doubled over the last 5 years and when I tell people what I paid for my house earlier this year they always gasp in shock. You can easily find more affordable housing if you're willing to live more in the suburbs, but that is going to depend on where in St. Paul you're working and if you're near any of the major freeway corridors.

Going into winter now, the biggest thing you're also going to want to look for in housing is whether or not your landlord/HOA is going shovel snow for you or if you're going to be shoveling your sidewalk/entryway/driveway yourself. This year is supposed to be a "warm" winter, which means largely temps between 15-30 F for extended periods of time, which usually means LOTS of snow.

Make sure your car can handle snow and when you get here go get a nice winter coat. For me, my main winter coat costs more than any other single piece of clothing I own, including shoes. A close second are my winter boots. You're going to be living in your coat whenever you're outside from Nov-Apr, so don't be afraid to shop around and spend $$ on it.

Also, learn to love Target.