20 Things to Know Before Moving to Minneapolis

When you think of Minneapolis, images of brutal winters (think negative 40-degree wind chills), the supersized Mall of America, the “hot dish” (or casserole to the rest of the world), “Minnesota Nice” and maybe the “Purple People Eaters” –thanks to the Minnesota Vikings.

But dig deeper and you’ll find a city that’s progressive, livable and becoming a hotspot for innovation and culture. It has a dynamic economy, award-winning restaurants, and plenty of recreational and entertainment options.

The city is one half of the Twin Cities — the other half is St. Paul — and they’re separated by the Mississippi River.  The area is burgeoning as Minneapolis’ population jumped 7.4 percent in the past five years to 411,000 people. Approximately 3.5 million live in the Twin Cities metro – the highest population in its history.

Before you become one of them, here are 20 things you should know.

1. Baby, it’s cold outside

There’s no way to sugar coat it, the weather is frigid and snowy five to six months a year, so stock up on winter gear and pack a snow emergency kit for the trunk of your vehicle. Also, recognize that your heating bill will skyrocket in the winter and some of us plug our cars in overnight so our batteries don’t freeze.

2. We look for any sign of thawing

“Spring time officially hits when it’s 32 degrees!” said Paul Tharp, a Minneapolis Realtor at Coldwell Banker Burnet, who has worked with out-of-state buyers. “If it gets above freezing, we’ll be wearing shorts,” and of course, flip flops. And just so you know, the average high in March is 41 degrees and the average low is 24 degrees, so spring doesn’t actually come until April, or even May.

3. Skyways are the way to go

If you work downtown or plan to shop or dine downtown, you never have to step outside if you use Minneapolis’ skyways– the largest continuous skyway system in the world.  It connects 80 city blocks and offers 26 coffee shops, 11 Chinese restaurants and nine fitness centers along the way.  Download the Skyway My Way app to help you navigate.

4. Minneapolis’s parks system is one of America’s best

For Minneapolis residents, there’s a 94 percent chance they live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Minneapolis boasts 197 parks, 200 miles of biking and walking paths, and 22 lakes for canoeing and paddle-boarding or ice-skating and ice-fishing (depending on the season). Even in the dead of winter, people bike to get around whenever they can.

 5. We stay fit

With access to parks, lakes and trails, Minneapolis is one fit city. Forbes ranked it No. 1 on its “America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities” list in 2015. Forbes said Minneapolis residents “breathe clean air, prioritize exercise and keep their weight down.” The city was also an early adopter of bike trails and public smoking bans.

5. When the snow melts, we hit the links

While it’s no surprise that Minnesota doesn’t have the most golf courses, it does have more golfers per capita than any other state.

6. We mean business

Seventeen companies headquartered in Minnesota are on the newest Fortune 500 ranking of the biggest U.S. companies. They include Target, Best Buy and 3M.

7. It’s become a ‘techie city’

While not exactly San Francisco, the Huffington Post named Minneapolis one of the “Top 10 Cities Techies Should Consider Moving to in 2016”. Also, 40 Minnesota tech firms made the 2016 Inc. 500 | 5000 list.

8. Let’s go to the ‘theee-a-ter’

Minneapolis has more theater seats per capita than any other U.S. city, except New York City. They include the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater and the Chanhassen Theater, the largest dinner theater in the country.

“We have over 80 professional theater companies and the Guthrie is known around the world,” said Kristen Montag, communications & PR manager at Minneapolis.org.

9. Music royalty

Superstar musician Prince was born and raised in Minneapolis and his love for the city was evident in many of his songs, including his 1983 album Purple Rain, which features tracks recorded at First Avenue. Everyone has a Prince story – just ask! He was often spotted around town and will be greatly missed. The Purple Reign passed away on April 21, 2016.

10. More diversity than you’d think

Minneapolis is 63.8 percent white, according to the latest U.S. Census numbers. The population is 18.6 percent black/African American, 10.5 percent Latino and 5.6 percent Asian. Also, Minneapolis has America’s largest population of Somalis.

“We have more diversity than most people think,” Tharp said. “In my opinion, when people think of Minnesota they think white Scandinavians.”

11. A mall so big it should have its own zip code

Mall of America  is the country’s largest mall — boasting 40 million visitors annually – and it continues to expand.  In fact, it’s so big that nine Yankee Stadiums could fit inside. It features 520-plus stores. (There’s no sales tax on clothes and shoes in Minneapolis – so shop away!)  Also, you can’t miss the 1.2-million gallon aquarium and indoor Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. You can even get married there at the mall’s Chapel of Love.

12. Foodie fame

“The culinary scene has definitely been growing and developing,” Montag said.   “There are new restaurants opening all of the time, but we also have some very well-regarded, long-term ones. We‘ve had several James Beard award winners. The latest was the Bachelor Farmer’s Chef Paul Berglund.”

“Also, the local food scene last year won a USA Today 10 Best.com poll,” Montag added.

 13. ‘Eat Street’ offers passport to global flavors

Whether your taste is spicy or traditional, Eat Street in south Minneapolis will leave an impression on your taste buds.  More than 50 destinations — from African to Mexican cuisine — occupy this neighborhood for a unique, authentic and ethnic food experience from independent and family-run businesses.

14. Free restaurant delivery

Another reason to move to Minneapolis is Amazon Prime members can now get restaurant food delivered for free! It’s the 13th city in the country where Amazon Prime’s one-hour restaurant delivery is available.

15. Home of the Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy)

An ongoing “discussion” exists over who invented the Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy), which is basically a burger stuffed with cheese. Some say it was Matt’s Bar, while others contend it was the 5-8 Club. Try both!

16. Every type of food on a stick

The Minnesota State Fair –one of the biggest in the country — is renowned for its “creative” culinary items including Alligator Sausage on a Stick and Deep Fried S’mores on a Stick. Yum?

17. Minnesotans love their sports

Minnesota boasts professional teams in all major sports and now is getting an MLS (professional soccer) expansion team. Meanwhile, the new $1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium opened and Vikings fans can’t wait for the season to begin. Watch for the Super Bowl there in 2018.

18. Up-and-coming neighborhoods

Minneapolis has two of the “hottest neighborhoods” in the U.S., according to Redfin.    They’re both in south Minneapolis and are Ericsson and Powderhorn Park. The criteria are based on affordability and character as well as accessibility to stores, coffee shops and downtown.

19. Hipster heaven

Filled with taprooms, studios and art galleries, Northeast Minneapolis is “hot” for both artists and young families attracted to its up-and-coming atmosphere. Meanwhile, downtown’s North Loop (or Warehouse District) was a bunch of tired warehouses transformed into trendy bars, boutiques and cool housing. It’s a very walkable and especially attractive for people working downtown.

20. Craft beer everywhere

More than 40 breweries opened in Minnesota in 2015 alone. Surly Brewing’s’ $30 million brewery and taproom in Minneapolis is one of the largest. New Minneapolis breweries include Utepils, Wild Mind Artisan Ales and Venn Brewery.  The craft brewery industry is the fastest-growing alcohol business in Minnesota – good news for beer lovers!

Liz Wolf