Welcome to the land of frigid winters and friendly people.
From bustling urban centers to tranquil suburban paradises, the North Star State offers an impressive selection of beautiful places to call home. Each location featured below is ideal for singles and established families, young professionals and retirees alike.
Whether you’re drawn to a rich educational landscape, unique career opportunities or simply the lure of lake life, this guide to the best places to live in Minnesota will provide you with an insider’s perspective of the towns and cities that truly excel in offering a top-notch quality of life in the North.
- Population: 425,336
- Average age: 32.3
- Median household income: $70,099
- Average commute time: 23.1 minutes
- Walk score: 71
- Studio average rent: $1,083
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,483
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,177
With a thriving job market that includes the headquarters of major companies like Target and General Mills, Minneapolis offers a wealth of opportunities for skilled professionals in a number of fields. Sports fans can easily catch a Vikings game on Sundays, or check out something less conventional like a roller derby match. Foodies will revel in the city’s inventive culinary scene — from food trucks selling gourmet grilled cheese to high-end eateries that could hold their own in any global city.
When it comes to everyday life, Minneapolis hits it out of the park. Think kayaking on the Mississippi River after work, or cycling around one of the city’s lakes on a sunny Saturday. Education is top-notch, with an array of public and private school options, as well as higher education institutions like the University of Minnesota. And let’s not forget about the Skyway system, a godsend during those brutal winters, connecting downtown buildings and making it possible to navigate the city without braving the cold.
- Population: 307,193
- Average age: 32.5
- Median household income: $63,483
- Average commute time: 25.5 minutes
- Walk score: 60
- Studio average rent: $1,031
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,300
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,580
As the other (some would say better) half of the Twin Cities, Saint Paul is undeniably one of the best places to live in Minnesota. Often seen as the more laid-back and historic sibling to Minneapolis, Saint Paul exudes a unique charm with its cobblestone streets and grand brick buildings. But don’t let the quiet elegance fool you; Saint Paul is a powerhouse capital city in its own right. Home to state government buildings and a bustling downtown, the city is steeped in history while maintaining its forward-thinking attitude, hosting a variety of tech startups and eco-friendly initiatives.
Everyday life in Saint Paul offers a delightful mix of leisure and excitement. The city’s gorgeous parks, like Como Park with its zoo and conservatory, provide green escapes right in your backyard. Passionate about education? Saint Paul boasts an impressive range of schools, from Montessori institutions to language immersion programs. The city’s public transportation makes it easy to get around, and the food scene is a smorgasbord of global cuisines, from authentic Italian eateries to cozy Ethiopian cafes.
- Population: 53,266
- Average age: 43.3
- Median household income: $100,363
- Average commute time: 22.2 minutes
- Walk score: 21
- Studio average rent: $1,503
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,727
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,094
Minnetonka is a city that elegantly straddles the line between suburban tranquility and outdoor adventure, making it one of the best places to live in Minnesota. Just a stone’s throw away from downtown Minneapolis, Minnetonka offers a life that is both sophisticated and close to nature. The city serves as a backdrop to Lake Minnetonka, where locals and visitors alike sail, fish or bask under the Minnesota sun. Despite its close proximity to a bustling urban center, Minnetonka maintains an almost resort-like atmosphere, where winding roads often lead to picture-perfect lakeside views.
In terms of everyday living, Minnetonka scores high marks across the board. The city is peppered with excellent schools, upscale shopping centers and a ton of quality restaurants. The extensive trail system provides an idyllic setting for cycling, jogging or walking your dog. And when winter rolls around, there’s ice-fishing on the lake and miles of snow-covered trails for cross-country skiing.
- Population: 79,828
- Average age: 40.4
- Median household income: $112,631
- Average commute time: 23.9 minutes
- Walk score: 18
- Studio average rent: $912
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,380
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,782
What do you get when you mix top-tier schools, a thriving job market and abundant green spaces? The answer is Plymouth, clearly one of the best places to live in Minnesota. Located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, Plymouth has its own self-contained charm while still offering quick access to the big-city amenities. With Medicine Lake at its heart, residents have plenty of opportunities to get out on the lake and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s a city where career-driven individuals and families find common ground, surrounded by cutting-edge technology firms and family-friendly venues alike.
In Plymouth, everyday life feels like a well-curated blend of recreation and relaxation. The city boasts a range of parks that include everything from dog-friendly areas to skate parks. The school system is often cited as being among the best in the state, setting up young minds for a promising future. Plymouth also spoils its residents with its shopping options, whether it’s farmers markets brimming with local produce or retail spots that cater to fashion-forward shoppers.
- Population: 86,372
- Average age: 33.7
- Median household income: $58,014
- Average commute time: 17.1 minutes
- Walk score: 36
- Studio average rent: $705
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,575
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,602
Perched along the northwestern shore of Lake Superior, Duluth is a gem that makes a compelling case for being one of the best places to live in Minnesota. This port city isn’t just a pretty face; it’s an adrenaline junkie’s paradise and an environmentalist’s dream rolled into one. With the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the north and the endless horizon of Lake Superior to the east, Duluth is a haven for outdoorsy types. Kayaking, hiking and even surfing (yes, freshwater surfing!) are all in a day’s fun.
Duluth is a hub for healthcare and education, offering a variety of options for both. The local food scene ranges from casual lakeside grills to upscale dining experiences that feature freshly caught fish. For retail therapy, explore boutique shops that offer a curated mix of local and global goods. Meanwhile, a strong sense of community is reflected in the city’s frequent festivals and public events, which range from airshows to maritime celebrations.
- Population: 53,318
- Average age: 44.3
- Median household income: $108,576
- Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
- Walk score: 37
- Studio average rent: $1,208
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,507
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,980
Edina is a suburban utopia that has more to offer than just neatly manicured lawns and sprawling homes. In this charming town, you’ll find a melting pot of professionals, retirees and families, all lured by the city’s top-notch amenities. High-end shopping experiences await at places like the Galleria and Southdale Center, while the Edina Art Center and the various galleries scattered around town appeal to the artsy types.
The school system in Edina is often considered among the best in the state, setting up young learners for academic excellence. Fitness and recreational activities abound; with plenty of parks, golf courses and even indoor ice rinks, there’s no excuse not to engage in some form of physical activity. Dining options range from artisan coffee shops to posh restaurants, catering to the most discerning of palates.
- Population: 63,161
- Average age: 40.2
- Median household income: $120,170
- Average commute time: 23.4 minutes
- Walk score: 18
- Studio average rent: $1,630
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,350
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,590
Eden Prairie boasts a high quality of life that many aspire to but few actually achieve. This southwestern suburb of the Twin Cities offers a harmonious blend of natural beauty and modern convenience. Think swan-dotted lakes and extensive walking trails side by side with cutting-edge tech companies and a thriving business community. What’s more, Eden Prairie is home to the largest enclosed shopping center in the state, offering retail delights to those who are sartorially inclined.
Eden Prairie excels in serving up a comfortable and fulfilling life. A mix of highly rated public and private schools makes it a hit among families. For those who love the great outdoors, the city has more than 1,000 acres of active-use parkland. Work-life balance gets a new meaning here, as the city hosts several Fortune 500 companies, giving residents the option to work where they live.
- Population: 121,465
- Average age: 35.9
- Median household income: $76,034
- Average commute time: 20.7 minutes
- Walk score: 30
- Studio average rent: $1,257
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,542
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,600
When people hear the name Rochester, they often think of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. However, this southern Minnesota city is far more than just a healthcare hub. It is one of Minnesota’s best places to live, offering an attractive mix of urban sophistication and small-town charm. High-quality healthcare is undoubtedly one of its flagship features, but Rochester also scores points for its robust education system and a strong job market beyond healthcare, featuring a number of tech startups and innovative small businesses.
Life in Rochester is a pleasant blend of intellectual stimulation and recreational pursuits. The city’s public library is a hive of activity, with events that range from author talks to coding classes for kids. Meanwhile, the parks and nearby Zumbro River provide a scenic backdrop for everything from picnicking to fishing, ensuring weekends are never dull. For those who require retail therapy, Downtown Rochester offers a slew of shops and boutiques that provide a unique shopping experience, while the culinary scene is an exciting mix of traditional American fare and international cuisine.
- Population: 44,693
- Average age: 26.4
- Median household income: $56,274
- Average commute time: 17.7 minutes
- Walk score: 40
- Studio average rent: $995
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,195
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,250
The phrase “college town” often conjures images of manicured campuses, lively sporting events and perhaps the occasional toga party. But Mankato, home to Minnesota State University, goes beyond the stereotype, landing it firmly among the best places to live in Minnesota. Located about 80 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, Mankato offers a dynamic lifestyle where education, commerce and natural beauty intersect. The presence of the university enriches the town with a youthful energy, and that’s complemented by a diverse business sector ranging from healthcare to high-tech.
Mankato is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts with its well-maintained bike trails and Minneopa State Park, where you can see a waterfall and a herd of American bison. For those more inclined to indoor pursuits, there’s no shortage of cafes to sip your latte as you catch up on some reading. Parents will appreciate the quality of the local schools and the abundance of family-friendly activities, from interactive museums to public art projects.
- Population: 68,818
- Average age: 30.5
- Median household income: $54,427
- Average commute time: 21.4 minutes
- Walk score: 34
- Studio average rent: $724
- One-bedroom average rent: $745
- Two-bedroom average rent: $975
Saint Cloud shines as one of the best places to live in Minnesota. Situated along the Mississippi River, this central Minnesota city combines the allure of scenic beauty with a robust economy. Here you’ll find Saint Cloud State University, lending the town a youthful energy, and a thriving healthcare sector offering solid employment opportunities. It’s a city of contrasts where a 19th-century courthouse stands right next to tech startups.
Families and fitness junkies alike can take advantage of over 90 parks and a clutch of well-maintained trails for biking, walking or leisurely riverfront strolls. The Paramount Center for the Arts is a treasure trove for patrons of the arts, presenting a lineup of plays, concerts and exhibitions year-round. From locally-owned boutiques to big-box retailers, the shopping scene provides something for every type of spender.
There’s an apartment made for you in Minnesota
From the serene beauty of Minnetonka to the bustling energy of Minneapolis, and from the youthful verve of Mankato to the well-rounded appeal of Eden Prairie, Minnesota is more than just a place to endure cold winters; it’s a state where you can truly thrive. Choose wisely, but rest assured that in this incredible state, you’re almost guaranteed to find a community that feels like home.
Rent prices are based on an average from Rent.’s multifamily rental property inventory as of July 2023.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.