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Moving to Minneapolis

Expats moving to Minneapolis in America's Midwest are really relocating to two cities in one: Minneapolis and Saint Paul – the state capital. With only the Mississippi River separating them, the 'Twin Cities' form the centre of a large metropolitan area sprawling across the flat Minnesota landscape.

The abundance of water in Minneapolis combined with the city’s many parks create a beautiful blue-and-green patchwork landscape, connected by numerous bike and walking paths. Besides plenty of greenery to enjoy, there is so much to see and do here. The city has a rich cultural life and a thriving music and theatre scene, as well as many excellent restaurants and a booming coffee shop culture.

As one of the largest cities in the Midwest, Minneapolis is an important economic centre in the US, with the main industries being finance, commerce, transportation and healthcare. The city is therefore attracting plenty of new residents and even expats looking to further their careers in the Twin Cities.

Parents will be pleased to know that there is a wide selection of good public and private schools to choose from and the main campus of the University of Minnesota is located here, along with a number of smaller colleges and universities.

Suburban accommodation is affordable and the general cost of living in Minneapolis is low in comparison to other US cities. Most neighbourhoods in Minneapolis are well equipped with everything children might need, from recreational centres and community swimming pools to museums and libraries. 

Those living closer to the city centre will have easy access to the public transport network which consists of buses, light rail and a commuter rail line. Those living and working downtown can also use the Minneapolis Skyway System, which is a series of pedestrian bridges connecting 80 city blocks. There are many restaurants and shops along these passageways and it makes navigating the city in the chilly winters much easier.

New arrivals in Minneapolis are likely to notice a sense of community and pride among the residents. They should have no problem meeting people if they are willing to participate in community events and activities. Minneapolis is known for its friendly inhabitants, and with the help of a bit of 'Minnesota nice', it should not take long for the Twin Cities to feel like home.

Working in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is an important business centre in the US Midwest. Once the world’s flour-milling capital and timber hub, Minneapolis today enjoys a diverse economy with no particular industry dominating. The major sectors include finance, industry, healthcare, technology, education, government, food manufacturing and retail. Theatre and the arts are also important sectors in Minneapolis.


Job market in Minneapolis

There are several major American and international companies headquartered or with a substantial presence in Minneapolis, and the city is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies.

The typical Minnesotan wage is a few thousand dollars higher than the national average. Between this and the low cost of living in Minneapolis, most new arrivals find themselves able to enjoy a comfortable life in the Twin Cities.


Finding a job in Minneapolis

Minneapolis' job market is fairly healthy with an unemployment rate lower than many other similarly sized cities. Still, foreigners may find it difficult to break into the job market in Minneapolis unless they move there with a contract in hand. Those looking for work in the city should get in touch with recruitment companies and scour online job portals and classified sections in local newspapers. In addition to having the right skills and experience, foreigners intending to work in Minneapolis need to ensure that they have the correct work permit for the USA.


Work culture in Minneapolis

In Minneapolis, as in the rest of the US, status and age are generally obsolete and instead, merit, experience and past achievement are the vehicles for advancement. Companies can be egalitarian – to an extent – but ultimately big decisions and the proverbial buck stops with 'the boss'. Though many meetings may be had and much discussion may have taken place, senior managers may disregard the opinions of those in middle- and lower-level positions entirely; a particularly infuriating point for those who come from consensus-oriented cultures. Those able to express their opinions clearly and in a straightforward manner will find they can command greater respect in Minnesotan business circles.

Accommodation in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Midwest and those moving here will find many different options when it comes to housing. That said, the city's population growth has pushed up the cost of accommodation in Minneapolis due to growing demand. The good news, though, is that with new developments springing up throughout the city, renters have more choice. Some landlords may even offer low rental prices to fill up the building, so it's worth scouting around for a bargain.


Types of accommodation in Minneapolis

There is a variety of different housing in Minneapolis. Modern high-rise buildings offering apartments with full amenities are available in the city’s downtown areas. There are a number of converted warehouses and industrial buildings that offer trendy loft apartments. In the surrounding suburbs, family homes range from large and spacious freestanding houses to neat and compact townhouses. 

Generally, the closer one lives to a lake or the river in Minneapolis, the more expensive the accommodation. 


Finding accommodation in Minneapolis

The easiest way to find accommodation in Minneapolis is online. There are numerous websites that list current properties for sale or rent. House hunters will even find websites that offer reviews of apartment buildings from current and former tenants.

Local newspapers usually contain property listings, while some local supermarkets and coffee shops have bulletin boards that include adverts for rental properties.

New arrivals can also hire a real-estate agent to do the legwork for them in scouting and arranging viewings for accommodation, but this will come at an additional cost.


Renting property in Minneapolis

Making an application

Once prospective tenants have found a suitable property they will need to file an application via the agent or directly approach the landlord. An applicant-screening process follows, whereby certain reference and credit checks are carried out. It is usually expected that an individual or family unit has a combined income that is at least three times the cost of the rental rate. Expats are advised to have their social security number and US bank account set up ahead of time in order to speed up this process.

Leases and deposits

Leases are generally signed for a 12-month period, but it is possible to negotiate a shorter term or month-to-month contract in some cases. A deposit of one month’s rent is usually required to secure the property and cover any damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. Because landlords are allowed to make reasonable deductions for any damages to the property, tenants are advised to ensure that a detailed inventory is carried out at the start and end of a tenancy agreement. 

Utilities

It’s important to establish what utilities or services are included in the rental costs and who is responsible for maintenance and repair costs. Utilities are often something that the tenant is expected to pay for separately. Minneapolis is very cold during the winter and electricity bills are bound to be high as a result. New arrivals should take this into consideration and ensure their rental accommodation has adequate central heating.

Areas and suburbs in Minneapolis

The best places to live in Minneapolis

Areas and suburbs in Minneapolis are a diverse blend of old and new, budget-friendly and not-so-budget-friendly. Each neighbourhood of Minneapolis has its advantages and drawbacks.

While apartments and houses in urban areas tend to be packed fairly close together, the proximity to the city centre means that residents will have easy access to the public transport network and a short commute to the business districts. The outer suburbs are generally more affordable and offer more opportunity for big backyards and open spaces, but commute times into the city are longer.

Below is an overview of some popular areas and suburbs in Minneapolis.


Young and trendy areas in Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis

Central

Close to the Mississippi River, Central Minneapolis is home to the city's downtown area. Accommodation here mostly consists of high-rise apartment buildings and condo complexes, some of which are converted warehouses. There are also a few old Victorian homes in the neighbourhood. 

Property prices are relatively high due to the proximity to the river, great eateries, pubs and, for those with children, a selection of good schools. It is also close to the business district, so many residents are able to walk to work. Some of the trendiest nightclubs in Minneapolis can be found here and it's the centre of Minneapolis’s coffee culture, so it’s popular with singletons, students and young families.

University

The University neighbourhood, as its name implies, is home to the University of Minnesota’s main campus. It goes without saying that the area is popular with students, and venues and activities largely cater to the student population. Besides a vibrant nightlife scene, there are plenty of parks and recreational activities for residents to enjoy during the day. Accommodation is mostly in the form of houses, apartments and condos, and prices are generally reasonable.

Northeast

Northeast Minneapolis is an up-and-coming area popular with younger families. It offers a fashionable mix of residential, retail and industrial space, with plenty of galleries and studios alongside an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops. Accommodation in these areas takes the form of smaller houses and residential high-rises with loft and studio apartments. Larger condos and apartments are also available closer to the river. 


Family life in Minneapolis

Calhoun

Calhoun Isles

Calhoun Isles is an affluent area built around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. These lakes, along with many city parks in the neighbourhood, offer outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Housing in Calhoun Isles ranges from large Tudor-style homes to bungalows and fancy penthouses, and property prices are among the highest in Minneapolis. Calhoun Isles is home to some of the best schools in Minneapolis, so it is popular with families. The Uptown neighbourhood is also part of Calhoun Isles, and is especially popular with young professionals as it is a centre of Minneapolis' nightlife and home to many upscale shops and restaurants.

Plymouth

Plymouth, located a short distance from Downtown Minneapolis, is a picturesque place to live. It is particularly popular with outdoor enthusiasts thanks to Medicine Lake and the many parks in the neighbourhood. Residents here will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping and entertainment.

Healthcare in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is often referred to as one of the healthiest cities in the US and a number of its hospitals are consistently ranked among the best in the country. So it goes without saying that healthcare in Minneapolis is of a high standard and new arrivals should not struggle to find adequate medical care.

There are a number of major hospitals in Minneapolis, along with many smaller clinics and specialist medical centres. Pharmacies are widely available, with many operating 24/7.

Those moving to Minneapolis should ensure that they have a comprehensive healthcare plan in order to have access to the top medical facilities in the city.


Hospitals in Minneapolis​

Abbott Northwestern Hospital

www.allinahealth.org/abbott-northwestern-hospital
Address: 800 East 28th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Children’s Minnesota Minneapolis Hospital

www.childrensmn.org
Address: 2525 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404

East Bank Hospital – University of Minnesota Medical Center

www.mhealth.org
Address: 500 Harvard Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mercy Hospital

www.allinahealth.org/mercy-hospital
Address: 4050 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Coon Rapids, MN 55433

United Hospital

www.allinahealth.org/united-hospital
Address: 333 Smith Avenue North, Saint Paul, MN 55102

Schools and education in Minneapolis

When it comes to education and schools in Minneapolis, parents will have plenty of choice. There are some good public schools in the city, the best of which are often charter or magnet schools. A number of private schools are also available.

As with the rest of the US, the Minnesota schooling system is divided into three levels:

  • Elementary school – Kindergarten to Grade 5

  • Middle school – Grade 6 to Grade 8

  • High school – Grade 9 to Grade 12


Public schools in Minneapolis

The majority of children in Minneapolis attend public schools, which are free to all children living in the city. Children attending public school will usually attend the nearest school within their district. However, they are permitted to attend a school outside their school district, provided there is space at that school.

Charter schools

There are a number of charter schools in Minneapolis. These are independent public schools, operating on a performance-based contract with the local school district. While they are partially funded by the state, they have more flexibility in terms of their teaching style, policies and academic programmes. No fees are charged for charter schools and admission is open to all children provided there are available slots. If the demand is greater than the school’s capacity, placement is done via a lottery.

Magnet schools

Like charter schools, magnet schools are state funded. Each magnet school focuses on a specialised area, such as science, languages or the arts. In most magnet schools, attendance is determined by lottery, except where a certain level of ability must be demonstrated for admittance, such as in the case of music schools.


Private schools in Minneapolis

There are many private schools in Minneapolis that operate outside of the public schooling system. Most of these offer a high standard of education. Class sizes are usually much smaller at private schools, affording more personalised interaction between students and teachers. 

Admission to private schools can be more stringent and may include entrance exams and personal interviews. Competition for a place at private schools can be high, and parents therefore need to plan well ahead if they intend to send their child to one of these institutions.


International schools in Minneapolis

Although there are few international schools in Minneapolis offering foreign curricula, a number of public and private schools in the city do offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. This globally focused curriculum is often preferred by expat parents because there are IB schools in most major expat destinations around the world, allowing for a relatively easy transfer between schools.


Special-needs education in Minneapolis

The Minnesota Department of Education caters well for children with disabilities or learning difficulties. There is an Individualised Education Program (IEP) Team that assesses students to determine the level of support needed. Where possible, disabled students are accommodated in mainstream public schooling, and those whose disabilities are too severe for mainstream classrooms are accommodated in specialist facilities. 

There are a variety of specialised schooling options in Minnesota that cater for a spectrum of unique needs, learning difficulties or various developmental, emotional and behavioural issues. While some of these schools are publicly funded charter schools, others are tuition-based private schools. Families who can’t afford to send their child to a private special-needs school can apply for financial assistance through various government programmes. 


Tutors in Minneapolis

Whether a student needs to catch up in a particular subject, or needs some help in preparing for their SATs exams, tutors can be a great solution.

The best place to start the search for a good private tutor is by asking around at the child’s school or talking to other parents. The alternative would be to utilise an established tutoring service. TwinCities Tutoring and Viking Tutors are both established and well respected tutoring companies in Minneapolis. 

The additional support provided by private tutors can allow students to address any gaps in their knowledge, progress in a certain subject area, or simply build confidence in a new environment.

Lifestyle in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is a quiet and peaceful city that is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, thriving arts and theatre scene and abundant outdoor parks and lakes. Those moving to Minneapolis are often concerned about enduring the city’s harsh winters that bring below-freezing temperatures and several feet of snow. However, this has not stopped residents enjoying life to the full, with many leading an active and exciting lifestyle in the Twin Cities. 


Shopping in Minneapolis

As the birthplace of Target and home to the largest mall in the US, the Mall of America, it goes without saying that new arrivals will be spoilt for choice with shopping options in Minneapolis. The Mall of America, located in the suburb of Bloomington, houses more than 550 stores, an indoor theme park and the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, so there is plenty to keep the whole family occupied. 

For a unique experience, shoppers can head for the independent boutiques and international fashion brands at Nicollet Mall, a pedestrian shopping avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Edina is another popular shopping neighbourhood, home to the 50th & France shopping district, which is packed with independent stores. 


Eating out in Minneapolis

Those wanting to dine out in Minneapolis are sure to find cuisine to suit their particular tastes and budget. The city is multicultural and this is reflected in its dining options: from traditional and ethnic to international cuisine, including Mexican, Italian, African and Asian, anyone will find a restaurant to satisfy their preferences. The most diverse cuisine in Minneapolis can be found in the aptly named Eat Street, an area with a wide array of eateries.


Nightlife and entertainment in Minneapolis

Minneapolis has a thriving nightlife, along with an exciting performing-arts and live-music scene.

The Warehouse District is the heart of Minneapolis’ nightlife. Trendy nightclubs, restaurants and bars offer partygoers a range of entertainment options here. The Downtown area also has plenty of options for those looking for a night out.

Theatre lovers are in for a treat in Minneapolis. The city is renowned for having one of the best theatre scenes in the US outside of New York, and a number of touring Broadway shows and major musical acts have graced stages in Minneapolis.


Sports and outdoor activities in Minneapolis

Despite the harsh winters, Minneapolis residents are known to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. Straddling the Mississippi River and home to many lakes, the city provides abundant opportunities for water sports in the summer, and in winter, opportunities for skiing and ice skating abound.

With Minneapolis and St Paul frequently named as the USA's top area for parks, residents have plenty of room to enjoy walking, jogging and cycling. Those less active can indulge in a picnic or just relax in the shade of the trees during the summer.

See and Do in Minneapolis

Those moving to Minneapolis will find plenty to see and do in the Twin Cities area. Whether hiking or biking in the great outdoors or indulging in a bit of culture at an art gallery or theatre, the wide range of attractions in Minneapolis will suit new arrivals from all walks of life. Parents will be pleased to know that there are many child-friendly activities on offer in the city too.

Below is a list of some of the most popular attractions in Minneapolis.


Recommended attractions in Minneapolis

Fort Snelling State Park

Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, this well-loved park combines history with outdoor recreation. The park gets its name from the fort located on its grounds, dating back to the 1820s. Visitors can tour the fort and learn about the area's fascinating past.

Minnehaha Regional Park

This sprawling park full of limestone bluffs and rivers lies halfway between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It is particularly popular during the summer months when visitors can catch a concert by the bandstand, enjoy a picnic while watching the 53-foot waterfall or simply take a relaxing walk along one of the trails.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Visitors to the Minneapolis Institute of Art can view around 80,000 works that span over 5,000 years of history. Popular exhibits include the contemporary gallery and the Asian art collection. Works by renowned artists such as Édouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are also on display.

Minneapolis Theatre District

Three of the city's most prominent theatres – the Pantages, State and Orpheum Theatres – are all located within a block of each other in downtown Minneapolis. All three have a variety of offerings sure to delight any culture vulture, from plays and musical theatre to comedians and internationally famous musicians.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

A visit to this free art park in downtown Minneapolis is a must for all new arrivals to the city. The garden is home to more than 40 outdoor works of art, including the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture that has become a Minneapolis icon.

Minnesota Children’s Museum

This is a great place to take kids in Minnesota. Each of the museum's varied exhibits, spread out over three floors, is geared towards allowing young people to have an interactive experience. Highlights include the laser maze, giant slide, pretend town and makerspace.

What's On in Minneapolis

Minneapolis has a thriving arts and culture scene and there are many annual events and festivals taking place across the city each year, so new arrivals will never have to look far to find a new and interesting experience.

Below we've listed some of the city's most popular yearly events.


Annual events in Minneapolis

Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival (April)

This annual film festival is one of the most popular in the Midwest and one of the oldest in the US. Over two weeks, the festival presents a diverse range of more than 200 local and international movies, documentaries and short films.

Twin Cities Pride (June)

One of the largest LGBTQ+ festivals in the country, the Twin Cities Pride celebration is attended by close to half a million people each year. The festivities feature parades, fireworks and free music concerts on several stages.

Minnesota State Fair (August)

The Minnesota State Fair takes place over 12 days with fun and entertainment for the whole family, including live music, food stalls, games and thrill rides.

Minnesota Fringe Festival (August)

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is a celebration of live stage performances, including theatre, dance, performance art, puppetry and comedy. Performances take place in venues across the Twin Cities over 11 days in August.

Minnesota Renaissance Festival (August/September)

The city's Renaissance Festival is a celebration of medieval times with live entertainment, armoured jousts and markets. More than 320,000 people attend the festival each year, many of them in costume as wizards, knights, witches and fair maidens and there is food and fun to be had for the whole family.

Twin Cities Marathon (October)

The Twin Cities Marathon is known as one of the country's most beautiful urban marathons and is great fun for spectators and participants alike. The course passes a number of the city's lakes and follows the Mississippi River for several miles before culmination at the State Capitol in downtown Saint Paul.

Holidazzle Parade (November/December)

This annual festival is a celebration of the holiday season in Minneapolis and runs for a month over November and December. Highlights include festive activities such as s'mores-making stations, 'meet Santa' events, and outdoor movie nights.

Getting Around in Minneapolis

Transport in Minneapolis is efficient and simple, with a good bus system and new light rail, but it is still limited for those living outside of the city centre. New arrivals planning to live on the outskirts of the city will most likely need a car.

Public transport in Minneapolis is managed by Metro Transit, which maintains an integrated network of buses, light rail and commuter trains for getting around Minneapolis.


Public transport in Minneapolis

Buses

Metro Transit operates an extensive network of buses in Minneapolis, St Paul and the Twin Cities metro area.

Commuters can pay for their ticket with cash as they enter the bus; change is not available so the exact amount is required. Frequent travellers should get a Go-To Card as it is much more convenient than paying cash. A handful of bus routes to and from the Minneapolis Convention Center in Downtown can be used at no cost.

Light rail

Minneapolis has a light rail system run by Metro Transit. Although it is generally fast and efficient, it isn't as extensive as the bus network. There are currently two lines: the Blue Line and the Green Line.

Commuter rail

The Northstar commuter railway line connects downtown Minneapolis with Big Lake. Tickets for the Northstar Line are available from ticket machines at each station and must be purchased before boarding. 


Taxis in Minneapolis

Taxis can be hailed off the street in Downtown Minneapolis, or booked in advance. When travelling from the suburbs, for instance, a taxi would have to be ordered. Taxi fares are reasonable, and one could even save some money in comparison to driving one's own car, especially when considering the significant parking and maintenance costs associated with owning a vehicle in the city. Of course, this is only applicable for travelling short distances, as long commutes in taxis won't be financially viable in the long run.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft are also available in Minneapolis. 


Driving in Minneapolis

Although Minneapolis has a sufficient inner-city transport network, anyone living further out will probably find it necessary to have a car.

The Twin Cities is known for having some of the most polite drivers in the US, so drivers need not worry about being the target of road rage or reckless driving. However, road conditions can be hazardous during winter due to snow and ice. 

Those moving to Minneapolis will need to get a Minnesota driver's licence within 60 days of relocating. Depending on the country that the original licence was issued in, it may be possible to convert directly. Otherwise, getting a local licence might require written and practical testing.


Walking in Minneapolis

Minneapolis, particularly the city centre, is a exceedingly walkable city. The Minneapolis Skyway, a system of enclosed interconnected pedestrian walkways, links 80 city blocks over 11 miles (18km) of downtown Minneapolis. The walkways allow pedestrians to move easily between buildings, parking ramps and over streets in a climate-controlled environment, out of reach of the harsh winter conditions.


Cycling in Minneapolis

With a large network of on-street and off-street bikeways, Minneapolis has been ranked one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the US. A large-scale bike sharing system, Nice Ride Minnesota, has been successfully launched across Minneapolis and St Paul, and is a convenient way for those who don't own bicycles to get around.