Moving from France to Minnesota!?! (Minneapolis, Plymouth: houses, safe area, best schools)
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Hello and Bon Jour! We are thinking about moving back to the states, have lived here in France for almost 5 years...its been interesting, fun, and good for the kids to be international (ages: son 12, daughter 14) We have friends/family in Minneapolis and would like to be close to them. I dont exactly want to live in the city, but close. After being in the deep countryside with not much to do in the winter, we are ready for a change! Ive been looking around the Minnetonka area, and really like it...the schools seem really good (we lived in Florida before France...not the best schools there!) The kids really miss having alot of friends to play with, the good old neighborhood feel...but I would like to avoid the "cookie cutter" areas, which I havnt seen much of there (S Florida is cookie cutter land!-) We would LOVE to have a house on a lake!-we're quite active! But is it possible to have both? Lakefront and a family friendly neighborhood?! I really hope so! Im sooo looking forward to meeting the nice MN people, exploring the parks, libraires, bookstores, shopping...cant wait! If anyone can help me get a feel for the area, I would really apreciate it! Oh, housing costs, we will do well changing euros into dollars...I just dont want to live in a "snobby" area well, where people dont really associate with each other...we want fun! thanks everyone!
Lake property in Minnetonka is going to run you in the million dollar range or higher. Along with that you tend to get some snobiness. It is a very pretty area and the schools are good. As for family friendliness, it really depends on who you end up with for neighbors. One thing we did when looking for houses was to drive through the neighborhoods on a Saturday afternoon and see what was going on. We also looked as best we could in back yards to see if there were toys out, basketball hoops, etc.
Thats a great idea! We plan to go visit in Feb (I know..bring snowshoes!-lol) this forum helps me alot to get an idea, and since we cant just drive over, Im doing as much research as possible. Maple Grove sounded nice, but to me it looks very cookie cutterish...no offense, just not my style. Also, do the lakes get super crowded in the summers? There are ALOT of lakes, I suppose the closer to the city...more boaters..etc?
Yes the lakes get crowded on good summer days, especially Lake Minnetonka--you can practically walk across the lake on the boats without getting wet on good summer days. Some of the smaller lakes aren't as bad though. I am assuming someone in your family will be working. Do you know where yet?
Are your friends in Minneapolis proper or are they in a suburb? THere are a lot of other great areas around the metro that meet your needs too. If your job is in say, Woodbury, Minnetonka isn't a place you would really want to end up since the commute would be pretty much a nightmare.
Our friends live IN the city-Minneapolis, so we would like to be fairly close, but I heard the farther away you go, the more rural it gets...we'd like to be just between the two. My husband travels for work, dont have to worry about commutes...well, only the airport...here in France we have to drive 2 hours.
Are there any nice older towns you can name? Minnetonka now sounds too "touristy!" wow, I hope I dont sound too picky! My husband might be flying over there this month, and would like to give him a list of places that would be interesting. Thanks so much "golfgal" youve been very helpful! You should see my list! After reading the forums, alot of the towns are highlighted, some scratched out...but it all helps! Anyone have a favorite neighborhood? Who is proud of where they live over there? Why do you love where you live? and the final question....what do yall do in the winter?!?!?
I would look at Stillwater. It is on the other side of the metro area from Minnetonka but still an easy enough drive to visit friends. The St. Croix River runs through Stillwater and there are a couple smaller lakes in and near town that will have nice beach fronts for swimming and smaller boats. The river gets REALLY busy on weekends but the rest of the week is ok. If you get a slip further south on the river it isn't as busy. The problem with a lot of the lakes around the metro is that they don't really have good beaches--the ones where a lot of the housing developments are--not the larger, swimming lakes like Nikomis, etc.-they have great beaches.
Square Lake north of Stillwater, is a GREAT lake. It is a little more rural but there are several houses around the lake so you would still have neighbors.
Hastings is another option but it isn't as nice as Stillwater or Minnetonka.
Stillwater is more touristy then Minnetonka but they aren't at all toursity like Florida with the 10 t-shirts for $10 type stores everywhere. They are more quaint towns to spend a weekend strolling along main street touristy.
I know you mentioned that you probably don't want to live in the city proper, but Southwest Minneapolis is very residential - it feels more like the "nice older town" you want than a bustling city. Yet you have all the city advantages nearby, not to mention access to the lakes, parks, museums, restaurants. Southwest has many families and there is nothing cookie cutter about it.
Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet are public spaces - no one actually lives on the lake - but there are houses across from them. Most are probably well over a million, but you can be a block away for less than that and houses go for as low as $300k still within walking distance.
I used to live in Florida so I know what you mean by the Florida cookie-cutter house. I would agree with golfgal that Stillwater would be a great option for you. They have old victorian homes and it's a short distance to the city. Maple Grove is nice too and there are areas that are not cookie cutter.
From my experience on the NW side of the Cities, school district Anoka-Hennepin 11 is one of the better districts. I would defintely recommend staying away from Brooklyn Center. Not a safe area at all. Rosedale has older homes and is not cookie cutter. It's by the state fairgrounds and very close to downtown.
The snobby areas to steer clear of are pretty much the entire westside of town. Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Minnetrista, parts of Plymouth and Maple Grove. Even if you live 15 miles from the downtown area the commute during workday or weekend hours is not that bad. I live just north of the Cities and it takes me an hour during morning rush hour to go from the north part of the Cities down to the airport.
I am going to have to go against Hoosier and say that I would stay away from Anoka-Hennipen schools. They are constantly in financial trouble with that district and most people I know that have kids that go there are fed up with the district as a whole.
That may be true. Here in district 11 we've had an excellent experience. Our schools and the teachers are utterly amazing and the education my kids are receiving is far better than anywhere we've ever lived.
You have mentioned that the schools are quite good down in the Apple Valley/Rosemount area before. All I can say Ackermom1 is definitely do research on the schools before deciding on an area to live in.
And from what you've shared in my opinion I would guess you'd want to consider Stillwater on the top of your list of areas to live. Gorgeous is an understatement. I assume the schools are very good in that area. I believe it's Washington county school district.
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