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Old 05-20-2019, 07:19 PM
 
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I'll be working in Cambridge and wanted opinions on where to live and what might be a recipe for a sane commute. Have been away for the better part of a decade and am now headed back home to MN. I don't know anything about the northern side of the metro, so am hoping for some reasonable opinions from folks. I grew up in Edina and always wanted to move back there, but as pricey as it is now and as far from work, it doesn't seem like a wise option for commute.



We live on the other side of the country now so don't get back to MN frequently, but when we do get back, friends and family are all in the southwest burbs (Edina/Minnetonka/Bloomington) and that is where I feel familiar/comfy and like to "hang out" when we're visiting. The northern burbs are completely unknown to me...growing up they were "there" but not really on my radar, no reason to go there, and generally had the reputation of being fast-growth exurbs with a lot of identical tract housing. As an adult, I have no idea how the schools/services etc. are.



Blaine or Coon Rapids seem like as far as you can get and still keep your commute under an hour on most days. Being forced to take MN-65 does not help but that's what it is. I have heard 65 can be bad with summer lake traffic as well. I'm looking at Andover as it seems newer and maybe a little nicer than Coon Rapids and parts of Blaine. I don't know anything about Ham Lake or East Bethel etc., except that kids used to make meth jokes about East Bethel in high school. Considering just settling in Cambridge itself, but going anywhere on weekends to get to family or friends in the cities or SW burbs, you're looking at a good hour drive. It seems like a nice town that punches above its weight as far as amenities, though.



Edina or Minnetonka would be a hike. I did a dummy morning commute run from Edina and clocked in at 1 hr 5 min, but that was with no real traffic (left at 7 am) and no weather or construction issues. I realize I am generally headed in the opposite direction of the heaviest traffic flow, but hitting one snag could easily turn into a 90+ minute commute.



tl;dr, struggling with whether it's better to live closer to work or closer to "play" and whether I can put up with long commute, much of which involves MN-65. Thanks.
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Old 05-20-2019, 08:01 PM
 
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Why not live in Cambridge? I have several friends that live there and recommend it.

But otherwise I would recommend Shoreview. I would drive up to Cambridge from Shoreview, 35 W N to the new 10 exit to 65 N and get there in a half hour since you will be going against rush hour traffic. Shoreview is close to the highways to get anywhere and a nice school district.

Andover is another choice, only 20 minutes to Cambridge if you live near 65. Andover is a nice community and lots of shopping nearby.
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Isanti County, Minnesota
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Wow, a Cambridge thread! Never thought I'd see one on here.

We moved to Cambridge from Lakeville a year ago mostly because it's so much cheaper up here. The 4BR 2BA split level with half an acre we got here would have been 75 to 100k more in Lakeville, Rosemount, Apple Valley......and even more than that in places like Edina or Minnetonka. We nearly bought a home in Lindstrom, Chisago County, before settling on this one, but even that house was over 40k more. Cambridge was simply too good a deal to pass up for us at the time. Like you said, it has decent amenities for such an isolated community, which played a big role in our coming here. My wife did not want to have to drive 20-30 minutes for basic shopping and such, although we still have to go to Blaine/Coon Rapids/Andover for anything more than Wal Mart, Menards or Fleet Farm. I work in Wyoming, which is a full 30 minute commute each way.

This is a nice place to live, but there is absolutely nothing even remotely high end or fancy about it, a la Edina or Minnetonka, just so you know. Cambridge is country living. The town is isolated and surrounded by farms, woods, rivers and lakes for miles in every direction. Map sites will say 45 minutes to the cities from here, but it almost always takes closer to an hour. There is basically nothing between here and Blaine, and that includes Isanti, Ham Lake and East Bethel, which are 3 spots I would not choose to live in just because there's nothing there and it isn't a very scenic stretch. The only advantages to those 3 spots are housing costs and being closer to the metro than up here. Hwy 65 is a depressing road to drive. It's basically nothing but old strip centers, auto shops and liquor stores, and the intersections are very dangerous because people drive it like an interstate highway, which it isn't. This side of town is much flatter and less scenic than the south side until you get up here to Cambridge and points north where there are rolling hills and lakes every so often. Cambridge also features the Rum River, which flows out of Mille Lacs all the way down to the Mississippi in Anoka. Good fishing if that's your bag. Blaine/Coon Rapids and Andover are nice towns with many more amenities, but the road layouts in the Coon Rapids/Anoka area especially are bizarre and irritating to negotiate. I really like Anoka personally, because their city center is awesome and it's beautiful there with those 2 huge rivers converging......but Anoka is close to 45 minutes from up here by itself.

Do not even think about commuting up here from the south or west side of town. When I first bought the house I was working in Edina and the commute was absolutely soul crushing - and that was BEFORE winter set in. We were beyond blessed to get a transfer to my current site in Wyoming, which is what I was banking on when deciding on Cambridge (we also have a site in Princeton 30 minutes west of here). Without that we would eventually have had to move back to the other side of town. Basically, I gambled and won in that aspect. It was a big gamble, though.

As far as schools, etc. we've been very satisfied thus far. I'm not into the "school snob" thing and believe the student is the one who makes or breaks his education more than wherever he/she attends, but we have special needs kids and have found the schools here to be good with them just as they were in Lakeville. The Cambridge high school and middle school are fairly new facilities, but the primary school and early learning center are in a very old structure that needs to be replaced badly. Minnesota as a whole has been head and shoulders better than anywhere else we've lived (Texas, Michigan, Illinois) in correlation with schools, and that was one of the major reasons we came here. Not sure if it matters to you but one of the worst things about Cambridge is its library, which is pathetic compared to just about every other one I've seen in this state. We won a vote for a new one last election, only to have some politician block it because he didn't think it was worthy of the funding....not sure where it stands at the moment. We miss the Dakota County libraries badly in association with that.....they were awesome. There is a campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College here as well.

Reading your post I think your bottom line is this: If you're attached in any way to that western/southwestern side of town as you say, then I'm pretty certain you wouldn't want to live all the way up here. Cambridge is farther out than it looks. Whenever we go to the northern burbs or the cities I always dread the drive back because it just seems to take forever. We were basically able to move our whole lives up to this area and that's why we're still here. We don't have any family or real friends in MN to consider. If a section of your life isn't up here I don't recommend settling here unless you really want to save on the housing like we did.

Overall we're happy here, but I will again be honest and admit if I had it to do over I would have preferred to settle in a spot like Anoka or back on the south side where we were in Lakeville. A major reason for that is my job - I hate it......and because we live in such a remote vicinity now my options have become severely limited as to getting something else. We could have afforded more house but chose the savings. Consider things like that in your decision process. Cambridge is a nice place to live without question, but it's certainly not for everyone. I don't know if we'll be here long term or not. We're going to wait another 3-4 years until our older kids are out of school and see how we feel about it then. I actually would like to move back to the Arkansas/Texas region we came from eventually because I can't see myself doing these winters into old age, but for now we are stable and content.

Last edited by Tyryztoll; 05-22-2019 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Isanti County, Minnesota
3,630 posts, read 5,200,346 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayekaye View Post
Why not live in Cambridge? I have several friends that live there and recommend it.

But otherwise I would recommend Shoreview. I would drive up to Cambridge from Shoreview, 35 W N to the new 10 exit to 65 N and get there in a half hour since you will be going against rush hour traffic. Shoreview is close to the highways to get anywhere and a nice school district.

Andover is another choice, only 20 minutes to Cambridge if you live near 65. Andover is a nice community and lots of shopping nearby.
I'm sorry, but your commute times to Cambridge from those spots are not accurate. Shoreview is at least 45 minutes from here even without traffic. Andover is 30 minutes minimum. Our kids pediatrician is in Andover and we're constantly making that drive.

OP should know that Cambridge is basically the Pluto of the Twin Cities metro area. It's way out there and you will do a lot of driving to get places unless you base your whole life in this area.
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Old 05-22-2019, 03:45 PM
 
Location: MN
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What about Forest Lake?
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Old 05-22-2019, 10:15 PM
 
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Thanks all for the comments. I guess the only thing to do is spend a lot of time driving the northern burbs and see what feels right/reasonable. I do think Shoreview is about as far out as I could fathom living. Somewhere that is already on MN-65 would be much better. I know hardly anything about Blaine or Andover but will have to just explore and soak it all in. The more I think about it, the better it seems to just live in or right outside of Cambridge and call it good.
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Isanti County, Minnesota
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Originally Posted by ReturntoMN View Post
Thanks all for the comments. I guess the only thing to do is spend a lot of time driving the northern burbs and see what feels right/reasonable. I do think Shoreview is about as far out as I could fathom living. Somewhere that is already on MN-65 would be much better. I know hardly anything about Blaine or Andover but will have to just explore and soak it all in. The more I think about it, the better it seems to just live in or right outside of Cambridge and call it good.

As I said, it's nice here, but make sure you do spend some time in this area so you can make an informed decision. Once you get all the way up here it's nothing like any of the inner Twin Cities suburbs. These towns are small and isolated. It's actually closer to up north living than it is Twin Cities living in my opinion......but you're still only an hour away tops from all the action, so that's a pretty nice setup for a lot of folks, including us. If you like going up north like we do to places like Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Ely and Duluth then it's awesome to live here as a starting point because it cuts down on travel time. The housing prices are some of the best you'll find within an hour of the cities for sure.
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Old 05-23-2019, 10:00 PM
 
3,757 posts, read 5,054,173 times
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Originally Posted by Tyryztoll View Post
I'm sorry, but your commute times to Cambridge from those spots are not accurate. Shoreview is at least 45 minutes from here even without traffic. Andover is 30 minutes minimum. Our kids pediatrician is in Andover and we're constantly making that drive.

OP should know that Cambridge is basically the Pluto of the Twin Cities metro area. It's way out there and you will do a lot of driving to get places unless you base your whole life in this area.
I’ve done it hundreds of times. It’s 30 minutes. Maybe I have a lead foot. Google maps says 41 minutes. So yes I do have a lead foot. And against rush hour is less traffic. Course I would never advise anyone to speed
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Old 05-23-2019, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Isanti County, Minnesota
3,630 posts, read 5,200,346 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayekaye View Post
I’ve done it hundreds of times. It’s 30 minutes. Maybe I have a lead foot. Google maps says 41 minutes. So yes I do have a lead foot. And against rush hour is less traffic. Course I would never advise anyone to speed
Believe me, OP would detest that commute. We do the 65 to 10 thing to get into Minneapolis and back whenever we go down there.....it feels like driving to Iowa. 65 is not a fun road to drive. The intersections are dangerous, especially when you’re in a left turn lane with people flying right past your door doing 80......and the whole stretch is flat as a board. Not a drive I’d wanna make twice a day 5 days a week.
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities
5,795 posts, read 6,390,113 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayekaye View Post
I’ve done it hundreds of times. It’s 30 minutes. Maybe I have a lead foot. Google maps says 41 minutes. So yes I do have a lead foot. And against rush hour is less traffic. Course I would never advise anyone to speed
If it takes 41 minutes at 60 mph you would have to exceed 90 mph on a sustained basis to get it down to 30 minutes. I think it’s unlikely that would be able to do that “hundreds of times” without being caught.
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