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Old 08-16-2014, 11:02 PM
 
94 posts, read 98,993 times
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We moved to MN last year from small town New England and I think I wrote the same post as the OP.

The bad news is that many of the Twin Cities suburbs do have a lot of that ultra bland, strip mall centric feel that you most fear. To replicate your New England experience, you would need have a much bigger budget to locate yourself in Linden Hills (MPLS) or Wayzata village. Or parts of Edina, but we all wish we were millionaires.

The good news for you given your differences with the wife as far as the city vs suburb question is that MSP is the rare large metro area in which the inner ring suburbs have remained very nice for the most part. We live on a very suburban street in St. Louis Park and can be downtown in 10 minutes, or to Uptown/SW MPLS in 15 minutes. St. Louis Park has charming residential neighborhoods, but a disappointing lack of charming commercial nodes like you have in the heart of any older New England town. As a compromise spot that keeps you close to what you want and could satisfy your wife, you should look into it.

Other ideas would be Golden Valley as mentioned above. Look at places off of Winnetka Ave. in the Highway 55 / Golden Valley Road area. Also see how close you can get to Wayzata. The village itself is out of your range, but southern parts of Plymouth, or older parts or Orono and Long Lake could have you within a very short drive of the charming lakefront village. It is the most New Englandy part of the MSP region, to me. You can get to downtown MPLS in 15 minutes from Wayzata in light traffic.

I think you will hate hate hate Maple Grove. Probably Eagan too.

If you are willing to be in Stillwater, a wild idea might be to check out Northfield. You won't go to the Cities as much, but that is one charming town whose culture is buoyed by two great liberal arts colleges (another New England tradition).
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities
330 posts, read 399,184 times
Reputation: 411
Quote:
Originally Posted by TxTnVtMn View Post
We moved to MN last year from small town New England and I think I wrote the same post as the OP.

The bad news is that many of the Twin Cities suburbs do have a lot of that ultra bland, strip mall centric feel that you most fear. To replicate your New England experience, you would need have a much bigger budget to locate yourself in Linden Hills (MPLS) or Wayzata village. Or parts of Edina, but we all wish we were millionaires.

The good news for you given your differences with the wife as far as the city vs suburb question is that MSP is the rare large metro area in which the inner ring suburbs have remained very nice for the most part. We live on a very suburban street in St. Louis Park and can be downtown in 10 minutes, or to Uptown/SW MPLS in 15 minutes. St. Louis Park has charming residential neighborhoods, but a disappointing lack of charming commercial nodes like you have in the heart of any older New England town. As a compromise spot that keeps you close to what you want and could satisfy your wife, you should look into it.

Other ideas would be Golden Valley as mentioned above. Look at places off of Winnetka Ave. in the Highway 55 / Golden Valley Road area. Also see how close you can get to Wayzata. The village itself is out of your range, but southern parts of Plymouth, or older parts or Orono and Long Lake could have you within a very short drive of the charming lakefront village. It is the most New Englandy part of the MSP region, to me. You can get to downtown MPLS in 15 minutes from Wayzata in light traffic.

I think you will hate hate hate Maple Grove. Probably Eagan too.

If you are willing to be in Stillwater, a wild idea might be to check out Northfield. You won't go to the Cities as much, but that is one charming town whose culture is buoyed by two great liberal arts colleges (another New England tradition).
I agree with many points here, with the exception of hating Maple Grove or Eagan. I'm from New England and I like both of these areas and think they could work for the OP - it is just dependent on selecting particular areas that are walkable as I mentioned previously. Granted, they don't have the "old school commercial" feel of New England, but they still are a good compromise given the OP's requirements.
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:55 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,812,117 times
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I'll second the Northfield suggestion; if Stillwater is a contender, might as well add Northfield to the mix as a similar alternative. Nice smaller college town (Carleton and St. Olaf), and does remind me of some of the smaller college towns that I've spent time in in New England. I think it depends on how often you plan on coming into the city, though; Northfield is going to be far enough you're not going to drive in casually for dinner out, but there's lots of interesting things going on there, thanks to the colleges. And it's still close enough to the city that you can still take advantage of the urban amenities, even if not on a daily basis. And I suspect that traffic into/out of Northfield doesn't get as backed up as it does with Stillwater, which could be a plus.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Southwest Minneapolis
511 posts, read 607,446 times
Reputation: 1411
The downside of all the great advice I've received here is that now I have absolutely no idea where to start.

I appreciate hearing from a couple former New Englanders that have made a similar change. I should probably start a separate thread asking if people in Minnesota all drive 5 miles under the speed limit in the left lane and then slam on the brakes when you tailgate them... For those that are familiar, we are moving from Westborough, MA which can be quite expensive. Boston is 30-45 minutes away, and the town has a decent town center and historic district with well kept 18th century homes. However, we are selling our small-ish three bedroom ranch for about $300k, which is pretty much the bottom of the market for homes that aren't or haven't been on fire.

I was hoping that coming to MN, we would be able to spend less, get a little more house and have at least some walk-ability. However, its pretty clear that if we want to keep the price tag down, we're going to have to compromise. While I think my wife would take a 4 bedroom colonial even if it was an hour out of MPLS, I'm trying to balance the amount of home versus the surroundings.

There's no question that you can get a decent non-ranch sidewalk-less house, in Maplewoodappleburygroveprairie or whatever, we would be back to the bottom of the market in Armatage, Stillwater, SLP or any of the dense, walk-able areas. Saint Louis Park may prove to be the ideal middle ground, but I don't have any feel for the different neighborhoods. Based on what I've read, most of it sounds very nice, aside from one or two small areas.

R2M - I would happily "settle" for a decent home in Eagan or Maple Grove if it was in a walkable area. It looks like the walkable areas within those towns tend to be more expensive... Am I wrong?

Based on what I've seen, I'd like to do a little better with schools than either of the districts that serve Golden Valley.

Northfield looks like a nice little town, but I think Stillwater is too far out. Otherwise, Stillwater would probably be the default front runner at this point.

I guess this is how people end up buying on the higher end of what they can afford. I'm self employed in a volatile industry, I really want to stay low. Ultimately, I guess we will have to chose between a nicer house in a blah-burb or a blah house in a more interesting place.

Last edited by MidwestRedux; 08-17-2014 at 05:33 PM.. Reason: Edited for more info
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Old 08-17-2014, 09:54 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,812,117 times
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I wouldn't give up yet, at least not without actually being here and checking out some houses. You may be pleasantly surprised and find you can find something you like in an area you also like. Of course it does come to compromise; we have a very nice, very non-"blah" house in a very desirable, walkable area that came in under 300k (low for the neighborhood), but it's also a smaller house with no garage. In any case, point is even if many homes in a neighborhood are more than you want to pay, depending on your needs you still want to take a look, just in case.

How about the other south Minneapolis neighborhoods, like the around the 48th and Chicago commercial district? That's a very nice, family-friendly neighborhood with some beautiful, well-maintained pre-war houses in your price range. And while I don't about the local zoned schools, many of those far south neighborhoods in that part of the city are zoned for Area C in MPS, which makes you eligible for the Southwest area magnet schools. Not to say that other parts of the city don't also have some great magnets and local schools, but I'm also in Area C and know that the quality of the options in this zone are really good. If you look in south Minneapolis, just pay attention to airport noise; it can be an issue in some areas.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Southwest Minneapolis
511 posts, read 607,446 times
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Urbanist - Just a shot in the dark here, but do you live in/near Uptown? I've probably seen the answer to that question in your posts in other threads. I'm just curious because based on the advice you give, I would guess you made a pretty well informed decision on where to live.

I took a quick look and the 48th and Chicago looks quite appealing. At quick glance, it looks like you get more for your money there than in the depths of SW MPLS. The first house I saw was two stories, renovated, almost 2,000 sq ft and under 300k. The neighborhood elementary and middle schools look strong, at least according to GreatSchools. I guess I have more than a decade to worry about high schools, so the Washburn High factor really shouldn't matter. In any case, this area is definitely worth a look.

GreatSchools ratings seem to be a pretty reliable indicator for the most part. That is one of my biggest hesitations about SLP as TxTnVtMn and others have recommended. I occasionally see people talking about the schools being tops in the state, but the GS ratings are all fairly low. I realize that number isn't a perfect indicator, but when I've looked at schools and communities that I'm familiar with, it always seems about right. Overall, I would say the stuff I have seen here and elsewhere about SLP seems pretty mixed. TxTnVtMn or anyone else, do/did you have kids in SLP schools? Any feedback?
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:40 PM
 
10,630 posts, read 23,812,117 times
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Yes, we're in Uptown, which is the perfect fit for us. Our son's school is fantastic, our neighbors friendly, and we love being able to walk everywhere.

In south Minneapolis, just watch out for airport noise; believe me, you'll know right away if the house you are looking at has a plane problem. It's sort of hit-or-miss over there, with some locations being noisy, others not loud at all.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Southwest Minneapolis
511 posts, read 607,446 times
Reputation: 1411
Thanks, that's good to know. I'm in the process of selling my house that has train tracks right behind it. The noise never bothered us much and it gave us a huge yard. The first 40 or so people that looked at it didn't feel quite the same...

You must have looked pretty hard to find a home in that price range, well done!
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:06 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities
330 posts, read 399,184 times
Reputation: 411
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidwestRedux View Post
I appreciate hearing from a couple former New Englanders that have made a similar change. I should probably start a separate thread asking if people in Minnesota all drive 5 miles under the speed limit in the left lane and then slam on the brakes when you tailgate them...

R2M - I would happily "settle" for a decent home in Eagan or Maple Grove if it was in a walkable area. It looks like the walkable areas within those towns tend to be more expensive... Am I wrong?

Northfield looks like a nice little town, but I think Stillwater is too far out. Otherwise, Stillwater would probably be the default front runner at this point.

I haven't seen too many Minnesotans slam on the brakes when you tailgate them, but I will warn you that unfortunately slow driving in the left lane is rampant here. Additionally, no one knows how to merge properly onto a freeway either.

To answer your question to me, I don't necessarily think that the walkable areas within Maple Grove or Eagan are more expensive than other parts of town.

Northfield is a very cute town but it is even farther from Minneapolis than Stillwater.

Uptown is a very nice area but I think it might be too urban for your wife's taste. I also think schools tend to be better in the suburbs.

As Uptown Urbanist previously suggested, I would try to visit here soon to check out various neighborhoods in both the suburbs mentioned and the city itself as I'm sure you'll find an area where you like. You may even end up being able to convince your wife to live in the city because you will find many of the neighborhoods in Minneapolis proper to have a "suburbanesque" rather than "urban" flair to them (compared to Boston and cities on the east coast), but even if she doesn't end up liking it, the suburbs mentioned in this thread are great alternatives. Feel free to PM me if you have further questions.
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Old 08-18-2014, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Southwest Minneapolis
511 posts, read 607,446 times
Reputation: 1411
The walkable area around Main Street in Maple Grove looks really nice. However, it seems that most of the SFRs in the immediate area are new and kind of pricey. There appear to be some options a mile or so out, which I could be ok with.

I haven't been able to find the walkable areas of Eagan...

I was hoping to be able to fit in a visit to do some advanced scouting, but that's not going to happen. As it looks now, we will be closing on the sale of our house around the 24th or 25th of September, throwing our stuff in a pod to be shipped and heading west on I-90 for about 1500 miles. We will arrive, spend at least a few nights in a hotel and hopefully have a short term rental in a decent area ready to go by around the 1st. If we didn't have a toddler and a business to hold together, it might be kind of an exciting adventure...
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