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Old 06-23-2011, 07:00 AM
 
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We're looking at these two areas - from what I've read people seem to really like one or the other but I couldn't find any comparisons. I know St. Cloud is closer to the Twin Cities and is larger. Is Mankato mainly a college town atmosphere or is that just one aspect with things for families too?
Mankato looks like it would be easier to live in the middle of things, at least looking at maps, it seemed denser where St. Cloud seemed more spread out though is living in downtown near the bus depot/library ok? riskier for walking at night?

How do they compare as far as snow removal and bike riding? Good parks for walking? Just need the basics for stores since either place is close enough for a trip to Minneaplis.

We've been to Rochester and Winona if that helps with comparisons as far as how hectic or quiet they are. Are used to the SE MN terrain...is St. Cloud very different?
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
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I used to live in Mankato, and may be moving back to attend graduate school at Mankato State, so I hope I can answer your questions.

1) Mankato is definitely a college town, but it is also very family-oriented as well. Almost everyone over the age of 25 is married with children. Unless you live downtown or right by the campus, you won't even notice the students. West Mankato is a very good family neighborhood, as is Skyline and North Mankato. The east side is good if you like newer housing. The school systems are very good -- you'll hear a lot of arguing about East vs. West, but both are great schools.

2) There really isn't a "bad area" in Mankato. There are no ghettos or slums, even by the bus depot and library. Violent crime is almost nonexistent, and most arrests are drug or domestic violence related. Downtown is safe, but it's really student/young person oriented. It's great for a single 20-something, but I wouldn't live there with a family. It can be really crowded and noisy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

3) Snow removal is excellent. The city is built on steep (and I mean STEEP) river bluffs, which you would think would make it challenging in the winter, but the city clears the streets and salts the roads as soon as the white stuff starts falling. There is rarely a day when you won't be able to get around -- it would take a REALLY severe blizzard. Mankato also has some really good bike trails, and the hills make cycling really fun and challenging. There are tons of beautiful parks, especially downtown.

4) Shopping is good for such a small town. The River Hills Mall has all the usual mall stores, including a Herbergers, JC Penney, Sears, etc., and a food court. You'll also find big-box stores like Target, Best Buy, Menards and Home Depot. You can find everything you need and want in Mankato. The Minneapolis 'burbs are 45 minutes away if you want something different. The MOA is a one-hour drive to the north.

Personally, I love Mankato. It strongly reminds me of my hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, only with a good economy and without the ghetto blight. I've lived all over and other than my hometown, 'Kato is my favorite spot.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
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You'll also want to avoid the area around Bethany Lutheran College, because it's full of students.

As for St. Cloud, I don't know much about it. I do know it's closer to Minneapolis (it's technically part of the Metro), and it's much flatter than Mankato. I prefer Mankato to St. Cloud.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:29 AM
 
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I've spent a lot of time in both and I think Mankato is a really big small town type place. It's much easier to get around Mankato, no where near the traffic you see in St. Cloud. Mankato itself is somewhat hilly because of the river but the surrounding area is very flat.

St. Cloud just has more "stuff" with the 3 Colleges/Universities there the overall population is more "academic" but not overly more then what you find in Mankato. St. Cloud is closer to other areas in MN, more centrally located (Twin Cities, various "Lake" communities like Alexandria, Brainerd, etc., and closer to Duluth) so taking a road trip to explore MN is easier-you are 2-3 hours away from pretty much everything in St. Cloud.

Overall, the St. Cloud public schools are probably a hair better then what you will find in Mankato-but again, not enough to be a deal breaker by any means.

Mankato is similar to Rochester, St. Cloud is more like St. Paul (not as big obviously).

The "downtown" areas for both towns are going to be heavily populated by students. Neither are "bad" areas but there are better places to live in both towns.

Shopping, St. Cloud gets the edge here but Mankato has everything you need so again, not a huge difference.
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:05 AM
 
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northstar,
Thanks for all those specific details about Mankato. It sounds like it has everything we need and things we'd like too. Glad to hear about how soon they clear the roads - we lived near 3 adjoining towns for awhile and not realizing we had picked the one that did the worst job of it. The only thing I wonder about it how's Mankato for young adults past college age? Would be nice if my one dd had some chance of meeting single friends too. The bluffs and parks sound really nice, it did seem there were more bigger parks close/in Mankato itself. I'd have to work on biking on hills though I'm the only one in the family that would. Thanks for your great descriptions.


Golfgirl,
Appreciate the comparisons between the two, its very helpful. They sound very similar as far as having the basics - I wasn't sure but did expect traffic would be rougher in St. Cloud, it is bigger. From what you wrote the location part sounds even better than what I had initially thought, I know Amtrak goes through there too. Do they clear the roads as quickly? With the understanding that of course there are more streets to clear in a bigger place.
Maybe we could look within a mile of downtown or so, would be nice if we could at least bike to the library sometimes. We all love to walk in any weather pretty much. Thanks for your insights.
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
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Mankato is pretty poor for post-college single people, but then so is St. Cloud. Minnesotans tend to get married and have children at a very early age, and most post-college age people will be married with kids. I'm in that age range, and I know very few people my age who are single.

Minnesota is just not a good state for young, single, childless or childfree people.
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Old 06-24-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmom View Post
northstar,
Thanks for all those specific details about Mankato. It sounds like it has everything we need and things we'd like too. Glad to hear about how soon they clear the roads - we lived near 3 adjoining towns for awhile and not realizing we had picked the one that did the worst job of it. The only thing I wonder about it how's Mankato for young adults past college age? Would be nice if my one dd had some chance of meeting single friends too. The bluffs and parks sound really nice, it did seem there were more bigger parks close/in Mankato itself. I'd have to work on biking on hills though I'm the only one in the family that would. Thanks for your great descriptions.


Golfgirl,
Appreciate the comparisons between the two, its very helpful. They sound very similar as far as having the basics - I wasn't sure but did expect traffic would be rougher in St. Cloud, it is bigger. From what you wrote the location part sounds even better than what I had initially thought, I know Amtrak goes through there too. Do they clear the roads as quickly? With the understanding that of course there are more streets to clear in a bigger place.
Maybe we could look within a mile of downtown or so, would be nice if we could at least bike to the library sometimes. We all love to walk in any weather pretty much. Thanks for your insights.
Anywhere you go in MN roads will be clear within hours unless it is a MAJOR storm and then it might take a half a day or so-major being 15+ inches or more.

Take "traffic" with a grain of salt-traffic as compared to St. Cloud or Mankato, not traffic compared to say Los Angeles. Once you know your way around either town you can easily avoid any real traffic.

Last edited by golfgal; 06-24-2011 at 08:39 PM..
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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Traffic in St Cloud is not bad.
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Gladstone, MO
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I live in St. Cloud, and I'd chose Mankato over St. Cloud.
St. Cloud is bigger and does have some more shopping, but not a significant difference. For example, St. Cloud has 2 Targets, while Mankato only has one. Not that big of a deal.
You don't need to worry about snow removal, it's really good in Minnesota unless it is a HUGE storm.

My parents lived in Mankato back in the 80s, and my Aunt went to college there late 70s/early 80s, and she still lives there. About 10 years ago, she moved to a new apartment, and very quickly she made a really good friend who is a guy, and to this day they are still really good friends.

I was actually just down in St. Paul today, and getting there from St. Cloud is ridiculously easy and quick. It only took me around 70 minutes to get to downtown St Paul from St. Cloud traveling on i-94.

Traffic, eh, it's annoying, certainly isn't bad, and once you know everything you can avoid Division Street pretty easily.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:32 PM
 
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It's great to hear the roads are cleared so well, I've had my fair share of close calls on winter roads so its good to know that it's done well.

I know what you mean about post-college single northstar, I think that's true in a lot of places esp for the non-professional crowd who tend to be married by that age. Not quite a dealbreaker with all the other good things that have been mentioned, but something to keep in mind. I know there isn't a perfect place for all our families ages.

It's seeming more like Mankato covers pretty much everything as far as activities, shopping, etc go. I did check for pictures of St. Cloud and Mankato and the types of houses, neighborhoods look prettier in Mankato.
Of course, that's only a small sampling and doesn't reflect every part of either city. From what you've all wrote, traffic can be dealt with once you know the area.

Radical Car, that does sound like St. Cloud is easy for getting to St. Paul.
Any particular reason you would choose Mankato instead? I may be wrong but Mankato seems denser and St. Cloud more spread out.
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