"I wanted to make a song about where I'm from / You know? Big up my home town, my territory, my state / But, I couldn't figure out much to brag about / Prince lives here, we got 10,000 lakes / But wait, the women are beautiful, to me they are / And we're not infested with pretentious movie stars / And it hit me, Minnesota is dope / If only simply for not what we have but what we don't." - "Shhh" by Atmosphere
Minnesota has long, cold winters, but you won't hear Minnesotans complaining. Wintertime just means it's time to go ice-fishing, snowmobiling, ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding -- OK, you get the idea. About 60 percent of the people in Minnesota live in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are located in the southeastern region of the state. The rest of Minnesota is mid-sized cities, small towns, open prairies in the West and forests in the North, where the state meets Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. (Largest by surface area, that is, and only the third largest in the world by volume. Superior, eh? What about Lake Baikal in Siberia?) Minnesota's nickname, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, is actually being modest. The state has well over 11,000 lakes, plus thousands of ponds, rivers and streams.
Apartment complexes in Minnesota typically require rental history, credit report, criminal background check and proof of income. We don't believe your taxidermy permit is currently needed to sign a lease. Because of the rapid growth in Minnesota over the previous decades, especially in the Twin Cities metro area, finding apartments for rent can sometimes feel like a race. Give yourself four to six weeks to ensure you find an apartment.
Before you making your move, we have to mention winter again. Unless you're coming down from Alaska, you will probably find the winters in Minnesota inconvenient for unloading the ol' U-Haul, let alone for driving it across icy roads. But you might not be able to wait until spring to move, especially since wintry weather here can last up to six months. So, make sure you're well-versed in winter driving techniques and that your vehicle is prepared for icy roads. A professional moving service might also be a good idea -- just make sure it's licensed and bonded.
Winter's not so bad. Minnesotans have these things called "choppers" that keep your fingers warm, even when it's 20 below. Yeah, we said 20 below. But Minnesotans know how to handle the cold. You remember when Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were lost on the planet Hoth and cut a tauntaun open with a lightsaber to make a warm place to sleep in the snow? Minnesotans are even more resourceful than that. Stock your car with sleeping bags, snacks, drinking water and road flares. We'd tell you to keep your cell phone with you, but you do that anyway.
Park permits are important, particularly for Minneapolis. Parking can get tight during business hours in some neighborhoods, which are deemed Critical Parking Areas. Residents can get a Critical Park Permit to gleefully and freely park for $25 per year. Ask your new landlord before or as soon as you arrive if the rental homes are in a Critical Parking Area, or risk the wrath of a parking enforcement officer. Of course you'll need a new driver's license. But there are also permits needed for fishing, hunting, burning, boating, snowmobiling and taxidermy. We think chopping up tauntauns with a lightsaber is covered under either hunting or taxidermy.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area (it extends into Wisconsin) had about 3.8 million people, as of the 2010 Census, and keeps on growing. It has 182 cities and townships, so choosing where to live can be confusing. Here's a breakdown of some of the best neighborhoods and towns to find apartments and condos for rent in Minnesota:
Downtown Minneapolis: Home to most of the skyscrapers in the city, the stadiums for the Vikings and Twins, Nicollet Mall and a variety of nightclubs. This is a good place to find luxury apartments, though other options are available.
Uptown Minneapolis: This is the hip 'hood in Minneapolis where many artists and musicians live. It hosts the Uptown Art Fair each August.
Seward in Minneapolis: It's only a mile from Downtown, but Seward is home to biking and hiking trails, parks, and is bordered by a little river you may have heard of: the Mississippi. Many homes here were constructed before 1950 and have been kept in good condition. Independent cafes and restaurants are common throughout Seward.
Linden Hills in Minneapolis: There really are lindens and hills here. That's great, you say. But you don't know what a linden is, do you? It's a type of tree. This neighborhood sits on both Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet in the southwestern part of Minneapolis. Most of its homes are from the early 20th century.
Whittier in Minneapolis: South of Downtown, many residents live in mansions built here during the boom years of the 1800s.
Warehouse District in Minneapolis: Also known as North Loop, this area is next to Downtown in the center of Minneapolis. Don't worry, the warehouses have been converted into lofts for your convenience. Small businesses and art galleries have also been springing up here in recent years.
Prospect Park in Minneapolis: On the eastern edge of Minneapolis, next to St. Paul, Prospect Park hosts an "Ice Cream Social" each June. What else do you need to know?
Downtown St. Paul: The Minnesota Wild hockey team plays its home games here in the Xcel Energy Center. If that isn't enough for you to start looking for a one- or two-bedroom apartment here, a skyway system connects most of the major buildings in Downtown, allowing you to walk between them -- in the air.
West End in St. Paul: Officially known as West Seventh, this neighborhood was once a path for fur traders (who would have loved Zamboni's Pizza Pub).
Saint Anthony Park in St. Paul: A residential area in Northwestern St. Paul. If you get bored here, ask your new neighbor Garrison Keillor to tell you a story.
Highland Park in St. Paul: Another neighborhood that lies along the Mississippi River. That's fun to say, isn't it? Highland Park is a mix of old homes, retail stores and some industrial buildings, as well as the Highland Park Water Tower.
Bloomington: Bloomington, the next largest city in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, is most noted for having the largest enclosed shopping center in the U.S., the Mall of America. West Bloomington is the site of many new homes and high-rise office buildings. The east side generally has older homes and more shopping centers -- because the biggest mall in the solar system might not satisfy your shopping needs.
Rochester: Rochester sits about 80 miles south of Minnesota's metropolises. It lies on the Zumbro River, which is slightly less famous than the Mississippi, but still nice to look at. The city has just over 100,000 residents and more than 100 parks, meaning there's about one park for every thousand people, but we don't think they'll all be there at once. We hope you never get sick, but it's nice to know that Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic.
Duluth: The birthplace of Bob Dylan sits on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. Duluth was also mentioned in the great Meat Puppets song "Lake of Fire." We don't believe rabid dogs are still an issue here.
With pro baseball, football, hockey, and basketball teams (all in the Twin Cities, sorry, Duluth) Minnesota has a lot to brag about. OK, the teams haven't done so well the past few years or decades, but Minnesotans still support them.
We already mentioned snow sports are popular here. Hiking, camping, fly fishing, and hunting are also common, with many Minnesotans leaving the balmy weather of Southern Minnesota to head up north to Superior National Forest.
From the Mall of America (not humble are they?) to the boutiques on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, there are plenty of places to get out of the winter ice or summer heat and buy stuff.
Bob isn't the only person to have picked up an instrument in this state. Live music is a huge part of life here, from famous venues such as First Avenue to city orchestras and local bars.