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Minneapolis is divided into east and west, defined by the Mississippi River, with Central in the city’s heart, just west of the Mississippi. Southwest and South are (rather intuitively) below Central and west of the Mississippi, North and Northeast are above Central, and Southeast is (rather non-intuitively) located directly east of Central. Northeast and Southeast are the only two communities east of the Mississippi. These six general areas break down into eleven distinctive communities, and each community further breaks down into smaller neighborhoods.
Traffic in Minneapolis isn’t that bad, so consider basing your apartment search more on finding a community that fits your personality than on job proximity. Speaking of traffic, the City of Lakes has many green options for your commute, including a system of light metro rail trains as well as commuter trains that stretch to the suburbs. Bike Magazine also rated Minneapolis the #1 Bike-Friendly City in 2010, so if you can’t leave home without your ten-speed, you’ll love this area when it’s not too cold.
Prince is a famous Minneapolitan, and since we really love Prince, we’ve named the city’s six main areas after his songs: Do It All Night, 1999, Little Red Corvette, I Would Die 4 U, She’s Always In My Hair, and Raspberry Beret.
Downtown Minneapolis is located in the Central community, in the very heart of the city. This area includes the park-filled neighborhoods of Elliot Park and Loring Park, affordable Stevens Square, historic and boutique-filled North Loop/Warehouse District, and clubby Downtown. If you can’t live without your live sports fix, you’ll want to make Downtown East near the Metrodome your home base, and if you get high off of high rises, you can raise the roof in Downtown West. Downtown is also a surprisingly safe place to live as long as you’re street smart.
If you love Downtown, but hate city driving, you can ditch your car; Minneapolis’ easy and guaranteed light rail system is headquartered here. The Central community is dominated by educated single younger adults without children and is one of the pricier places to rent, so expect to pay $$ for a 1BR apartment in the heart of Downtown.
South Minneapolis is located in the southeast corner of the city, west of the Mississippi (not to be confused with the Southeast area), and it contains the most diverse, outdoorsy and literary Minneapolitans, as well as the awesome Milwaukee Avenue Historic District. Phillips and Powderhorn are the most diverse and cultural communities in Minneapolis and houses mainly young couples with tiny tots. These two areas are pretty safe, but be sure to avoid the seedy area near the intersection of Lake St. E and Chicago Ave. A 1BR apartment in either of these communities will be quite affordable: $.
The literary Longfellow community and the outdoorsy Nokomis community are better bets for more upscale living, as both areas have highly educated, upper middle class families with kids. Almost every neighborhood in Longfellow is named after a literary figure, and the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District holds the most liberal people in Minneapolis. Nokomis is safe and has many large lakes, but keep in mind that it is located 5 minutes from the airport so if noise from overhead flights is an issue you may want to consider moving elsewhere. On the plus side, the Metropolitan Airport Commission has paid for roof insulation and new windows on most of the buildings in this neighborhood, so what once was loud is now a bit more muffled (once you’re indoors, that is).
For a 2BR house in either of these neighborhoods, expect to pay $$.
The Southwest area of Minneapolis, located south of Central and west of the Mississippi includes both the Calhoun Isle community, and the Southwest community. This area is very swanky, with the biggest lakes and the high-end Uptown shopping district. The Southwest community is filled with small upscale boutiques and the educated middle aged couples who live there are proud that their community breaks wildly from the traditional grid road pattern that the rest of the city follows. A 2BR townhome here will run you $$$.
Calhoun Isle is younger and more hip than Southwest, but this community is still very expensive. If you’re looking for a really awesome pad, try one of the apartments in the historic mansions and estates located in the Lowry Hill neighborhood. A 1BR apartment there will cost $$.
North Minneapolis, called “NoMi” by the locals, is located in the northwest corner of the city, west of the Mississippi, and contains the communities of Near North and Camden. Near North houses young couples with toddlers, as well as single moms. A 2BR apartment anywhere in Near North will cost $$, but prices rise slightly in the Sumner Glenwood neighborhood. Camden has an older demographic than Near North, your neighbors there would be mostly middle-aged parents with preteens. A 2BR house in Camden is really affordable ($$), but rent gets steep in the Lind-Bohanen neighborhood.
NoMi has a reputation of being a high crime area, and while Minneapolitans debate the truth of that stereotype, we advise you to stay alert when walking around North Minneapolis. When renting, your best bet is to avoid the Hawthorne and Folwell neighborhoods. Victory, in the Camden community, is known to be an especially safe place to call home.
Northeast is the only community located in the northeast part of Minneapolis, east of the Mississippi. We gotta admit, the east side has serious character. Northeast is a historic district, and used to be solely populated by Eastern European immigrants, but the area has gone through a recent revitalization. Now, Northeast is a highly diverse working class area that’s home to hipsters and the indie youth culture, and all the cool things that hipsters embrace, like farmer’s markets, a local art scene, and cheap rent. Still not convinced of the area’s awesomeness? How about the ability to find beautiful churches next to fantastic specialty food stores, next to your classic 1BR house, all for $? If you’ve got more money you can look for homes in Waite Park and Audubon Park ($$), just don’t rent in the sketchy area around Central and 23rd Ave.
Southeast is located east of the Mississippi and east of Central. The area’s not really south, but it is really cool. The only community in the Southeast area is University, which, you guessed it, is right near the University of Minnesota. Who knew? Single college kids and their highly educated professors populate this area, and the entire community is super affordable. Since a 1BR apartment almost anywhere in University will only cost you $, you can choose to live in your perfect neighborhood.
Heaven for you might be the very diverse Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which not only has a hot music scene, but also boasts the second largest live theater scene in the entire U.S. Or, you might prefer community-friendly Prospect Park. If you want to go shopping every day, you would feel at home in Nicollet Island, but if you want to cruise the bars and restaurants searching for a date, Dinkytown (AKA College Central) would be the place for you. No matter where you live in University, the area is pedestrian-friendly, and pretty darn safe, too.
Snow. Minneapolis has a lot of wonderful opportunities and neighborhoods, but it’s also the coldest city in the contiguous U.S. and you had better like snow to live here. Yes, Minnesota has citywide Wi-Fi and is home to a lot of cool techies. Yes, Minnesota is the third most literate metropolitan area in the nation. Yes, the area has more golfers per capita and is one of the best cities in America for running and biking (as well as many other outdoor sports), but if you want to be a Minneapolitan, you have to be able to handle the possibility of receiving over ninety-eight inches of snow in a single winter. So make sure to bring a jacket (or six).
However, even with the snow, Minneapolis was rated in 2011 as one of Forbes Best Cities for an Active Retirement. With four of the nations best hospitals, an incredibly philanthropic community, and all those outdoors sports, the City of Lakes would be a great place to retire, raise a family, or spend your prime.
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