Minnesota's affordable cities like Thief River Falls, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester, and Hastings offer diverse amenities, from outdoor adventures to urban charm, making the state a desirable Midwest destination for a high quality of life.Minnesota's affordable cities like Thief River Falls, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester, and Hastings offer diverse amenities, from outdoor adventures to urban charm, making the state a desirable Midwest destination for a high quality of life.Local Guide

Most Affordable Places to Live in Minnesota

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Minnesota is the Midwest state with much to offer. It has a strong job market and affordable housing with an urban vibe in some areas and rural areas in others. The state, known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is fantastic for those who are looking for outdoor amenities, but also has some of the best entertainment and shopping in the region.

The following are some of the most affordable places to live in Minnesota.

#1 Thief River Falls

  • Population: 8,903
  • Average home price: $170,000
  • Average rent price: $875 per month
  • Crime rate: 18.56 per 1,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%

Thief River Falls, often just called TRF, is a fantastic community located in Pennington County. It’s small and just about an hour’s drive from the Canadian border. It’s named for its location, right at the junction of the Red Lake River and Thief River. The city has long been a very important logging town due to its location. Today, the economy is more focused on manufacturing, with a focus on machinery and electronic development.

As far as the quality of life, for those who love the outdoors, TRF has plenty to offer. It is also noted for its excellent educational system (and its impressive hockey teams). Area amenities include the Thief River Golf Club, snowmobiling paths throughout the parks, and the River Walk, which connects several parks along the dam (and gives you a fantastic view of the falls themselves).

#2 St. Cloud

  • Population: 69,568
  • Average home price: $236,190
  • Average rent price:$1,069 per month
  • Crime rate: 42.65 per 1,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate: 3.60 %

For those seeking a modern city to call home that just happens to be historically charming and beautiful from a natural perspective, St. Cloud is ideal. The city is a large population center for the state but remains highly affordable overall. One of the best reasons to live here is access to the Mississippi River, ideal for commerce, but also fishing, sailing, and canoeing along the tributaries. The Munsinger Gardens are also located here and create a fantastic area for walking and biking. Once known as The Granite City, St. Cloud has some outstanding ravines to explore as well.

St. Cloud seems remote – and that is because it is about an hour from the largest metro areas in the state. Yet, it offers a modern lifestyle with shopping and dining, a modern, service-based economy, and good schools. Larger homes with big backyards and walkable streets make this area quite the suburban charmer.

#3 Mankato

  • Population: 45,140
  • Average home price: $274,750
  • Average rent price: $1,714 per month
  • Crime rate: 28.08 per 1,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate: 2.00%

The city of Mankato is smaller, but is noted as being an excellent, family-centric place to live for various reasons. It could be because it is home to amenities like the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota or the petting zoo at Sibley Park. The city has much more to provide, though, including affordable housing, a moderate level of income from a range of service-based, agricultural, and manufacturing jobs, and excellent schools. A portion of the Mayo Clinic Health System is located here, which also contributes to the area’s economic force.

Mankato is also notable for its outdoors. From the biking trails along the mountains to exploring the Minnesota River in a kayak, outdoor adventure lovers will find this area fantastic. It is as noted for one of the best bike trails – the Red Jacket Bike Trail, which brings people in from around the region for the views (and the challenges) along the way.

#4 Rochester

  • Population: 121,878
  • Average home price: $309,066
  • Average rent price: $1,489 per month
  • Crime rate: 22.30 per 1,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate: 2.10%

Rochester, located in the southern portion of the state, is an excellent place to call home for anyone who wants to live in a community that blends outdoors with modern, urban life. The city is one of the largest in the state and is noted for its numerous historic sites, including the Maywood Historic Home. It is an exceptional place for those who love arts, too, as the home of the Rochester Art Center.

Yet, perhaps what the city is most well known for is the healthcare here. It is home to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most recognized, research-focused hospital systems and medical research programs in the world. This has created a very vibrant community, one that offers high-paying jobs and a higher quality of life. Yet, surprisingly, it remains competitively affordable.

#5 Hastings

  • Population 21,712
  • Average home price: $326,000
  • Average rent price: $1,070 per month
  • Crime rate: 16.01 per 1,000 residents
  • Unemployment rate: 3.10%

The community of Hastings is recognized as one of the state’s major river towns due to its location on the St. Croix and Mississippi River. This location has also helped this community develop from a railroad and boating location into oil extraction and manufacturing over the years. It has always been a working community with a strong economy and affordable living to go with it.

A city noted for its economy, but also its outdoor opportunities and stunning amenities, Hastings is ideal for families, retirement, and everything in between. Area attractions include Vermillion Falls, the historic downtown area near the waterfront, and over 30 miles of biking and walking trails also near the waterfront. The city has a number of craft breweries, smaller shops, and numerous small businesses to support.

For those considering a move to Minnesota, it is easy enough to find an affordable place to call home since much of the state has a competitive cost of living. Yet, there is much more to this area than just lower costs. It is a vibrant state with natural resources, a strong economic makeup, good schools, and a strong healthcare system. For those contemplating a move to Minnesota, it's also worth exploring the following subjects.

Navigating Minnesota's Job Market: Minnesota boasts a diverse and robust job market across various industries, making it an attractive destination for professionals seeking employment opportunities. Healthcare is a prominent sector, with renowned institutions like the Mayo Clinic and numerous hospitals and clinics offering various jobs in healthcare administration, nursing, and medical research. The technology industry is also thriving, with Minneapolis-St. Paul emerging as a hub for tech startups and established companies alike. Additionally, manufacturing contributes significantly to the state's economy, providing jobs in the aerospace, food processing, and machinery sectors. Navigating Minnesota's job market involves leveraging networking opportunities, exploring online job boards, and aligning one's skills and experience with the demands of the local industries.

Exploring Minnesota's Outdoor Recreation: Minnesota's vast natural landscapes offer many outdoor recreational opportunities for residents to explore and enjoy. From the picturesque lakeshores of Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the rolling hills of the North Shore and the expansive prairies of the southern region, the state's diverse geography provides a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Depending on the season and location, residents can partake in activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, and more. State parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges dot the landscape, offering countless opportunities for exploration and relaxation amidst nature's beauty. Whether embarking on a weekend camping trip, paddling along a scenic river, or hitting the slopes at a ski resort, outdoor recreation is integral to life in Minnesota.

Cost of Living in Minnesota: What You Need to Know: Understanding the cost of living in Minnesota is crucial for individuals and families considering relocation to the state. While housing prices may vary depending on the location, Minnesota offers relatively affordable housing compared to other metropolitan areas in the United States. Utilities, groceries, and transportation costs are also generally in line with national averages, contributing to a reasonable cost of living for residents. However, factors such as property taxes, healthcare expenses, and childcare costs should be considered when budgeting for living expenses in Minnesota. Additionally, exploring cost-saving measures, such as utilizing public transportation, shopping at local markets, and seeking out community resources, can help mitigate expenses and enhance financial stability for residents in the North Star State.

Community Spotlight: Embracing Minnesota's Culture and Lifestyle: Minnesota's rich cultural heritage and vibrant lifestyle make it a welcoming and engaging place to call home from the thriving arts scene in Minneapolis-St. Paul, thanks to the small-town charm of rural communities, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Minnesota. Residents can explore museums, galleries, and theaters, attend festivals and cultural events, and dine at diverse restaurants serving cuisine worldwide. Family-friendly attractions, outdoor adventures, and community gatherings foster a strong sense of belonging and camaraderie among residents. Whether cheering on the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, strolling along the shores of Lake Minnetonka, or attending the Minnesota State Fair, embracing Minnesota's culture and lifestyle is an enriching experience that celebrates the state's unique identity and heritage.

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