Dunn Brothers at the corner of 2nd Street and Chestnut Street in Chaska, Minnesota. Image credit Michael Hicks, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

8 Best Places to Live in Minnesota in 2024

Popularly known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota is an amazing place to stay. Although this state is the 12th largest in area, it sits as the 22nd most populous in the country, meaning that the cities here are not as congested as in other neighboring states.

Minnesota is home to the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, over 600 annual festivals, and 500 golf courses. Whether you are a retiree or a young person looking to start life in a slower-paced and less populated environment, you should add these towns to your bucket list of the best places to live in the "Gopher State."


Street post showing directions and partial stop sign with domed building in background on a blue sky with white clouds, Northfield,Minnesota
Street post in downtown Northfield, Minnesota.

Money magazine has named Northfield, Minnesota, as the "Best Place to Retire in America." This city lies 45 miles from the metropolitan area of the busy city of Minneapolis, but in contrast, this town has a population of less than 21,000. The median home price is $395,600. The unemployment rate as of April 2021 is 2.2%, which stands below the nation’s average of 5.70%, and the town is continuously making efforts to provide more jobs.

You can spend your evenings strolling down the historic downtown area to mingle with locals or enjoy the scenic view of the Cannon River. The locals are actively involved in planning community events. Be part of these events like the popular Defeat of Jesse James Day, held every September. With over 30 city parks, unwind at parks like Riverside Lions Park, Ames Park, or Heritage Park.


Monticello is a small farming community on the Mississippi River in Northern Minnesota
Overlooking Monticello, Minnesota.

Monticello is a town in Wright County that lies next to the Mississippi River. This town is small and with a population of less than 15,000. If you are looking to start living in a safe and quiet town, Monticello should be at the top of your bucket list. The locals are very key to the community and maintaining their rich heritage. The town has an extensive park and pathway system and is home to Montissippi Regional Park. You can participate in several events organized in the city’s parks, like the Movies in the Park and Music in Mississippi.

The central area is the heart of the city, and it is flooded with fine restaurants like Perkins or Chatters Restaurant & Bar. Check out Ellison Park and the Monticello Country Club golf course, where you can network with other residents and have fun. The occasional outdoor and indoor farmers' market is a cheap way to try local produce in Monticello.


Owatonna, Minnesota, Colonial buildings at county fairgrounds.
Colonial buildings at county fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minnesota. Image credit Rexjaymes via Shutterstock

There is a famous story that Owatonna was named after “Princess Owatonna,” who was healed by a nearby spring’s magic waters. This town hosts the popular Steele County Free Fair, which is held every August.

With a population of less than 30,000 residents and an affordable median home price of $289,900, Owatonna’s charming downtown is one of the many reasons people relocate to this town. The area is bursting with life from all the commercial activities, from boutiques to bookshops. You could take occasional walking tours around the area to visit three properties enlisted on the National Register of Historic Places: the National Farmers Bank, the Steele County Courthouse, and the Firemen's Hall.

Explore the endless possibilities of the great outdoors at the properly planned town park system, including the nearby Rice Lake State Park and Woody's Reserve Wildlife Refuge.


Curry Farms Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Curry Farms Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The word “Chanhassen” is of Dakota origin, meaning “sugar-maple tree.” This town has a population of less than 30,000 residents and a median home price of $627,500. It is located 21 miles southwest of Minneapolis, making it a perfect location for people looking for a nice place to stay away from the hustling and bustling of the big city.

Pay occasional visits to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre; this theatre is the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre. If you have always been fascinated by Prince's story and career, you should check out Paisley Park, Prince's home, studio, and museum. 

Falcon Heights

West entrance with a beautiful garden at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

Live among vibrant students of the University of Minnesota's St. Paul Campus and be part of the fiery school spirit. Falcon Heights is more affordable than other nearby cities in Minnesota, with a median home price of $387,500. Apart from being a college town, there are a lot of opportunities here. You can work for homegrown businesses or open your own small business.

This small town has several fun things to do besides the economic value. Pay a visit to the Bell Museum of Natural History to learn more about the stars and wildlife. Home to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, locals always look forward to the annual state fair from August to September, and you, too, can be part of the celebration without having to spend on travel expenses. Take a walk around Grove Park or play basketball with other residents in the park.

Arden Hills

Aerial View of the Minneapolis Suburb of Arden Hills, Minnesota
Overlooking Arden Hills, Minnesota.

Another Minnesota town bursting with young and vibrant collegiate is Arden Hills in Ramsey County. This town is home to the Bethel University and its Seminary, so you might run into many clergy or potential clergies. 

This college town has a median home price of $419,000 in 2024. Arden Hills is dedicated to helping people settle down in a stress-free manner. If you are looking to start your own business, a free service is offered by “Open to Business” to help people with the technical and intricate parts of starting a business.

Arden Hills is the nectar of fun activities, with seven lakes and over 20 miles of walking and hiking trails. Watch live performances and concerts at Benson Great Hall. Visit Arden Oaks Park to relax after a long work week. Tony Schmidt Regional Park has a playground and vast space for picnics where you can go to spend time with loved ones. 


City Hall on City Hall Plaza, Chaska, Minnesota, USA.
City Hall Plaza, Chaska, Minnesota. Image credit Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chaska is famous for its picturesque landscape, located on a bend on the Minnesota River. With a population above 27,000, the area has a nice suburban feel. If you are looking for a small town with modern amenities, Chaska should be top of your list. Chaska might be one of the best places to live in the US, with a median home price of $648,500.

If you love golfing, you can visit Hazeltine National Golf Club. You can also go shopping for new wear at the Target Store in town, and on the weekends, enjoy a picnic with friends or family at the City Square Park.

Prior Lake

Aerial View of the Twin Cities Suburb of Prior Lake, Minnesota
Overlooking Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Belonging to the list of the oldest cities in the South Metro Area is the small town of Prior Lake. This town has grown rapidly over the years to become a choice area for people searching for places to live in Minnesota.  The median home price is $662,500, and the poverty rate is way below the poverty line of 12.4%, at approximately 2.21%. 

In Prior Lake, residents enjoy water activities like fishing and swimming. You can also visit any of the parks in the town, like Lakefront Park, Sand Point Beach Park, or Spring Lake Regional Park, for recreational activities and relaxation. Play fun games at Playworks with your family or friends, or visit Little Six Casino for a fun night out. 

Planning to move to Minnesota? These eight towns and cities are some of the best places you can live in "The Star of the North." You will not only enjoy a safe place for yourself and your family, but will also be close to a plethora of outdoor activities and business opportunities.

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