Author Topic: Minneapolis?  (Read 4764 times)

SF Semi-Mustache

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Minneapolis?
« on: March 23, 2015, 10:59:52 AM »
Looks like SO and I will be moving to Minneapolis in a year for SO's medical residency.  Here are a few questions for the MMM community.  Keep in mind that SO is somewhat less open to frugality at the moment, so some of these things will necessarily be a compromise from what I would choose on my own. 

- Where should we live?  Criteria:  Dense-ish, bikeable, LGBT-friendly, close to both downtown/University of Minnesota Medical Center, definitely not in the suburbs.  Some folks say Uptown, others say Northeast.  It's nice to be able to walk to farmer's markets, grocery stores, and yes, cafes/restaurants/bars.  Are there other, cheaper options we should be considering?

- How much should we expect to pay in rent?  SO has a bit of an "everything is so cheap, let's get something amazing" mentality.  Given the drop in housing costs, I think we'll end up wanting something nice but not absurd.  Criteria:  2+bedrooms, 1.5+ bathrooms, in-unit laundry and dishwasher, minimum of covered parking for two cars*, open to either apartment or duplex/SFH, probably will want A/C. 

* I know, two cars.  Perhaps we'd be able to have just one car, but I don't know where I'll be working.  If it's downtown and we're near the light rail, one car might work.  If it's in some random suburb, we're probably going to need two cars.  SO needs a car because they go between different hospitals during the day, including some out in the 'burbs.  While I look forward to bike commuting on super flat surfaces, I don't think I'll be hardcore enough to do it in the dead of winter.  Given that I'm going to new to this whole "winter" business to begin with.

- How much is heat/AC going to cost us?  I like it cold, both in the winter and in the summer.  So we probably won't heat excessively, but we might use the A/C more than others might. 

- Are there things about winter that I need to know?  On my journal, someone mentioned that I'll need different wiper fluid for my car, for example.  I haven't ever lived through an Upper Midwest winter before. 

- Any other thoughts/tips re: Minneapolis?  Folks say it's a great city, but I've never been.  We're planning a trip for June so we can check it out. 

Thanks in advance.  Let me know if I'm not even knowledgeable enough about Minneapolis to be asking the right questions!

MidwestBiker

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 11:49:17 AM »
Longfellow - Cheaper, but sleepier than Uptown or NE. Meets all your listed criteria. It is a great neighborhood. Seward and Prospect Park too. All these are close to the U.

MayDay

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2015, 12:18:02 PM »
We found NE nicely bikeable with a co-op and farmers market and some good restaurants. More of a quiet family neighborhood feel as you move north.  Good buses. The main mpls farmers market is huge and not just local farmers, its a lot of distributors. Go for the smaller neighborhood ones instead.  I've never lived south of downtown but it's all nice too.

I'd say the whole metro is very lgbt friendly, I wouldn't worry about that.

You'll only need AC for July and August.  Heat will vary wildly depending on the house. Drafty big old house = 500$ a month. More typical house, 100$ ish a month.


yandz

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2015, 12:37:23 PM »
So excited for you. I love this city and think it is pretty underrated.  Hope you feel the same.  Here are some answers:

- Where should we live?  Criteria:  Dense-ish, bikeable, LGBT-friendly, close to both downtown/University of Minnesota Medical Center, definitely not in the suburbs.  Some folks say Uptown, others say Northeast.  It's nice to be able to walk to farmer's markets, grocery stores, and yes, cafes/restaurants/bars.  Are there other, cheaper options we should be considering?

I live in NE, so may be biased.  Both areas are great.  The "cons" I would say about uptown that would lean me toward NE are that Uptown is a bit more "young" where NE is a bit more "young professional" BUT there is plenty of diversity in both areas. Parking and traffic in general are trickier in uptown.  If you are loft people, check out "North Loop" area - just NE of downtown.  As other poster said, I feel like whole city is LGBT- friendly.

- How much should we expect to pay in rent?  SO has a bit of an "everything is so cheap, let's get something amazing" mentality.  Given the drop in housing costs, I think we'll end up wanting something nice but not absurd.  Criteria:  2+bedrooms, 1.5+ bathrooms, in-unit laundry and dishwasher, minimum of covered parking for two cars*, open to either apartment or duplex/SFH, probably will want A/C. 

With all your criteria, I would look seriously at renting a house or maybe duplex. You are going to pay quite a bit to get those in a city apartment that isn't creepy (min. $1800, probably more like $2100) whereas you can do better with a house.  Covered parking for two cars might be tough - especially in uptown. Look at renting a house in NE.

- How much is heat/AC going to cost us?  I like it cold, both in the winter and in the summer.  So we probably won't heat excessively, but we might use the A/C more than others might.

Yeah, totally depends on where you rent.  Having transition recently through three different houses in the past year (and living with a spouse who is...particular about temps), we generally range $60-90 year round for gas (heat, average out year round to help with winter spikes) and about $90-100 for electric (AC) in the summers

- Are there things about winter that I need to know?  On my journal, someone mentioned that I'll need different wiper fluid for my car, for example.  I haven't ever lived through an Upper Midwest winter before.
 

Dress for it.  Just buy the pricey warm coat. Hat, scarf, etc.  I feel like I hear people whine and unless they have a hat on, I feel like they are just doing it to themselves.

- Any other thoughts/tips re: Minneapolis?  Folks say it's a great city, but I've never been.  We're planning a trip for June so we can check it out. 

PM me when you head here in June if you are feeling like you what a local to touch base with.  Happy to point you in any directions you are curious about, we can talk specific neighborhoods (they vary a lot even throughout uptown and NE), etc.

Good luck with your move!

Greg_snowbiker

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2015, 12:52:01 PM »
Hi!

I lived in the Twin Cities for 6 years while in grad school at the U of M, so I know the area well enough. First of all, I'd recommend that you consider Saint Paul instead of Minneapolis. Housing is cheaper, crime rates are lower, and it generally has more of a "neighborhood" feel to it. I've lived in Minneapolis (Marcy Holmes neighborhood, close to the U of M) and in Saint Paul (Dale and University area) and I definitely liked Saint Paul more. You might consider the Summit Hill/Crocus Hill neighborhood, or somewhere near Grand Ave or Selby Ave. Also, the new Central Corridor light rail line was just completed - it runs between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis, so living anywhere along that line gets you to the U of M quickly.

To respond to some of your specific questions and preferences:

Everywhere is LGBT-friendly! Everywhere is bikeable! The Twin Cities are awesome.

Uptown is very young, busy, and trendy (read: expensive). Rent will be higher there and it will be hard to find a place that meets all of your housing criteria. You'll pay a premium if you want to park two cars. It is very walkable and has a lot going on entertainment-wise. The Northeast area is a little less trendy than Uptown, but still has a lot going on. Housing might be easier to find here, but it's still way more expensive than Saint Paul. If I had to pick between those two, I would pick Northeast. Avoid anywhere right next to the U of M - those neighborhoods are dominated by drunken undergrads.

If you're not used to winter in general, be warned: it gets COLD. You can experience this level of cold by visiting your local grocery store and asking them if you can hang out in their walk-in freezer for half an hour. Luckily, as MMM has pointed out, the solution to dealing with COLD is "clothes". "Down" and "wool" are your new best friends! It gets dark early and winter can be depressing if you decide that it's "too cold to go outside" (a condition which does not exist, in my mind). Put on those layers and get out there! Discover activities like pond hockey, cross country skiing, fat-biking, and maybe ice fishing?

Give the winter biking thing a try! I did it for several years and continue to do it now (in north-central Wisconsin with the same climate). There are MANY hardcore bikers in the Twin Cities, and they are happy to help and give advice. Really, if you stop by the side of the road with a bike, someone will inevitably stop and ask you if you need anything. I think it's the #2 biking city in the US (behind Portland), which is kind of amazing considering that it's one of the coldest major cities in North America. Again, the secret is "clothes". Ski goggles, good gloves, snow boots, and LAYERS are essential. Traffic sucks in the Twin Cities, but in the worst winter weather, biking was actually the FASTEST option for my seven-mile commute. Start doing it in the summer or fall when the weather is nice and just don't stop.

Heating costs will completely depend on how well your building is sealed and insulated. I had a 130-year-old house in Saint Paul and when we moved in, we were paying something like $250-$300 per month in the coldest winter months to heat it. After a vigorous application of insulation and sealing, that came down to $150. You won't have this option if you're renting, so make sure you ask to see heating bills from the past two years for the specific place you're considering - I think a landlord is legally required to provide these. A/C costs will be much lower - find a place with some good, big shade trees on the south side and you'll use it sparingly.

As far as housing costs go, keep in mind that you're comparing the Twin Cities to SF, which has some of the highest costs in the nation. $3000/month may seem cheap to you, but you can probably find most of what you're looking for and spend less than $1500 if you look in the right place (again, the right place is "Saint Paul"). Check Craigslist for rentals, the postings are usually legit.

They do sell windshield washer fluid that's good down to something like -40F, and you might want to add some additional (undiluted) antifreeze to the engine coolant to give it a bit more freezing protection. Lower viscosity engine oil can help with your car's health - check the owner's manual (or do some online research) for recommendations. If you find that you are engaging daily in the insane habit of starting your car to let it warm up before you drive it, invest in a block heater instead. I would STRONGLY recommend snow tires (I agree with MMM's points in his article on snow tires). I also recommend the bike equivalent of snow tires: studded tires.

Hope this helps!

SF Semi-Mustache

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 02:13:51 PM »
Thanks for the fantastic advice.  I can already see the argument forming over a North Loop-type loft vs. NE/Seward house or duplex.  Good thing we have a bit more than a year to deal with that!  Also, yandz, thanks for the offer of local help.  I may well take you up on that when we visit. 

yandz

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 02:36:40 PM »
Sure thing.  The offer isn't empty, so don't hesitate to reach out when the time comes.  Moving halfway across the country is no small feat, having friendlies on the ground can help.  And we could be accused of being "only" semi-mustache and definitely city people, so hopefully we can provide relatable/applicable insight :)

mandy_2002

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 03:49:03 PM »
I only lived in the south suburbs for a short time, so I'll let the others handle that.  As for the cold, there are a few things you can do.  I'm sure you've seen people with plugs in the grills of their cars.  These are block heaters and are pretty helpful when it's really cold.  You can get them installed in most cars pretty easily.  They keep your fluids warm so the engine doesn't seize up. 

Crash course in Layers: I'm from northern North Dakota.  I delivered newspapers for 5 years.  Layers kept me alive.  Long underwear, such as Cuddle-duds, are important under pants, since layering on the bottom half is pretty hidden.  As for the tops, on a normal day I wear 3 shirts.  On a cold day, it can be up to 5 under the jacket.  As an example, this means a tank top, a long underwear top, a t-shirt over it, a button up, and a sweater layered over all of it.  If everything is pretty tight fitting it appears less bulky but still keeps you warm.  You can also get a shell to wear under a parka if you're really struggling.  Hats and gloves need to be well fitting and insulating.  Not any old knitted hat will keep your ears from freezing. 

All of this information is for a pretty small portion of the year.  The cold days can be minimal or up to a couple months depending on the year.  The jet stream is your friend or foe depending on it's placement. 

During the summer, it is pretty much perfect weather to take advantage of the many lakes in the area.  Befriend a person with a boat (don't buy one, but chip in for gas for a friend's boat). 

trailperson

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 09:07:47 PM »
I'm from San Francisco and I moved to the Twin Cities a year and a half ago. Get ready to have 90% of people scream at you WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? The winters are obviously really harsh and the short days make it harder. Long underwear, wool socks, hats, mittens, and warm boots are important to my survival. If you're not dressed properly the cold will be really intense. I walk and bus to get around at all times of the year in both cities and I haven't needed a car and don't think a car is necessary. I know some people ride bikes in winter but last winter was my first winter here and within a few months I saw at least two bicyclists get hit by cars that were sliding on ice so I'm not crazy about the idea of biking in winter. The Twin Cities are very flat so it will be easy to find your flat surfaces to bike on. The public transportation isn't that great but it could be worse. Compared to SF there's definitely a strong jump in your car for every little thing mentality. I doubt you'll use your A/C much more than other people. People really love their A/C out here.

June will be a fun time to visit. The Twin Cities feel really alive in the summer. Everyone wants to be outside and there is lots going on. I've lived in Minneapolis and St. Paul and I've really liked the close neighborhood vibe in both places I've lived. I don't really have good advice, mostly just wanted to say hey me too. Hope you and your SO will like it here.


RedefinedHappiness

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 10:08:21 PM »
Agree with all previous posters. Just wanted to say welcome to Minneapolis. I have lived in uptown, have friends in NE, downtown warehouse district and st Paul. All great places.  You can't really go wrong so don't agonize too much over decision. Sign a one year lease and you can adjust after exploring the city for a year.

Little Nell

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2015, 10:46:53 PM »
Haven't lived in MN for a long time, but if I remember correctly, studded tire are illegal there.

Winter: winter is to be enjoyed. Get out in it and it will go by quickly.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2015, 11:48:23 PM »
Trying to figure out why a couple needs 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths??? Especially when one person will be gone 80 hours a week??

Also I would choose the location closest to the hospital where your partner will be based. With an 80 hour workweek, they deserve the shortest possible commute....plus the drive home after a call night is very dangerous, high risk of falling asleep at the wheel, so the shorter the commute the better.

SF Semi-Mustache

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2015, 09:31:00 AM »
Trying to figure out why a couple needs 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths??? Especially when one person will be gone 80 hours a week??

Also I would choose the location closest to the hospital where your partner will be based. With an 80 hour workweek, they deserve the shortest possible commute....plus the drive home after a call night is very dangerous, high risk of falling asleep at the wheel, so the shorter the commute the better.

It's actually not the kind of residency you're thinking.  No nights, few weekends, mostly business hours.  He'll likely have a better schedule than I will.  His intern year, which is the crazy 80-hour/week schedule, will be here in San Francisco.   

The second bedroom is going to be an office/guest bedroom.  I spend a lot of evening/weekend time at the office currently because there's no decent space for a home office in our small San Francisco apartment.  Also, we may host family for holidays, as SO's otherwise-reasonable schedule does not mean he'll have the days around holidays off, and we'd like to have a place for them to stay.  SO's parents can afford a hotel, but his siblings/my mother cannot. 

mandy_2002

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2015, 04:38:59 PM »
I understand the desire for an office, but for the second bedroom, I need to interject my opinion.  (Disregard if you cannot find a place that has a nook for a desk that you can use as an office.) 

I rented an apartment in the bay area that was ~$500 more than a comparable 1 bedroom (so this is really what I tell myself every time I look at that room).  You plan to spend hundreds of dollars extra per month for an extra bedroom that you'll have to furnish, heat/cool, and clean.  Can you not pocket the extra, however much that is, and tell the guest(s) that you would like to house that that you will cover their hotel room expenses?  For me, I have had visitors 11 nights in 1.5 years.  I could get a crappy hotel for $100/night and a nice one for $160/night in my area.  That's $7,200 in my time in this apartment.  I never thought about it before MMM, but after, it just seems insane to have an entire room "just in case."  If they really didn't want me to pay for the room, but they still couldn't afford it, I have a comfortable, 8.5 ft. long couch for one, and a queen air mattress with extra room for it in the living room for two.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 03:33:22 PM by mandy_2002 »

mrshudson

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2015, 05:40:00 PM »
Longfellow
Seward and Prospect Park too

Seconded. Longfellow and Prospect Park are both light rail friendly.

SF Semi-Mustache

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Re: Minneapolis?
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2015, 11:45:35 PM »
I understand the desire for an office, but for the second bedroom, I need to interject my opinion.  (Disregard if you cannot find a place that has a nook for a desk that you can use as an office.) 

I rented an apartment in the bay area that was ~$500 more than a comparable 1 bedroom (so this is really what I tell myself every time I look at that room).  You plan to spend hundreds of dollars extra per month for an extra bedroom that you'll have to furnish, heat/cool, and clean.  Can you not pocket the extra, however much that is, and tell the guest(s) that you would like to house that that you will cover their hotel room expenses?  For me, I have had visitors 1 nights in 1.5 years.  I could get a crappy hotel for $100/night and a nice one for $160/night in my area.  That's $7,200 in my time in this apartment.  I never thought about it before MMM, but after, it just seems insane to have an entire room "just in case."  If they really didn't want me to pay for the room, but they still couldn't afford it, I have a comfortable, 8.5 ft. long couch for one, and a queen air mattress with extra room for it in the living room for two.

That's kind of fair.  And perhaps it's because I live in San Francisco now, where we have tons of visitors (perhaps 3 nights a month?) that I'm focused on a second bedroom so much.  Our friends from all over who are so eager to visit San Francisco will be less eager to visit Minneapolis, I'd bet.  But here, a comparable two-bedroom is more like twice what our rent is, given how long we've rented this apartment with no rent increase.  In Minneapolis, the rent is more like $350 more a month.  Not chump change, I know.  But it's also not necessarily a crazy decision, when you factor in the office factor + the ability to be more hospitable to our guests. 

(Also, SO is pushing for three bedrooms, because, well, he's just somewhat less frugal and wants more room for family and perhaps a totally separate office.  So me pushing for two bedrooms is about as much as I can hope for.)