What's great about the Twin Cities?
February 9, 2015 2:33 PM   Subscribe

What do you like about living in the Twin Cities? What advice would you give to someone who might be relocating there, particularly about the weather?

I've been offered a job in St. Paul. I've visited the area a few times for work, and liked it okay, but never thought of it as a place to live. But it's a great city for my fairly specialized line of work -- hence the job offer. But I am concerned that it might not be the right area for me.

Right now, I live in an urban area in the interior West/southwest. I like sun, aridity, interesting topography and winters that are more scenic than harsh. The only time I've lived elsewhere is in Oregon, and the rain and gloom of winters there were really, really hard for me to bear.

But I also like beer, bicycling, art (both looking at it and making it), drawing and reading comics, and walking places. I don't own a car, and like public transportation. I know the Twin Cities are good places for these things. But I can't get over my fear of the winter weather, of summer humidity, and of starting over socially in a new place from scratch. (I'm in my 40s, single, and have a good friend network where I am right now, as well as being close to family. I know a few people in the area, but not many.)

To assuage some of my fears, I'd like to know from people who live or have lived in the area, what are the really good things about the Twin Cities (St. Paul in particular -- I keep finding a lot of information about Minneapolis, but not St. Paul)? What's the weather really like, particularly for someone coming from a very different climate? I know making friends is hard in adulthood, but what have been your experiences getting to know people in the area? What else should I know in order to take this decision?

(I know this is an odd question to anonymize, but I work in a small field and there are quite a few MeFites who know what I do.)
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I relocated to the Twin Cities from a larger, denser, mass-transit friendly, more diverse city with milder winters. When I considered even applying for the job here, my first thought was "Minnesota? Really?" So, I feel you Anon.

You're already aware that MSP is great for "beer, bicycling, and art" so I won't attempt to convince you on those points. We have so much of those things here that I wouldn't even know where to start.

Weather-wise: Yes, the winters suck. But here's the thing, when it's not snowing (and this winter there hasn't been much snow) it's sunny. You might not think that's such a huge difference but I have friends who moved from here to the Pacific Northwest and had to move back because the gloomy grayness all the time was even worse than the stupid-below temperatures here. And, as the recruiter who convinced me to give Minnesota a chance said: The summers make up for the winters. It doesn't get anywhere near as humid here as say New York or DC. People joke about mosquitoes, but they aren't a big deal in the cities. If you're going to be working or living in a downtown core, one thing to remember is the Skyway systems -- it really helps to minimize the amount of time that you'll need to spend out doors unless you intend to be a year-round cyclist.

St. Paul-wise: They don't call them the "twin cities" for nothing. I'm willing to bet that a lot of the reason why you find so much "Minneapolis" centered info is because Minneapolis-St. Paul is really tedious to write out. Minneapolis and St. Paul are really, really close together, so it's not as though you'll be really isolated choosing one over the other, especially once you get out of focusing on the downtown cores. That being said, St. Paul has had the reputation of being more "historic and staid", where Minneapolis is supposed to be the hipper, more modern cousin. I'm not sure that's really true now, depending on the neighbourhood you choose. Yes, the rowdiest neighbourhoods are probably in Minneapolis, and the quietest ones are in St. Paul, but Lowertown St. Paul is seeing a boom of great stuff right now, and Northeast Minneapolis is getting more family friendly all the time.

Socially: There's a stereotype of Minnesotans not really wanting to let new friends into their circles. Thankfully, there are a lot of non-Minnesotans who happen to live here, and like to make new friends. Especially surrounding individual interests.

Feel free to memail me if you have more questions.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

the rain and gloom of winters there were really, really hard for me to bear
Our winters don't see as much rain as the PNW and we actually get several sunny days in the winter. Those tend to be cold days, but the sunny helps. Today is a pretty nice day, which for me means that I'm wearing a winter coat, but no hat, no gloves and I can be outside for five minutes with my coat unzipped without getting a numb face. But, we have snow in tomorrow's forecast. If the winter blues get to you, vitamin D is a good idea.

I'm no fan of winter, but it is bearable. If you don't plan to own a car and your workplace isn't near one of the downtown areas, transit isn't going to be fun. If you work close enough to one of the train lines (Green, Blue or Northstar), it will be fine.
posted by soelo at 3:31 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The main thing I remember from my weekend trips there when I was in IA for grad school is that downtown Minneapolis was squeaky clean. This was 21 years ago.
posted by brujita at 3:38 PM on February 9, 2015

>>I like sun, aridity, interesting topography and winters that are more scenic than harsh.

OMG, I feel ya, OP. I grew up in California and then spent 8 years in the southwest before coming to MN for work. I still miss the mountains and the milder weather. But I've managed to discover a lot to love about MN in spite of (even because of?) the winter. (I don't live in the cities, so I won't address the coolness of St Paul and Minneapolis. Suffice to say that there's always tons to do in both places; as a 40-something single person, I wish I lived there rather than "here," my not-city. There are TONS of meet ups and lots of action on OkC and Tinder in the Twin Cities.)

So, how did this mountain-loving woman learn to love "mostly-flat" MN? By embracing the amazing greenways and woods and arboretums and lake access points. There are such interesting natural landscapes around to explore.

And how did I learn to love the winter? First, it's usually a fairly sunny winter! Wow! It's so bright and brilliant and there are sundogs and icicles and the snow truly is gorgeous. Second, people here get out to play *throughout* the whole winter. I run outside most of the year; lots of people bike throughout the year; skiing is, of course, an option. I've also started curling, which is great fun. Third, I don't know...you just adjust. And then it's shocking when spring comes, it's 45 degrees, and you go out without your jacket because it's just so warm...

Summers are GREAT. Generally there's maybe one week out of the whole summer that's excessively humid.

Good luck with your decision! And even though I'm not in St Paul, feel free to memail me for more info.
posted by correcaminos at 3:39 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

The #1 best thing about the Twin Cities is that I can afford a nice house a couple minutes from downtown. I have a movie theater, a bakery, a couple of coffee shops, a burger joint, a grocery store, and a fancy restaurant within a 10 minute walk. In the summer I run on a six mile trail that starts basically at my doorstep. Sure there are locations like that in most cities ... but they cost 3-5 times as much.

Minneapolis is as liberal as any city in the country and the local government is well-funded and very competent. People actually largely trust the schools and social services here. It's a huge contrast from the coastal cities where public services are only for poor people.

The parks, lakes, and trails are amazing.

Public transit... it's OK if you plan your location and commute very carefully. But some large, populous neighborhoods just aren't served. A lot of people in my circle don't drive to work, but find it necessary to have a car around for other stuff.

Now for the bad stuff:
Winter... sucks. November and December are tolerable, but by the time March rolls around and it's still averaging 10 degrees, everyone's grouchy. This winter has been unusually warm but last year was the worst in many years. People often plan vacations to warm places in the winter months to help stay sane.

Culturally things can be very weird. Most of the negative stereotypes about Japan apply to Minnesota as well. A lot of natives are cautious and suspicious of transplants. The news and media is intensely inward looking -- they write as if Minnesota is a completely different planet and unaffected by events that take place anywhere else. There are about 10 very large companies (3M, Target, Medtronic, UHC, Cargill, etc) that completely dominate regional politics and have done so for basically 50+ years.

The area hasn't experienced the kind of urban revitalization that most coastal cities are going through. There is no vibrant, walkable commercial district where people can go to eat and shop. Uptown is as close as it gets but it's mostly national chains and only a couple of blocks long. Most of the landmark buildings are concrete monoliths from the 70s. There are strip malls and big-box stores right in the middle of the densest urban areas, which is bizarre if you're used to places where that simply isn't allowed.
posted by miyabo at 3:56 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

I grew up in rural Minnesota, then moved away for college and work for many years. While moving back in my mid-twenties, I realized just how much I'd missed the friendly people, the open skies, the lakes (o! the lakes!), and the abundance of activities.

The one thing I dislike about Minnesota is shoveling - it's just not my deal. Scraping off a car in the morning or plowing out a driveway is simply not my jam. I've mitigated this issue by living in places with underground, heated parking or parking ramps. This has made all the difference in the world.

I currently live downtown and love how easy it is to take the lightrail or interstate all over the Cities.

Best of luck to you as you make your decision!
posted by WaspEnterprises at 4:04 PM on February 9, 2015

I'm a born and bred saint Paul guy, and I don't think I'll ever leave. I think I've said all I can in previous MSP asks, but feel freetosend me a memail if you have some st Paul specific questions, neighborhood/restaurant advice, etc. We could also do a meetup if you decide to come.
posted by Think_Long at 4:35 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I grew up not too far from the Cities and my folks still live there. Not going to lie, winters can be brutal, but there are no words for how much I miss standing outside in the hour after dawn on a bitterly cold, cloudless morning when everything is so still. I also have family in Oregon and it's not the same at all -- even when it's clouded over in the winter, everything still feels pale and light and sharp, not so much of that heavy PNW dampness.

Socially: people where I am now find the Minnesota Nice thing super-weird, because for people from out of state it can come across as passive-aggressive or sarcastic 100% of the time (it's not), and there can be a bit of a strange reaction to comparatively-effusive outsiders. "Lurk more" is not a bad suggestion when making new friends. People are generally genuinely warm, something I miss a lot, but can take a while to come around.

Prosaically, I'm a fan of the MSP airport. Of all the hubs I end up flying in and out of, it's the most convenient to get to by car and the most pleasant to hang out in before a flight, and they handle the winter weather fairly well. Didn't realize how great it was until I was somewhere with a much less capable airport.
posted by dorque at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I lived in the Twin Cities (St. Paul, two different suburbs, then Minneapolis) for 12 years, and loved it. (I moved to get another job, and am job hunting again, and Minnesota is definitely on the 'places I am looking particularly' list, to give you an idea.)

Weather: Brutal in the winter, but it's brutal for everyone. (and as I've been known to say, my life is not vastly different at 20 above zero and 20 below zero, though the public transit experience changes a lot between those two). If you do have a car, there's a few things to get used to (like making sure your battery's really solid - some people like block heaters and other such things.)

The really clear crisp sharp winter mornings are gorgeous, and even when it's cold, there's often a lot of sun, rather than being overcast. (Minnesota's actually one of the sunniest states in the country in January and February.) There are ways to mitigate the shovelling part, whether that's covered parking, hiring someone else to do it, or things like an electric shovel.

Summers are humid, but there's usually one or two really bad weeks, and then a bunch of scattered bad days. (I'm really sensitive to heat, so these were worse for me than the cold.) AC in your primary living space helps a lot, and is pretty common.

The Cities: I agree with the comments that transit depends a *lot* where you're coming from and going to. (Which can be fine, but can also really complicate things if you change jobs). A lot of people have very strong feelings about which city they live in, and a lot of people won't cross the river without really good cause (me, I got a huge kick out of driving over the Mississippi regularly.)

There are lots of great neighborhoods and other things - and if you like food, there's a lot of farmer's markets, co-ops, and small food producers doing interesting stuff. (as well as restaurants and cafes, etc.) Also great art (and music and theatre), great beer, great other stuff to do of many varieties. I really liked that I could live somewhere that suited me on a not huge (librarian) salary, and that I had options about that that fit my budget/desire for location/etc.

People: The thing I found moving there was that people were friendly, but they were often already *busy* with people they liked and didn't get to see enough of, and that's the thing that made it hard to break into social groups.

If you find an organization or something like a Meetup group to connect with (whether that's religious or social or based on a common interest) or join a choir (there are bunches of non-religious ones), or whatever else amuses you, people are often quite friendly/willing to invite you to things/etc. and from there it gets a lot easier to make more friends. (Because people already have time in their lives for that thing, and then they are more likely to say "Hey, having a party next weekend, want to come" and so on.)

If any of your interests overlap with education, there's a lot of options out there too. Not only things like film festivals that are open to the public, but there's a fair number of courses you can take for enrichment/etc. that are pretty easy to get to.

Feel free to mail if you've got more questions I can help with.
posted by modernhypatia at 5:54 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

I grew up and lived in Minneapolis until I was 25, with three years in Boston after that and about 9 years now in the San Francisco area.

I can't do the winter anymore. Every year when I go back for Christmas I'm reminded how accessible everything is in ways that the "top flight" cities in this country can only dream of (excluding people with a lot of money, who do well in NYC, SF and LA). Every year I go back the more it reminds me of Portland - in a good way. I'll be on the edge of deciding to moving back and then the temperature drops below zero and I can't get out of there fast enough (this really happened in both 2013 and 2014).

You have some good examples here of people who have made it work coming from similar backgrounds, but when you say Oregon winters were harsh and very hard on you, that to me is a red flag. For me having grown up there - walking outside here in the bay area where it is 65 and sunny on a January day makes me feel like I'm cheating at life and makes all the extensive downsides of California melt away (pun intended).
posted by MillMan at 7:27 PM on February 9, 2015

Californian living in Minnesota, winter can be tough but it is not Boston, right now, nor Buffalo. I mean there are no doors on the second floor of homes because of the deep snowfalls. What the Twin Cities has is a SOLID hipster infrastructure of good living and experiences. Don't get me wrong, this state would be over run if it had better weather!

If you move to TC then get a meet up going. Everyone is lovely here and plan your vacations for February. Winters in Minnesota tip themselves into that area of near cognitive dissonance where your suffering is exquisite and pride filled. Memail, if you like.
posted by jadepearl at 8:23 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Not much to add, but considering the topic of winters in different areas of the country: I lived in the Cities (NE Minn) for a couple years and spent the previous 20 living within the large region to which the Cities are the closest and only biggish city around. One major difference in the winter experience within the Cities from what you might expect (especially, for instance, compared to the SW)--if a blizzard hits the city, every major road will be driveably clear within a few hours, every side street at least accessible before the next morning, and every tiny road will be cleared on both sides in the next two days. I live in NM right now, and when there is snow it's barely a noticeable amount and melts almost instantly, but the last storm (a few days ago) they actually closed the only highway in and out and half the interior roads were full of slush for two days. In Minneapolis/St Paul (same metro transit and basically the same road-clearing procedure) it snows definitely a lot, but everybody handles it immediately and the buses continue to run. It's not an especially perfect public transit system, but they won't drop service in weather that your job would expect you to travel in. If you can afford to choose where you live based on having a good location for transit to the parts of the city you think you'll want to get to (for this I recommend memailing one of the St Paulites above and asking about your specific interests) then it's a fine place to live without a car and absolute heaven to bike in from May until November, or all year if you can afford the gear.
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 10:43 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I grew up in Minneapolis, went to grad school (and lived) in St. Paul, left for many years, and am now moving back in 18 days. I cannot WAIT. Most of the friends I had from the last time I lived here (oh...8 years ago?) have faded away or moved on, so I will also be building a friend network. I'm not looking forward to it...I know how tough it is to be the new kid out here. Maybe we need a Metafilter Meet-up for when we arrive so we can meet some friendly TC Mefites? :-)

I once heard that "St. Paul is the last great Eastern city, and Minneapolis is the first great Western city in the US". It sounds trite but I think it captures the atmospheres of both quite well.

The winter weather does indeed keep the riff-raff out. But the summers: oh, sweet divinity. Everyone goes outside for about 3 months and only goes inside when it starts to rain.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:53 AM on February 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

Not much detail to add that hasn't already been thrown down, but I'll chime in to say that a) the weather is pretty rough in January and Feb, but b) the upsides very much outweigh the downsides, particularly in the summers. And anyway - the first few winters don't even seem that bad. It takes 10-15 before they really grind you down.

But I also like beer, bicycling, art (both looking at it and making it), drawing and reading comics, and walking places.

I think you might be me. Except I know you're not, because I'm me. So you're someone whose interests almost completely overlap with mine, and I can vouch that the Twin Cities rule for all of these things. Hell, this winter there's a spreading mania for extremely fat-tire mountain bikes, so big groups are going out for long rides on the snow.

Please MeMail me if you want more info about MSP's beer / bike / art / comic / walking scenes. I can talk them for hours.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:35 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're willing to look around you will find St. Paul is WAY more diverse than outsiders give it credit for, especially in terms of restaurants and shopping. The idea that there are no walkable vibrant commercial districts is simply absurd. Sure, we're not Manhattan or Chicago, but Grand Avenue, University Avenue, Payne Ave, Downtown St. Paul, and Lowertown are chock full of wonderful shopping and dining experiences. You can find authentic and well-run restaurants of almost every genre here: Lao, Afghan, German, Italian, Mexican, Ecuadorean, Hmong, Vietnamese, Burmese, Ethiopian, etc. I've eaten at famous restaurants in NY, LA, Chicago, and Palm Beach and I will fight anyone who says Strip Club in St. Paul doesn't serve the finest steaks and cocktails. In terms of urban planning and neighborhood politics, St. Paul has an amazing system of volunteer-run District Councils which provide input and approval on infrastructure and development projects.

Also: Trees, Parks, Trails, and Lakes!!! Safe and well-maintained!

Yeah, winter freaking sucks wind, but it's only half the year, and it's often quite tolerable and sunny between the bitter inhuman cold snaps and brutal 6-inch snowfalls. I've noted that for the last several years, Philly and Boston have each got WAY more snow than anywhere in MN.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:47 AM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Are you on Twitter? @30daysofbiking was started by a guy in Minneapolis (who works in St. Paul - and bike commutes most days of the year) and they have lots of fun activities during April (and sometimes September) that are open for anyone to join as long as they have a bicycle. That might be a great way to get to meet people who fit your style.
posted by jillithd at 8:59 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am a native Minnesotan who grew up in Minneapolis and have lived there a vast majority of my life, although I lived elsewhere for about 10 of my adult years, including now.

The weather is cold in Minnesota -- if you're not from a cold climate, it is much colder than you expect. Colder than you can imagine. But weather is a problem that is cured by fashion, so learn to layer, get yourself good boots, learn how to preheat your car, if you have one, and get ready for the fact that, for four months out of the year, it will be brutal. Some Minnesotans like it, and do all sorts of cold weather things, like polar plunges and ice fishing and ice shanty art exhibits. I hate it.

That being said, everything else makes it worthwhile, or, as Molly Ivans once wrote (paraphrasing), it's the best city in the world if it didn't try to kill you with cold six months out of the year.

Minneapolis has some great movie theaters and festivals. I especially recommend the very 1960s Riverview Theater and the Parkway, which is attached to Pepito's Mexican Restaurant and allows you to bring Mexican food and cocktails in to watch the movie. The Trylon is great, too. It seats, like, 18 and runs fascinating revival movies. And the Heights has an actual theater organ and will sometimes have a musician play along with silent movies. There are a lot of late-night movies and weird little festivals, and they tend to be underutilized by locals but a lot of fun.

The Walker Art Center is fantastic. It's performing arts series is absolutely superb. There is a lot of great theater in Minneapolis, and, as mentioned, in general, the fine arts community is superlative. Go on art crawls. Oh, and I love the SooVac gallery. Great stuff.

Lakes. There are a lot of them, and they are great to swim in, walk around, see outdoor concerts at, etc.

The Minnesota Historical Society's museum in St. Paul is tremendous, as are their satellite museums, like the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, which has an "elevator" exhibit that recreates a grain mill explosion.

Seed art. It's something really particular to the Twin Cities, and is displayed at our State Fair, which is one of the best in the country. It's art made by gluing indigenous seeds to a back board to create sometimes portraits and frequently scabrous political cartoons.

One of the absolutely underseen museums is the Pavek Museum in St. Louis Park, which is dedicated to the history of broadcast radio and television, especially in Minnesota. I always try to get people to go, they never do, and it's too bad, because it's fascinating.

The Twin Cities are foodie town, which is both a blessing and a curse. There tends to be a lot of chasing after foodie trends, but, then, the standard of food is generally quite good. But there are a lot of great old dining establishments that do things in traditional ways, and absolutely right, and there is a tremendous assortment of fantastic ethnic restaurants. Cara Pubs are great for Irish bars (and the Anchir is a great fish and chips place), Ghandi Mahal makes some of the hottest Indian food I have ever eaten. You'll find something to suit your tastes.

MInnesotans used to be sort of oblivious to their local culture, but there is a growing recognition and celebration of things like bundt cakes, hot dishes, lumberjacking (Minneapolis was originally a lumberjack town), etc. that's a lot of fun. I always like to embrace whatever is indigenous to wherever I am. If I move back to Minneapolis, I'll probably go full lumberjack and just make seed art all the time.

It's a very literate pair of cities, and there are a lot of literary events that are great. It's still a pair of cities with some superb bookstores.

I am going to sing the praises of the Mall of America, which most Twin Citians won't, and like to pretend they never go. The shopping at the Mall is not great -- a lot of chain stores, and the weirder stuff tends to get pushed out (how I miss the breakast cereal store called Cereal Adventure! How I miss Hulk Hogan's PastaMania!). But the Mall has an astonishing number of events there, sometimes with almost no fanfare. It does what I think cities should do, but don't -- it provides and adventure for anyone who is present. Most of it is pretty weird and promotional, but it's also ridiculously entertaining. Warning: Unless things have changed, you will be aggressively sold to by Israelis at kiosks, and they are the most irritating people on earth. But that apparently is common to malls in general.
posted by maxsparber at 9:17 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Just wanted to add, since I didn't see much about humidity talked about.

I spent some time in Arizona, and listened to the people there complain when the humidity levels were around 30%. In MN, that's pretty darn dry! Our normal range in the summer would be 35-60%; occasionally we get above 60% humidity, but it doesn't last long typically.

It's something to think about. I am humidity-sensitive, and for me it's miserable for around three weeks in July/August. Been here 20+ years, though; there's a lot to like about the MSP area.
posted by dwbrant at 9:23 AM on February 10, 2015

Mpls/StP is the only place on earth (and I have lived all over this planet) where I routinely hear stories of, and have experienced it myself, of neighbors who have never once been in each others houses. The last time I heard this story it was about two widowed neighbors who lived next two each other for over 70 years and had never once set foot in each others house as neighbors, let alone as friends, and not even at the in house wake of their passed wives! Sadly, while I know many of my neighbors and I recognize most of them, there is a still a insularity up here that I would say can be unbreakable in some regards. Doors close quickly. Friendships start in 3rd grade. Christmas parties don't include neighbors. Keep you eyes down and mind your business.... I understand you can pick your friends and you can't pick your neighbors, but this reality remain my biggest disappointment about living in Minneapolis. Your experience with this will vary, but don't be surprised if it happens.

Downtown StP isn't the social experience that downtown Mpls is, but the local St. Paul city neighborhoods are fantastic, historical, and in my opinion a more interesting hodgepodge of architecture, shops, geography, and places. It's not trite, it's a perfect metaphor: "St. Paul is the last great Eastern city, and Minneapolis is the first great Western city in the US". Once you understand this, you'll be able to make smart living decisions based on your needs.

Regardless it's a great place to live, grow a family, be a working professional, and a fantastic place to take advantage of the outdoors. You'll love it here, everyone does. I turned down a promotion and a transfer back to Chicago because there was no way, no way, I could keep the same lifestyle choices I made in Minneapolis if I moved back to Chicago.
posted by lstanley at 10:25 AM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am from Minnesota, and I admit would have a hard time going back, because of the winters. A few points that I didn't see covered above (but may have missed):

- Summer is WONDERFUL in Minnesota, humidity and mosquitoes be damned. Those long summer evenings to go swimming in the lake are a thing of wonder. And oh, the lakes. You can't be too hot having just jumped in to or gotten out of a lake.

-The farmers' markets, omg the farmers' markets. Vegetables that are actually cheaper than grocery stores and oh so fresh. And some really awesome folk art from different parts of the world.

-I'm not really a sports person but I was just musing this morning about what great sports opportunities there are there. In addition to the more obvious teams, there's WNBA, minor league baseball, the Swarm, etc. Plus the Gophers! Basically really solid sports for not so crazy prices.

-The music. From classical to indie rock, they've got it covered. Great venues for everything, and again less pricey than larger cities.

-And thank you to maxsparber, yes the Mall of America can be fun.

Going back to my first couple of points: the winter feels worth it so you can be so so so excited about the other seasons. Also, did you know that a lot of places are connected via skyway or tunnel so you don't always have to go outside if it's too miserable? Other people have noticed that the weather is sometimes not so fun.
posted by freezer cake at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2015

Looking in the background of the footage of the Crashed Ice event two weeks ago at the Cathedral in St. Paul, there were so many people outside in the cold but still having a ball. This indicates that it's perfectly possible to live there and have a great time, as long as you make some concessions to the weather.

Yes, it's cold; yes, you'll be wearing hats more often -- but it's not like the University of North Dakota where they have tunnels between all the buildings because going outside in the winter GUARANTEES DEATH.

FWIW, I now live in New England, and my family in Minnesota are all asking why my weather is so much worse than theirs this year. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:51 PM on February 10, 2015

I was born and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis, moved to the UK for seven years and moved back to Mpls four years ago. I'll echo what has been said above about the sunny winters. After a couple years in the UK, the seemingly constant drizzle and overcast skies really felt oppressive and took a toll on me. And while it does get cold here (though this winter has been mild), I compare it a day in England where the temp was hovering around freezing and if it wasn't raining, the air was still damp and it literally felt like I was being skinned alive. It was painful cold. Days like that I would have sworn it was below zero and then looked at the temp and saw it was about 33 degrees. No matter how cold it gets here, if the sun is shining (often) and the air isn't damp (in winter it never is), I'm happy as a clam. I'm not the biggest fan of winter - I like it for about a month - but I figure might as well make the best of it and if there's anywhere that it's possible to do that it's here.

As far as making friends goes, I know that some people here can be weird about outsiders. But I don't think that's necessarily the normal experience, especially if you live in the city. Have a few Mefi meetups when you get here (if you come) - Mefites here are great people. I know someone was talking about doing regular monthly meetups awhile back and I'd be into that if someone wanted to revive the idea. I also belong to/participate in a lot of different hobby groups and you're more than welcome to come along with me to meet people if you're interested in any. I'm in a photography group, a boardgame group, I've done Twin Cities twitter meetups and probably a lot of other things I can't remember right now. All great ways to meet people.

Good luck! Feel free to memail me with any questions. At one point in my life I was considering where I wanted to move to and I could have moved (and worked) anywhere in the EU or the US and I chose to come back here. Partly because my family and friends were here but also in large part because the standard of living and quality of life can't be beat if you can handle the winters.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:12 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everyone for their answers! (I can deanonymize myself now.) There's a lot of great information in these answers, and I'm happy to have a few people I can call on for further questions. I think the idea to set up a Mefi meetup after I get here is a great one....
posted by heurtebise at 5:37 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

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