Not great for young people of color, but plenty of - 6/24/2012
I will preface my review of Minneapolis with the following series of caveats, so you know that some of my observations may be of no relevance to you. I am a single "person of color" born and raised in Chicago. I moved here four years ago, so I don't have a lifetime of experience. Also, the majority of my experience here outside of work involves Minneapolis and Saint Paul, not adjacent suburbs.
So based on my experience in the last several years, here is my Twin Cities pro/con list.
Pro: If you are the outdoorsy sort, this is a great place for you. There are great biking trails and great places to enjoy water. If you like outdoor sports, the Twins' new ballpark is gorgeous (this coming from a guy who grew up going to Wrigley).
Pro: It's a great place to start/advance your career. I moved here in part due to the career opportunities. Many major corporations either have their headquarters or a major corporate campus in the area. I've personally done consulting work for Accenture, UnitedHealth Group, Target and Ameriprise Financial since I've been here. There is also an excellent balance of industry lines (insurance, health care, finance, retail, consumer goods). If you're in the nonprofit sector, you're definitely in luck. There is a spirit of giving in the local workforce, and there are plenty of opportunities to put your skills to use for good causes.
Pro: Cleanliness. My friends (all two of them) who have visited me here marveled at how clean the metro area is. People here take great pride in their cities, and the care they demonstrate showcases this pride.
Pro: If you're into indie rock, this is a great place to be. People here rave about the independent music scene. I am not going to say it rivals Austin and other such hipster heavens, but I know a lot of people adore the local music culture here.
Pro: The cost of living here is very low. You can get more bang for your housing buck in square footage in the real estate and rental markets. You have a wide variety of neighborhood options.
Pro: This is an extremely educated, fit populace. People here take pride in living active lifestyles, so the time they get to spend outdoors is often pursuing physical activity. If you're into healthy dining, the co-op grocery store culture fosters a lifestyle built upon good eating habits.
Pro: The art scene here outside of music is also very popular. There are several good museums (I am partial to the Walker). If you're into theatre, there are several well-regarded independent theater groups. Additionally, the amount of Broadway shows that have engagements in this area is staggeringly high for a metro area of this size.
Pro: The public transit system is good enough to maintain a fairly green lifestyle. However, most people do prefer driving.
Pro: The populations is highly educated. If you want to further your own education, there are plenty of options, including a Big 10 school in the heart of town and several schools that cater to working adults. If you have children, the schools here are quite good from what I've heard.
Pro: The airport is clean and convenient.
Pro: People here shop locally. Local markets, breweries, etc. are very popular here. Sure, there are plenty of chain stores and restaurants in the area, but for those who rebel against the overcorporitization (if that is even a word) of America can find a niche here.
Pro: Minneapolis is a city of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods have their little quirks and flavor that people identify with. While it's not the same as New York or Boston, I'm guessing that's not what you're expecting.
Con: Here comes the ugly part. People here are very provincial and hang out in cliques. Many have had the same friends since middle school, so unless you fit into a very specific niche social circle, it will be challenging to find friends.
Con: The area is very segregated. People like to talk up the report from years ago that Minneapolis-St. Paul had the highest number of multiracial births in America. That's great, but there is way more mixed race procreating than mixed race marriage going on here.
Con: If you're single, this is a challenging place to meet your mate. People here do tend to marry young and often with people they've known since childhood.
Con: It's very hard to solve interpersonal problems here due to the non-confrontational nature of the culture here. Confronting a situation is often perceived as unnecessarily rocking the boat. If you're comfortable with a passive aggressive way of life, then more power to you. If you aren't, then fair warning, you will encounter a bit of culture shock.
Con: The whole "Minnesota nice" thing has been well-documented here, so I won't go too far into it. But from what I've read, people hit the nail right on the head.
Con: If you are a "person of color," even the most open minded people may treat you like some kind of sociological experiment. If you're a person of color and a transplant, your presence in the cities must be accompanied with an explanation. Unfortunately, a lot of the people of color in this area came here by way of the housing projects in major cities being torn down. Therefore, you're often guilty until proven innocent in social situations.
Con: This isn't really a con, just an observation. The nightlife here is based more on dive bars where dudes drink beer and ladies (or "gals") drink wine. If you prefer more "urban" nightlife options that play hip hop music and lounge environments, your choices are pretty slim.
Overall, I can objectively say this is a good place to live. However, before you move here, make sure you know what you're getting into and don't think about the winter weather.[read more...]