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Lakeville, MN


Honest Thoughts on Lakeville - 5/13/2019
We lived in Lakeville for 3 years (2015-18). My husband and I have traveled all over the country. We've lived in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado and Minnesota. Lakeville was one of our favorite spots, and miss it but can't move back! Here are some honest thoughts:

PROS:
-Cleaner Air than Twin Cities (Higher Elevation)
-Close to the Airport, but little airplane noise
-Everything you need is nearby, we rarely needed to "cross the river" (except for work, see the CONS below)
-Lovely parks and walking trails, especially Ritter Farm Park and Antlers
-Close proximity to other parks which have wonderful mountain biking, Nordic skiing, and paved bike trails (Murphy, Lebanon Hills, Schaar's Bluff, Whitetail Woods, etc.)
-We had a great church (Berean Baptist)
-Lowest crime rate of anywhere we have lived, no homeless people, like... ever (too cold?)
-Great schools and safe place to raise a family
-Utilities are CHEAP
-Real estate is CHEAP (compared to many places in the US, depends on your perspective)
-HOA fees are CHEAP or nonexistent, and yet property owners still maintain their homes decently
-Fun Winter Sports (Skiing, Snowmobiling, Curling, Hockey, Ice Skating, etc.)
-The region is an outdoor lover's paradise (Fishing, fishing, and fishing! and FREE boat launches)
-Northern Minnesota is gorgeous (Hwy 61, Voyager's National Park, etc.)
-Minnesota has good beer and burgers (and healthy food too)
-Lots of fun day trips to places like New Ulm, Northfield, Duluth, etc.
-Beautiful Fall colors, deer, and wildlife
-No sales tax on groceries and clothing
-Very good wages compared to the cost of living
-Fun to visit mall of america (the local's don't like it too much, but they can stuff it - it's a great place to walk when it's so cold your eyelashes are frozen to your face)
-Easy to grow and maintain a lush lawn or garden in the summer (What I wouldn't give...!)

CONS
-Winters are long, incredibly harsh, and cloudy
-Spring is cold and muddy (but beautiful once May hits)
-Summers can be a bit muggy/buggy, but relatively tame compared to the South
-Crazy storms (both thunderstorms and blizzards, freezing rain)
-It's hard to find a decent job in the south metro, and the commute "across the river" SUCKS like nothing else, especially in winter weather. I commuted to various work sites: Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan. Of those, Eagan is the only reasonable commute from Lakeville, but your wages may take a hit. Still a very traditional mindset about working downtown as the only way.
-Outdated freeway infrastructure in the area, crumbling roads
-Minnesota has one of the "spendiest" tax systems in the United States. We save THOUSANDS every year on income and property taxes by living in another state (You betcha we do!)

Overall, it really is a nice place to live, but you gotta evaluate the pros and cons based on what you are looking for. I think if we ever moved back to the twin cities, we would base our decision on where to live on being close to work.

Flagstaff, AZ


Some Honest Thoughts on Flag. - 4/23/2019
Lived here for 1 year, and don't think it will be a final landing spot. It depends on what you are looking for.
PROS:
-Clean Air
-No massive superfund sites or radon issues (some, but very minor, do your homework before moving to the Denver area folks)
-Nice Weather, very mild seasons compared to other places I have lived
-Beautiful views
-Grand Canyon, San Francisco Peaks, Sedona, etc. all out your back door
-Short commutes
-Nice people
-Decent trail system
-Mountain Biking
-Shooting ranges
-Skiing (both cross country and downhill)
-Fairly Quiet
-Dark Skies Compliant (Beautiful Night Skies, Seriously)
-Decent Snow (If you like snow!) and it melts quickly
-Beautiful monsoon season and wildflowers
-Fun Holiday events
-Arizona has very low income and property tax compared to other places we have lived

CONS:
-No water. Lake Powell is over 2 hours away, Lake Mary is more of a storage tank for the city drinking water, it's muddy, and you can't eat the fish if you are lucky enough to catch because of high mercury content.
-Expensive, our house was almost half a million for a basic 3/2 but we didn't want to live in Phoenix. Thinking we can sell in a few years and go somewhere cheaper.
-Many of our neighbors are second/vacation homes which is good and bad
-Many homeowners (in the non HOA areas) do not maintain their properties
-The HOA neighborhoods are ridiculously expensive, one of them is over $800/month. Seems to keep everything a 2-tier society
-Bad infrastructure - the traffic in the winter near the ski resort is terrible, all the cars funnel into one intersection, one main road, and NAU traffic is a disaster. Roads are not maintained well
-Litter. People from Phoenix come play in the snow, clog up the roads, and leave litter everywhere. We have been trying to clean it up but the county/city need to step it up
-Homeless people: there are constant bums wandering around our town, bathing in the public library bathrooms, etc. Our recent headlines have included fatal stabbings, shootings, a police officer suicide, vandalism, bodies dumped in canals, etc. It's relatively quiet compared to Phoenix, but much more riff-raff than we were expecting for a smaller community. We have reported bums living in the woods near our home and people "permanently camping." in RVs on forest service land.
-Limited public parks, lots of bums in said parks. Buffalo Park is the one good exception.
-Limited daycare and healthcare options
-Limited decent church options, lots of non-traditional folks which is a Pro or a Con depending on your preferences
-High Sales Tax
-Crowded grocery stores and don't even attempt to go to the Wal-Marts
-Limited Health Club options
-College town and transient/non-permanent for a lot of people
-Public schools in Arizona are ranked very low nationwide, not sure how the schools are here but the facilities seem very run down
-Do your homework about sex offenders before moving into a neighborhood. We were happy that we did.
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