Should I Retire in Minnesota?


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Are you looking to retire somewhere in the US? Then you might want to set your sights on the North Star State of Minnesota. But it’s so cold there in the winter, which leads you to wonder why you would retire in such a cold area.

You should retire in Minnesota because it’s considered the healthiest state for older people. It offers retirement assistance and easy access to healthcare services and senior living. The costs of living and housing are cheaper in Minnesota, too, as well as a beautiful and safe place to retire. 

This article will show you everything you need to learn about retiring in the land of 10,000 lakes. So let’s get started.

Why Retire in Minnesota

When it comes to retirement, it’s no secret that Minnesota is not at the top of the list. Most flock to warm Florida, South Carolina, or Tennessee. And while Minnesota is notorious for its cold winters, the following reasons should convince you to consider heading northwards.

The Healthiest State for Older People

In 2017, the American Association of Retired Persons named Minnesota the healthiest state for older people. The survey, which featured 2,200 Minnesota retirees aged 65 and above, saw 36% of respondents rating their community as “very good.” 

About 30% rated their community as “good,” while 17% of the respondents even described their area as “excellent.” Overall, 37% of the participants rated Minnesota as a very good place for retirement. 

Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that 73% of the respondents answered that they will “stay in their current state and never move.” 

Easy Access to Healthcare Services

For many retirees, access to healthcare services is a pressing concern. Apart from the costs of hospitalization, proximity to hospitals is a concerning issue. It won’t be a problem if you retire in Minnesota, for it’s ranked first in elderly healthcare. 

In fact, the survey above shows that 31% of respondents choose to live in MN because of the state’s healthcare services. For one, Rochester is the birthplace of the best hospital in the nation, otherwise known as the Mayo Clinic. 

According to the Minnesota Hospital Association, the state is home to 126 hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms. While most have less than 100 beds, 11 hospitals have more than 400 beds. 

As for the rural areas, 78 centers are designated as Federal Critical Access Hospitals.

Minnesota retirees don’t have to worry about financing their healthcare, thanks to the Minnesota Senior Health Options

Also known as the MSHO, it combines several health programs into one package. It’s open to retirees 65 years old and above, as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. 

As for the cost, healthcare remains an affordable $192 a month in areas such as the Scott and Sherburne Counties. 

Lower Cost of Living

Even if you have retirement savings, it might not be enough to cover your day-to-day living. That’s why you should consider relocating to Minnesota, a state that boasts a lower cost of living. 

According to the AARP survey, 22% of the respondents prefer MN because it’s cheaper. True to form, it’s the 31st in the US regarding cost of living per the World Population Review list

Its “average” performance may be attributed to the fact that it’s one of the few states that levy tax on social security benefits. While that may be a boon for some, it’s still cheaper than living in costly Hawaii or New York. 

For groceries, for example, a 51-year-old single shopper in Benton only needs to pay $329 for a month’s worth of food. 

Transportation can cost as cheap as $551, while taxes are at $277 per month in Stevens County. In fact, you can live comfortably in the said area for as low as $26,552 a year. 

Cheap Housing

MN is one of the cheaper places for housing. According to Realtor, houses in MN can go as low as $220,000. Of course, you will need to pay top dollar for waterfront homes in Wayzata, Bloomington, or Edina. 

MN Monthly rent is cheaper, too, with prices starting at $540 in Fillmore County. For reference, the cheapest, on average, is $577. On the other hand, you can rent a four-bedroom apartment in nine counties for as low as $967. 

It sure beats the $2,810 you have to pay to rent a one-bedroom apartment in New York City. 

Wide Array of Senior Living Communities

Whether you’re looking for an independent living community or an assisted living facility, you’ll have a wealth of choices in the Gopher state. 

There are 268 independent living facilities in the state, which will cost you about $1,679 a month. It’s markedly lower than the national monthly average of $1,729. Depending on the facility, you may get ready access to libraries, fitness centers, swimming pools, even golf courses. 

As for assisted living facilities, MN offers as many as 800+ options. The average payment is $4,000 a month, with packages including meal preparation, cleaning services, transportation, and other services. 

Retirement Assistance

If you’re coming from another state, you’ll be glad to know that the state offers retirement assistance to its new residents. For example, the city of Duluth offers a guide/checklist for future retirees. 

You can refer to this page for all the requirements you need to accomplish before moving into your retirement home. 

A Place of Well-Being

According to Sharecare, Minnesota ranks fifth when it comes to individual well-being. As for community well-being, MN is 15th out of 50. 

The organization defines well-being as a measure of the following:

  • Physical: Having good health, and enough energy to do daily activities.
  • Financial: Having economic security.
  • Social: Fulfilling and meaningful relationships.
  • Purpose: The motivation to achieve goals.

Individual results show that Minnesota is ranked fourth in physical, financial, and social well-being. It’s third in community well-being and fifth in purpose. The index also covers the social determinants of health, including access to healthcare, food, resources, and housing/transportation.

Natural Beauty

When it comes to environmental beauty, nothing compares to the remarkable views of Minnesota. As the name suggests, it’s home to 10,000 lakes, and other bodies of water, as well as lush forest. 

In fact, here are some of the natural wonders that the state has to offer: 

  • Voyageurs National Park is considered the heart of the continent.
  • Itasca State Park, where the Mississippi River starts.
  • Jay Cooke State Park, which is famous for its suspension bridge.
  • Interstate State Park, which traverses the St. Croix River.
  • Great River Bluffs State Park, which encompasses the Mississippi River.
  • Mystery Cave State Park, a cave system with a restored 1800 village on top.
  • Split Rock Lighthouse, where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior.
  • North Shore, which offers a northern perspective of Lake Superior.
  • Gunflint Trail, a 57-mile (91.73 km) trail in Cook County.
  • Munsinger-Clemens Gardens, a beautiful former mill site dedicated to Virginia Clemens.

Relative Safety

When it comes to crimes, MN is safer compared to most US states. For one, it has a little under 10,000 sworn police who are ready to serve the North Star state. Unsurprisingly, the crime per square mile in MN is 21, which is far below the national median of 28.3. 

The violent crime rate is even lower at 2.36, compared to the national median of 4. That means you have a 1 in 423 chance of becoming a violent crime victim in MN. 

Pleasant Weather/Climate

While Minnesota is notorious for its frigid winters, it does have a hot summer and a late spring. Overall, each season has a distinct characteristic, which most retirees love. 

For example, in the Arrowhead region near Lake Superior, summer is markedly cooler while winters are a little warmer. If you’re looking to settle in a warmer location, go for Winona, which gets an average summer high of 80°F (26.6°C).

Top 10 Cities In Minnesota To Retire

Given its healthcare services, and low cost of living, Minnesota is indeed a good place for retirement. The question, however, is where in the state should you retire? Options abound, but the top ten choices amongst retirees include some of the bigger cities.

Let’s take a quick look at these top 10 cities to retire in. 

1. Rochester

If your foremost concern is access to premier healthcare, then you should go to Rochester. It’s home to Mayo Clinic, which is one of the best medical centers in the state, and the country.

The crime rate here is lower at 2.14, while the state average of 2.36 per 100 people.

If you’re thinking of buying a home here, you will need to spend an average of $283,300, which is not that far from the state average of $220,000. 

While groceries and healthcare are more expensive here compared to the rest of MN, you could say that they’re worth the extra penny. The taxes you pay, for one, fund the urban city’s first-rate services. 

2. Duluth

Located near the edge of Lake Superior is Duluth, which is one of the best places to retire in MN. This mid-sized city features a diverse population and an accessible city layout. 

While the weather here is a hit and miss, nothing comes close to the beauty of Duluth during spring and autumn. Here, you’ll see an array of blooms and impressive fall foliage after summer. When it comes to health concerns, Duluth has Essentia Health, one of Minnesota’s best hospitals. 

Needless to say, Duluth proves to be one of the best retirement destinations in MN. With its affordable homes – properties go as low as $230,000 – you’ll get to live the fullest at a lower price. 

3. Wayzata 

If you’re looking for a tight-knit community, then Wayzata should be at the top of your list. It’s a beautiful city where you’ll see a lot of open spaces, as well as fellow retirees. 

The “Jewel of Minnetonka” is famous for its lakeside views, which you can see every day should you decide to buy a waterfront home. Just be prepared to pay top money, for these luxury homes cost a whopping $827,000 on average. As for non-waterfront homes, the price point is still high at $570,000. 

With the top-rated Park Nicollet Hospital within the area, Wayzata offers high-quality living for retirees across the board. 

4. Minnetonka

If you’re looking for a cheaper waterfront home, then Minnetonka is the location you want. Located east of the lake, it comes with waterfront homes that cost about $479,990. For non-lakefront views, the price is a little cheaper at $347,000.

Its natural beauty aside, Minnetonka is a perfect retirement haven for its urban-suburban flair. It’s teeming with shopping centers, even job opportunities if you want to earn part-time. 

Health-wise, you won’t have to worry because there are 37 hospitals around the area. 

5. Edina

Edina is a bustling suburb for retirees and new families alike. Thanks to its central location, it allows access to top spots in under 20 minutes. From here, you can reach the world-famous Mall of America in under 15 minutes. 

For your health concerns, Edina is near several hospitals, including Fairview Southdale and the University of Minnesota Health Care. The crime rate in Edina is markedly lower, too, compared to the rest of MN.  

Given these features, buying an Edina home will cost you some fortune. The median property price here is a surprising $554,000. 

6. Saint Paul

Saint Paul is a bustling city for retirees who can’t get enough of the fast-paced urban lifestyle. 

As one of the twin cities, Saint Paul is a trade center, thanks to the nearby Mississippi River. Despite being commercialized, Saint Paul hasn’t lost its natural charm. 

Here, you’ll find lush forests and prairies, set amidst historic buildings and modern skyscrapers. 

Living in Saint Paul is perfect for retirees with quite a bit of health concerns. After all, it’s home to two of the state’s best hospitals: United Hospital and Regions Hospital.

Despite the demand for housing, Saint Paul properties are not that expensive compared to Wayzata or Edina. Here, you can buy a home for as low as $245,000. 

7. New Prague

Located southwest of the Twin Cities is New Prague, a quaint town with only 8,000 residents. As the name suggests, it was established by Czech immigrants whose Bohemian culture is still apparent today. 

New Prague is nestled near Cedar Lake, which boasts of clear, swimmable waters. It’s also home to an 18-hole golf course, making it a popular choice amongst golf-minded retirees. 

For your health concerns, you can always go to the Mayo Health Clinic branch in the area. 

Do note that a house in New Prague will cost you about $350,000, which is a little higher than the urban cities on this list. That said, relocating to the town is worth it, given its peaceful country lifestyle. 

8. Mankato

Even with its small-town feel, Mankato is abuzz with shopping and entertainment. That’s why it has become one of the more popular options for retirees moving into MN. Mankato’s selling point is its natural sights, including parks, trails, rivers, and lakes. For retirees, the proximity to the Mayo Health System makes the town very inviting.

With Mankato’s impressive standard of living, it’s no surprise that it was named one of the best small cities in the US. 

9. Lakeville

Located 20 minutes away from Saint Paul is Lakeville, a city lined with miles of hiking and biking trails. If you are a lover of nature, then you might want to consider choosing this location. Lakeville is very safe, as its violent crime rate is only 0.70 out of 1000. 

It’s also accessible to hospitals, with some located a good 18 miles (28.96 km) away. 

Should you decide to buy a home in Lakeville, you can buy one for a friendly price of $300,000. However, if you’re looking for senior living communities, you’ll find one here for as low as $1,200 a month. 

10. Shoreview

If you’re searching for a small MN town with easy access to the bigger cities, then Shoreview should be your foremost consideration. It’s one of the best family towns and sure looks to be one of the best places for retirees too.

True to its name, Shoreview plays host to seven lakes, as well as Rice Creek. Hospitals such as Mercy Hospital and M Health Fairview are pretty near the city too. 

When it comes to home prices, Shoreview properties cost an average of $253,000. While it’s not the cheapest on this list, it wouldn’t put that much of a dent in your hard-earned retirement savings.

Final Thoughts

If you want a place to retire, then consider Minnesota. While there are many options, the best choices prove to be Rochester, Duluth, Wayzata, Minnetonka, and Edina. 

Regardless of where you relocate, you’ll be living in the “healthiest state for older people.” It’s highly accessible to medical facilities. As a place of well-being, the Gopher state offers retirement assistance and other options for senior housing.

Individual housing is cheaper, too, thus complementing the state’s low cost of living. With the northern state’s beautiful views, low crime rate, and “unique” weather, MN is an excellent location for retirees across the board. 

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