Illustration by Daniel Long
Photographs by Chad Holder and Caitlin Abrams
Neighborhoods in the Twin Cities are as varied as the people who live here—each has a distinct personality. Here, we zero in on some of our favorite neighborhoods around the metro that are commanding the spotlight right now. With easy access to nature, strong independent retail and restaurants, and a vibrant arts and culture scene, there´s no better time to call the Twin Cities home.
On a late Saturday afternoon in March, the temp is hovering at 30 degrees, yet the neighborhood is as alive as if it’s July. Streets are lined with parked cars for the nearby shopping district, the park is buzzing with teens playing pickup basketball, bikes fly by on the trail, and shop sidewalks are teeming with latte-sipping families pushing strollers. Is this Linden Hills? Mac-Groveland? No. But this neighborhood has a similar appeal as those perennially popular places.
This is Shenandoah Terrace, a subdivision in the Nokomis community. And though its popularity isn’t new, the area is a hot commodity in today’s tight real estate market, where multiple offers and sending love letters to sellers to score the just-right house are the new norm.
The piqued interest in a place like Shenandoah Terrace illustrates one of the local real estate trends: Buyers are broadening their search boundaries beyond what they initially wanted (e.g., Linden Hills) to what’s available and affordable (e.g., Lake Nokomis). “We are seeing people go where they weren’t going before,” says Judy Shields, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.
In the Twin Cities, the inventory of homes for sale hit a 13-year record low last year, while home prices were on the rise—the median list price metro-wide increased 7 percent last year to $220,000, according to MAAR’s 2015 annual report. The tight inventory is especially pronounced for homes priced at $500,000 or less. “There’s a shortage of houses right now, so pretty much everything’s selling,” says agent Teresa Boardman. And, as Realtor Connie Coleman (wife of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman) says, new developments such as the light rail are changing where people are living. “The last five years, one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is people who work all over—the suburbs, Minneapolis—but are choosing to live in St. Paul,” she adds.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all neighborhood. What might appeal to some for an energetic vibe can just as easily turn off others who crave a quiet escape at the end of the day. That’s why Mpls.St.Paul Magazine editors organized this story by the archetypes commonly considered when shopping for a new home—neighborhoods that are near nature, in an urban setting, in a suburban sanctuary, within walkable distances to shops, and communities where creatives thrive. In choosing which places to highlight, we weighed the real estate numbers, talked with residents and real estate pros, factored in the neighborhoods that are growing, and considered where development is bustling, whether that’s new retail or enhanced parks. But we can’t forget about the widely known neighborhoods that always win hearts, so we also included a few of those sure bets within each category.
In researching this story, we found that national home-buying trends are true here, too: Empty nesters and young couples are often vying for the same property—whether that’s downtown or in a first-ring suburb. And no matter what the life stage, most people gravitate to neighborhoods with walkable shopping districts and nearby parks, in addition to those with good schools and low crime rates. Buyers are also more educated about the market before they even contact a Realtor. “They’re looking block by block in Minneapolis and neighborhood by neighborhood in the suburbs,” Shields says.
These neighborhoods certainly aren’t all of the areas worthy of praise, but it does paint a pretty picture of why it’s great to live in the Twin Cities today.
Charming homes + walkable town villages + nature nearby = the crown jewel.
Living the high-rise life in downtown.
Community gardens, co-ops, and block parties keep neighbors close.
Bikes are the main modes of transport here.
The new suburban is urban.
Minneapolis’ North Side
See maps of the Twin Cities metro-area and find out how your area stacks up.