Minnesota may not be your top pick for places to retire, likely because of the cold winters, hot summers, and income tax. So, why would anyone want to look for places to retire in Minnesota?
Because unlike many other states around the country Minnesota has it all, from big city living to small river towns and everything in between. Plus, since the Twin Cities are centrally located in the state, it is never too far to enjoy urban conveniences or the great outdoors.
Minnesota, also known as the land of 10,000 lakes, is full of natural beauty. And retirees who want to live in a state with an abundance of state parks, lakes, and forests will love Minnesota. Though Minnesota does experience extreme temperatures, these temperatures aren’t t year-round or even most of the year; in fact, the extreme temperatures are not even the norm.
The winters in Minnesota are colder, but not often cold enough to keep residents from their daily walks or runs. And for retirees who enjoy running, there are races all year round. Plus, Minnesota winters are not like on the east coast, where many residents leave, and cities become ghost towns.
Instead, Minnesotans have a variety of events throughout the winter, such as the winter carnival, the polar plunge, ice castles, and more. Other outdoor activities residents enjoy include ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
For indoor activities in the winter, there are plenty of expos such as camping, hunting, car shows, Land O’Lakes dog show, and the Mankato Craft Beer Expo. And, speaking of beer, there are tons of craft breweries throughout Minnesota, in both small town and the downtown areas, all of which are open year-round. Most are even dog-friendly.
And though Minnesota taxes retirement income, including Social Security, there is no tax on clothes, food, or medications. Plus, the cost of living in Minnesota is the same as the national average.
If you are still on the fence, Minnesota has some of the top hospitals in the country, including the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Plus, Minnesota ranks #7 for the healthiest states in the US.
Places to Retire in Minnesota
- St. Paul
- Percent of Senior Population: 9.5%
- Overall Population: 429,606
Minneapolis, the larger of the two Twin Cities, sits along the Mississippi River and is home to the Vikings and the Twins, both professional sports teams. The city is full of both new and renovated condos perfect for retirees looking to live in the downtown area.
Minneapolis is full of high-end restaurants like the Capital Grill and Manny’s Steakhouse, but also has an abundance of eclectic award-winning restaurants like Spoon and Stable and Brasa. Plus, because Minneapolis is home to a diverse population, there are also several international eateries too. Foodies will never get bored in Minnesota.
Just across the river from downtown, but still in the Minneapolis city limits, is the University of Minnesota. It is a large campus that adds an extra layer of vibrancy to the city.
Plus, the University of Minnesota’s School of Music performs at both Ted Mann Concert Hall and Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall, which are open to the public. Minneapolis offers other venues for live entertainment, too, including Broadway performances, major concerts, and Orchestra Hall.
And just because Minneapolis is a major metropolitan area, it isn’t without its natural beauty found at the many lakes in the city like Lake Calhoun and Lake Nakomis. If you are looking to get out of the city and relax outdoors, Duluth is only two hours north where you can enjoy Lake Superior or hike the Superior trail. If you are more into bicycling, head south two hours to Lanesboro, the most bike-friendly city in Minnesota (other bicycle-friendly options include Portland in Oregon and Delaware as a whole.
Plus, the city has a light rail system running through Minneapolis and St. Paul making transportation easy and economical. Additionally, downtown Minneapolis is home to multiple full-service hospitals, including the University of Minnesota.
- Percent of Senior Population: 10.1%
- Overall Population: 308,096
St. Paul is the smaller of the two cities, but is the state capital. It also sits along the Mississippi River just down from Minneapolis. And though it may be slightly smaller still has much to offer.
St. Paul has a vibrant and rich history that has been preserved in more than 100 registered landmarks. One of the most significant differences between the two Twin Cities is that St. Paul has a peaceful feel to it, which is why many residents prefer living here. Though the city is home to several restaurants and bars, it does not have anywhere near the nightlife that Minneapolis boasts.
Though both cities have farmers’ markets, the one in St. Paul is more accessible to residents living in the downtown area. The Farmer’s Market starts in the spring around Mother’s Day and goes through Labor Day. And they even have a few vendors in the winter. Though the larger market is only on the weekends, there are smaller versions throughout the week.
And just like Minneapolis, St. Paul has two professional sports teams, the Minnesota Wild, who play at the Xcel Center, and the Saints, who play at the CHS Field in downtown St. Paul.
For those who enjoy museums, St. Paul as quite a few to choose from, including:
- Science Museum
- Minnesota Children’s Museum
- Landmark Center
- Historic Fort Snelling
- Minnesota History Center
Active retirees will enjoy taking the riverwalk over Harriet Island Park, or just out of the downtown area. St. Paul has several gorgeous parks that will make you forget you are still in the city:
- Hidden Falls Regional Park
- Lilydale Regional Park
- Battle Creek Regional Park
- Crosby Farm Park
If you need a touch of green in the winter, you can head over to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, home to a tropical indoor garden. During the spring, summer, and fall months, Como Park has several gardens to visit, making it an excellent location for daily walks.
If you are torn between St. Paul and Minneapolis, St. Paul also has several full-service hospitals and boasts a lower crime rate than its counterpart.
- Percent of Senior Population: 14.5%
- Overall Population: 118,935
Rochester, just over an hour south of the Twin Cities, is home to one of the world’s best hospitals, The Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic brings thousands of people from all over the world to this city. Any retiree looking for a place with excellent medical care need not look further than Rochester.
But Rochester is home to more than the Mayo Clinic; it is also home to a few different colleges, including:
- University of Minnesota Rochester
- Winona State
- St. Mary’s University
- Mayo Clinic Medical School
Rochester also sits along a river though it is the Zumbro River and not the Mississippi. Even though Rochester is far from the largest city in Minnesota, it still has quite a few urban conveniences, but with a lower crime rate and lower cost of living.
Rochester is an excellent city for active retirees since it is easy to get around by foot or bicycle. Plus, being right on the river with more than a few nearby lakes, retirees can enjoy fun outings on the boat, paddleboard, or beach.
There are several parks both in and out of the city. And though not a park, the Douglas State Trail runs for 12.5 miles and starts in Rochester. The Douglas trail is a paved multi-use trail perfect for walking, jogging, and biking in the summer and is open to snowmobiles in the winter.
- Percent of Senior Population: 15.9%
- Overall Population: 85,618
Duluth resides on Lake Superior, the largest of the great lakes, and is the outdoor enthusiast’s dream retirement spot. Though it gets snow in the winter, there is the nearby ski resort, Spirit Mountain, perfect for downhill skiing and endless cross country trails.
Duluth is one of the top spots for a weekend getaway in Minnesota, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors. In addition to the lake, another significant attraction is the three central trail systems in the Duluth area:
- The Superior Trail is 310 miles starting south of Duluth and ending just shy of the Canadian border.
- Gitchi Gami Trail is 89 miles and starts just north of Duluth and ends in Grand Marais, and runs along the lake shore.
- Willard Munger State Trail is 70 miles and starts in Duluth and heads south Hinckley.
In addition to biking and hiking, the Duluth area offers fishing almost the whole year round, including ice fishing on some of the smaller local lakes. Those who enjoy being on the water will love taking their boat or kayak out on Superior.
And when you are ready to call it a day and want to enjoy a cold beer, there are a couple of great local breweries both on the lake and in the downtown area. Also, for retirees who enjoy trying their luck at the casino, there are two in the area, one in downtown Duluth and the other just south of the city.
Though on the smaller side, Duluth is home to multiple hospitals and medical centers, making it easy to find a provider.
- Percent of Senior Population: 16.4%
- Overall Population: 19,627
Stillwater is another town that sits on the river, though this city sits on the St. Croix. Stillwater is a delightful small river town that becomes a hot tourist spot in the summer and fall. Stillwater is best known for its beauty, especially in the fall when the leaves change color.
The downtown area is lined with cute boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars, and a few wine bars. And just outside of Stillwater are a few fabulous vineyards and orchards great to check out for an afternoon of fun. Plus, there is a variety of ways to explore Stillwater, by air in a hot-air balloon, bike, boat, segway, or on foot.
Stillwater also has a few marinas convenient for those who want to dock their boat nearby. Many boaters enjoy taking a trip down the river to Afton, another charming river town. And if you don’t have your own watercraft, you can take an evening cruise on the riverboat.
Also, Stillwater hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as:
- Giant Pumpkin Regatta
- Grape Stomp
- Music Festivals
- Art Fairs
- History Exhibits
- Car Shows
- Lumberjack Days
But you do not need to have a boat to enjoy Stillwater. This town is very pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, making it easy to get around town.
Golfers will also like living in Stillwater since there are several courses in and near the town. Though you can’t golf year-round, there are plenty of summer months to get your fill.
There is one hospital in town, but the Twin Cities is only a half-hour drive away, and there are several noteworthy hospitals in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.