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Best Places to Live

Minnesotans often claim superior quality of life as compensation for six-month-long winters. But it also happens to be true: By any non-meteorological measure, the Twin Cities are hot. The metro boasts 30 Fortune 500 companies, a thriving arts scene, numerous colleges and universities, and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. Plus, lots of great places to live. Here we spotlight the communities acknowledged to be supremely livable, as well as some of our lesser-known gems.

Best Places to Live
Photo by peter and maria hoey (Illustration)

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10 Best Home Improvements

Remodeling is expensive and a hassle. But it’s all worth it—if you get the most bang for your buck.

All remodeling decisions lead directly to the age-old dilemma: To be pragmatic or… not. According to Remodeling  magazine, these are your best bets for recouping remodeling investments:

1. Siding is Sexy

No, it’s not as much fun as adding a glass-enclosed, walk-in shower to your owner's bath, but fiber-cement siding replacement is a better investment.
Average Cost: $14,019
Average Recoup: 94%


2. Kitchen Facelift

Add new cabinetry, faucets, tile, or countertops to make your kitchen more livable and improve odds of a fast sale.
Average Cost: $23,757
Average Recoup: 83%


3. Space Invaders. 

Converting existing space is almost always cheaper than adding new, and pays dividends upon resale. Instead of an addition, consider transforming a sizeable attic into another bedroom or remodeling an unfinished basement.
Average Cost: $64,520
Average Recoup: 74%


4. Pane Relief

New wood windows not only look great, the most energy-efficient varieties save on heating bills and provide green bragging rights. Federal tax credits also are available for qualified replacements.
Average Cost: $21,635
Average Recoup: 70%


5. Welcome Home

A new entry door improves your home’s curb appeal to visitors, as well as potential buyers—especially if you replace a humdrum entry door with, for example, a custom fiberglass version with dual sidelights.
Average Cost: $9,046
Average Recoup: 65%


6. Inside Out

A deck gives a home a seasonal outdoor room, singularly appealing to Minnesotans after long, cold winters. A 16-by-20-foot deck made of composite material adds livability and value.
Average Cost: $41,822
Average Recoup: 63%


7. Kitchen Aid

Major kitchen remodels remain attractive home-improvement projects, both for livability
purposes and to keep pace with comparable homes
when selling.
Average Cost: $123,396
Average Recoup: 6%


8. Dream On

Owner's suite additions aren’t as common as they once were, given diminished home values and equity lines. But if you intend to stay in your home five years or longer—and you’ve always dreamt of a new sleeping haven with custom bookcases, a high-end fireplace, a large glass-enclosed shower, two custom sinks, and walk-in
closets—the investment may prove priceless.
Average Cost:  $269,730
Average Recoup: 56%


9. Water Works

Bath remodels remain a good bet because they are small, relatively affordable projects with good payback—that includes “soft” remodels that upgrade tile, sink fixtures, and vanities, as well as dream spas with Jacuzzis and skylights.
Average Cost $61,136
Average Recoup: 54%

10. Spa’s the Limit

A bathroom addition won’t generate quite the payback that a bath remodel will, thanks to a higher average cost. But if selling is your end game and your home is one bath short compared with competitors, the investment may be well worth it.
Average Cost: $92,380
Average Recoup: 48%


Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Apr 14, 2010 09:12 am
 Posted by  bpalton

I want in!

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