Grading Minnesota

An annual report card on how we ranked in health, happiness, work, fun, and love. Would your parents be proud?

Best Cycling City


Previous rank: 1st (2011)
The country’s most contentious ranking rivalry heated up as Bicycling magazine reversed last year’s ruling and put Portland atop Minneapolis. But perhaps we should call it a draw: a new study this year of America’s most bikeable cities, by Bike Score, had us first, Portland second.

Highest Average Credit Score


Previous rank: 2nd (2011)
Having lost its goody-two-shoes reputation and first-place position last year (to Wausau, Wisconsin, of all places), Minneapolis is back with an average score of 718 compared to the national average of 687. Feel free to buy whatever you’d like again—you’re good for it.

America’s Best Cities

St. Paul 10th, Minneapolis 12th

Previous rank: St. Paul 39th, Minneapolis 30th (2011)
How did we get so much better so fast? Businessweek put a greater emphasis on leisure, which curiously shot St. Paul past Minneapolis.

Number of mentions on


Previous number: 79 (2011)
It’s an unscientific estimate, comparing Minnesota-related mentions in the first nine months of 2012 with the last nine months of 2011. But the yawning gap in our gossip worthiness is nonetheless notable, as last year’s bump boiled down to just two factors: Michele Bachmann’s brief presidential run and Kris Humphries’s even briefer marriage to Kim Kardashian. Gawker loves crazy.

Manliest City


Previous rank: 36th (2011)
At this rate, all that’s standing between us and San Diego in this study by Sperling’s Best Places is a couple more fro-yo stands.

Gayest City in America

Photo by thinkstock


Previous rank: 1st (2011)
What happened, did Miss Richfield retire? Nope, the Advocate’s ever-changing criteria (such as the number of concerts in town by the Cliks, Veronicas, or Gossip) dropped Minneapolis into downright hetero territory. Rest assured, the rainbow here is still bright.

Healthiest, Fittest City


Previous Rank: 1st (2011)
No. 1 looks good on you, Minneapolis! At least the American College of Sports Medicine and SHAPE magazine think so.

Number of appearances in David Letterman’s Top 10 list


Previous number: 11 (2011)
Another unscientific count, though Minnesota clearly moved out of Letterman’s spotlight this year. What happened? During her presidential run last year, Michele Bachmann or her husband, Marcus, often topped the list. Guess Letterman loves crazy, too.

Unemployment Rate


Previous rank: 37th  (2011)
We’re sinking in the rankings, which means our unemployment rate is as well: just 5.9 percent at press time. With the new Vikings and Saints stadiums scheduled to break ground next year, let’s see how low we can go.


Number of drive-in movie theaters in the Twin Cities


Previous number: 2 (2011)
In a fitting comment on “progress,” the old Cottage View Drive-in is being replaced by a Wal-Mart.

Quality of Life


Previous rank: 8th (2011)
If we were a people prone to bragging, this ranking from CNBC would be something to crow about. Instead, we take it for granted.

Number of local band appearances on TV


Previous number: 7 (2011)
Owl City of Owatonna had a big year, showing up everywhere from America’s Got Talent to the Today show, and so did Trampled by Turtles. Last year, we had to reach across the border and claim Eau Claire’s Bon Iver as our own to muster half as much attention.

High-tech metros


Previous rank: 9th (2011)
Admittedly, this is comparing apples to slightly different apples: Richard Florida’s 2012 ranking with Scientific American’s 2011 ranking. Still, Minneapolis ranks below Tucson? And Poughkeepsie?! Seven years ago, Popular Science named Minneapolis the nation’s No. 1 Top Tech City. Now, it appears, we’re analog.

Best City


Previous Rank: 13th (2011)
The sibling-city rivalry heated up again when Businessweek named St. Paul a
top 10 city for its air quality, safety, and leisure, while Minneapolis came in at 12th—which was actually an improvement from 22nd last year.

Infrastructure and transportation

Photo courtesy of metro transit


Previous rank: 15th (2011)
Just about every major highway got a facelift since the winter of 2010 punctuated our streets with huge potholes. With the Central Corridor light rail set to open in 2014, we’ll be vying with Texas for tops.

Worst City for Renters


Previous rank: 8th (2011)
This is one contest you don’t want to win, and Minneapolis is moving perilously close to the top in Forbes’s ranking. The jump can be pinned to two things: a tightening of the vacancy rate to just 2.5 percent and a massive 30-percent drop in home prices since 2006. With the average monthly mortgage payment on a home bought today coming in at $122 less than the average rent, it’s technically cheaper to buy.

Best Places to Live


Previous Rank: 1st (2010)
Five Minnesota suburbs—Eden Prairie, Woodbury, Lakeville, Eagan, and Maple Grove—made Money magazine’s list. Eden Prairie was the best of the bunch.

Most literate city


Previous rank: 3rd (2011)
Minneapolis ranked only 18th on Forbes’s list of America’s coolest cities. Guess we’re too busy learning about stuff to be cool.

Per Capita Income


Previous rank: 11th (2010)
Minnesota has been trying to earn its way back into the top 10 since falling all the way from 7th in 2005 to 14th in 2008. We’ll settle for holding steady.

Number of Prince concerts in the Twin Cities


Previous number: 0 (2011)
After a brief flirtation with the Twin Cities, his purple enigmaness chose to perform with his biggest band ever in Chicago instead. Sucks 2 B us.


America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods


Real hipsters would shudder at this label from Forbes—and given the placement of Los Angeles’s Silver Lake at No. 1, it’s arguably more about trendiness than hipness. We can appreciate why the North Loop of Minneapolis made the list at No. 12: warehouses transformed into apartments, boutiques, and restaurants. Just wouldn’t call it hip.

Worst Cities for Dating


Nice guys do finish last, or at least Minnesota Nice guys do. The Twin Cities ranked above only Kansas City and Wichita in supplying great dates, according to AXE Body Spray and Sperling, which singled out Twin Citians as cheap dates: we ranked 78th out of 80 metros in jewelry purchases. Should’ve put a ring on it, guys.

Least Fashionable Cities

6th (St. Paul) and 7th (Minneapolis)

Let’s blame winter—and the lumpish looks that accompany it—for this dis by  But there should be style points for pulling off the long-underwear thing.

Best City for 20-somethings


This survey of 20-somethings by found Minneapolis agreeable in terms of its short commutes, decent pay, and the number of similarly aged colleagues in the workforce, ranking only Seattle and Houston higher. Welcome home, Gen Y.

Most Stressful Cities


Amid growing rates of depression nationwide, the Twin Cities have found a happy place, according to Sperling. We’re chill.