Minneapolis: Most affordable city to live well

The city was voted No. 1 based on such items such as a cost-of-living index and art and leisure activities.

Anna Ewart

Minneapolis tops the charts as the nation’s more affordable city to live well, according to a Nov. 6 Forbes report.

The city beat out the 49 other largest metropolitan areas in the United States, with Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston rounding out the top five.

The business-oriented publication ranked cities based on a cost-of-living index, housing affordability and the availability of art and leisure activities.

The most important factor for Minneapolis was that 61 percent of the city’s housing sold last year was affordable for the median household earner, Forbes reported.

But despite the rating, Minneapolis still needs to improve its housing, Barbara Luckermann, research assistant for University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, said.

“Being No. 1 is no great shake because we have a long way to go,” she said.

She said many people are using 30 percent to 50 percent of their incomes to pay for housing.

A past CURA study revealed some problems in student housing in particular. Many students live in over-occupied housing because it’s cheap, Luckermann said.

Matt Woolsey, who wrote the Forbes article, said the University played a small role in the city’s ranking, but “it wasn’t enough to tip the balance.”

Woolsey, who grew up in California and works in New York, said he visited Minneapolis a few years ago. He said he visited the Metrodome and the Guthrie Theater.

“I had a great time,” he said.

Christina Smith, a University sophomore living in the Southeast Como neighborhood, said her rent is cheap because she has four other roommates.

Smith, who is from a Chicago suburb, said Minneapolis is more affordable than where she grew up.

“Chicago, in itself, is very expensive,” she said, but added that food is still cheaper in Illinois.

William Craig, associate director of CURA, said he was surprised when he found out Minneapolis ranked No. 1,

although he also said students’ quality of life has improved in recent years due to a number of factors.

Students are finding affordable housing in other parts of the city, and transportation is cheap and efficient.

Craig said students take advantage of the large number of art and leisure activities available in Minneapolis, which range from sports to theater.

The Twin Cities is second only to New York City for theaters per capita, according to the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Craig said many people visit New York and support the theaters there, but in Minneapolis, a lot of that support is local.