I don’t live in the Twin Cities for the weather (a blustery 40-ish for most of the weekend).

And I’m not here because I have a historical connection (although that certainly helps); for the money (I could make more in New York or Chicago); or the arts scene, music scene, or because I work for Target, General Mills, Best Buy or one of the dozen other Fortune 500 companies headquartered here (all common reasons).

I’m here for the quality of life, and secondarily, because it’s a great place to raise a family.  

“Quality of Life”

Also known as the “social fabric,” the term “quality of life” is a palpable, real entity to Minnesotans — and either absent or much weaker in other places I’ve lived like Manhattan.

Two examples jumped out at me this weekend.

#1.  Ice skating at St. Louis Park Rec Center.  

I take my two younger kids for skating lessons Saturday mornings.

The instructors are skilled (it’s Minnesota!), personable, and conscientious.

The hourly rates are reasonable.

And the skates are free.


Free Skates

Yup, several hundred skates — all neatly arranged, per Minnesota’s Scandinavian heritage — are available for the taking in a walk-in store room.

You find your kid’s size, lace them up, and return them when you’re done.

And the next family does the same.

And so on, and so on, and so on.

Nobody has to buy new skates that their kids will outgrow in months; nobody pays an exorbitant rental fee.

How . . . . un-Goldman Sachs-like.

Example #2:  Parking at the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre

The ramp at the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre could easily charge $5, $10 or more per hour (in Manhattan it would be $25 an hour).

Street parking in the surrounding Whittier neighborhood is scarce, and the 3-level ramp is almost always at capacity on weekends.

So, what does it charge?


I don’t know, but my guess is that the Theatre and the adjoining Minneapolis Institute of Arts figure they already charge admission, and don’t want to levy another fee upon their mostly family clientele.

Of course, free parking wouldn’t matter if the Children’s Theatre put on mediocre performances.

But it routinely stages top-notch productions of all manner of plays, including today’s excellent “Annie.”

The lakes, the public libraries, the city parks and green space — all of them contribute to a quality of life that I think is rare if not unique in big U.S. cities today.

Now, if it would just stop snowing before June .  . .

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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