Minneapolis or Chicago?

Updated on March 02, 2012
D.P. asks from Minneapolis, MN
8 answers

OK so I can go to sites and compare cost of living and stuff...and I know Chicago a bit. But bottom line is there anyone who has lived both places and which did you like better and why? I am talking whole area in general including suburbs from the perspective of a family with 2 kids.

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answers from Madison on

Without kids - chicago (although Minneapolis was fun without kids too)!
With kids - Minneapolis hands down!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm from Minnesota and have lived here most of my life, but lived in Chicago for five years for both school and work. Although I love Chicago I moved back here because it is a MUCH easier (and cheaper) place to live and my family was here. I love going to the theater, but I never went in Chicago because it was so expensive and logistically difficult. I go here all of the time. Traffic in Chicago (including the suburbs) is nuts. One of the last straws for me was when I had to wait in line 3-4 hours on a Wednesday afternoon in downtown Chicago to renew my driver's license. Here I can do it in 1/2 an hour or less. I do miss the diversity of Chicago and the ethnic areas such as Chinatown and Greek Town. I have a very good friend who lives in Evanston and she loves it. I miss the rail transportation in Chicago, but generally I find it to be much easier to live here. Winters are a little shorter in Chicago, but not enough to make it worth a move for that reason. Bottom line is that I found Chicago a wonderful place to go to school, but once I was in the working world it was a difficult and stressful place to live and work. I've gone back periodically to visit my friend and to take my husband and kids and have a great time but am always glad to return to my less hectic lifestyle here. It's probably a matter of personal preference. Let me know if you have specific questions or are wondering about specific areas. I could always ask my friend too. She raised two girls in Evanston and grew up in the western suburbs.

ETA: I agree with some of S.N.'s points--Chicago is more diverse and has a much better downtown. It is easier to make connections or get flights when you travel (although the airports are more congested and how often is this important) and it can be hard for "outsiders" to meet people in the Twin Cities (although it looks like you already have connections here), but I wanted to put in a plug for things to do with guests in the winter. I think she got some bum advice from the bell hop. In addition to the museums, we have amazing theater and music and very good restaurants, all of which I find more accessible than in Chicago. We have the largest indoor mall in the country which has attractions in addition to shopping. If you are outdoorsy (and admittedly not the best winter for this) there is usually skating (indoors and out), snowmobiling, cross country skiing and/or ice fishing. Both TC zoos stay open all year and have warm, cozy indoor areas. What about sitting by a fire with a hot beverage or having a cold one at an ice bar? Sports fans have multiple professional teams to choose from although winning is an issue. Navy Pier in Chicago is wonderful and has a lot of fun activities (my younger son LOVED their Children's Museum), but parking is almost impossible and it gets to be shoulder to shoulder during the summer. I'm starting to sound like a Chamber of Commerce advertisement, but I felt the urge to put in a good word for the variety of activities we offer.

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answers from New York on

Hands down Minneapolis. It is beautiful and amazing. Chicago was a bit too crowded and over the top for me. I like the food, the people and the sights of Minneapolis so much better. Wouldn't live in either place, too darn cold in the winter. I need to head for more tropical place to live like Hawaii or Puerto Rico.

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answers from Madison on

I grew up in Minneapolis area, and lived in chicago for 4 years. Maybe I am bias...but Minnespolis was way better. could never do anything in chicago cause well...you can't get anywhere without wanting to shoot someone. Seriously traffic is aweful...not saying Minneapolis is all fun driving but way better. Cost of living I'd say pretty close to the same, ease of travel and living Chicago sucks...just my opinion.

Now seattle Lived there for 5 years, cost of living crazy, travel crazy...but oh the scenery makes it "almost" worth it...We live in WI now...lol

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answers from Minneapolis on

I've lived in both places and HANDS DOWN I would live in Chicago/ Chicago suburbs.

MN is a great place to raise kids, but it is SO lacking in other areas from something simple as things to do with guests in the winter. For example, one of my friends doesn't like museums and there was nothing else to do. We were down town and I stopped and asked the bell hop at a very nice hotel "what is there to do for someone who doesn't like museums?!" He went on and on about how great the Sky Walks are and what a major part of the downtown it is. Sky Walks... elevated bridges that bring you from one building to the next - that' all he had.

MN says it has a downtown... but it doesn't. It's dead. Nicolette Mall - which everyone raves about is a slab of cement. It's not even pretty - I was shocked when someone brought me to it... I told them we had to be at the wrong place, for this was merely a street w/ pedestrian traffic only. Where were the flowers? What was special about this... you would have walked right by it and not know it was where you were meant to be based upon how people talk about it vs. what it really is.

Chicago is AMAZING - the city has so much to offer people from old to young. Navy Pier has such great things for children, the waterfront/beaches are great - I was raised on the Atlantic Ocean and let me tell you.. it feels like you're at the ocean in Chicago!

MN is VERY hard to meet (really meet/become good friends with) people b/c it's so parochial. People here still hang out a majority of their time w/ people who they went to HS with. The people are nice and all.... but it takes years to 'really' break in. I've had total strangers tell me that when they find out I'm not from here too. One woman actually told me she was looking at her family's time in MN (they had moved from CT for her husband's job) as her time in lock up and she was counting the months until she would be 'paroled' (sp?).

Chicago also offers so much more flexibility re: getting to other cities/countries. From MN you have to pretty much connect via another city to get to a lot of places. The routes that are direct you often have to pay through the nose. Since Delta bought NorthWest one news station reported that fares have gone up by 38%. They TOTALLY have you by the you know what re: flying in and out of here. IT STINKS. Even the discount lines are crazy b/c they know you have no choice. I just looked up SunCountry to Ft. Meyers for a trip one month out... $1,026 PER TICKET. Earlier in Feb I was looking for 3 tickets and it was 2.2k for all three. WHAT?

It was COLD when I lived in Chicago... but NO, NEVER as cold as MN. You don't know cold until you've had a week of -10 to -20 w/ windchill. Trying to get in and out of stores w/ little children (strollers, them undressing themselves, etc.) is a nightmare. You can literally go months w/ out seeing your neighbors if you don't have school age kids. My mother would come out to visit for a month at Christmas and year after year be dumbfounded that she never saw a single neighbor (we live in a highly populated neighborhood).

I do love all the working farms and all the programs they have for children out here... and your house will be cheaper out here, but I don't think it's worth the other 'costs' - having a fuller life, more to do, neighbors being from 'all over' so more open to deeper friendships, more options re: travel for family to come in and for you to visit them. Chicago is so much more cosmopolitan .... and that's from a girl who is VERY comfortable in sweatpants!!

Good luck w/ your choice!

ETA: I forgot to mention that, as an adult, I've lived in 8 major cities - including 2 foreign countries so I love exploring/ enjoying new places and am very adept at meeting new people. I've just never experienced anything like MN before... I hope you have family here if you do choose to move.



answers from Minneapolis on

I would agree with all of the other responses. I am from Milwaukee, lived in Chicago for 3 years (burbs) and have now lived in Mpls for 11 years. I loved living in Chicago and it literally changed my life, but I also love living here in Mpls. It is very easy to get around, cost of living is better (cheaper), its a very nice area to raise a family, lots of things to do, etc. Chicago is very busy, very crowded, life moves very fast there, although its a very cool place, no doubt! I would also say that Chicago is more trendy. Not sure if thats important to you or not. Good Luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

I've lived in MN my whole life, so I am biased. I've been to Chicago several times for work and pleasure. There is nothing in Chicago that I can't find in Minneapolis, IMO, and it will be cheaper and easier to get to here. The last time I was in Chicago I spent 2+ hours in traffic trying to get from an office to the airport. The whole time I was thinking "How can people LIVE here?!"

My stepkids lived in Chicago (Homewood-Flossmoor school district) through elementary and middle school. The schools were overcrowded and had lower standards than MN schools. They came here for High School and really liked their experience here.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have never lived in Chicago; I live in Minneapolis, so I can only give you my perspective on what it is like here.

And....it's great. The Twin Cities are a terrific place for families to raise children. Chicago seems so big and overwhelming, but Minneapolis is the perfect size. There is a ton of stuff here for kids -- amazing places to take lessons, do sports, learn the arts, and have fun. Our children's museum is much better than the ones in Manhattan and San Francisco, and no, I'm not kidding. The summer camp offerings are so numerous it's almost overwhelming.

In Chicago you would probably have to live in the suburbs. Here you could live in the suburbs, but city life in St. Paul and Minneapolis is really pleasant. There are great neighborhoods and schools in southwest Mpls, where I live, and I love the lively scene in Uptown -- movie theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, stores, book stores, library, plus lakes and parks all right there.

I would say Minneapolis all the way!

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