3 Minnesota towns ranked among most affordable, best places to live in US


If you're looking to locate to a nice, affordable small town in America – look no further than Minnesota.

According to new rankings by real estate website Realtor.com, Minnesota is home to three of the "Top 10 Affordable Small Towns Where You'd Actually Want to Live."

All three are found in southern Minnesota – Albert Lea (No. 3), Austin (No. 5), and New Ulm (No. 8) – in a list where all but one of the small towns were in the Midwest (the other being in Texas).

Also finishing in the top 10 was Wahpeton, by the Minnesota border in North Dakota, which ranked 7th. Number 1 was Oskaloosa, in Iowa.

The rankings were compiled by looking at factors including median home prices, unemployment, crime, and job availability in towns with populations of between 10,000 and 50,000.

With a median house price of $100,000, Albert Lea was praised particularly for its lake amenities, including boating, fishing and canoeing, as well as a high median household income (around $47,715) relative to house prices.

As the home to Spam-makers Hormel Foods, Austin has a Fortune 500 company right on its doorstep as well as the Mayo Clinic Austin, providing plenty of high-level jobs for its estimated 40,000 inhabitants, who pay on average $108,000 for a home.

New Ulm meanwhile might be best known for being the home of Schell's Brewery, the makers of Grain Belt, and is considered an attractive location "nestled in the heart of the scenic Minnesota River Valley" filled with historical attractions and rich German heritage. The median house price meanwhile is a hardly wallet-busting $114,000.

“It’s terrific news,” Susie Petersen, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Albert Lea Tribune. “I think we can really be proud of our community. It shows we have a great quality of life here in Albert Lea.”

Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm told told ABC 6 his city's high ranking on the list is no surprise, saying: "We've known it for a long time."

Referring to the city's Vision 2020 improvement strategy, he added: "What amazes me is, if we're number five now, what are we going to be in 5 years?"

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