States – Minnesota


When many people think of Minnesota, they think cold. That plus a less-than-favorable tax structure led Daily Finance to rate it among the 10 worst states to retire in. The state does not exempt pensions and Social Security benefits from taxes (but there is a “Retire in Minnesota” bill in the state senate that proposes to phase out taxes on Social Security). The state tax rate can be as high as 8%, and the living cost is 4% above the national average.

But the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has a lot going for it. There are actually over 11,000 lakes, and 69,000 miles of streams. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, biking, and birdwatching are very popular. There are also hundreds of golf courses, and of course, plenty of ski slopes and 20,000 miles of snowmobile trails. The outdoor activity leads Minnesotans to have one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the country and Minnesota to be the sixth healthiest state.

Minnesotans are also known for their politeness. Money magazine rated Northfield, just south of Minneapolis, as the best place in America to retire in 2014, citing the community’s warmth and cultural assets. Minnesotans pride themselves on being agreeable, courteous, and well-mannered. This behavior even has a name: “Minnesota nice”.

Looking to retire in Minnesota? Here are three places to consider.


The home of the renowned Mayo Clinic, which is the city of 111,000’s largest employer, Rochester has a high number of doctors per capita and a very low rate of serious crime. The cost of living is at national average and home prices are much below average. The town has an active arts and cultural scene, with regular live musical events, dance classes, and artistic exhibits at the Rochester Art Center. There are over 160 restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast food. Every Thursday in summer local restaurants and artists set up booths downtown, and local bands and musicians give performances. The symphony orchestra and chorale, formed in 1919, also gives regular performances. The city has a large park system, with 85 miles of paved trails and 100 parks. Forbes ranked Rochester one of its 25 best places to retire in 2015.


The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has many desirable residential communities, with waterways, lakes, creeks and waterfalls, and many walking and bike paths and parkways. Active seniors find good mass transit, bike trails, low crime, and well-maintained parks and suburban areas.

Like other Minnesota cities, Minneapolis has many cultural attractions. These include Walker Art Center, one of the five largest modern art museums in the U.S., the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Weisman Art Museum. The Northeast Arts District, home to over 400 independent artists and annual exhibits, was named by USA Today as the nation’s best art district in 2015.

Minneapolis is also the nation’s third largest live theater market, behind New York and Chicago. The city’s many live theater groups include the Guthrie Theater, which was formed in 1963 as an alternative to Broadway and gives major performances throughout the year.

The lively musical scene includes the Grammy Award-winning Minneapolis Orchestra. Many popular artists including Prince originated from Minneapolis. The literary market is also very active in town, with the largest literary and book arts center in the U.S., Open Book, located in the city and giving regular exhibits and classes on writing and printing.

Minneapolis has a large and growing senior population. A 2010 survey found that 23 percent of Minnesota households had a member 65 or older, and 41 percent had a member between 45 and 64. AARP named Minneapolis as one of the best cities for seniors.


For those looking for a small-town environment in Minnesota can look just south of Minneapolis for a place to consider. Northfield calls itself the home of “Cows, colleges and contentment”. Money magazine called it the Best Place for a Well Rounded Retirement in 2014.

Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges lend a college town feel and also provide continuing education classes and events. St. Olaf College sponsors two bands, two orchestras, and dance, theater, and choral groups, including the renowned St. Olaf Choir.

There is also an active senior center in town which has more than 1,500 members and a range of classes, workshops and trips. There are 33 city parks with walking and bike paths. World-class health care is available at the Mayo Clinic less than an hour drive away, and the big-city amenities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are 45 minutes away.

For more information about retirement in Minnesota:

State overview in facts and figures

State taxes

State services for senior residents

Profiles of major cities

Retirement communities

Best regions for retirement