You likely often hear how expensive it is to live in coastal cities, like New York and Washington, D.C. on the East Coast — or San Francisco and Los Angeles on the West Coast. But what about the cost of living in the Upper Midwest, where the Twin Cities are located, and how does that compare price-wise to those major cities on the coasts?

Living in Minneapolis costs a little more than in St. Paul, its neighboring twin city. Therefore, financial data used here references pricing for Minneapolis, instead of St. Paul. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Minneapolis’ 2021 median per capita income, which is the average total income per person in the city, was just shy of $44,000. That figure may not seem high to some people, but in relation to living expenses in Minneapolis, that amount may go further than you might think.

  • Los Angeles — $67,800
  • New York City — $108,300 in Manhattan; $78,300 in Brooklyn
  • San Francisco — $83,200
  • Washington, D.C. — $70,000

It’s clear that $44,000 goes a lot further living in Minneapolis or St. Paul compared to the major coastal cities above, but how about the cost of living in the Twin Cities versus other Upper Midwest metros — like Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee — using that same $44,000 figure? Using Nerdwallet’s calculator again, the results are less staggering, yet still enlightening:

  • Chicago — $53,800
  • Detroit — $46,100
  • Indianapolis — $40,500
  • Milwaukee — $43,500

As you can see, the cost of living in the Twin Cities is comparable to residing in Detroit or Milwaukee, but quite a bit less than living in Chicago and more than choosing Indianapolis. Overall, living in the Twin Cities, compared to other metro areas throughout the country, is affordable for many individuals and families.

Save Money with Flexible Living Arrangements

Recent financial data aside, we all have different circumstances and want various things from our living situations. Many people choose living in cities for convenience. They want access to a robust jobs market, public transportation, and amenities that cannot be found in suburban or rural areas that will make them happy.

If you are strapped for cash, but want to live in the Twin Cities and have it be more affordable, there are steps you can take to mitigate your expenses to make your income stretch farther.

  • Get a roommate. If you want to live in a studio apartment, it likely isn’t convenient to have a roommate. But if you have a larger apartment with bedrooms, adding a roommate to help absorb some of your rent and utility expenses can make your income go further.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. To ensure you have more money coming in than going out, you need to track what you spend on and whether you can afford it. If you can’t, you need to find ways to trim your bills. Examples of this could be to stop eating out at restaurants, making coffee at home and taking it with you, instead of ordering at cafes, and using less A/C or heat to save on utilities. By keeping up with your budget, you will better track your finances to ensure you have more money coming in than going out.
  • Affordable housing. The federal government’s definition for housing to be affordable is it must not cost more than 30 percent of your household income. By following this formula, you ensure you can afford other necessities, like food, clothing and transportation.
  • Choosing whether to own a home versus renting. Owning a home can be great. You get to make your own rules, pick your appliances. Plus, when it’s time to move you can sell your home, which often results in a return on your investment. But home ownership isn’t for everyone, especially in a metro area. If someone lacks savings or doesn’t want the hassle of owning a home and all that entails, renting can be a great option. By renting an apartment or house that’s affordable, you get the convenience of not having to worry about being responsible for home repairs, property taxes, etc. and you can use the opportunity to save up for a future large purchase. Another perk of renting is you aren’t saddled with being tethered to a location for an extended period.

Lessen Your Cost of Living in the Twin Cities

If budget and finances concern you, Real Estate Equities has a range of affordable housing options to meet your cost of living needs in the Twin Cities. If you choose to rent but wonder how much you can afford versus your income, we offer a convenient Rent Calculator.

REE has a large portfolio of affordable apartments in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding suburbs, providing you with additional options that are convenient and might meet your needs. We will work hard to find you exactly what you are looking for while keeping you within your budget.