Best places in Minnesota? Money loves cornfield ‘burbs

Money Magazine has declared Chanhassen to be the fourth-best small town in which to live in the United States, just behind Sharon, Mass.; Louisville, Colo.; and Vienna, Va.

But its description why fits just about every other small community in Minnesota:

Chanhassen was affected by Minnesota’s woes during the downturn, but the town is bouncing back and taking fresh steps to improve. The area school district recently provided $700,000 in grants for classroom tech projects and is now rolling out Wi-Fi on all school buses. The town also beefed up commuter options.

The housing market, which took a big hit, is surging back. Jobs have remained strong, and nearby Minneapolis offers big-name employers like Target and the Mayo Clinic.

One perk of Twin Cities-area living is access to the great outdoors. Chanhassen’s highlights include 34 parks, 90 miles of trails, and the 1,137-acre Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. When below-zero wind chills set in, there’s February Festival with ice-fishing contests, sledding, and cookouts.  –Veronica Crews

We’ll ignore the fact that the Mayo Clinic isn’t in Minneapolis.

Money also ranked Apple Valley at 17, apparently because you can get a bus to somewhere else:

If you don’t mind cold winters, there’s plenty to recommend this family-friendly Twin Cities suburb. There’s a wide range of affordable homes: The median sale price is around $200,000.

Cars are still the de facto transport here, but the city recently added a $112 million rapid-transit bus system that connects the downtown to area attractions like the Mall of America. Apple Valley is also home to the Minnesota Zoo and 53 parks. –H.L.

Savage ranks 21st:

Located southwest of Minneapolis, Savage is a commuter town. Many residents travel to jobs in the Twin Cities, about 20 minutes away. However, a couple of large manufacturing companies have moved to the area recently, creating more local jobs.

Savage invested nearly $5 million to create a new indoors sports center that allows families to stay active during Minnesota’s snowy months. The town also has a quaint, walkable downtown. –H.L.

Those are the only small communities in Minnesota to make the list.

Is there anything in any of those communities that is particularly distinctive?

Last year, Carmel, Ind., was the top city. This year, it didn’t even make the top 50. Last year, Eden Prairie ranked third; it didn’t make the list this year, either. Gone from last year’s list are Woodbury (11), Eagan (14), Lakeville (19) and Maple Grove (22).

Money loves former cornfields that could be anywhere else.