07 May 2012

Why I Love Minnesota

I have lived in Minnesota, the gopher state and the land of one thousand lakes, almost my entire life.  Except for my brief stint in the Army in my early twenties when I lived in California for a few months, I've always resided in some part of Minnesota.  I was born and raised in the forested wilds of the north, right along the US/Canada border and the shores of Rainy Lake.  I went to college in Duluth, a decent-sized city that is a hub of art and culture, and is almost painfully beautiful, situated on the shore of Lake Superior.  Now I live in the rural farmlands of central Minnesota, surrounded by lakes and picturesque farms everywhere I go.

While the state isn't on most people's top ten lists of where they'd like to live- possibly something to do with our association to hotdish, lutefish, and funny accents- it really should be, and here's why:

1. Minnesota is full of stuff.

In Minnesota, you can't throw a stick without it landing in a state park.  Or a museum.  Or a music festival.  Or a bustling farmer's market.  Or...  Well, you get the idea.  Even in the small town I now live in, we have two museums, a huge farmer's market, great shopping, an amazing library, more parks than I can count on both hands, a YMCA so great that I almost cried the first time I walked in, a state park, miles and miles of paved bike trails, and an entire chain of lakes.  And we're talking about a town of right around 12,000 people.  When you get to the bigger metro areas, like Duluth or the Twin Cities, there's so much to do that you can stay busy for an entire year without having to do the same thing twice. 

2. We're a generally healthy people.

We're not perfect, but Minnesota is a very health-conscious state.  We're consistently at or near the top of "healthiest state" lists.  Even better, because of the huge amount of farmland in our state, it's very easy to get your hands on locally-grown, organic produce.  If I want fresh eggs from free-range chickens, I walk two block to the farmers market and pick up a dozen for two bucks.

We take good care of our land, too.  The state as a whole is very concerned with maintaing our clean land and water.  Like I said, we're not perfect, but we're miles ahead of a lot of other states.

And you can't beat the quality of medical care here.  We're one of the best in making sure everyone has affordable health insurance, and we're full of great hospitals.  Mayo Clinic, anyone?

3. Homeschooling is a cinch.

It used to be a lot more time-consuming, but now all you have to do is, basically, send a letter every year.  The first year you give them your basic info, and the following years, your letter says something along the lines of, "Yep, still homeschooling."  That plus doing annual testing, and you're all set.  No portfolios, no umbrella schools, no lengthy forms, no recording every hour of your life.

4. Speaking of academics, we're smart, too.

Ranked ninth in the country, actually.  Not too shabby.

5. We have jobs.

According to this report, the unemployment rate in Minnesota is only 5.8 percent.  Not too bad, when you compare it to the rest of the country.  And I know that where we live, a lot of those are manufacturing jobs that pay pretty decent and don't require a college degree.  The hubby has one of these, and we're grateful each and every day.  From looking in the newspaper, there are many more to be had.  Seems like every manufacturing company in town is hiring lately.  Add that to a reasonable cost of living, and it's actually not too hard here to live on a single income.

6. Minnesota is beautiful.

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