Best counties to live in Minnesota

Written by:
June 17, 2021
Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

Best counties to live in Minnesota

What makes a particular county the best? Oftentimes, it's a good mix of opportunities for fun outdoor activities and cultural attractions. Throw in some historical sites, good schools, job opportunities, and affordable housing, and the county will most likely have happy residents.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to live in Minnesota using rankings from Niche. Niche ranks counties by a variety of factors including: public schools, educational attainment, cost of living, and housing.

Many counties on the list are experiencing growth due to their job opportunities, education, or home values. Others are adored for their historic or well-designed value, or devotion to cultural opportunities. Keep reading to see if your county made the list.

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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Brown County

- Population: 25,163
- Median home value: $141,900 (79% own)
- Median rent: $629 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $61,120
- Top public schools: Springfield Elementary School (A), New Ulm High School (B+), Springfield Secondary School (B+)
- Top private schools: New Ulm Area Catholic Schools (A), St. Mary's Catholic School (B), St. Paul's Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: New Ulm (B+), Sleepy Eye (B), Springfield (B+)
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Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Steele County

- Population: 36,683
- Median home value: $169,300 (75% own)
- Median rent: $770 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $64,903
- Top public schools: Blooming Prairie Secondary School (B+), Owatonna Senior High School (B), Blooming Prairie Elementary School (B)
- Top private schools: Owatonna Christian School (A), St. Mary's School (unavailable), Owatonna Montessori Children's House (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Owatonna (B+), Blooming Prairie (B), Medford Township (B)
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Darb02 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Mower County

- Population: 39,807
- Median home value: $123,900 (73% own)
- Median rent: $716 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $54,295
- Top public schools: Austin Senior High School (B), Banfield Elementary School (B), Southland Senior High School (B)
- Top private schools: Pacelli High School (A), Pacelli Elementary School (unavailable), Sacred Heart School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Austin (B+), Windom Township (B+), Adams Township (B)
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Mathieu Nicklay // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Norman County

- Population: 6,520
- Median home value: $100,700 (82% own)
- Median rent: $599 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $55,085
- Top public schools: Norman County West Elementary School (A), Ada-Borup Secondary School (B+), Ada Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Ada (A), Halstad (B+), Bear Park Township (B+)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Beltrami County

- Population: 46,403
- Median home value: $162,600 (67% own)
- Median rent: $765 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $49,160
- Top public schools: Treknorth High School (A), Bemidji Senior High School (B+), Bemidji Middle School (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Philip's School (unavailable), St. Mary's Mission School (unavailable), Heartland Christian Academy (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Northern Township (A), Bemidji Township (A), Grant Valley Township (A)
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Canva

#20. St. Louis County

- Population: 199,759
- Median home value: $157,900 (71% own)
- Median rent: $770 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $55,646
- Top public schools: Harbor City International School (A), Congdon Elementary School (A), Lester Park Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Marshall School (A+), Lakeview Christian Academy (A), Stella Maris Academy - Holy Rosary Campus (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Duluth (A), Ely (A), Hermantown (B+)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Rock County

- Population: 9,402
- Median home value: $153,000 (75% own)
- Median rent: $678 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $63,005
- Top public schools: Hills-Beaver Creek Elementary School (A), Luverne Elementary School (A), Luverne Middle School (B+)
- Top private schools: Hills Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Luverne (A), Martin Township (A), Mound Township (A)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Rice County

- Population: 66,185
- Median home value: $208,600 (74% own)
- Median rent: $843 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $68,584
- Top public schools: Northfield Senior High School (A), Sibley Elementary School (A), Bridgewater Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Shattuck-St. Mary's School (A+), Bethlehem Academy (A), Divine Mercy Catholic School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Northfield (A), Dundas (A), Bridgewater Township (A)
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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Lyon County

- Population: 25,758
- Median home value: $148,900 (68% own)
- Median rent: $666 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $57,730
- Top public schools: Marshall High School (A), Lakeview Elementary School (A), Minneota Secondary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Holy Redeemer School (unavailable), Marshall Area Christian School (unavailable), St. Edward School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Marshall (B+), Fairview Township (A), Lynd Township (A)
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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Wright County

- Population: 134,438
- Median home value: $238,500 (82% own)
- Median rent: $969 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $84,974
- Top public schools: Big Woods Elementary School (A), St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West (A), St. Michael-Albertville Middle School East (A)
- Top private schools: St. Michael Catholic School (unavailable), St. Francis Xavier Elementary School (unavailable), St. Timothy's Parish School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: St. Michael (A), Delano (A), Otsego (A)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Winona County

- Population: 50,725
- Median home value: $167,300 (70% own)
- Median rent: $696 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $59,329
- Top public schools: St. Charles Secondary School (A), St. Charles Elementary School (A), Bluffview Montessori School (B+)
- Top private schools: Cotter Schools (A), Hope Lutheran High School (B+), Winona Area Catholic Schools (unavailable)
- Top places to live: St. Charles (A), Winona (A), Goodview (B+)
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McGhiever // Wikicommons

#14. Stearns County

- Population: 158,452
- Median home value: $184,900 (68% own)
- Median rent: $833 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $62,789
- Top public schools: Sartell Senior High School (A), Sartell Middle School (A), Oak Ridge Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Saint John's Preparatory School (A+), Cathedral High School (A), St. Joseph Laboratory School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Sartell (A), Le Sauk Township (A), St. John Cantius (A)
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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Blue Earth County

- Population: 66,795
- Median home value: $184,800 (62% own)
- Median rent: $883 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $57,429
- Top public schools: Mankato West Senior High School (A), Franklin Elementary School (A), Bridges Community Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Loyola Catholic School (A), Immanuel Lutheran School (C+), Mount Olive Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Mankato Township (A), Mankato (A), Eagle Lake (B+)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Clay County

- Population: 63,446
- Median home value: $197,100 (67% own)
- Median rent: $865 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $65,269
- Top public schools: Barnesville Elementary School (A), Hawley Elementary School (B+), Hawley High School (B+)
- Top private schools: Park Christian School (B+)
- Top places to live: Moorhead (B+), Dilworth (B+), Barnesville (A)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Anoka County

- Population: 350,253
- Median home value: $232,400 (80% own)
- Median rent: $1,118 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $82,175
- Top public schools: DaVinci Academy of Arts & Science (A), Elementary Lighthouse (A), McKinley Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Totino-Grace High School (A), Al-Amal School (A), Avail Academy High School (B+)
- Top places to live: Lino Lakes (A), Blaine (A), Circle Pines (A)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Nicollet County

- Population: 33,954
- Median home value: $191,900 (74% own)
- Median rent: $837 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $67,399
- Top public schools: St. Peter High School (B+), North Intermediate School (B+), Nicollet Senior High School (B)
- Top private schools: Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School (A), Immanuel Lutheran School (unavailable), John Ireland School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: North Mankato (A), St. Peter (B+), Belgrade Township (B+)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Cook County

- Population: 5,376
- Median home value: $240,100 (77% own)
- Median rent: $651 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $57,432
- Top public schools: Cook County Senior High School (B), Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School (B), Great Expectations School (B)
- Top private schools:
- Top places to live: Grand Marais (A), Lutsen Township (B+), Tofte Township (B)
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Gobonobo // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Stevens County

- Population: 9,789
- Median home value: $160,100 (68% own)
- Median rent: $753 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $60,559
- Top public schools: Hancock Elementary School (A), Morris Area Elementary School (A), Morris Area Secondary School (A)
- Top private schools: St. Mary's School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Morris (A), Moore Township (A), Darnen Township (A)
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Appraiser // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Scott County

- Population: 145,275
- Median home value: $299,700 (83% own)
- Median rent: $1,170 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $102,152
- Top public schools: Aspen Academy (A), Prior Lake High School (A), Glendale Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: St. John the Baptist Catholic School and Preschool (A), Prior Lake Christian Academy (B), Shakopee Area Catholic School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Savage (A), Prior Lake (A), Credit River Township (A)
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Myotus // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Carver County

- Population: 101,949
- Median home value: $313,200 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,146 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $101,496
- Top public schools: Chanhassen High School (A), Jonathan Elementary School (A), Chanhassen Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Holy Family Catholic High School (A), Southwest Christian High School (A), Mayer Lutheran High School (A)
- Top places to live: Chanhassen (A+), Victoria (A+), Waconia (A)
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Iulus Ascanius // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Washington County

- Population: 255,938
- Median home value: $289,400 (81% own)
- Median rent: $1,307 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $96,671
- Top public schools: Math & Science Academy (A+), St. Croix Preparatory Academy Upper School (A+), St. Croix Preparatory Academy Middle School (A+)
- Top private schools: New Life Academy (A), Hope Christian Academy (B+), St. Peter Catholic School (A+)
- Top places to live: Woodbury (A+), Dellwood (A+), Mahtomedi (A+)
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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Dakota County

- Population: 421,453
- Median home value: $266,000 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,174 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $86,036
- Top public schools: Eagan Senior High School (A+), Eastview Senior High School (A+), East Lake Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Saint Thomas Academy (A+), Visitation School (A+), Trinity School at River Ridge (A+)
- Top places to live: Mendota Heights (A+), Eagan (A+), Lakeville (A)
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Mulad // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Ramsey County

- Population: 544,442
- Median home value: $229,600 (59% own)
- Median rent: $1,007 (41% rent)
- Median household income: $64,660
- Top public schools: Nova Classical Academy Upper School (A+), Mounds View Senior High School (A+), Great River School (A)
- Top private schools: Mounds Park Academy (A+), St. Paul Academy & Summit School (A+), Cretin-Derham Hall (A+)
- Top places to live: Macalester-Groveland (A+), St. Anthony Park (A+), Falcon Heights (A+)
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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Olmsted County

- Population: 154,809
- Median home value: $214,600 (73% own)
- Median rent: $968 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $76,951
- Top public schools: Mayo Senior High School (A), Century Senior High School (A), Byron Intermediate School (A)
- Top private schools: Lourdes High School (A), Schaeffer Academy (A), Rochester Central Lutheran School (A)
- Top places to live: Cascade Township (A+), Rochester (A), Haverhill Township (A)
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Checubus // Shutterstock

#1. Hennepin County

- Population: 1,245,837
- Median home value: $276,900 (62% own)
- Median rent: $1,135 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $78,167
- Top public schools: Minnetonka Senior High School (A+), Wayzata High School (A+), Edina Senior High School (A+)
- Top private schools: The International School of Minnesota (A+), The Blake School (A+), Breck School (A+)
- Top places to live: Eden Prairie (A+), Edina (A+), Linden Hills (A+)

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