The Twin Cities metro population grew by over 9 percent between 2010 and 2018 – mostly in the expected places. Minneapolis’ headcount shot up by over 12 percent. St. Paul grew by nearly 10 percent.
But neither could match the emerging powerhouse known as Blaine, which was up by nearly 17 percent.
If you live in Blaine, congratulations. Your city is booming. If you don’t live in Blaine, you’re probably wondering "Where is Blaine again?" and "Why the hell is it so special?"
Blaine is just north of the Twin Cities, with a population of about 67,000. People who have lived there say it’s a fairly nice suburb. It's one of those places with a a lot of chain restaurants and three good school districts. It's also home to the National Sports Center.
This may not sound like the sexiest place to live to you, but Community Development Director Bryan Schafer says there are plenty of reasons to like Blaine. For one thing, it’s not as far out into the boonies as people seem to believe.
“People think we’re halfway to Duluth, and we’re not,” he says. You can usually commute to the Twin Cities in about 20 minutes in good traffic.
It may not have Minneapolis’ lakes, he says, and it may not have a river running through it, but it has a robust parks system, and the National Sports Center goes bananas during the USA Cup.
There's also one quality that Schafer thinks might give Blaine an edge: You may just be able to afford to live there.
“We have a pretty wide spectrum of housing options,” he says. As of 2017, there were an estimated 16,000 single-family homes in the city, but they’re complemented by about 9,000 townhomes, duplexes, multifamily homes, and mobile homes. Its median housing value is just over $200,000, which is somewhere between Minneapolis ($222,000) and St. Paul ($187,400).
That’s a huge deal, because even though the population of the Twin Cities metro grew by 9.3 percent between 2010 and 2018, its housing only increased 6.4 percent. Metro dwellers literally can’t get enough, and it’s causing mortgages and rent to skyrocket.
Until that bubble bursts – or until more affordable units are in the works – Blaine may be one of the best options for newcomers.
Schafer says the growth is nice, but “It’s not a race.” The city is looking to cap its growth around 2025 and slow down from there. So if Blaine sounds good for you, you should probably get there while the getting is good.