The Twin Cities is home to two of the best places to live in America, according to Time Money, with Eden Prairie in second place.
The southwest suburb was number one on the list – which ranks small cities with populations of 50,000 to 300,000 – in 2010, but had to settle for a still very impressive number two this year (behind Columbia, Maryland) in the rankings released at the weekend.
Woodbury, in the southeast Twin Cities, also made the list at number 11.
"Eden Prairie has now occupied the top three spots on the Best Places to Live list and this is the fourth time the City has been included in the top 10 since 2006. We are delighted for our residents and businesses to be honored once again." City Manager Rick Getschow said on the city's Facebook page.
Money magazine's judges look at 60 different factors to determine the best places to live, including affordable housing, low taxes, good schools and strong job opportunities – with economic factors prioritized in this year's list.
So why did Eden Prairie and Woodbury rank so high?
Eden Prairie – a regular on the list – ranks highly for having an economy that's self-sustaining.
"Several large employers, including Optum, C.H. Robinson, Starkey, and Supervalu, have their headquarters here. Though Eden Prairie has only 62,000 residents, it is home to 57,000 jobs and a downright skimpy 3.6% unemployment rate.
Thanks to its low debt and diversified tax base, the city has earned a AAA bond rating from Moody’s every year since 2003. The local economy will likely get another boost in the next few years, with an extension of the Southwest light rail that will connect the city to downtown Minneapolis (they don't go into the whole light rail controversy at state legislature level)."
The magazine also notes a surplus of parks, lakes, sidewalks of trails, and high quality of life ratings from its residents.
Woodbury is noted for being the 9th largest growing city in Minnesota – up 46 percent from 2000 – which Money says is "no surprise" thanks to it offering "plenty to do, a diverse population, varied housing stock, and easy access to a number of good jobs."
"Even though growth in Woodbury has skyrocketed, this planned community has been smartly developed according to a master plan that’s about 75% complete," it adds.
Amenities and community action are big pluses in Woodbury, Money argues:
"Most recently, Woodbury spent $22 million to upgrade its Bielenberg Sports Center, one of the largest multi-use sports centers in Minnesota. The state-of-the-art facility includes two indoor ice arenas, an outdoor recreational ice rink, a 90,000-square-foot indoor field house, 36 outdoor athletic fields. and more.
And it’s not just for the sports-minded—the center hosts family celebrations on special occasions like New Year’s Eve and was also home to the Feed My Starving Children mobile pack event, during which 20,000 volunteers from the community gathered for a record-breaking meal-making drive for the needy."
Money also ranked the best "big" city (population over 300,000) in each region of the U.S. Unfortunately, Columbus in Ohio won the crown in the Midwest.