Mindy Lee still gets carded, sometimes.
Lee, 40, and a stay-at-home mom, and her husband Dorian have been together almost a quarter-century. With two sons, both in elementary school, are all the more reason Mindy often catches herself feeling blessed.
The family lives together in a rental townhouse in Coon Rapids, where the cost is just another reason Lee feels lucky.
"If this place was in Blaine or Andover, which is real close to us," she says, "the rent would be at least -- at least -- $500 more per month. We know we have a good deal."
Mindy knows of what she speaks, according to Zumper.com. In its latest rent report for the metro area, the Canadian-American rental website's experts analyzed 7,000 March listings from 13 various Twin Cities' locales, from Apple Valley to Woodbury, Eagan to Maple Grove.
According to Zumper, Coon Rapids, Minnesota's 13th largest city, is an island of affordability in the Twin Cities' swath of apartment sticker shock.
One-bedroom apartments in the suburb half-hour north of Minneapolis average $830 a month, while the mean for two bedrooms in Coon Rapids is $1,100, according to Zumper.
Those numbers compare favorably with what landlords charge in Minneapolis, Apple Valley, and Woodbury, where one bedroom places average $1,350, $1,290, and $1,140, respectively. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis run on average $1,640, according to Zumper, while Apple Valley's and Woodbury's typically go for north of $1,300.
In fact, as rents in most metro cities continue to track upwards, Coon Rapids' prices for one- and two-bedrooms rentals have dropped by no less than four percent during the past 12 months, the report shows.
Michelle Degerstrom's young family of four once shared a two-bedroom apartment in the suburb. Degerstrom and husband Nick chose the complex for its combination of comfort, cleanliness, and economy.
When the time came for the family to buy a home, they stayed in Coon Rapids.
"There's opportunities, a lot of stuff for kids to do," Degerstrom says. "My daughter played softball. My son plays hockey. The city just put a bunch of money into Sand Creek Park, where our local sports teams play. It also has a beautiful hockey rink, that isn't very old.
"Living in Coon Rapids, we have close proximity to going into the city, without living in the city."
Explanation for the city's relative affordability escapes her. If Coon Rapids somehow gets a bad wrap, Degerstrom says it's unwarranted. When it comes to quality of life, a person could do worse.
"I wouldn't think of it as a rundown place to live," says Degerstrom. "I'm not quite sure why it's so much cheaper [than other cities]. Coon Rapids is our home, and I don't see us leaving anytime soon."
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