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If you could live anywhere in MN, where would it be?

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I am contemplating a move to the great state of Minnesota...I would love some opinions on places to begin my search...based on my below criteria, which is by no means all inclusive. But...some of the important items are...

My main criteria are as follows:

City/area population of 5,000-20000 people.

Premium ice fishing opportunity within 1-2 hour drives or closer. (My main outdoor passion is hardwater, but open water fishing, archery and motorsports are right there also.)

NOT "touristy", in a National Park, National Landmark, type way. Rural, local destination type tourism is a-ok.

Access to multiple use state/federal lands.

Decent real estate options...median home price below $200k

I dont care to be any closer than 2-3 hours from major city (over 250,000 people)

Help me decide, I promise to be a good neighbor!



Kalispell, MT


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(Not you Pal, I was talking to my bait)

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curt quesnell

Thief River Falls,,,population 8500

Lake of the Woods 90 miles away

2 fishable rivers right in town

Not a tourist area

National and State refuges (useable) near by.

Grand Forks 1 hour away

Fargo 2.5 hours away

Minneapolis/St Paul 5.5 hours away

Very good employment opportunities exist.


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It sounds like you're describing the Northwest corner of Minnesota. Some of the towns/areas where Lake of the Woods, The Red River, and even Upper Red Lake would be close enough to drive to for a days worth of fishing would be Thief River Falls, Crookston, East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls, Roseau, Warroad, Baudette, or even over toward Fosston,Bagley, or Bemidji would fit your criteria.

There are endless smaller communities up here that would also fit the bill for you. I can't hardly complain about my location in between Greenbush and Karlstad, where I have a 50 mile drive to Lake of the Woods in Warroad, and about a 40 mile drive to the Red River in Drayton or Hallock. With all that being said, if I had to narrow it down to one place, where work and school weren't a limiting factors, I would opt for the area east of Warroad up by the lake, anywhere from Rocky Point over to Zippel Bay. This area would put premium hardwater fishing out your back door, the real estate options are well within your price range, you're within a short drive of the Rainy River or Red Lake, and there are tens of thousands of acres of public land for hunting, ATV'ing or snowmobiling. From what you wrote, I don't know of another area that would come closer. Good luck.....neighbor?????

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From what you wrote, I don't know of another area that would come closer. Good luck.....neighbor?????


Lets look at the rest of the state-

- Bemidji? Pretty touristy although you are right in the heart of lake country. Bemidji would be a good bet for any angler.

- Brainerd area? Busy, busy, busy. Very touristy. Lake front real estate is pretty expensive. Although, very good fishing opportunities.

- Ely area? There is lots of potential up there as well for the outdoorsman.

- Twin Cities? Too busy. Too many people. Probably not what you are looking for. Although, you are within 1 hr of world class open water & ice fishing for nearly every species of fish in the state of MN.

Just a few thoughts. Northwest MN is pretty darn nice. Its very agricultural. Lots of small towns. And world class fishing is within easy reach to the north (Lake of the Woods & Canada), east (Upper Red Lake & Bemidji Area), south (Detroit Lakes area), and west (Red River & Devils Lake).

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Asking this question in this forum is going to get you a pretty predictable response, but that's OK becasue there's lots of truth to these replies. wink.gif

I have lived in TRF, Mankato, Bemidji, Tower/Ely, and the Cities and have traveled most every corner of the state while hunting, fishing, or camping, so I think I can offer a pretty neutral opinion.

Based on your criteria, I would strongly suggest Grand Rapids as a possibility. About 8300 people with just enough tourism to bring in some $$ without giving up the small town feel. World class fishing opportunities GALORE, state/federal/paper company land all over for good deer, bear, and ruffed grouse hunting access, and housing is pretty darn cheap with lots of privacy available. They get great snow every year it seems and did I mention the snowmobiling trail systems running to Duluth and Int'l Falls as well? Also, the crime rate is, well, pretty much non-existent (compare that to Bemidji!). If I could talk my wife into moving up there, I'd be gone in a heart-beat.

On a different note, why would you ever want to leave MT? I almost moved to Missoula after high school to go to guide school. Man, that's beautiful country...

Good luck and keep us posted.

PS - in case you haven't seen it, wwwDOTcity-dataDOTcom offers great info on communities as you do your research.

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Thanks all, so far, for your replies. I stayed in Black Duck for a couple nights 2 years ago while on an ice fishing trip and liked it...

Blaze, as for your question why I would want to leave MT...EVERYBODY is moving here and changing the entire lifestyle/atmosphere etc. People move here because the hate where they were...and then try to change evrything to like it was...where they were! Also, Montana is all about trout... No other species gets ANY respect in this state.

Not convinced I am leaving yet...but I really loved MN when I have been there. And I NEED to ice fish and here we have a short season and thin ice on most of our waters. You NEVER drive a truck on a lake in Western MT

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Ill Chime in here im not scared. Since I go to school in Crookston and live only an hour south in Ulen, I still have somewhere else i would want to live. that would be around Bismark North Dakota. Probably in one of the small towns outside bismark. the reason in I would be close to great fishing, Lake Sakak, and Jamestown Resiviour and many other small rivers in the area that have some decent fishing that gets little pressure. There would be the duck and goose hunting which can be supurb and lets not even get started on the grouse and pheasants. My plan when i am done with school is to move out there. Now i know this is not in MN, but i thought i would chime in bc in many responses people mentioned ND fishing so i thought why not live in ND.

A. Shae

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I grew up in Blackduck and that is a very nice area and in touch with the outdoors. Not much for large population city other than Bemidji but I would not pick that if it were me. Roseau would be a good spot due to the closeness of LOW and rivers in the area. Crookston and East Grand Forks are good choices. Grand Forks for me would be too much population for me. My pick of all picks would be Pemina, due to closeness to Lockport, the Red River, LOW. So much water and so little time.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Josh.P 86
      I haven't fished up there for a couple of years but the first time i fished it was about fifteen years ago and we were on moccasin. We did pretty well caught lots of sunfish but size was nothing special. Crappies were decent with a couple large ones. Since then i have gone back maybe three times and caught more large mouth bass than anything.
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