by Dennis Dalman
The City of Sartell ranks seventh among Minnesota cities as one of the best places for young people to live.
NerdWallet, a consumer-advocacy website, conducted a study to determine which among 88 cities would make the list.
Monticello ranked first in the top 10, followed by Waconia, Ham Lake, Lakeville, Alexandria, North Mankato, Sartell, Woodbury, Andover and Farmington.
The 11th city on the top 20 list was Maple Grove, followed by Rogers, Lino Lakes, Grand Rapids, Rosemount, St. Michael, Fergus Falls, Shakopee, Fairmont and Moorhead.
The criteria include public-school rating, median home values, monthly homeowner costs, median income and long-term income growth.
Sartell City Planner-Developer Anita Rasmussen said the city staff members were all happy to hear about the honor.
“This is not something we solicited for,” she said. “It’s an objective study of what we all know to be true – a validation of our great community with its great schools (and other factors). It’s a great way to commemorate and communicate that. Sometimes we are too humble and don’t toot our horn enough.”
It was nice, she added, an objective study like NerdWallet tooted Sartell’s horn.
NerdWallet feature-writer Spencer Tierney has this to say about Sartell:
“From its roots as a small town on the Mississippi River, Sartell has blossomed into a city with thriving schools and strong community support. Education can start as early as birth here, and the Sartell-St. Stephen School District offers a comprehensive and rigorous curriculum. Part of the growth in the town is connected to a series of trails that integrates parks and other areas in the community, growing commercial and office opportunities, and a variety of housing options for people of all ages.”
Of a possible score of 10, Sartell rated 8 in the “Great Schools” category; $181,700 for median home value in 2012; $1,533 for median monthly homeownership costs; $66,473 for median household income in 2012; 26.62 percent for median income growth from 1999 to 2012. The city’s overall score was 63.04, with number-one Monticello’s at 72.09. None of the cities scored a perfect 10 in any category.
NerdWallet’s study found nearly half of the top 20 Minnesota cities for affordability and family-friendliness are located right on or near the Interstate-94 corridor.
A breakdown of NerdWallet’s criteria are these:
Public school excellence compares students’ test scores and other statewide data and then ranks schools on a 1-10, with 10 being the highest.
Home affordability was determined via U.S. Census Bureau data, including median home values and monthly homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, real-estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills.
Growth and prosperity factors were based on the city’s economy using census figures that detailed median household incomes from 2012 and long-term income growth since 1999.
The report states many cities far from Minneapolis are thriving because of commercial and residential growth, that none of the top 20 cities had median-income values of more than $100,000 higher than the state median of $194,000 and that several cities, including Sartell, created comprehensive plans to account for future housing and businesses.
The study rated only cities with at least 10,000 residents. Among the 88 cities studied, cities in the greater St. Cloud area included Sauk Rapids (28) and St. Cloud (79). The biggest city in the study, Minneapolis, ranked at number 85.