Minnesota Losing Residents to Other States

SAINT PAUL, MN – Despite being ranked #3 Best State in the US by US News and World Report, Minnesota has been losing residents to other states according to State Demographer Susan Brower.

A MinnPost report analyzing data from Minnesota’s Demography Department outlines the trends seen in Minnesota’s in- and out-migration.  

net domestic international migration mn

Domestic migration to Minnesota has been a net negative since 2002; with more Minnesotans moving out of Minnesota than new Minnesotans coming in.  International migration to Minnesota has kept Minnesota from falling into total negative net migration numbers.  

Domestic migration out of Minnesota has most heavily been to bordering states, primarily, North and South Dakota, with in-migration to Minnesota coming from Wisconsin and Iowa. However, Minnesota is also losing residents to three other states: Texas, Florida and California.

migration to tx fl ca

In 2014, Minnesota lost 1,281 households to Florida. Texas saw a gain of 495 households that year, which was down from 1,321 in 2013; California also gained 739 Minnesota households in 2014.  

Tax rates play a role in the migration of Minnesotans to other states. According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesota ranks 45th in for state income tax; Texas ranks 6th. North Dakota ranks 36th and South Dakota ties Florida and Alaska for number one.  

Another factor at play for people leaving Minnesota is the weather.  In January, the travel site, Thrillest.com, awarded Minnesota the number one spot for the country’s worst winters. In an article titled, “Every State, Ranked By How Miserable Its Winters Are,” authors Kevin Alexander and Matt Lynch detail why they gave Minnesota the number one slot:

How can you remain so upbeat when you get all the winter weather patterns? Alberta clippers? Sure. Panhandle hooks? You betcha! Parts of northern Minnesota see up to 170 inches of snow in a winter. One hundred seventy inches! That’s like two and a half times the height of Kent Hrbek!! It can get down to -60 degrees, a temperature at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes. There are no chinook winds or moderating oceans to temper things outside of a small area by Lake Superior. Your sports teams never win championships. All of your good high school hockey players end up starring for NHL teams in other cities. Ice fishing can’t be that cool, really.


Ryan Love moved from Minnetonka, Minnesota to Tampa, Florida in May of 2016.  Love explained that he accepted a job in Tampa after his former employer went through a merger with another company. He said, “Of all the places I could’ve gone, including a few job offers in Minnesota, I chose Florida because of the position and no state income tax.” Love said that Florida’s weather wasn’t a factor in the move, since he had lived in Florida in the past and had spent most of his life in Iowa.  However, one of the biggest differences between Minnesota and Florida that he has noticed is the cost of living: “I definitely noticed the cost-of-living difference based on the taxes.”

Using a cost-of-living calculator from BestPlaces.net, the cost-of-living in Tampa is 24% less expensive than Minnetonka, Minnesota. Housing cost differences are the most dramatic between the two cities, with Minnetonka’s housing costs at 163.2% of the national average (=100%) and Tampa coming in at only 85.6%, making housing 47% less expensive in Tampa than it is in Minnetonka.

cost of living minnetonka to tampa

Wesley and Linda Hayne moved from Plymouth, Minnesota to Prescott Valley, Arizona in the fall of 2015. In an email, Wesley explained their reasons for leaving Minnesota:

After living 68 years of my life in Minnesota and my wife having lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin almost all of hers, it borders comical when someone asks why we left for Arizona. Really? There was a time when we thought there was no place better until we visited the high desert of Arizona. All four seasons without humidity or -30 below temperatures in the winter. We describe the weather like Minnesota with all the rough corners shaved off.
Growing up in Minnesota seemed to change and more as time went on. The climate effects one more with age and the “Minnesota Nice” seemed to have faded among the populace. Areas that we are familiar with from years ago, have turned into what appears to be foreign countries where you fear going at night. The state government solves all their budget problems by applying more taxes and having started a couple of businesses found that we needed licenses that we had to go to school for that other states didn’t require at all for the very same work.
It is sad to have seen it change. Where we live now in Arizona, the weather is beautiful. We almost get tired of the sun every day and snow storms in the winter that last for one day and evaporate the next. The very first thing we found out thinking we were going to miss the lakes was the pure fact that Arizona has more boats licensed than Minnesota. In addition, although we live in a smaller community, the people are incredible.
We still have Minnesota in our blood but the memories of it out weight the reality of today.

The cost of living difference between Plymouth, Minnesota and Prescott Valley, Arizona aren’t as spread apart as Minnetonka vs. Tampa, but with it being 18% cheaper to live in Prescott Valley than Plymouth, the difference is significant.  Linda Hayne confirmed this fact with a note, “the cost of living is a lot less here; fuel costs have been really good here too. Taxes are less here as well.”

Even with the Most Miserable Winters title and some of the highest taxes in the US, Minnesota cities still land on some of the “Best Places” to live lists. Recently, the Washington Post reported that the Casey Foundation ranked Minnesota as “The Best Place to Raise Kids.” And Eden Prairie, Minnesota was ranked by Money magazine as the second best place to live in the United States (Columbia, Maryland took the top spot).  

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle is a former writer for Alpha News.