Rural housing prices rise with changing times

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

Memorial Day weekend approaches, a time when residents of northern Minnesota welcome the residents of southern Minnesota for the long weekend. Perhaps before you log off to enjoy the next few days you might read my latest for the Minnesota Reformer, “The northland has its own housing crisis.”

Summer custom dictates that visitors from the Twin Cities metro area patrol our back roads in order to imagine living here. It’s a fun reverie, shared by many who will never follow through. But in recent years, more people have manifested these relocation dreams, causing prices for rural Minnesota real estate to skyrocket.

In fact, the housing woes that plague big city residents are just as acute for rural people. If you’ve got money, you’ve got options. Working people end up renting longer and buying at the low end of the market, if at all. 

Perhaps it’s hard to relate to the problem if you’re used to starter houses costing more than $200,000, but it’s a very new, very big problem for people who could buy a decent house for $70,000 just a few years ago.

Here’s the preview:

The complex reasons why this happened tie closely to a changing global economy and climate. And while I’m talking about rural real estate, the same problems may be found in towns and cities.

In fact, what might most unite Minnesotans right now is the difficulty and expense of finding a place to live.

For those left behind in the explosion of costs and the dearth of available homes, we look for answers behind the statistics.

I’ve got interviews, numbers and even a few potential solutions in today’s essay at the Minnesota Reformer.


  1. Arnie Dye says

    Thank you for this interesting article. I find the subject of property values on the Iron Range fascinating, especially in light of my own famly’s purchase of land on a lake near Side Lake over a decade ago, with hopes and dreams to ultimately build our retirement log home up there (we currently live/work in Omaha, NE). My wife and I figured it was easier (and smarter) to buy the land now and have that free and clear before we start construction. If our land was for sale in today’s market, I don’t know if it would be much more than what we paid for 10 years ago. However, I can say the tax assessor has certainly taken advantage of the increased home/land appraisals and bumped our tax value over 10%! The kicker is that my family has done zero improvements to justify the tax increase, but that could be topic for a future discussion. Looking back, I know my mother regrets selling the 4 acres on a lake near Nashwauk (very near the boondoggle half-finished taconite plant project) her and my father own before he passed away from cancer. At the time neither of my parents thought my brother and I would be interested in the land and sold the land for real cheap. The land now is likely 5 to 10 times more than the price it sold for. Oh well.

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