When you came to Minnesota, did you feel welcome?

A series beginning today on MPR News looks at how welcoming a place Minnesota is to newcomers. Today’s Question: When you came to Minnesota, did you feel welcome?

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  • In a word, yes. Completely, absolutely, I’ve rarely felt more welcome anywhere I’ve been in the world. I first flew over from my native England to Minnesota last summer and from the moment I arrived to the moment I left I was made to feel very welcome by everybody I met.

    No matter who I talk to since, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I fell completely and hopelessly in love with Minnesota, and have to say that the friendliness and helpfulness of everybody I met played a large part in that.

    When I returned this past January, I was greeted by those I’d met on my previous trip not as some random Englishman they’d encountered briefly six months ago, but almost as a long-lost family member they were more than grateful to see. It was all quite heart-warming.

    I’m hoping to return in late spring, so smitten have I become by the people and places of Minnesota that I feel I can’t keep away.

  • C Lee

    I moved here in 1994 from Washington State, but I am a California Native. I think Minnesotans are nice on the surface, but not truly welcoming. I used to say that Minnesota Nice is really Minnesota Ice. In other words, grocery store clerks are plenty nice, but you won’t easily be invited into someone’s life. There are so many people here that have grown up here and all their friends are from here that “outsiders” are not needed (or especially wanted).

    I find many Minnesotans to have a very myopic view of the world, meaning that they think this is the center of it and the rest of the world is something of an aberration. My own take on the reason for this is that there are so few places here where you can see more than a mile. I really believe that living by the ocean, where you can see the sun go down over the horizon, gives a person a sense of how big the world is and that any individual is just one very small part of it.

    All that being said, after 18 years, I must admit that I am feeling pretty at home here now. I’ve mangaged to worm my way into the lives of some natives. It just takes a very long time.

  • Hiram

    To be honest, I don’t feel terribly welcome now, and I have been here for fifty years.

  • Anne G

    I’ve been in Minnesota for almost 4 years now and have finally felt a little more at home. If I hadn’t have been proactive and forced myself to go out and meet people, I’d probably have moved back to my home state. Luckily I met my fiance which opened up a whole family and friends circle. I am originally from Madison, Wisconsin. When I first started going out in the bar scene, the only people I would end up talking to were strangers from Madison!

  • PJ

    I’ve been here 9 years and still feel like an outsider. Many folks I’ve meet are still very close with friends from high school and are not interested in making any new friends. Our closest friends are fellow transplants who have kids the same age as our son. Even though the close in western suburbs of Minneapolis are only a 10 minute drive to downtown, our neighborhood has a very small town feel. I’ve met more closed-mined and black and white thinkers in Minnesota than I ran into in other parts of the nation. Welcoming would not be a term I would use to describe how I felt.

  • Kris Gjerde

    No matter where you move, if you are residing in an established community, you are trying to break into groups with an existing network. Moving into areas of higher turnover or new development opens up those options. We moved to WI, NY, and back to anothe part of MN. Going door to door and introducing ourselves to our neighbors shortened the time it took to become part of the community.

    We found that it was always difficult to get to know people in established communities. People already had their social networks in place. We needed new friends, but they already had them. Moving to an area of new development or higher turnover meant the neighborhood network was still in development or open to change.

  • Bob Moffitt

    My wife and I moved to Minnesota 25 years ago, first living in Windom, where I was a newspaper editor. We have found the people there to be very welcoming. While we both come from different states, we consider ourselves to be true Minnesotans now. I even say “you betcha” now…

  • Gary F

    When I came to Minnesota from Great Falls Montana 46 years ago I was less than a year old, so I have no idea.

  • Donald

    I’ve always thought that feeling like an outsider was a large city issue. I grew up in northern Minnesota. You ran into people everywhere and remember people being welcoming and inclusive to new families. When I moved to Minneapolis, I found that people were nice, but not very inclusive. Even friends of mine from college did not include me in many activities. I have had to become a more outgoing person that I naturally am. And I still think that one of the big factors to being an “outsider” is that I seldom run into people I know when I go to the store or walk around the lake.

  • Lisa Ragsdale

    I moved to Minneapolis in 1999 from St. Louis, MO. I did not have family, friends, a job or any connections here. I did manage to get a job within five weeks of moving here, but it was a low paying job. My short answer to the question about feeling welcome is a tentative yes. As I am a composer and a writer, I looked for ways of joining organizations and meeting other composers, musicians and writers. For the most part this worked quite well.

    On the other hand, getting a good paying job was a nightmare because I am a transsexual and, while most artists could care less regarding this, most employers do not want to hire “different” people.

  • Kathy

    We moved here in 1993 with small school age children. They did meet kids and became friends.

    I have found that people here are nice on the surface but as many said, dont invite you into a circle they have had for years. Holidays, we never were invited, most people think about their family and not the people that cant get back to their family.

    As a New Englander, I have always been the one to invite people over for parties and dinners, no one ever refuses, but do they rarely reciprocate.

    So, Minnesota nice is a surface myth.

    Can we speak about the Minnesota nice and drivers?

  • JM

    My wife and I relocated to the Twin Cities just over two years ago and completely resonate with the “insular” comments. We were shocked and disappointed to find such a large metropolitan area to be so socially isolating. Although it has been strong move for us professionally, we’ve already planned a timeline to leave in order to seek out a more welcoming community for our future. Having read the article and subsequent comments, it’s not surprising that native Minnesotans aren’t overly aware of this phenomenon. The state has much to offer, but we’ve weighed the cost of social isolation and determined a welcoming community is key to our happiness. It’s a sad commentary on an otherwise great region. Hopefully awareness and effort will create a better environment for future outsiders.

  • Kari

    It’s a yes and no answer, like many others. I moved here about 6 years ago from Iowa. So unfortunately many people I first met just figured “Iowans are dumb hicks and Iowa is boring”. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I moved here for a job and I absolutely love this city because it’s everything I could want in a home. I guess while I’ve met some great people, I’ve often felt the “Minnesota Nice” many times can be very much just on the surface.

  • Amy A

    I’ve lived in several states, and find Minnesota to be slightly above average in the welcoming department. Yes people are friendly, yes some of it just on the surface. What I’ve learned is that it boils down to where you live (e.g. does the place get a lot of new people) and your attitude. You cannot expect people to gush over the new person; you have to meet them (at least!) half way. It’s work, but it’s rewarding! And then, when you are no longer the newbie, remember what it was like and help them out!

  • david

    I don’t think this Minnesota non-welcoming to newcomers thing only extends to people from out of state. I noticed it when my family moved to the outer suburbs (at that time) from north Minneapolis in the 4th grade. I always blamed it on a kind of insanity caused by always having to be in a car to get anywhere. My mother still lives in that suburban neighborhood and seems to be the exception to the rule. She is the stereotypical neighborhood welcome wagon.

    When I later went to college in Reno Nevada people were way more welcoming and less “cliquish”. But then pretty much everybody there is from somewhere else, from other states and countries. The native minority in NV is an extremely closed group. When I moved back to MN I lived in the city, and people for the most part seemed pretty welcoming. Since then I’ve moved to another outer ring suburb, in a development surrounded by farm land, and people really keep to themselves once again.

  • Anon

    I have moved around the US a lot and overall I’ll say this – Minnesotans shouldn’t sweat it too much. You aren’t the best, but you aren’t the worst either. Most Minnesotans I’ve met are warm and welcoming. Certainly there are some who are more aloof, and yes it’s true that it can be hard to break into “in circles” – but that is true everywhere.

    One thing I have noticed though, which impacts your ability to be a truly welcoming state, is that some Minnesotans (not everyone) seem to have more of a “me first” attitude than other places I’ve lived. My family comes from a part of the south where people are taught to be unfailingly polite in social situations. I was taught to always say “please” and “thank you,” wait patiently in lines, and if I pull up to a four-way stop at the same time as someone else, to wave them forward (which can become comical because both drivers will do it and finally someone has to go). If a pedestrian is standing on a sidewalk, looking to cross the street, you stop and allow them to cross. Little things like that that make the day quite pleasant when everyone does them.

    I’ve noticed that some (again, not all) Minnesotans do the opposite of these things. More than once, I’ve witnessed people nearly shove others out of the way so they can be first in line in situations that didn’t warrant a need for it (like getting on a bus). People cut you off when driving, pay no attention to people trying to cross a street, pretend they don’t see you at four way stops and drive on (even though you got there first), and so on. Those who do these things could definitely stand to brush up a bit on these interactions, because when these situations happen often enough, it does come across as unwelcoming. When I first moved here, I found such things to be really rude and they irritated the heck out of me. But over the years I’ve adjusted and just accept it as part of the way things are done here by some.

  • Steve the Cynic

    In my circle of friends, “Minnesota nice” is a euphemism for passive-aggressive.

  • Gina

    Their dance cards are all full. 🙁 After almost 7 years the handful of friends I’ve made are all expats or natives who lived most of their adult life on the west coast before returning.

    The myopic views of many of the natives drives me nuts. Listening to MPR keeps me from intellectually starving.

    If I could sell my western suburb house, I’d either move to a different community that attracts transplants or leave Minnesota altogether. There just isn’t enough here to make me want to stay.

  • Anon

    When I moved to Duluth from Detroit on a frosty day in February back in 1996, the first person I met, helped me unload my uhaul. From there, I met many friends, became a member of several communities, shared holidays with Duluthians, and always felt like an “adopted” Minnesotan. When I moved to St. Paul, I had the same experience. I don’t know whether or not one could create a “welcome” index, but I wanted to share my experience. Since then, I moved back to Michigan in 2006 and miss my adopted home every day.

  • Sue de Nim

    Texas was worse for being nice on the surface but chilly underneath.

  • Kris

    I think all of the above comments have an element of truth – both pro and con. I have lived in both MN and WI and am a transplant from NY. There is some data to suggest that in MN, most of the people born here stay here. It makes for a very insular community, more so than in states with more movement. I find MN to be tolerant and open but not warm. I have found an interesting contrast in my professional organizations in higher ed. The MN group was intellectually engaged and bright, but they wouldn’t talk to anyone new at lunch. They would, in fact, turn their head away from you and talk to the neighbor they knew. It wasn’t rude, just oblivious and socially awkward. The WI group was gregarious, collegial, and inclusive, albeit not as bright. I chalk it up to the (mostly) Scandinavian culture vs (mostly) German culture.

  • I can to MN in 1994 (from Oregon/Washington) – to the Duluth area. I did feel welcome there, though I was fresh out of college and made friends quickly through the camp I worked at.

    Two years later I went to Bethel Seminary and felt welcome amongst the students…which was my life, so that was fine.

    Then I got married and moved to Worthington. Worthington is a hard community to fit in to. You have the immigrants (as in from a different country) and it isn’t quite as bad as “never the twain shall meet” but it’s pretty close. Yes, people mix together in stores or the International Festival…but do they invite people into their homes? No.

    Also, those who have grown up here exist in closed social circles. This is not entirely true, as there are exceptions to every rule, but let me tell you, it is NOT easy to fit into the established social circles of the town. The friends I have are from church. Everyone else is just acquaintances who smile on the sidewalk but never invite me over.

    Do I sound bitter? I don’t mean to. And I’m very happy here. I just had to give up on the idea that I’d ever truly fit in. Perhaps this is everywhere now? I mean, people don’t do dinner parties much any more…at least not in Worthington, MN!!

  • Rich

    Minnesotans are good people but, “nice” is not the word I would use to describe them. They are polite (in most situations), hard working, educated, tolerant (well, that’s changing with the current political climate) and great at managing conflict (less crazies and out of control types here). Aloof, hard to get to know and unwelcoming are often fair observations and if this is true, we can hardly call our state’s people nice.

    All said, it is still my favorite place to live and where I call home. While I am grateful for the right to be left alone, I do wish folks were a bit warmer here but, hey, it is cold here half of the year so it fits 😉

  • Another Amy

    As an “outsider” I must have moved to another state than some others here! I’ve lived in two Minnesota towns (a medium, then a small town) and was overwhelmed by the generosity of these communities. Of course there were some insular people, but I just ignored them and set my sights on other people. I’ve made a great group of friends (and by extension, family) consisting of natives and expats alike. Sure I had to endure some friendly rubbing about being from Iowa (I hear you, Kari!), but I gave it right back! I’m so sad that other outsiders have not felt (or been made to feel) welcomed in the wonderful place I now proudly call home.

  • anonymous

    I moved here a year and a half ago and have struggled making new friends since day one. I’ve moved to new places before (South and West) and never once had a problem like this. It was very depressing and lonely moving here and struggling to make new friends in a new place. I thought moving here and having a cousin my age would make things easy but we barely hang out and I’ve never once met his friends. I tried hard at first to get people to hang out after work and even convinced the boss to allow us to leave early once a month for “team building” and go to a bar or restaurant to get to know each other better through a happy hour social type atmosphere but it was just a waste of time. I got feedback such as “if I’m leaving work early I’m going home to be with my family” or “I don’t have time for something like that.” It was just shocking to me people didn’t want to socialize or even welcome me into their community. I would have moved out of Minnesota after just 3 months of being here but unfortunately I’m under work contract and am counting down the days until I am free. Recently I have been making friends, almost all of them are transplants and share similar views of the types of Minnesotans. There are two classifications of Minnesotans: first the type who were born and raised here, made their friends early in life, have never left the state, still have the same group of friends now and have no need or time to make new ones and second the type who were born and raised here who were lucky enough to experience life outside of Minnesota for college or a career before returning. The latter understand the concept of making new friends and having different social groups whereas the former just have never had to. I recall MPR running a story on a top musician/art director who was well renowned coming from New York City and he left his job and moved out of the state because of the social culture here. How long will it take for things to change? I’m still unsure if I want to grow roots in this town but I’m leaning on moving before things would change.

  • John Bailey

    Minnesotans are nice enough, but no nicer than other locales in my experience. There is a high degree of self-satisfaction and people tend to drown in their own nostalgia as they often tell themselves (outloud) “Minnesota is just a great place to live”.

    I’m not saying people are mean….just that they are no better or worse than other places…and yet there is this pervasive myth that MN is a “special place.”

  • Bob Y

    We moved here in 1993 after having lived in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. No question this was the toughest place to feel welcome. We were warned not to expect to be invited into a Minnesotan’s home. We found it to be true, though they did not seem to hesitate to come to ours when we invited them. Most polite but coldest people I ever met, anywhere. Everyone seemed to have known each other since grade school, and then had gone to high school and “the U” together. No one had any interest in really getting to know newcomers.

    The maddening thing, of course, was their attitude that this was the greatest place on earth, the people were the most socially enlightened, everyone should be happy to be here among the “gifted”, etc.

  • Rebecca

    I moved here from Wisconsin 24 years ago, and experienced the same aloofness from native Minnesotans. Everyone I met was quite “nice” on the surface yet not warm and inviting and I found them very hard to get to know well. I’ve attributed much of this to the fact that Minneapolis/St. Paul is the only large city in the region that attracts a vast amount of people from smaller parts of MN, ND, IA and northern WI. The next closest “big” city is Chicago. Many people from these smaller towns still continue to “hang out” with their high school groups and while many aren’t opposed to including new people in their group, they don’t really “need” to. There are many who also feel that they have made it to the “big time” by moving to the big city, while many in their family stayed back in their rural towns. To anyone else who has lived in other larger cities across the US, this seems quite strange.

    The outsider has to be the persistant one to ask to join them in their actitivites, or won’t necessarily be included. I eventually found a niche of people that kept me living here.

    The funny thing is that when I meet new people in the cities, (who are not native Minnesotans), they always say “you aren’t originally from MN are you?” I laugh and say “no, I’m not!”

  • Cynthia

    I moved to MN in the early 80’s after some sad and dreary years in ND. Meeting people with similar interests, work, leisure was intentional and guided by several principles basis to friendship…being open to new ways, things, places, ideas, etc. I did not have a large family but one with grips on me that could/ tried to make it hard to focus on my future. 30 some years later, I have an amazing set of friends and ” family” to give, get and share with others, from volunteeri and professional work, knitting, books, x-country skiing, enjoying all the amenities of being, living and contributiong to a great life in MN. Sometimes, NOT always, if you feel the cold shoulder, look in the mirror, it could be your own reluctance to move out of a comfort zone. If it not, and the other person(s) are the problem, move on, longevity is a known condition here in MN & you don’t want to be be grouchy for 100 years!

  • Philip

    GEN William Crouch (Ret) once described our state when we were going through training at Ft. Polk, LA. He said, “Minnesota nice is a mile wide and an inch deep.” He further went on to point out that we had the whitest division in the army and that he was going to rip the passive aggressive streak right out of us, because it’s cowardly.

  • Mark in Ohio

    I moved to Minnesota around ’98 (for a job), and stayed for about 5 years. I’ve since left (for another job), and in total have moved to 4 different states (OH, MN, FL, NC) that I was not raised in (all for jobs). I can’t honestly say that Minnesota was any harder to meet people in than other states. It was FAR better than when I went to North Carolina, which was warm for the first hello, but almost hostile to anyone not from the area. I was never really warmly welcomed but did fit in pretty well after a while. A warm and sincere “Welcome” has never happened ANYWHERE. Demographically, I’m a 39 year old white male professional, with a degree in mechanical engineering. If I had been able to get a job, I probably wouldn’t have left. If it weren’t so far from my family in Pennsylvania, I would consider moving back.

  • James

    I moved here 20 years ago with my wife and 3 children and we are still here, so it can’t be too bad, right?

    Fortunately for us, our across-the-street neighbors 20 years ago had the identical family and were very welcoming, including sharing their social group. To this day, that is our core group of friends although we have branched out a little bit.

    A couple of anecdotes on the topic:

    To meet the neighbors, we used to host a Memorial Day Potluck Dinner in our back yard. The first year, no one responded to the invitation, but 20 families showed up. Over the years response rates improved to a high of about 30% of eventual attendees. (You get used to it.) However, of the 50+ neighbor families who attended the party at least occasionally over the 10 years we hosted it, we only ever got invited to social events at a handful of their houses, and I would estimate the “thanks for hosting a party” response rate at about 1%! The first year we decided to not host the party, several families showed up anyways!

    To this day, if we are out with a group, the large majority of the people at the event are non-native Minnesotans, hanging out with other “immigrants.”

    This year we hosted a Super Bowl party. 5 couples indicated they were coming. 1 couple showed up. (Not sure if that’s “Minnesota Cold” or just rude.)

    There are lots of good reasons to live in Minnesota, and the Twin Cities in particular. Ease of buiding a social network is not one of them! I blame it (if that’s the right word) on long winters/cocooning, the car culture, the kids- and family-first attitude, the intensity of kids’ activities, cabin-culture (weekend escapes), and mega-churches, where it is easy to be amongst others, but harder to meet anyone.

  • Lance

    Waiting for the daily hemp comment…something like, “Dude, if we just all got together and smoked a little legal hemp, we’d all open up and be friendly.”

  • LKuzma

    I have moved into Minnesoata three times, once from Chicago to Winona (1983) for five years for school, once after leaving the military (in 1992) to White Bear Lake for 9 years and then again from Iowa City in 2007 to Stillwater, where I currently live.

    Each time, I have been met with kind, friendly and open people. Also, each time, I have made an effort to get to know my neighbors, spening time outdoors where I can greet people as they pass by, planing a garden in the front yard and volunteering in the community.

    I have met some unfriendly people, but they are the exception and not the rule.

  • Richard

    I’ve found that MN has a lot of warm, close-knit relationships, but there aren’t a lot of ways into those relationships. If you happen upon a way into a particular circle (e.g. through a church or through a professional association) you’ll feel embraced. Finding ways in is not easy.

  • jj

    I moved here from PA in 1991. I read that Minnesotans had the highest % of people that were born here lived here their entire lives and died here than any other state. I felt very foreign. The first thing i did was go to that state fair and I had never in my life seen such a sea of tall blond white people before in my life.

    I got a job the next summer at a watershed district in the greater metro. When I was presented the to public there were verbal outcries that they should not have hired a non Minnesotan. I have had trouble making friends since everyone is friends from high school. In the 21 years, I have noticed a significant change for the better as the population on non-Minnesotans has increased.

  • Lawrence

    I moved here permanently in 1991. Most of the people I’ve gotten to know over the years were not from Minnesota. And the majority of the Minnesotans I know now, they are really my wife’s friends. My wife is from Minnesota, but she spent considerable time in Kansas before moving back to Minnesota. I do agree with Gomez who was quoted in the article. When I first moved here, Minnesotans politically were worried Chicagoans were moving here to suck up the welfare system. That was the 90s. Over the past 12 years, the concern has been over the Somalis and Hispanics coming to the State of Minnesota. The Voter ID movement also doesn’t help because the people targetted by this legislation are people like me, minorities who weren’t born or raised here. So while Minnesotans might be nice, politically they seem to be suggesting the opposite.

  • Ann Elizabeth

    Anecdotally, I think there might be some defensiveness in the myopic and insular Minnesota Nice attitude.

    About four years ago, there was a group of us on a break during our first day of training. A twenty something transplant from Serbia was complaining about Minnesota and the U.S. Her criticisms varied from our transportation system to the food here. While these may be very valid criticisms, I think a forty something trainee found it off-putting and privately remarked that the Serbian woman should go back to her homeland if it was so terrible here.

    There also might be a communication barrier. I know that I personally have so much trouble understanding medium to heavy accents. My hearing tests all check out normal so I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to understand international accents. Sometimes I even have trouble understanding my toddler and I am the one teaching him how to speak!

  • My wife and I moved here from Los Angeles (via New Zealand) twenty years ago and now that she has passed away (from cancer). Now at sixty years young, I am thinking about moving elsewhere, maybe even to Japan or Thailand. Or maybe even to the Uptown area where we feel more at home.Or maybe wherever my youngest daughter ends up going to school.

    We thought about moving to South Mpls but at the time they couldn’t promise which school our kids would get into. So we raised our girls in the Minnetonka Public Schools which has been wonderful for them, But our neighbors are far wealthier so we don’t feel entirely at ease.

    I enjoy dancing (I’m a child of the sixties) but our neighbors haven’t really encouraged us to join them.

    Does anyone have any advice for someone who is old in body but feels like a twenty-something in spirt?

  • Mark in Freeborn

    I moved here from Iowa 24 years ago, and, even though I live in a town near the border, I have become aware of many differences between Iowans and Minnesotans. The most noticeable thing is the issue of “Minnesota Nice.” To me, “Minnesota Nice” has absolutely nothing to do with niceness…..it’s about ignoring other people and their needs. When a motorist is stranded along the highway, the “Minnesota Nice” thing to do is to drive on by and pretend not to see anything. When someone is being bullied or teased, the “Minnesota Nice” thing to do is to ignore it. When the Salvation Army does its bell-ringing for donations during the holidays, the “Minnesota Nice” thing to do is to hurry on past and look the other way. I think the term “Minnesota Nice” is really meant as a not-so-sly jab at rude, insensitive, or uncaring behavior that is easily explained away as having not seen anything wrong in the first place.

  • Michelle

    I was born and raised in Minnesota. Moved to another state after high school. I moved back after being away for twenty years. I have never met people more willing to throw others under the bus. It was disappointing and discouraging for me.

  • Not Dutch

    Iowa was no better. “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much” is not just a saying; it’s a way of life.Very hard to break in in that particular place.

    I’ve found fitting in to be a matter of location and attitude. Some towns/neighborhoods are just not open and friendly, no matter how much you try! On the other side, I’m not sure I’d be able to go out of my way to befriend some of the whiny, bitter commenters represented here! I know when I adjusted my attitude, my social circle opened up. Not a sure thing, but it worked for me, and made me a better hostess when others move to town.

  • Kim

    Fascinating topic! I can relate that it seems like everyone grew up here. I’ve gradually made good friends with native Minnesotans, but they still have such larger networks than I do. It’s hard as a transplant to see such deep friendships from the outside. It makes me miss my close friends and family back home.

    I was proactive, and probably just lucky too. I first worked at two nonprofits where there were other transplants and native Minnesotans who were more open and worldly in their perspectives and interests. And then having kids helped because I made new friends through play dates and being outside in our neighborhood a lot more.

  • Ron

    By the locals, there was typically a line drawn, making it clear that politeness face-to-face would be the rule but nothing further, please. This has been my experience in rural Minnesota as well as the Twin Cities.

    But I don’t know that is any different that other places I have lived … California, Iowa, Washington state, Wisconsin.

    What is truly annoying about Minnesota is that the locals seem to actually *believe* that there is a version of “Minnesota Niceness” among the natives (perpetuated almost nightly by news readers on local TV stations) which doesn’t exist.

  • Similar to C Lee, we moved here from California where I met my wife (who died last year). Even in the “big city” of LA, I felt more at home with my friends. But maybe that’s because I was in my twenties then and lived in a group house with lots of friends over for dinner.

    In the western suburbs I don’t feel the same kinship. But then it’s harder when you’re older and more experienced/jaded.

    Any thoughts, C Lee? Or anyone else?

  • Bruce

    Yes, I was born welcome here over 44 years ago 🙂

  • Mike

    If you learn to die daily, you’ll feel welcome each day.

  • T V

    My wife and I moved here almost 17 years ago with 4+3 year old daughters from Chicago and New England. I grew up in the midwest in Michigan and Ohio and my wife was from New England. I lived 10 years in New England and met my wife and had our children then moved to Chicago for 3+ years and MN after that. The saying of Minnesota nice and Minnesota ice is a definite fit. I have met some very nice people in MN but the ability to get under the surface with many natives is very difficult. I am not sure that it is intentional it is just that they do not feel the need to open up because their family and friends they grew up with are here. Our main friends in MN are people that moved in from out of state and have made this their home. We found this completely different than living in Chicago where people were very open and accepting and what you saw was what you got without any pretense. It is disappointing because MN has a lot to offer many people but the closed doors make it very difficult to embrace. I am happy to have raised my daughters here and given them a great foundation but feel MN will probably not be a long term choice for us even with all of the great things to do in the state because you want to settle in places that allow you to make long term connections. If after 17 years it does not feel that way I am not sure it ever will.

  • Don D

    I moved from WI to a 1st tier St. Paul suburb 12 years ago with my family. At the time when we were purchasing our house, I had a preconception that we wouldn’t fit into our nearly 100% Minnesotan neighborhood.. however, from the get go, the neighborhood authentically welcomed us –early and often! Examples: Stay at home moms connected with each other, extended invitations for weekly child play groups, and we had many options for childcare. We were invited over to many neighbors’ houses often. Immediate neighbors shared tools, and helping hand with home improvement jobs, and use of snow throwers on bad days. Thinking back, the opportunities were countless! Also, let’s not forget block parties, public schools ECFE programs (for parents of small children), and multitude of community activities that can be great opportunities to connect with others.

  • Emily

    I moved to Minnesota and lived in Minneapolis from 2005-07. My husband and I were young, right out of college and eager to be in the art scene. While we met many acquaintances those relationships never grew into deep friendships. I’m sure our introverted personalities didn’t help. Looking back on our time, I have nostalgia for the many landmarks, restaurants, green spaces and even the weather of Minneapolis. I do not, however, look back fondly on the fact that no one ever really took the time to get to know us. Everyone, it seemed, had already established their life long friendships and didn’t want to bother with new ones. We now live in Des Moines and have really good friends we made in our first year. Maybe age helped us, maybe it was different jobs. We’re still introverts so who knows. The city of Minneapolis is still a great place to visit and makes us feel like the visitors we’ve always been.

  • Wendy

    This is a great show. Now I know it is not just me and my husband. We moved here from WI 4 years ago and it has been challenging to make new friends. It seems to take time for people to trust and let you in thier circle. One needs to be to be patient and persistant. Now I can say we have the most wonderful neighbors. Where I work has been especially challenging. Normally I am part of the social circle but not in this case. I have adopted that I am there to work not to socialize. My husband and I love the outdoors so we really enjoy what MN has to offer. We have been to the North Shore a few times and plan to keep discovering new places.

  • Kari

    I think it’s also important that those of us who aren’t Native Minnesotans to “pay it forward” to newcomers so that maybe these feelings change. I know my sister and I (both Iowa transplants) have built a tight social circle of both native and non native Minnesotans. But we remember how hard it was to first make good, social friends (outside of work) when we both moved up here at different times. We take pride in “adopting” new to Minnesota friends and showing them around and bringing them into our circle of friends- and we couldn’t be happier with the diverse and eclecltic group of people in our lives! I’ve even been told by many people I’ve met during my years in Minnesota (both natives and non natives) how welcoming they thought myself and my friends were. I think if every non native Minnesotan could try to make the atmosphere better for other non natives, maybe we can kick this stigma.

    I guess what was most surprising to me when I first moved to Minneapolis was how insular it was- I grew up in small town Iowa (Oxford), so I expected it there. It’s why I moved away. I went to college near Des Moines and found people to be very friendly and hospitable.

  • Anonymous

    Not Dutch’s post perfectly represents the frosty MN attitude that some of us “outsiders” have trouble with. The blame is always on someone else (“I’m not nearly as bad as the Dutch”) with a dash of self-righteousness (“who would want to be your friend, oh and did you know I’m the perfect hostess?”). Perhaps if you took the time get examine your own flaws, you might realize how you contribute to the “bitterness” of other people. And as a result, you might find that they become much less jaded and bitter! Improvements all around!

  • Mitch

    I moved here when I was 24 — an age when I thought people were done making friends. Are you sure it’s supposed to keep happening after that?

  • Not Dutch

    Ouch, Anonymous! First off, no where did I say I’m a native Minnesotan. I’m a Hoosier! I just wanted to point out that fitting in in Iowa was no picnic “in that particular place” and maybe it’s not just a Minnesota thing. I could have said that better. (Shouldn’t need to be said, but no offense to the Dutch! My experience was limited to the one place and that oft repeated phrase stung me awfully.) I also wanted to help people get beyond negative attitudes (I definitely had them in Iowa!) and to use their experiences to make yourself a better (but no, not perfect) person.

  • Diana

    Once I found a good source for M&Ms (not the candies) re-imprinting was a friendly breeze in Minnesota. The Twin Cities is pretty cosmopolitan yet nature based, such a good combo. Some of the people are relatively evolved and make it one of the greatest place to watch the Eschaton unfold.

  • Diana

    Once I found a good source for M&Ms (not the candies) re-imprinting was a friendly breeze in Minnesota. The Twin Cities is pretty cosmopolitan yet nature based, such a good combo. Some of the people are relatively evolved and make it one of the greatest place to watch the Eschaton unfold.

  • Puck Fawlenty

    When I arrived here when I was 15, I certainly felt welcome. This has been my only home since then. I spoke no English, didn’t know many people, and had no idea what to expect.

    School was great; the program where I was learning English was great! The people I interacted with made me feel confident and always wanted to help.

    By and by, what I started to learn was the policies in general are what makes it feel unwelcome. As an immigrant in school, I learned that my test scores (along with classmates in the same situation) in standarized testing under federal laws and MN policies made my school imcompetent because our scores were measured against schools that had no recent immigrant population in their student bodies.

    Then I started learning about how my parents faced discrimination at work and other places; had they been white, they would not have faced any of this. This is when I learned that national origin matters as much as race does.

    Minnesota nice is no longer true in my life.

  • I moved here 12 years ago and have learned the hard way (repeatedly) to make friends with non-native Minnesotans. Minnesota nice is not very nice. We call it Minnesota two-faced. They’re polite and friendly and offer to become your friend, but when it comes down to it, they only have so much room in their “circle” and don’t let you in, don’t follow up on suggestions for getting together, and are rarely available to spend time with.

    None of my close friends in the Twin Cities are native Minnesotans, by necessity and by design. And I do try to welcome people new to the community, knowing how hard I had to work to make friends. The best thing for me was having kids and meeting others in ECFE.

  • Jim G

    Native Minnesotan here.

    I know that I’m insular and hard to get to know.

    Don’t reach out to others.

    I’ve got a tree to sit in for socializing. Got to go!(deer hunting for you non-natives.)

    Raised in an inner ring suburb,

    Go Orioles!

    Those were some of the best schools found anywhere.

    One good quality we have is that education thing.

    Went to the U too!

    Football bad. Education good.

    Made me smart enough to marry a Californian.

    When she retires,

    we’re out of here before it snows again.

  • Steve the Cynic

    One good thing: native Minnesotans seem to be aware at some level that this is a problem and are open to talking about it. Try having a conversation in Texas about what’s wrong with Texas, and you’re taking your life in your hands.

  • Adrienne

    We moved to an almost-exurb of St. Paul almost 5.5 years ago from a small town in central Indiana. We had one child at the time and my husband was gone 3-4 weeks a month for week. His parents live 2.5 hours from us. My husband was not raised in MN but most of his cousins were. Based on my observations, My husband has no relationship with his extended family because he did not grow up here even though they came back for an annual vacation. With the exception of the inlaws, we have no family here. I worked for a year but it became very difficult being the one solely in charge of the care of our son which was taking its toll so I quit. I could not find a part-time job so I was at home. I did have luck with a German mothers playgroup but it covered a wide swath of the cities and as the kids age, they go to their own schools, have their own activities and the 45-minute drive from the White Bear Lake area to the southwest Mpls. suburbs became more unworkable. We are active members of a church where our older son attends schools. I have offered to be on committees, help people out with their kids and remembered the births of their children with small gifts. When my second son was born, I received nothing, except from a mom we had been in the German playgroup with, and she is from Mexico! We know no one in the neighborhood in spite of all thensmall talk ocer the years. As soneone said, their “dance cards” are full, and I have stopped trying. The social isolation I have experienced has taken a toll on myself and our family. We are trying to leave, but it is difficult in this economy. I am happy to take a loss on the house at this point. If I had to do it ove again, i would have moved to South Mpls or one of the more inclusive urban neighborhoods with more transplants. There are very few in our area. I will no longee buy a house solely based on the reep of the school district either since you can recognize that a good school may not be a good school for your child. I wish all transplants the best in finding their niche.

  • Adrienne

    We moved to an almost-exurb of St. Paul almost 5.5 years ago from a small town in central Indiana. We had one child at the time and my husband was gone 3-4 weeks a month for week. His parents live 2.5 hours from us. My husband was not raised in MN but most of his cousins were. Based on my observations, My husband has no relationship with his extended family because he did not grow up here even though they came back for an annual vacation. With the exception of the inlaws, we have no family here. I worked for a year but it became very difficult being the one solely in charge of the care of our son which was taking its toll so I quit. I could not find a part-time job so I was at home. I did have luck with a German mothers playgroup but it covered a wide swath of the cities and as the kids age, they go to their own schools, have their own activities and the 45-minute drive from the White Bear Lake area to the southwest Mpls. suburbs became more unworkable. We are active members of a church where our older son attends schools. I have offered to be on committees, help people out with their kids and remembered the births of their children with small gifts. When my second son was born, I received nothing, except from a mom we had been in the German playgroup with, and she is from Mexico! We know no one in the neighborhood in spite of all thensmall talk ocer the years. As soneone said, their “dance cards” are full, and I have stopped trying. The social isolation I have experienced has taken a toll on myself and our family. We are trying to leave, but it is difficult in this economy. I am happy to take a loss on the house at this point. If I had to do it ove again, i would have moved to South Mpls or one of the more inclusive urban neighborhoods with more transplants. There are very few in our area. I will no longee buy a house solely based on the reep of the school district either since you can recognize that a good school may not be a good school for your child. I wish all transplants the best in finding their niche.

  • Anonymous

    Not Dutch – oops! Sorry, I misinterpreted your post. Thought you were a native MN who was describing some time spent in Iowa and using it to justify their belief that MN was better.

  • Jill

    I’m an outsider, moved here in 2002. I haven’t had a ton of trouble making friends, both native or transplant, and I’m a pretty big introvert.

    I’ve owned two houses since moving here, one in south Minneapolis and the other now in Highland Park, St. Paul. At both places the neighbors were cordial, warm enough, and friendly. Both places have neighborhood block parties each year and we’ve gotten to know people. I have been invited into homes – the women on our street have a neighborhood book club and active email list. In many ways, I feel like our current neighborhood is a dream because it is so wonderful. I love living in our current place and do feel welcomed by our neighbors, who tend to look out for each other.

    I’ve felt the aloofness of some Minnesotans, but it seems like more of an individual thing than a common trait of all native residents. The extended family that I married into has been incredibly warm and inviting.

    I’ve moved often in my life and I think that if you sit back and wait for people to try to get to know you, you’ll be waiting forever. This is true in most places I’ve lived. Very few people try to reach out and get to know strangers. As the newcomer, you have to do the reaching out. You also have to try it with many, many people before you make a few close friends.

  • Jennifer

    No–but realized it was nothing personal when we invited all our neighbors to an open house to get to meet them when we first moved to MN. I wondered why they seemed so surprised when I delivered the invitations and then learned at the open house that many of them had lived across the street from each other for years and had never met.

    We just continued to put ourselves out there and have made great friends. We love Minnesota and hope to stay forever. Hopefully our kids will be part of a more welcoming generation of Minnesotans.

  • Ann

    I moved to MN when I was a child.I was bullied and ostricized because I was not good at sports.Unfortunately, we had gym class every day. I also don’t do potlucks because I don’t cook. Maybe there is another country that would be better for me.

  • Julie

    I moved to Minesota from the West. People were friendly, but didn’t make time for me socially because they already had family, high school friends, or college friends who all lived within a 20-mile radius. There were times when I was so lonely or needed help and I wanted to scream! Currently, I work as a teacher of mostly MN-born middle school students and at every opportunity I strongly encourage them to leave the state and travel. Stepping away from familiarity helps a person develop survival skills and the ability to empathize with newcomers.

  • Keith

    It would be interesting to hear from both natives and immigrants that have moved to other states on their experiences outside MN.

    Do other states also seem superficially friendly but then keep you at arms length? How inviting are the people in New York, Alabama, Utah or North Dakota?

    I think our society encourages us all to turn our attentions and affections inward, to our “own”. Remember the story about how Americans as a whole don’t join bowling leagues or volunteer our time like our parents generation did? We’re all sitting at home in the dark watching our big screen TV’s and talking to our friends (at arms length) on Facebook.

    That’s just the way we are.

  • Dave

    I was born in Minnesota and have lived here for 34 years and outside a few friends and family I have never felt welcome here. Minnesotians a are nice on the surface, but you better conform.

  • Lee

    My male partner and I moved here 25 yrs ago. It was difficult to make deep friendships then. We’ve been ‘divorced’ now for 10 yrs. Though I see some improvement I feel I still need to make a strong initial effort. Even asking if I may share a table with someone who’s sitting alone at a coffee/lunch table, I’m looked at like a freak. I’ve heard from HR from Target, Medtronic, Best Buy, that it’s hard to recruit people here unless they’re married. Often, if a new hire (not originally from MN) moves here and doesn’t become married within 3-4 years, they move away. I was very glad to hear that the Pres of the Mpls Chamber is working with larger corporations to make improvements, especially for non-whites. I fear MN and the Twin Cities are falling behind not only in academic standards, languages, but also in creativity; e.g.: using LEED in construction/housing, solar, more efficient mass transit (the proposed ‘trolley’ cars for downtown I’ve heard are 90 FEET long), more high density housing? I DO appreciate that in general, parks/streets are decent. I’m also impressed that there remains an active downtown council of interdenominational faith communities.

  • Ann

    I moved to MN 7 years ago. People were very friendly on the surface, but didn’t invite me to their homes. The friends I have made,including my partner are all from out of state. It is a VERY homogeneous culture. Everyone does the same thing-go to “the cabin” and spend time with family. They have no time or desire to socialize with others. But I have a great job and the cost of living is cheap so I stay for now.

  • Anonymous

    We are transplants to the border, here 10 years. The best part of northern Minnesota is Canada.

  • Liz Lemon

    Hey now, all of us real Minnesotans kept Kim Kardashian from wanting to live here, so…you’re welcome.

    So, as a MN native, if I moved today to say, New York, they’d embrace me with open arms instantly? Yeah right. Lest we forget, relationships take time…especially ones worth having.

  • Ann

    I moved to MN 7 years ago. People were very friendly on the surface, but didn’t invite me to their homes. The friends I have made,including my partner are all from out of state. It is a VERY homogeneous culture. Everyone does the same thing-go to “the cabin” and spend time with family. They have no time or desire to socialize with others. But I have a great job and the cost of living is cheap so I stay for now.

  • JasonB

    I’ve traveled casually and for business to a variety of regions throughout the country. And I cannot say that any one place is more welcoming than any other. I think that results of a question like this are going to be as varied as the situations and personalities of the people responding.

    So I would ask to define “welcome”. With one of the largest populations of Somali and Hmong immigrants I think that as much speaks for itself. If there other places where they’re just flinging their doors open to strangers I haven’t seen it yet.

  • Galadriel

    I’m was raised in Raleigh, NC. Paternal family in New England. Maternal family in several southern states. Lived in D.C. for a couple of years then moved to Minneapolis for further education in 2000. I have been fair and mindful in my thoughts on Minnesotans and their beloved state. I truly have tried. Almost 12 years later i feel exhausted and flat out bitter in regard to social skills of the community. Sure you meet some warm friendly people who may have a concept of life beyond the borders of Minnesota… Rarely. In general I find the majority of the people to be flat out intolerant of the anything that isn’t tried and true. Little broad thinking of new ways to approach life. Same foods served over and over at each family gatherings. Same trip each summer. Perhaps the bland cold nature of the environment here nurtures isolation and separation? A earlier post noted that there is a certain snobbery of all things Minnesota. I find it almost a huge defense structure people need to thrive here. Harsh? You betcha.

  • AJ

    I moved to a small town in “up-north” Minnesota in 1994. It was so hard for outsiders to find social connections that the local Community Ed created a Newcomer’s club. The locals thought this was absurd. Like most other people who’ve commented, I think MN Nice is accurate. They are nice, pleasant, agreeable making small talk in the grocery checkout. Don’t expect anything more. I’ve noticed that more people here say, “we’ll have to do coffee/have you over for a Vikings game/let us know if you need any help” but never follow through on the offer. It’s almost like Minnesotans want to be perceived as pleasant, but they don’t want to really have to extend themselves.

    And then there is the current political climate. Minnesota Nice now seems to mean we get to vote on our gay neighbor’s human rights (and dignity), it’s open season on teachers, we don’t trust people at the polls, and we can finally throw those union guys who collectively bargained so they make a decent wage under the bus. People won’t say these things out loud. Minnesota Nice is pretty passive aggressive, and played pretty close to the vest.

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  • Larry

    Minnesota Niceness” is a lie people tell themselves to make themselves feel better. It is the equivalent of “Southern Hospitality”…I have spent a lot of time in the South and there is nothing hospitable about it.

    Passive-Agressive Behavior is not Nice…

    Road Rage is not Nice…..

    Ramming your cart into someone at Target is not Nice.

    Not being open to finding and establishing new friends is not Nice..

    In a nut shell, being fake, standoffish, I will only be artificial when I have something selfishly to gain, and quite simply rude in society is not nice..it is called being a jerk…

    If you are not from Minnesota and you visit you think to yourself…What is wrong with these people?”…Yes..many of my friends from out-of-state say this…

    Is it any surprise when people from Minnesota move to another State they are homesick and don’t adapt well…of course..we are never the problem..it is everyone around them that has the problem…eventually they have to move back to Minnesota so they can comfortably be awful to each other again…

  • Andrew D Percox

    I’ve moved to Minnesota in 1970.People in California are pretty laid back;but that doesn’t mean super liberal.I’ve heard lot’s of under the table cut’s from my life here,that the United States was tipped on end_& all the fruit and nut’s rolled west.Pshaw.Beside’s San Francisco..Minnesota has the second highest gay community in Minneapolis/St.Paul.At least in California the religious institution’s are not trying to install the clergy with such veracity a notion of acceptance of homosexuality as they do here/even as far as their reach into the West coast Lutheranism.Openly gay minister’s?????You have to look at these Scandinavians from a backside,(disclaimer),sort of perspective to receive these people’s true intent on a few position’s.I did very well in 6th grade civic’s studying Minnesota’s history.Homesteader’s struggles with Indian population;the forming of life in the new world_and from movie’s,[I know thing’s were never easy then],but people here have a almost inclusive view about anything other than occupies their own ethnic mindset.They have dim view’s of lark(ish) thinking on anything.Kind of like the Russian’s who believe they invented it first;if later they find it suit’s them.Being accepted in middle school was very hard with kid’s wanting to fight anyone,{basically at odd’s_or new_or really just not blue eyed blonde hair},everyday after school let out at the flag pole.I see Minnesota Nice in the most take it with a grain of salt_small talk_and comment on the weather…really justifying them,commiseration with identification of their narrow view.In other way’s they are very expansive though.In labeling other’s when historically they were the progenitor’s of the thing they first took to a fine art__like rape,pillaging,& plunder.They treat this nation as a whole as if it’s ill’s are far apart from their own mores…to me this is a baseless position.It’s like:”Good morning Mr.Johnson”–the guy who you thought was a barbaric idiot,who now has you to look at behind bar’s…on a stage of his own making.Viking’s are little more than Aryan fool’s still mindful that the harboring tendency to run off and murder everyone on the planet for global Fahrvergnugen.Were we talking about Minnesota Nice? Opp’s! Yeah…half the time;sometimes,lol. Let’s Go Camping-haha.Maybe you thought I was going to omit this__ I can’t take hockey now: because around 1975 I witnessed an incident on television where the whole interference to the spectacle was shut down so one hockey player had full rein to poke the eye out of his opponent on televised mid-west broadcasting.So that the narrow opposite end of the hockey stick could slurp out the entail’s of the socket,and cavernous nerve tissue was visible.YEAH…REAL NICE !!!