Leaving the East behind, a reporter finds the good life in MN

Christopher Ingraham, the Washington Post data journalist who started a riotous response to declaring Red Lake County the worst place to live in America (he’d never seen it), was charmed by the seductive ways of northwest Minnesota, and decided to chuck the East Coast life for the good life in Minnesota, likes it here, the Grand Forks Herald says today.

We’re not entirely sure now, however, whether he’s in a position to offend the people back East.

Do people really care about each other more in Minnesota than people in communities (real communities, not the fake suburban and urban ones) elsewhere?

Ingraham seems to think so, recalling what happened to Al Buse, a 101-year-old man who fell.

“People knew right away when something happened to him because everyone was stopping by his house to say hello, checking in on him,” Ingraham said, contrasting it with the death of a neighbor back east who died in his home and wasn’t found for about two weeks.

“(It’s) such a very different contrast in how people look after each other and think about each other,” Ingraham told the paper.

But he likes it here. That’s all we need to know.

“It doesn’t make sense for your workforce to be spending 15 hours a week commuting,” Ingraham said. “There has to be a smarter way to do it.”

The move also means the Ingrahams have more time to cook at home instead of dining out, and they’ve started a garden in their backyard. Ingraham is pretty sure he and his dog, a beagle-basset mix named Tiber, have lost weight since moving.

The family went tubing on a recent weekend, and a larger home and yard has given the Ingrahams’ rambunctious toddlers freedom to play.

“Although sometimes in the evenings … they’re super fussy, so there are evenings when I do kind of miss that hour and a half of quiet time in the train,” Ingraham said with a laugh. “But most times, it’s been really great.”

Last week he wrote a post declaring Minnesota “the absolute best place to grow up in America.”

You got a problem with that, Mississippi?

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    This article re-enforces what we Minnesotans have known all along. Hopefully, we can keep it that way.

  • chlost

    Has he spent the winter up there yet? Let’s check back with him then.

    • I imagine he’ll enjoy being away from all the snow DC has gotten the last couple of years.

    • PaulJ

      I’m sure he’ll be fine, once he upgrades the wardrobe, learns how to drive on ice, and decides if he’d rather have cabin fever or wind chill. Somebody must have told him it is different up there.

      • He’s from upstate New York. They know winter up around there.


        • chlost

          I lived in NY for a few years. They had snow, but not the subzero temps for weeks at a time. That’s the killer combo-lots of snow and then twenties-below-zero for 10 days afterward. Not to mention the wind. But hey! The summers are fantastic.

        • PaulJ

          that looks like spring

        • Gordon near Two Harbors

          True enough about snow. But it’s the deep cold of northern Minnesota and long months of winter that tend to weed out the weak…

          • Rob

            And what does it say about those of us who endure execrable winters year after year? We might not be weak, but our behavior doesn’t win any points on the Smart-o-meter.

          • I love the cold. I love winter. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Sure, there are a couple of weeks where you don’t go outside, but I’ll the sound of crunchy snow and those sunny mornings when the microscopic frozen humidity creates “diamonds” around us any day.

            Winter is a feature, not a bug.

  • Gary F

    I’d rather raise two boys in northern Minnesota than Washington DC any day.

    Lots of room for the boys to play, ride bikes, ride ATV’s, hunt, fish, watch the stars all the way to the horizon, go to neighbors farms, watch nature change over the seasons, build huge snow forts, fill sand bags, oh and that’s just the start of it.

  • Tim

    It’s a nice story, but…I guess I’m not sure why someone in his situation wouldn’t do fine there. He’s probably making very good money compared to most who live in the area, for one thing, and despite being from an urban region on the East Coast, he still fits the demographic profile of the area like a glove (albeit likely with more education). I’d find his experiences a bit more compelling if it were more of a true fish out of water situation.

    Would he still feel the same way if, for example, he didn’t have a job that let him make a D.C. salary with a Red Lake Falls cost of living, or if he (and his children) were of different backgrounds relative to most of the population? Clearly that’s not a question he can answer — he is who he is — but it’s something I wonder about.

    • Yes, I agree. He’ll be fine. And he’s from Oneonta, NY. It’s not exactly the big city.

      His point about telecommuting is a good one. Even for those people who COULD telecommute, companies and managers are still stuck in the ’50s mentality and they want to see bodies in cubicles.

      The other part that is worth exploring is the quality of broadband available. We’ve been told so long that broadband stinks in rural Minnesota, that I just assumed Red Lake County wouldn’t have very good access, but apparently it does.

    • Rob

      Totally agreed. Plus, if at any time he wants to pull the plug, I’m guessing his media overlords will welcome him back to the Eastern seaboard fold with open arms. So if there’s any real gamble in his moving here, I’m not seeing it.