Say it isn't so. Unfortunately, according to the gang at homesnacks, Albert Lea has joined the ranks with the likes of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as one of the top 10 worst places to live in Minnesota. They're talking about my hometown, the neighborhoods I grew up in, and the high school I graduated from. Most of my family still lives in my hometown, and we go back to see everyone, especially on holidays.

They looked at different criteria, including:

  • Good education
  • Lots of jobs
  • Low crime
  • Low poverty
  • Nice homes
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Health insurance
  • Population of 5,000 and over

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.

So taking all of that into account; this is what was said about Albert Lea:

Population: 17,687
Rank Last Year: 32 (Up 22)
Median Home Value: $97,700 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (17th worst)
Albert Lea is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Albert Lea is the 47th most dangerous place you can live in Minnesota.

Residents in Albert Lea have a 1 in 38.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.

When you're considering home prices, you can't do much lower than in Albert Lea, where average homes are valued at only $97,700. That's the 5th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.

Gazebo at Fountain Lake Image Credit: Lon Hall via Facebook
Gazebo at Fountain Lake Image Credit: Lon Hall via Facebook

The takeaway is that housing is cheaper, but, you might have to commute for a decent paying position. I can attest to the charm of the city, and the potential is there to become so much more. There are two lakes, Fountain Lake with a beach, the annual 4th of July fireworks are shot from the beach over the lake, a spectacular sight to see, and Albert Lea Lake. Just outside of town is Pickerel Lake, and a nice park. Home of the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, yes that Marion Ross, Mrs. Cunningham on "Happy Days" and so much more. Also home to one of the best Travel and Truck Stops in the World, the Trails Travel Center. 

Maybe I am a little biased, but I don't think Albert Lea really belongs on this list.

The full Top 10 according to HomeSnacks is:

RankCityPopulationUnemployment RateHome Value
1Waite Park7,6234.7%$150,300
3Brooklyn Center30,8995.9%$161,300
4St. Paul302,7605.7%$196,500
6Columbia Heights19,9586.3%$169,600
8Spring Lake Park6,4596.6%$176,900
9St. Cloud67,5137.1%$149,200
10Albert Lea17,6875.4%$97,700

Meanwhile, back in 2018, named Albert Lea one of the "Top 10 Affordable Small Towns Where You'd Actually Want to Live."

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