Living in Duluth, MN: 17 Pros & Cons in 2024

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Are you considering moving and living in Duluth, MN? There is much to know about this beautiful Northern Minnesota city.

Along the shores of Lake Superior, this city is a whole lot to offer from outdoor adventures to shopping to a delicious food scene.

Whether you are looking to relocate for work, family, or just seeking a change of scenery, Duluth offers something for everyone.

I live just an hour from Duluth and visit very often. During my times visiting, I’ve learned a lot about the living situation here. I also have many close friends who live in Duluth and have gotten their advice to help write this post.

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know if you’re considering moving to Duluth!

A view of the Aerial Lift Bridge over the Duluth Harbor.

Is Duluth, MN a Good Place to Live?

Yes, Duluth, MN is a great place to live. It is a city that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, plenty of shopping, a great food scene, and a strong sense of community.

If you’re a nature lover like myself, then Duluth really will be the best place for you. My favorite part is that there is such close access to the state’s best skiing, hiking, and outdoors.

Duluth also offers a variety of job opportunities, excellent schools, and a relatively low cost of living when compared to other large Minnesotan cities.

My friend who lives in Duluth mentioned to me that her favorite part of the city is that it’s big, but doesn’t have a big city feel.

I totally agree with this, because you’ll find everything you need in Duluth when it comes to stores, restaurants, etc., but it just has such a small-town feel that I love!

Overall, Duluth is a great place to call home, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors and are looking for a change of scenery in a move.

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    Pros of Living in Duluth

    There are many pros and cons of living in Duluth, MN, but I personally think that the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide!

    A view of the North Shore as seen from a hiking trail.

    1. Gateway to the North Shore

    One of the best parts of Duluth is that it’s the gateway to the North Shore, which is home to some of the best hiking and outdoors in the state.

    The North Shore stretches from Duluth to Grand Portage and follows the Lake Superior shoreline for the entire drive. It’s just stunning. I’ve visited hundreds of times and I still can’t get enough.

    You’ll find incredible hiking trails, beautiful swimming locations, jagged shorelines of the lake, and so much more.

    Myself and my dog standing near a waterfall that we hiked to, that is one of the best parts of living in Duluth.

    2. Hiking, Biking, Skiing, etc.

    Going along with the North Shore, Duluth provides some of the closest access to all of the best outdoor activities. A lot of it can actually be done right in the state.

    You can find waterfalls right in the city, or head up the North Shore to hike to the highest point in the state. Or ski in the winter months at Spirit Mountain.

    If you’re an outdoorsy person like myself, you’ll thrive in Duluth.

    A view of Lake Superior behind a pile of rocks.

    3. Lake Superior Views

    Of course, we couldn’t talk about the pros of living in Duluth without mentioning the beautiful views of Lake Superior in the city!

    Whether you want to just enjoy the views on a romantic date, or go swimming down at Park Point, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the lake.

    From nearly everywhere you go, you can see the world’s largest freshwater lake in the distance.

    4. Big City Advantages with Small Town Feels

    I mentioned above that Duluth has all the advantages of a big city with small-town feels. And it’s so true.

    It’s the fifth largest city in the state of Minnesota with a population of around 86,000, but it’s never felt that way to me. It always feels much smaller and more intimate.

    In Duluth, you get to have the advantages of a big city, like having lots of restaurants, shops, and things to do, without actually having to live in what feels like a massive city.

    This is one of my personal favorite parts of Duluth because there’s less traffic and fewer people, but still great things to do.

    A pizza that can be eaten at a restaurant while living in Duluth, MN.

    5. Lots of Great Restaurants

    I love a good restaurant and having good choices for where to eat is important when moving somewhere new! In Duluth, there are tons of great places from chains to local cafes.

    Canal Park is home to some of the best places to eat, but there are restaurants scattered all over the city. There are even more as you make your way up the North Shore.

    My personal favorite restaurant in Duluth is Va Bene, which is a really good Italian restaurant. But I also love Northern Waters Smokehaus when I need something really quick.

    6. Lower Cost of Living

    The cost of living here isn’t super low, but when comparing it to other cities in Minnesota, it has a low cost of living! The average cost for a single person with no children is typically around $30,000.

    But remember that this doesn’t include any extras and is a very base-level number. When compared to Minneapolis, Duluth is even cheaper yet.

    A view of fall leaves from above on the North Shore.

    7. Duluth Has All Four Seasons

    Minnesota certainly doesn’t skimp out on any of the four seasons, because you’ll experience all of them here in Duluth!

    When I lived in Washington for 6 months, I didn’t really get to experience much of a winter, and it made me miss the four seasons that we have here in Minnesota.

    Duluth gets it all- amazing foliage in fall, snowy wonderlands in winter, sunny days in summer, and blooming flowers in spring.

    8. Lots of Employment Opportunities

    Whether you’re transplanting to Duluth without a job or you’ve already got one lined up, it’s nice to know that there are plenty of employment opportunities available.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Duluth only has about a 2-3% unemployment rate, which is slightly lower than the national average.

    Healthcare facilities, from St. Mary’s to St. Luke’s, employ the most amount of people in Duluth, but there are also standard jobs such as cashiers, and fast food employees, as well as other college-level jobs such as engineers available.

    A ski lift during the winter while living in Duluth.

    9. Plenty to Do, Even in the Winter

    One of the best parts of Duluth is that there is always something to do, whether it’s raining outside, there’s snow everywhere, or it’s cold.

    I actually prefer going to Duluth in winter because there are so many fun things. My favorite is going skiing at Spirit Mountain. Duluth is just filled with winter activities.

    10. Community

    The community in Duluth is something that you can’t experience everywhere, and it’s one of the best parts of Duluth.

    You’ll meet lots of locals who radiate the Minnesota Nice that you may have heard of, and you’ll likely become friends with your neighbors.

    Whenever I’m hiking in Duluth, I always meet a few friendly locals. Last time, I met a couple that stopped to talk to me about my dog, Bella, and they were the nicest people.

    11. Great Education

    Duluth has multiple great universities and colleges that are some of the most attended in the state.

    From the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to the College of Saint Scholastica (CSS) and Lake Superior Community College, there are plenty of options.

    Whether you’re looking for a private campus or public schools, there are multiple options for students.

    Cons of Moving to Duluth

    While the pros outweigh the cons, you still want to understand the key factors and the negatives of moving to Duluth, MN. Here are a few.

    Snow covered trees on the edge of a field.

    12. Long, Cold Winters

    Of course, one of the top cons of Duluth is that there are long, cold winters that you’ll experience every single year.

    Winters in Minnesota are very cold, and you’ll get a taste of that very quickly here, especially being on Lake Superior.

    Anytime I’m in Duluth during winter, I add one more layer than I already had because the ‘lake effect’ is something else. It is cold!

    13. Lots of Snow

    Another part of experiencing a Minnesota winter in Duluth is that there will be lots of snow. Duluth typically gets around 85 inches per year.

    Actually, last year I remember people were wishing it would snow a little more so they could break the record. In 2022, it snowed 140.1 inches in Duluth! The record before was 135.4!

    14. Large Hills to Climb

    Sometimes I dread visiting Duluth in the winter because of the massive hills that you have to drive up. They lead up from Lake Superior into town.

    These hills can be a pain to climb, especially in the winter, and they certainly will do a number on your car’s brakes. You also need to be very cautious about black ice and slipping.

    Multiple snow covered trees along the edge of a field.

    15. Driving isn’t Good

    As I mentioned above, driving on those hills during a Duluth winter can be pretty treacherous and even dangerous if you don’t know how to drive or don’t have a good car!

    I’ve been in many situations where my car has slipped, and when you’re on those hills and in bad conditions, anything can happen. So use a lot of caution and avoid the hills if it’s icy.

    16. Crime Can be High

    Considering crime in a city is also an important thing when moving somewhere, so it’s good to note that crime can be kind of high in Duluth.

    This isn’t uncommon when it comes to large cities, so don’t be surprised if you see this in any large city that you move to.

    The best way to avoid this is by living in nice neighborhoods and avoiding the bad ones.

    A view of Lake Superior from Park Point Beach.

    17. New Houses are Expensive

    While it’s true that the cost of living can be lower in Duluth than in other large Midwestern cities, new houses actually tend to be pretty expensive.

    This is a real bummer if you’re hoping to build or purchase a newer house that has been built in recent years. But older houses tend to be cheaper if you want to save some money!

    Duluth Cost of Living

    Cost of living is a very important thing to consider when you’re moving somewhere new, as you want to make sure that you can afford the place.

    Luckily, the cost of living in Duluth isn’t as high as it is in other Minnesotan cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    But it can also be more expensive than smaller cities around the state. I’d say that it’s a pretty medium priced place to live in Minnesota.

    Best Duluth Neighborhoods to Live In

    When you’re moving to Duluth or to somewhere new, it’s important to determine what the safest neighborhoods of a city are.

    Here are the safest and best neighborhoods in the Duluth area to move to.

    • Chester Park
    • Lakeside/Lester Park
    • Congdon Park
    • Bayview Heights
    • Duluth Heights

    Is Duluth, MN a Safe City to Live In?

    Ultimately, Duluth is a fairly safe city to live in, as long as you’re taking the proper precautions and staying out of the bad neighborhoods.

    Just like any other large city out there, Duluth does have crime, and there are some areas of the city that should be avoided.

    According to Neighborhood Scout, Duluth has an average crime rate of 42 out of 1,000 people being involved in a crime, most of which are property crimes.


    What is it Like Living in Duluth, MN?

    Living in Duluth consists of lots of outdoor activities, constant views of Lake Superior, ease of access to shopping and restaurants, lower cost of living, and friendly people. Not so bad if I do say so myself!

    Is Living in Duluth Expensive?

    Compared to other Minnesotan cities, Duluth isn’t very expensive. It’s cheaper than living in Minneapolis, and still offers you some of the same great benefits of living in a city.

    Do people like living in Duluth?

    Yes, locals love Duluth, thanks to its access to the outdoors, good food, endless shopping, and laid-back vibe that the city gives off.

    Is Minneapolis or Duluth a Better Place to Live?

    Whether you want to live in Minneapolis or Duluth is completely up to you and the preference varies by person. Those who enjoy large cities and city life might prefer Minneapolis, while outdoorsy people will likely prefer Duluth.

    How Nice is Duluth?

    Certain parts of Duluth are nicer than others, as with any city, but overall, Duluth is a nice city with a great parks system, access to the outdoors, and plenty to do.

    Why Should I Move to Duluth, MN?

    There are many reasons to Duluth but a few of the best include being close to the outdoors, having that small town feel, lots of restaurants, friendly people, and so many more.

    Wrap-Up: Living in Duluth, MN

    Whether you’re actually ready to pick up and move, or you’re just shopping the different options, Duluth is a great choice for a place to live.

    As someone who lives just an hour away and visits a few times a month, I can confidently tell you that Duluth is such a great place, and I love being there.

    So if you’re ready to make the move, consider Duluth and check out all of the great reasons to live there.

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