Northeast Minnesota, home to the Iron Range is an affordable place to live. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) provides data on the costs of basic needs by family type for counties and regions. These data show that Northeast Minnesota as well as Itasca and St. Louis counties – the two counties encompassing the bulk of the Mesabi Range – have lower costs of living than the rest of the state.

 
Family Type Area Yearly Cost Hourly Wage Required Child Care Food Healthcare Housing Transportation Other Taxes
Single, no Children Itasca County $28,932 $13.91 $0 $330 $166 $586 $743 $257 $329
St. Louis County $28,860 $13.88 $0 $330 $166 $676 $633 $282 $318
Northeast Minnesota $28,860 $13.88 $0 $330 $166 $650 $663 $275 $321
Minnesota $31,392 $15.09 $0 $336 $157 $798 $653 $318 $354
Typical Family: 2 Adults (1 Full-Time, 1 Part-Time Worker), 1 Child Itasca County $50,256 $16.11 $255 $754 $659 $790 $867 $433 $430
St. Louis County $51,084 $16.37 $320 $756 $659 $887 $730 $460 $445
Northeast Minnesota $50,784 $16.28 $307 $755 $659 $854 $767 $451 $439
Minnesota $56,772 $18.20 $516 $769 $593 $1,033 $755 $505 $560
Source: DEED Cost of Living Tool


The monthly cost of child care for family of two working adults with one child in the Northeast region is more than 40% lower than the statewide estimate. Similarly, monthly housing costs for single adults are just over 80% that of all single Minnesotans and just under 83% for typical families. Taxes, food, and other costs are also typically lower in and around the Range (see Table 1).

Table 2. Wage Data for Northeast Minnesota, 2018-2019
Area 2019 Median Hourly Wage 2018 Annual Median Family Income
Itasca County n/a $64,995
St. Louis County n/a $73,066
Northeast Minnesota $18.57 $70,368
Minnesota $20.95 $86,204
Sources: DEED Cost of Living Tool, U.S. Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 5-Year Estimates

Typical wages earned by workers further highlight the region’s affordability. In 2019, the median worker in Northeast Minnesota earned a wage of $18.57 an hour or $38,522 a year. This wage equates to almost $10,000 a year more than the yearly basic-needs cost of living for a single adult residing in the area. This gap is even greater when looking at family income. The typical family in Northeast Minnesota can cover the estimate costs of their basic needs with about $20,000 to spare (see Table 2). These wages allow residents of Northeast Minnesota to take full advantage of lower costs of living.