Living cheaply in a big city like Minneapolis/St. Paul can be hard. There are however a number of ways that people do it. From cheap rent to groceries, transportation to entertainment. All that it really takes is a little discipline and a level head. Property in this area is expensive. The cost of a studio apartment can range from 600 dollars to well over a thousand. That is for the crappier ones in town. These are the apartments that are readily advertised. There are much cheaper places to rent but it takes a little bit of hunting to find them. One could scour the newspaper ads and internet for hours and only find 2 or 3 listings. Generally these are in bad areas of town and can be run down.
One way to immediately see ones options is to find the neighborhoods to avoid; not the rough ones, but the expensive ones. In the Twin Cities these neighborhoods include the Summit/Grand area, Uptown, Crocus Hill, either of the Downtowns, and all of the outer ring suburbs. The majority of the cheap apartments are in the inner ring suburbs or near the Universities. The Twin Cities is home to dozens of college campuses. Surrounding these campuses for several miles is cheap living. Unfortunately, any of the houses in this area will be older and might even be in bad shape. Dinky Town for instance has cheap housing; however drunken college students can be hard on houses; not to mention bad neighbors. If one doesn't mind late night noise and beat up housing, then any of the college neighborhoods would be just fine for cheap living. Check the areas around Macalaster College, St. Thomas University, The University of Minnesota, Metropolitan State University, and Hamline University.
As said before, all of the first ring suburbs have cheap apartments for rent. The disadvantage is that things in the suburbs tend to be more centralized. The grocery store could be more than 5 miles away. Luckily the Twin Cities have an excellent bus system. Even the third ring suburbs get buses although the rides can be up to 2 hours long. Two first tier suburbs to look for apartments in are Roseville and Falcon Heights. Both sit in between St. Paul and Minneapolis. This should provide easy access to both downtown areas. Once downtown, the cheapest way to get around is by hoofing it. To get to the Mall of America or the Airport then the light rail train can be taken. It runs about the same price as the bus. The Twin Cities are also bicycle friendly. More and more people are starting to bike around as the roads become congested and oil prices soar. There are plenty of places around both metropolitan areas to store ones bike. Many of the roads also have specific lanes marked for bicycles.
Many of the apartment areas mentioned require a little research and hunting. Here are a few hints and websites to give anyone looking to relocate a slight advantage. The first place that one would want to check is here. This is the link to the Twin Cities Metro Transit website. When looking for apartments it helps to know where the bus lines are. This can play a huge factor in where one looks. A great place to look for apartments is on college campus message boards. If one is willing to accept roommates then this is an excellent option. Often times apartments are listed as well. Another great place to find apartments is Craigslist. If it is possible to visit the Twin Cities before relocating then pick up the free apartment finder ads that reside near the news stands. With careful planning and some smart decisions, it is possible to live cheaply, comfortably, and happily in a city like Minneapolis/St. Paul.