Few towns seem to evolve while holding onto the elements that make their identity unique. Urban progress all too often comes at the cost of total change and conformity, But beautiful Richfield, Minnesota has stayed true to its roots ever since officially becoming a village way back in 1908. Despite its proximity to Minneapolis and nearby highways and airports, the population of 35,000 has taken pride in the small-town feel of the community and intends to preserve it for years to come. But what is it like to actually live in Richfield? Some key factors tell the tale.
Richfield, as the name implies, began life as a prosperous farming community serving the nearby towns. While it has since become more of a booming businesses center in the years that have passed, strong efforts by the residents to preserve the city’s natural resources have resulted in amazing outdoor locations. Within the 7 miles that encompass the city are over 450 acres of parklands, with 23 neighborhoods calling a park their own. Richfield also made its mark on Minnesota history by opening one of the country’s first nature preserves, Wood Lake Nature Center. Over 200 different species of birds call the forests and prairies home. Enthusiastic staff is happy to give guided tours, or you can walk the boardwalk alone and take it all in yourself.
Richfield experienced a major population spike in the decade following World War II. As a result, a vast majority of the homes and apartments in the city date from that period. The city has, however, started a program encouraging remodeling efforts to modernize the city’s housing. New residents have a choice between new and historic housing.
The work opportunities are surprisingly diverse for such a small community. The surge in job creation can be traced back to 2003 when Best Buy, Inc. moved their headquarters – and over 4,000 jobs – to Richfield. While Best Buy is the area’s largest employer, other businesses have moved branches or their own headquarters to the city as well. Many of Richfield’s oldest job opportunities are in its school systems and nature reserves and parks.
In terms of education, the city is served by a single school district with around 4,200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Within the district are a few specialty schools, including a STEM-focused elementary school, and a dual language school where students learn Spanish alongside English. There is also an offering of private schools for those looking for a more personal approach to education, including religious schools.
When residents want to play, they head to the city’s Ice Arena. The facility has a pair of full-sized skating rinks that host figure skating, games of broomball, and the region’s favorite sport, hockey. For those who prefer water over ice, a public outdoor pool is just outside the Ice Arena.
As you can see, Richfield has struck the balance of regional identity and forward progression well. If you’re looking to live in a small town that knows where it stands, look no further than Richfield.
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