First, welcome! Congrats in choosing one of the countries best kept secrets to move to.....My husband moved from San Fran to Minneapolis six years ago and LOVES it here...I would defintely recommend the Minnneapolis/Saint Paul area....not only are there the most nursing programs here, Minnepolis is a beautiful city....defintley the most diverse.
Frankly, I find most burbs and small towns surrounding Minneapolis bland, boring and ugly. Unless you like burbs, I would suggest living in the city.
My husband and I live in a small apt in the "uptown" area of South Minneapolis. Our rent is low, and we live with in easy walking distance of two movies theatres, a dozen resturants, several bars a bank , grocery store, dry cleaners, two lakes and a major transit station so we are able to live care free.
Also, a more diverse are of teh city, Lake Street, where you can find Mexican food that rivals so-cal's is only a 15 minute bus ride away.
So if that's your thing, I would defintely suggest looking in the uptown area. If you come here, and are looking for apts, just type in "Uptown" on craigs list and it will pull up lots.
Weather phobia is over blown by non-natives. Yes, winters can be long. Yes, the cold can wear you down. But when friends and family visit from other areas of the country and complain about the weather, they are usually first and foremost woefully underdressed. I would never visit my family in South Carolina in July wearing Jeans and a sweater. Why do people come to Minneapolis in Winter with light coats, and no other winter gear? Besides, if we had a temperate climate, I expect that the cost of living in our metro areas would rival San Frans- we have an impressive enough arts,food and cultural scene to be in that class. As it is, cost of living is pretty low.
Summers are beautiful- and are great cuz everyone wants to be outside...so it really pulls communities together.
Schools? Check out St Kates. If you want an ADN, consider their Minneapolis campus. BSN? St Paul. And unike other schools that have long waiting lists, here is well kept secret. On admissions day, Usually around October 15th, enrollment on Minneapolis campus for the ADN program is open....first come first serve. People line up in advance and if you meet the minimum requirements, are far enough up in the line you get a spot! Mind you, once you're in, they have some hard non-negotiable time lines on requirements B4 you can begin nurinsg coursework. There is a waiting list created and there is always someone too happy to take your spot. But all in all I find their system the most democratic.
St Kates can be found here www.stkate.edu
specfic Minneapolis campus info can be found here www.stkate.edu/soh
Minneapolis admissions person is Bethany, and she is really great....hope that helps!!!I love Minneapolis, and love to talk about it , so feel free to contact me....although be advised that I am between internet providers so it could take me a day or two to respond.