As I was cleaning the salt and crud off of the winter bike last night and reconciling myself to the prospect of -3 degrees and a -20 windchill in the morning, I contemplated what in heaven's name brings expatriates such as me to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota can be a challenge on a number of levels; the culture is "different" as we like to say here, and the weather is decidedly harsh. Smartwool base layers on March 2 is a case in point.
The answer, of course, is usually either love or money.
Expatriates are seldom lured to Minnesota by the quality of life, school systems, the enlightened thinking of its progressive peoples, or how gosh darn nice Minnesotans are, despite what they would tell you in mixed company. Here's a secret - invite a few expats to a Minnesota party and they will eventually find each other, identify as expats, and then head to a corner to talk about their adopted home and how they got here.
It's almost always either love or money. Sometimes school comes up, but usually it's love and/or money. They either met a nice young man/woman from Minnesota and moved there to be with them, or they got a job up here and relocated for that. It's certainly not the weather.
For me, it was both. I was looking for a job after college and my then-girlfriend was from Minnesota, so I included that state in my search. I finally got a job, she followed me, and before I knew it, I was a naturalized expatriate and married to a Minnesotan.
Despite my nearly 16 years in Minnesota, when asked where I am from, I still say "M'waukee". Force of habit, stubbornness or denial, I guess.