The housing out there is great and I've heard great things about the schools, but if your life is based on anything "in the cities" then Albertville will feel like the boonies.
The schools are good (from what I hear - I only have a toddler). Roads have just been redone, so you missed the headache of construction but get to enjoy the benefits of 4 lane roads. There's a little work being done downtown St Michael, but the detour is non-intrusive.
It's a growing community. They added a festival/fair in August just a year or so ago. Great sense of community among residents. The parks and trails around the crow river are great. People are always very friendly. Definitely more of a small town feel with the amenities of a suburb. Maple Grove is 10 minutes down 94 and I get home from downtown in 25 minutes (including driving through Minneapolis on Hennepin first).
Traffic is only bad on Friday afternoons in the summer. But there are several options to take back roads and those only add 5 minutes compared to the highway. Granted, my times are to St. Michael - Albertville will probably be another 5 minutes to my times.
I would recommend the area to anyone looking for a great community to live in. I think it's great for everyone except those that want to go clubbing every night of the week (it's not a downtown area). It's a great suburb for families, outdoor enthusiasts, shoppers, everyone.
Speaking a little bit to what Aaron is talking about - I personally live in Forest Lake and my wife and I absolutely love it. Keep in mind however that I am mobile in my career and if I had a home base that I had to drive to everyday through rush hour - I might not care too much for the area. The biggest deal that you are going to need to wrestle with is the drive. Maple Grove is close so weekends and shopping trips won't be terrible but if you do the daily grind and drive to Minneapolis or St Paul every day for work through rush hour - I would definitely think twice.
There are some great values in Albertville and St Michael right now. You'll find homes here much more reasonably priced here then the closer in suburbs. I live in the area and I enjoy the "small' town environment. There are several new stores and schools that have been built in the last five year. We are only 12 miles away from Maple Grove so it's a easy commute on either the freeway or back roads.
Michael Doyle Realtor
I build new homes in a development 1 mile north of Albertville and in Hanover 5 miles south of Albertville and have watched the area grow up from nothing. There are many great retailers including coffee shops as well as some first class schools including a brand new High School being built now. There is a new proposed elementary school 1 block from the development that I build in. Itâ€™s also conveniently located on interstate 94 making your commute to the south or north very easy. Let me know if you would like take a tour.
You'll find Albertville to be a developing suburban community with some commercial ventures to be explored. My colleagues have included links to some of those concerns for you to explore. In many cases, you'll see St. Michael and Albertville lumped together, as a microcosm of "Twin Towns". St. Michael is the older of the two, containing lots of homes built in the early 20th Century.
As for schools, you'll want to compare. Check out this website:
http://www.schooldatadirect.com. It allows you to compare school districts side by side and decide for yourself what the most important criteria are.
Finally, when looking at property anywhere, it's in your best interests to have someone there to be your representative. Once your representative can see things through your eyes, they can become your personal shopper for a home and community. Contact me anytime for a consultation.
Here are some coffee shops nearby -
If you'd like a personal tour of Albertville and it's amenities I can put you in touch with one of my buyers agents that specialize in the Albertville area. Leave a message at email@example.com with a way for my agent to contact you.
Good luck! 2009 is going to be a great time to be a buyer.