25 Cheapest Cities in Missouri

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A move to Missouri is something you might consider if you enjoy the great outdoors or you’re interested in exploring the many cultural attractions the state has to offer. The Show-Me State is also an affordable place to call home, ranking sixth in the nation for the lowest cost of living. Cities like St. Louis and Springfield offer numerous job opportunities, and the median household income is $61,043.

Here’s a look at the best places to live in Missouri for families, young professionals, retirees, and nature lovers.

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Best Places to Live in Missouri

The best places in Missouri to live can depend on what you value most. St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs might be a good fit if you like the hustle and bustle of city living. On the other hand, you might lean toward a spot like Poplar Bluff if you prefer a slower pace and cozier surroundings.

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Best Affordable Places to Live in Missouri

Finding the best affordable places to live in Missouri is no easy task, so to make it easier, we’ve chosen five of the most budget-friendly locations in the state. Affordability is based on the cost-of-living composite index, which includes the cost of housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care, and goods and services. If you’re hoping to transition from renter to homeowner, reading through a first-time homebuyer guide can give you a better idea of what to expect.

1. Joplin

Joplin and its surrounding metro area ranks as one of the most affordable cities to live in Missouri overall, with a cost of living that’s 20% below the national average. It also rates as one of the most diverse places to live in the state and the majority of residents own their homes. Joplin originally began as a mining town and today, it’s considered a gem of a place to call home for families, retirees, and professionals alike.

  • Population: 52,518
  • Median Household Income: $46,849
  • Cost of Living: 82% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $950
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.9
  • Average Property Tax: $1,035

Housing Affordability: The median rent price in Joplin is $950, which is 53% lower than the national median. Rent prices have declined slightly in the last year and the overall market temperature is cool. Home values, meanwhile, have risen 5.4% in the past year, but a typical property is valued at around $183,000, which is pretty affordable by national standards.

Image Credit: Rawf8/istockphoto.

2. St. Louis

St. Louis is a haven for young professionals who are interested in starting a career, but it’s not limited solely to job-seekers. The population is diverse and there’s plenty to do, whether you’re looking for a thriving nightlife scene or family-friendly attractions. The Gateway Arch is of course one of the most notable landmarks, with thousands of tourists visiting each year, but there are plenty of smaller, more out-of-the-way spots to explore.

  • Population: 286,578
  • Median Household Income: $48,751
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,175
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: The median rent price in St. Louis is $1,175 which is 41% below the national median. While more people rent their homes here than own, and the rental market temperature is cooler overall. The price-to-income ratio is 3.3 which suggests a greater degree of affordability. Among residents who own, mortgage payments are just under 30% of income. Going through the mortgage preapproval process can give you an idea of how much home you might be able to afford.

Image Credit: Art Wager/istockphoto.

3. Springfield

Springfield is a larger city that attracts outdoor enthusiasts as well as families who are looking for quality schools. There’s also a vibrant student scene here as Springfield is home to Missouri State University, the second-largest university in the state. With nearly 100 parks and 140 miles of biking trails, it’s an ideal place to live if you enjoy being active and spending time in nature.

  • Population: 170,067
  • Median Household Income: $39,991
  • Cost of Living: 87% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,250
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.3
  • Average Property Tax: $1,383

Housing Affordability: With a median rent price of $1,250 and a sizable inventory of available properties, Springfield could be a solid pick for those who aren’t quite ready to buy a home. While rental prices are 38% below the national median, the market temperature has warmed slightly in the last year. The price-to-income ratio of 2.3 is exceptionally low and homeowners spend around 21% of their income on mortgage payments.

Image Credit: JTGrafix/istockphoto.

4. Kansas City

Kansas City is Missouri’s largest city, with a population exceeding half a million people. It’s been ranked as one of the best cities in America to buy a home and more people own here than rent. If you’re a football fan, Sundays might be dedicated to watching the Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium, but if not you can easily find something to do here any day of the week.

  • Population: 509,297
  • Median Household Income: $60,042
  • Cost of Living: 95% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.8
  • Average Property Tax: $2,247

Housing Affordability: A median rent price of $1,300 makes Kansas City 35% cheaper for renters compared to the national median. Rental prices have nudged upward only slightly over the past year, while the demand for properties has begun to heat up. The price-to-income ratio is a bit higher here than other affordable Missouri cities, meaning homeowners spend a larger share of their income on mortgage payments.

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5. Columbia

Columbia features a dense, suburban feel while also offering plenty of green spaces to enjoy the outdoors. The University of Missouri is located here and like other college towns, Columbia serves up plenty of options for dining, shopping, nightlife, and entertainment. Local residents know Columbia as the “Athens of Missouri” thanks to its emphasis on education and architecture.

  • Population: 128,555
  • Median Household Income: $57,463
  • Cost of Living: 95% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.3
  • Average Property Tax: $2,028

Housing Affordability: Columbia’s rental market has seen an uptick in demand over the past year, paired with a decline in rental prices. The median rent of $1,200 is 40% lower than the national median. A price-to-income ratio of 2.3 makes Columbia an attractive option for bargain-seeking homebuyers.

Image Credit: Sean Pavone/istockphoto.

Best Places to Live in Missouri for Families

The following five cities rate as the best places for families to live in Missouri, thanks to their overall cost of living, access to schools, and amenities.

1. Wildwood

Wildwood is a larger suburban city that’s nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. St. Louis offers a relatively short commute for working professionals while closer to home, families enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces. (The good schools here are a draw for families as well.)

  • Population: 34,954
  • Median Household Income: $140,685
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,485
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Wildwood’s rental market is more expensive than the national median, however, the median household income is significantly higher compared to other Missouri cities. The typical home value is just under $400,000, however, the price-to-income ratio is relatively low which is a positive for would-be homebuyers.

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2. Clayton

Named the best place to live in Missouri overall, Clayton is a smaller suburban enclave located within a 15-minute drive of St. Louis. Clayton earns high marks for its diversity, access to jobs, quality health care, and family-oriented vibe. Families may enjoy the fact that its schools are well rated. The city is big on charm and offers all the amenities of a more urban area while allowing residents to enjoy a more relaxed vibe.

  • Population: 17,130
  • Median Household Income: $117,593
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Despite rent prices being on the higher side compared to other Missouri cities, Clayton still rates as being an affordable option for renters. Overall, rent prices are 15% below the national median. The price-to-income ratio is low, though homeowners should be aware that St. Louis County has a higher property tax rate than other Missouri locales.

Image Credit: clayton, MO by Paul Sableman (None).

3. Ladue

Ladue is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis that offers a smaller, more intimate feel than surrounding suburban areas. It’s close enough to the city to be accessible for family outings but it features an almost rural feel. Families are drawn here by its excellent schools and in fact Ladue is notable for being one of the best educated — and the wealthiest — cities in Missouri.

  • Population: 8,905
  • Median Household Income: $250,000
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,356
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.5
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Rent prices in Ladue are higher compared to other Missouri cities and there are few rental properties available in the community. Housing prices are also well above the typical Missouri average and the national average. Some of those planning a move here may need to consider a jumbo mortgage loan.

Image Credit: cityofladue.gov.

4. Ballwin

Ballwin offers easy access to shopping and dining, with St. Louis a short drive away. Overwhelmingly, the diverse range of families who choose to live here own rather than rent their homes. One of the biggest attractors (other than its well-regarded schools) is the wide variety of parks and trails that are perfect for a weekend hike with the kids (and dogs) in tow.

  • Population: 30,622
  • Median Household Income: $107,806
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,920
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Rent prices in Ballwin are just below the national median, though again, more residents prefer to own their homes. Homes are reasonably priced, though a tad more expensive than some of the other affordable Missouri cities on our list. Overall, the price-to-income ratio remains low, suggesting greater affordability.

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5. Olivette

Olivette rates high on the livability scale for families, with a smaller-town feel and access to the bigger-city amenities of nearby St. Louis. It’s been recognized as one of the most diverse suburbs in Missouri. Parents appreciate that it is home to some of the best-rated schools in the state.

  • Population: 8,393
  • Median Household Income: $92,984
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,875
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Rent prices are below the national median, though not by much. The overall market has seen some ups and downs with regard to pricing and the overall temperature is warm. Like other St. Louis suburbs, home prices are a bit higher compared to more outlying areas but still affordable, based on the area’s price-to-income ratio.

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Best Places to Live in Missouri for Young Adults

Missouri’s bigger cities naturally pull in younger adults who are preparing to start or change careers, and many St. Louis suburbs rank as the best places to live for professionals. If you’re interested in buying, you may want to get prequalified for a home loan to see what loan rates you’ll qualify for.

1. Maplewood

Maplewood, which derives its name in part from the many maple trees planted around the city, is home to a small population with a higher proportion of unmarried, childless residents than married couples with kids. Roughly half of residents hold a college degree and the majority of those employed work in white-collar roles. There are plenty of job offerings in Maplewood and even more employment opportunities in nearby St. Louis.

  • Population: 8,099
  • Median Household Income: $52,420
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $995
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: The median rent price is $1,175 which is 41% below the national median. While more people rent their homes here than own, the rental market temperature is cooler overall. The price-to-income ratio is 3.3 which suggests a greater degree of affordability. Among residents who own, mortgage payments are just under 30% of income.

Image Credit: Chris Yunker.

2. Benton Park

Originally intended to be a city cemetery, Benton Park is a small neighborhood in St. Louis that’s home to mostly white-collar workers, the majority of whom are in their 30s, unmarried, and childless. More people rent here than own and there’s plenty to do for young professionals who are interested in nightlife or grabbing a bite to eat with friends, although at the end of the day this is one of the quieter St. Louis suburbs.

  • Population: 3,314
  • Median Household Income: $70,433
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,175
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $1,019

Housing Affordability: Like other parts of the St. Louis metro area, Benton Park is welcoming to renters with a median rent price that’s well below the national average. The price-to-income ratio is relatively low, suggesting owning a home is affordable. However, as mentioned more people choose to rent than buy here.

Image Credit: Benton Park by Subtletact (None).

3. Hi-Pointe

Hi-Pointe is part of the Dogtown section of St. Louis, which is a traditionally Irish section of the city. The area features a mix of young professionals and families with young children, with the majority of households owning their homes. The median age is around 35 years old and nearly 90% of employed residents work in white-collar jobs. Most people work for private companies, with some working in government roles or for non-profit organizations.

  • Population: 21,447
  • Median Household Income: $64,324
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,175
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $1,019

Housing Affordability: Hi-Pointe is renter-friendly, though you’re more likely to encounter homeowners here. Rents have remained relatively stable over time and home prices are not so high as to be out of reach. Incomes are a bit lower compared to other St. Louis-area neighborhoods but the price-to-income ratio is moderate.

Image Credit: Hi-Pointe by Onegentlemanofverona (None).

4. Shaw

Shaw was originally a natural prairie before being developed as a city. The area draws in young professionals who are eager to live and work in the St. Louis area. Most residents are young and childless, with the median area coming in at around 34 years old. The Missouri Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest and most renowned research centers in the U.S., borders the city.

  • Population: 17,202
  • Median Household Income: $62,732
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,175
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $1,019

Housing Affordability: Most residents rent which is understandable as rent prices have held relatively steady. Homes are priced slightly higher here compared to other areas of the St. Louis metro area but the low price-to-income ratio indicates that buying is affordable for many people.

Image Credit: Shaw by Superdave312 (None).

5. Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square is St. Louis’s oldest historic district and is named after the Marquis de Lafayette of Revolutionary War fame. The city has earned a reputation for being an attractive place to live for both young professionals and families. Residents are more likely to be young, never married, and childless. They’re also more likely to own their homes than rent. While the median household income is in the mid-$60,000s, the average income hovers near $100,000 a year.

  • Population: 20,253
  • Median Household Income: $65,011
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,175
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $1,019

Housing Affordability: There are more renters than homeowners here, though both could be considered equally affordable. Home prices have inched up slightly over the past year but on the whole, buying property is not out of reach. If you’re getting ready to start home shopping, visit a home loan help center to learn more about the process of obtaining a mortgage.

Image Credit: Lafayette Square by Warren LeMay (None).

Best Places to Live in Missouri for Retirees

Choosing a place to retire often comes down to what you need and desire most. The best places to live in Missouri for retirees feature a low cost of living, plenty of opportunities to connect with other seniors, and access to quality health care. And starting in 2024, Missouri will not tax Social Security benefits.

1. Kennett

Kennett is the largest city in the Bootheel area of Missouri and it’s remained mostly agricultural since its founding in 1846. It’s a small town that may appeal to retirees who aren’t interested in spending their golden years living in the big city and prefer a slower pace. Housing is inexpensive whether you’re renting or buying.

  • Population: 10,229
  • Median Household Income: $50,127
  • Cost of Living: 71% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $895
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2
  • Average Property Tax: $579

Housing Affordability: Rent prices are 55% lower than the national median in Kennett and the price-to-income ratio is also exceptionally low. Property taxes are fairly modest compared to other Missouri cities, which may appeal to retirees who prefer to own but don’t want to get stuck with a high tax bill.

Image Credit: Kennett by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY).

2. Chesterfield

Chesterfield is a suburban city in St. Louis County that draws in many retirees, as well as families. Just over 20% of the population is aged 65 or older and the city offers a number of programs to help retirees stay active and involved in the community. Housing and rent prices are slightly higher here, but the median household income is higher as well, exceeding $120,000 a year.

Population: 49,327

  • Median Household Income: $124,551
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,975
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Most people in Chesterfield own their homes and most are still paying on a mortgage. However, the price-to-income ratio is not overwhelmingly high, despite typical home values approaching $500,000. Should you choose to rent, take note that rent prices have increased over the last year thanks to an uptick in demand for available properties.

Image Credit: Chesterfield by Paul Knittel (CC BY).

3. Creve Coeur

Creve Coeur is a moderately sized suburban area that’s a 20-minute drive from downtown St. Louis. Deriving its name from a local legend involving unrequited love, the city is home to many popular attractions that retirees might appreciate, including the Antique Mall and Millennium Park. Around a quarter of the population is 65 or older and most people own their homes. The convenience to nearby St. Louis may be ideal for retirees who want to be able to shop, dine out, or visit their doctor without a lengthy drive.

  • Population: 18,565
  • Median Household Income: $100,810
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,600
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.3
  • Average Property Tax: $3,003

Housing Affordability: Rent prices are below the national median and they’ve actually cooled somewhat over the past year. Home prices and home values are above-average but the typical resident also has a higher median household income with which to cover mortgage payments.

Image Credit: ©TripAdvisor.

4. Smithville

Smithville is part of the Kansas City metro area and affords retirees with a quieter, suburban escape. The overall cost of living is somewhat higher than other Missouri cities and towns, though incomes are higher as well. There are lots of outdoor attractions to keep retirees occupied, including parks and lakes, and the Smithville Senior Center sponsors a variety of activities for the city’s older residents.

  • Population: 10,653
  • Median Household Income: $90,909
  • Cost of Living: 95% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,095
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.9
  • Average Property Tax: $2,653

Housing Affordability: While rent prices are just above the national median, home prices remain within a moderate range. The price-to-income ratio is marginally higher here than in other Missouri cities, but it’s lower than the ratio for the Kansas City metro area as a whole.

Image Credit: ©TripAdvisor.

5. Carthage

Carthage bears the name of an ancient city but it’s anything but old-fashioned or outdated. It’s a neighboring city to nearby Joplin and may be perfect for retirees who enjoy spending time outdoors. There are more younger residents here than older ones, but Carthage is still worth a look if you’re hoping to find a lower-cost area to retire that offers plenty of amenities.

  • Population: 15,491
  • Median Household Income: $41,378
  • Cost of Living: 86% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $800
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.1
  • Average Property Tax: $1,035

Housing Affordability: Both rent and home prices are on the lower side here, which is an advantage if you’re unsure whether you’d prefer to buy property in retirement. Property taxes aren’t unreasonable and the price-to-income ratio hints at housing being more affordable.

Image Credit: Wirestock/istockphoto.

Best Places to Live in Missouri Near the Water

Missouri doesn’t have any oceanfront property but there are still plenty of lakes and rivers to explore. If you enjoy spending time on the water, these cities rate as the best places to live.

1. Branson

Branson is an Ozark town that’s a well-known vacation spot for families. There are plenty of theme parks and museums but Branson’s real draw lies in its natural beauty. Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake are some of the best fishing spots in the country, whether you’re angling from the shore or heading out on the water. If you’re not into fishing, you can relax aboard one of the many riverboat tours that operate in the area.

  • Population: 12,947
  • Median Household Income: $45,669
  • Cost of Living: 80% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.7
  • Average Property Tax: $578

Housing Affordability: The somewhat elevated median rent price in Branson may be driven by vacation renters, and you may have to hunt to find a lower-priced option. The price-to-income ratio is higher than some of the other cities we’ve profiled but it’s possible to find a home to fit almost any budget.

Image Credit: Christine_Kohler/istockphoto.

2. Rolla

Rolla features many attractions designed for those who love the water, including SplashZone Waterpark and Fugitive Beach. The latter is a waterpark that was built inside what was once a rock quarry. If you’d rather avoid the crowds that water parks draw, you can always check out some of the smaller, local creeks instead.

  • Population: 20,322
  • Median Household Income: $37,426
  • Cost of Living: 79% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.3
  • Average Property Tax: $993

Housing Affordability: Rolla’s rent prices are significantly below the national median and homeowners will appreciate the low property tax rate. The price-to-income ratio is modestly higher here but overall, housing remains affordable.

Image Credit: Sabrina Gordon/istockphoto.

3. Jackson

Jackson has a quaint, small-town feel with plenty to do both indoors and out. Lake Boutin, located inside the Trail of Tears State Park, is a pristine beach that’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, paddling, and kayaking. You can also plan a fishing trip here as the lake is stocked with catfish, bluegill, and bass.

  • Population: 15,702
  • Median Household Income: $70,179
  • Cost of Living: 84% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $850
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.5
  • Average Property Tax: $1,295

Housing Affordability: Jackson is a little more expensive in terms of housing, though rent prices are still well below the national median. Thanks to a higher median household income and moderate home values, the price-to-income ratio is on the lower side.

(Learn more: Personal Loan Calculator

Image Credit: Jackson by Kbh3rd (CC BY).

4. Winona

Winona is the tiniest of small towns but it’s packed with fun things to do outdoors if you’re the adventurous type. Gibbon Falls and Rocky Falls are both scenic spots to spend an afternoon. You can also float along the Current River or experience the cold springs at the nearby Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

  • Population: 963
  • Median Household Income: $27,969
  • Cost of Living: 76% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $625
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.9
  • Average Property Tax: $726

Housing Affordability: Renters will find Winona to be budget-friendly, with prices that are drastically less than the national average. Property taxes are low, which is a boon for homeowners and the price-to-income ratio is reasonable.

Image Credit: Eifel Kreutz/istockphoto.

5. Warsaw

Warsaw offers lots to do out-of-doors, starting with boating, fishing, and strolling along the waterfront at Drake Harbor. The Warsaw Riverfront trail system takes you along the Osage arm of the Lake of the Ozarks and the Harry S. Truman Dam offers amazing views of the water. If you’re into watersports, you can head to Truman Lake for boating, waterskiing, and swimming.

  • Population: 2,231
  • Median Household Income: $36,397
  • Cost of Living: 76% of the national average
  • Median Rent Price: $400
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.5
  • Average Property Tax: $822

Housing Affordability: Warsaw has some of the lowest rent prices you’ll find in Missouri, or anywhere else for that matter. The price-to-income ratio is only marginally higher than other Missouri cities, which is a plus if you’re interested in buying a home here.

Image Credit: ©TripAdvisor.

The Takeaway

Missouri is known for its natural beauty and the state offers a diverse range of options to satisfy the needs of families, young professionals, retirees, or anyone who’s looking for an affordable place to live. Whether you choose a larger city, a mid-sized suburb, or a small town there’s something here to please most everyone. When planning a move to Missouri or any other state, it’s important to plan your budget carefully. Compare the cost of living by state to see how other locations measure up.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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