The heartland region of the United States has a reputation for being almost entirely rural, with a few cities scattered across the landscape. The truth is that this can be an excellent region to live in. Missouri embodies this as much as any other heartland state. It has many terrific communities for anyone, from young professionals to families to retirees.
Missouri is highly affordable. It has the fifth-lowest cost of living in the nation when accounting for the cost of living, utilities, and groceries. Another of Missouri’s strengths is its public school system. Students have access to a wide variety of educational opportunities and can demonstrate their learning through state tests.
In addition, Missouri has an active nightlife scene, with plenty of entertainment options for everyone, even beyond the major cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Of course, it’s also worth mentioning all the beautiful outdoor spaces Missouri has to offer.
Location, decent wages, a low cost of living, a strong job market, and good schools make Missouri a great place to settle down. A closer look reveals that it is much more than a flyover state. If you’re looking to relocate to the “Show Me State,” consider one of these ten communities and see for yourself.
Here are the 10 best places to live in Missouri in 2023:
Table of Contents:
- 1. Columbia – Boone County
- 2. Ozark – Christian County
- 3. St. Charles – St. Charles County
- 4. Lee’s Summit – Jackson/Cass Counties
- 5. Liberty – Clay County
- 6. Chesterfield – St. Louis County
- 7. Parkville – Platte County
- 8. Clayton – St. Louis County
- 9. Fremont Hills – Christian County
- 10. Creve Coeur – St. Louis County
1. Columbia – Boone County
Columbia is one of the fastest-growing cities in Missouri, indicating a desirable location and future economic growth. The city’s population is currently 124,769. These residents enjoy a bustling arts scene, three college campuses, a strong downtown, and many white-collar job opportunities.
Crime rates in this college town are low, on par with the average of the rest of Missouri. It has a low unemployment rate and plenty of job opportunities, especially in the face of current growth. The cost of living and real estate are both slightly high for the state, but the median home costs $229,500. Still, due to the college campuses in the area, plenty of amenities exist, including nightlife and healthcare.
Columbia is perhaps best known as the home of the University of Missouri, or “Mizzou” for short. The University serves over 30,000 students and has a well-respected division 1 athletic program. Not to be outdone, the smaller Stephens College and Columbia College are both located in Columbia.
2. Ozark – Christian County
As you might expect, Ozark is named for the mountain range in which it is situated, the Ozark Mountains. Due to this location, 21,052 citizens enjoy lovely access to the outdoors. Activities such as hunting, hiking, and watching wildlife are popular in Ozark. Suppose you’re looking to get away from the city and into a beautiful natural area. In that case, Ozark may be the Missouri community for you.
Ozark has a nice balance of safety and affordability. The crime rate is 36% lower than the Missouri average. The unemployment rate is low, sitting under 4%. While the city isn’t known for its industry, the median home is affordable for most, coming in at $230,110.
The city is home to some quirky historical attractions that are sure to excite those who love to explore off the beaten path. There’s a Civil War cave that served as an important location in the conflict between the states. The downtown also has some beautiful architecture, including a couple of churches that are now over a century old.
Recommended for you
3. St. Charles – St. Charles County
St. Charles isn’t as well-known as Kansas City or St. Louis, but it has a rich history. It was the first capital of Missouri in the 1820s. Back in those days, it was an important center of trade with the local Native American tribes and a convenient stop for explorers like Lewis and Clark before they continued their journey up the Missouri River. Today, St. Charles is home to 71,761 citizens.
St. Charles is another suburb of St. Louis and a desirable place that’s 29% safer than the rest of the state. It is more affordable than some other regional communities, with a relatively low cost of living and reasonable median home costs of $249,700. Many commuters live in this suburb, and there are enough job opportunities to sustain the growing population.
There is a diverse selection of things to do in St. Charles. For one, the city is known for its historic shopping district with some locally-famous restaurants. It’s a delightful place to spend a day with family. There are also a few historical sites related to the city’s history as the first state capital. Finally, the outdoor spaces in St. Charles are worth a look at. The town maintains several public parks and abuts the Katy Trail, a 225-mile-long state park.
4. Lee’s Summit – Jackson/Cass Counties
Lee’s Summit is not necessarily well-known to those unfamiliar with the region. Still, it is a hidden gem for anyone looking to move to Missouri. The locals boast that it has a nice balance of big-city vibes with small-town charm. 101,467 people call Lee’s Summit home.
For such a large place, the city is run very efficiently. The town’s citizens attend multiple school districts, keeping class sizes small and education effective. The safety of the community should not be overlooked. Crime rates are 29% lower than the Missouri average. The median home will cost just under $300,000, making it reasonable for such a desirable place to live. Healthcare is abundantly available here, and Kansas City is just a 20-minute drive away.
Lee’s Summit is home to many diverse attractions and things to do. Arcades, shooting ranges, public parks, breweries, and much more contribute to a bustling tourism scene. Whether you choose to live in Lee’s Summit or not, it’s a great place to visit.
Recommended for you
5. Liberty – Clay County
Liberty was founded in the 1820s as a suburb of the developing Kansas City. It was named for the patriotic ideals of the United States. Today, Liberty is home to 32,418 citizens.
Liberty’s crime rate is 9% lower than the average of Missouri as a whole, so people feel safer moving here than to the center of Kansas City. The homes are also reasonably affordable. The median house costs $253,000. Renters can find lodging for about the average of the rest of the state, which will keep them happy too. Plenty of amenities like healthcare are nearby, and the schools are respected.
Liberty’s claim to fame is that it is home to the Hallmark headquarters. Whenever you purchase a greeting card for a major holiday or a friend’s birthday, you know that the ideas came from Liberty. Of course, if you’re stopping by the city, you’ll want to check out the sights of the historic downtown area. It’s where you can meet the locals and get to know the city’s culture.
6. Chesterfield – St. Louis County
Chesterfield is perfect for those who wish to be close to the exciting St. Louis but prefer a more suburban lifestyle. It borders the city’s western edge and has a robust 47,570 citizens. It’s a fun fact that Chesterfield used to be called “Gumbo Flats” for the composition of the muddy river soil.
Safety gives Chesterfield citizens peace of mind and makes it a terrific alternative to living in downtown St. Louis. The crime rate is 40% lower than in the rest of Missouri, and violent crime is significantly lower. The public system is highly-regarded for families with kids in school and performs very well on state testing. The one hangup is the real estate prices. A median home in Chesterfield costs $453,800. Still, there are lots of job opportunities in Chesterfield, which carries a meager unemployment rate and plenty of industry jobs available.
Chesterfield residents have some terrific shopping options. The city has two outlet malls and an outdoor shopping area called Chesterfield Commons. When you’re here, you can always take a quick tour of St. Louis and experience all the attractions there.
Joplin has lots of fun and exciting things to do if you know where to look. The region’s natural splendor, historical stops, monuments, and recreational activities abound here. These are our picks for the 24 most exciting things to do in Joplin, Missouri…
7. Parkville – Platte County
Located in the western part of Missouri as part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Parkville is one of the better Kansas City suburbs to raise a family. It is primarily known for its downtown culture, including a historic downtown area with small businesses, restaurants, and boutique shops. The population is small at 8,329, but it has grown considerably in recent years.
Parkville’s crime rates are 31% lower than the Missouri average, so the residents feel safe here. Parkville’s household income is very high, and many people work white-collar jobs in the management or technology sectors. Buying a house in Parkville is a little pricier as the median home costs $488,400. It’s a desirable place to live, and the proximity to Kansas City adds to that popularity.
In addition to having easy access to the city, Parkville is home to some excellent suburban attractions. It has multiple vineyards, distilleries, a popular campground, and everyday family activities like miniature golf and cinemas.
8. Clayton – St. Louis County
Another suburb of St. Louis, Clayton, is the seat of St. Louis county. It’s a city of convenience where the neighborhoods are walkable, and none of them are too far away from small central business districts. Clayton’s population is 16,775.
Being outside of the center of St. Louis, Clayton is markedly safer. The crime rate is a complete 50% lower than the average of the state. The people enjoy low unemployment, as the area is very developed and so close to the urban center of the major city. Schools are well-respected here.
The city invests highly in each student, spending double the national average per kid enrolled. They have a tremendous student-to-teacher ratio, too. All of these desirable amenities do drive up the cost of real estate. The median home in Clayton will cost $766,900, which is a considerable markup from many other communities on our list.
The proximity to St. Louis ensures that Clayton is not a boring place. There’s plenty to do that you might be able to find around any urban area. The area’s nightlife, culture, and kid-friendly activities are plentiful.
Travel aficionados who are looking to fill up their bucket list with various visits to fun U.S. states should most definitely pencil in Tennessee as one of their destinations. The people in the so-called Volunteer State (Go Vols!) are genuinely friendly folks who never fail to provide visitors with…
9. Fremont Hills – Christian County
Fremont Hills is perfect for the Missourian who is looking for small-town living. The population doesn’t even crack 1,000 residents. This might make property here hard to come by, but if you’re looking for quiet, this could be the greatest bet in the state.
Fremont Hills crime is practically nonexistent. It is 86% lower than the average in Missouri. The population is affluent. The average income is over $100,000 per year, and the average home is worth $428,900. While this might put the town out of reach for some people, the cost is well worth it for the peaceful existence Fremont Hills promises.
The people of Fremont Hills are known to be friendly and community-oriented. While the city was initially built around its picturesque golf course, the town takes care of its infrastructure by investing in the roads, utilities, and curb appeal for its small population.
10. Creve Coeur – St. Louis County
Yes, it’s another community in St. Louis County. Creve Coeur is French for “heartbreak” and derives its name from an old Native American love story. The 18,624 people of this city aren’t suffering, though. They enjoy being part of the community with some of the highest assessed values in all Missouri.
Crime in Creve Coeur is about 34% lower than in the rest of the state. The median income here is well over $90,000 per year, and the median home costs $498,300. It isn’t quite as expensive as nearby Clayton, but it is still among the more costly communities on the list. Creve Coeur students are well-educated, and most of them go on to attend four-year colleges and universities.
This city has plenty to do, as it is close to St. Louis. In addition to the many small businesses and fun family activities, there is also a 9-hole municipal golf course. Creve Coeur is nearby for water lovers.
Upon closer look, Missouri is an underrated state with many particularly great communities to buy a property or settle in. While many are concentrated near the major urban hubs of St. Louis and Kansas City, the middle of the state offers enough beauty and activity to satisfy anyone. If you’re looking to move into America’s heartland, Missouri is well worth the look.
Before you consider a move to Chicago, you should consider 7 key factors that will increase your appreciation for the city and guide you to the right neighborhoods and activities for you…