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Best Places to Live in Missouri

Want to live somewhere with a low cost of living, access to multiple major metropolitan cities, and tons of fun things for kids to do? Then Missouri is the destination for you. And hey, if you’re super picky and need to live close to a 600-foot stainless steel arch, then Missouri is the only destination for you. (Yep, the Gateway Arch really is that tall—630 feet to be exact.)

If you’re thinking about packing your bags and heading to Missouri, you’ll need to make sure you pick a city that fits your budget, personality and any other needs you and your family have.

So, let’s take a look at 10 of the best places to live in Missouri. That way, you can preview your options and choose the city that makes the most sense for you.

Where are the Best Places to Live in Missouri?

Keep this in mind: The best place for you to live in Missouri (or anywhere else for that matter) will depend on your individual situation and preferences. You may prefer to live in a smaller town with a strong sense of community, or you may love being surrounded by skyscrapers and sports stadiums. You also may be looking for something more specific, like a great retirement destination.

As you go through this list, think about which cities are the best fit for you. Here’s a preview of the categories we’ll look at:

Best Places to Live in Missouri: The Big Cities

Kansas City

Up first, the city in Missouri with the most people: Kansas City. Complete with an international airport, two major professional sports franchises, and a cost of living that’s 6% below the national average, KC is a great destination for anyone looking to get a taste of big-city life without the massive population or high prices of places like Chicago and New York.1

Because KC is a major metropolitan area, it’s also got plenty of places to work. In fact, several household name businesses, like AMC Theatres and Hallmark (the greeting cards, not the Christmas movies), are headquartered in or near Kansas City. Just don’t make the mistake of confusing Kansas City, Missouri with Kansas City, Kansas—they have the same name, but they’re very different.



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*Data in tables collected in December 2023.

St. Louis

St. Louis is Missouri’s second-biggest city and, just like Kansas City, it’s a major metro area full of exciting things to do. Seriously, it’s pretty much impossible to be bored in St. Louis.

Are you a sports fan? Go watch the Cardinals (MLB) or Blues (NHL) in action. More of an arts person? Visit the Saint Louis Art Museum or catch an outdoor Broadway musical during the summertime at the Muny. Music lover? St. Louis has a great local music scene, and plenty of big-name artists—we’re talking names like Olivia Rodrigo and Drake—make their way to the Enterprise Center each year on tour.

Add to all that a cost of living that’s 11% lower than the national average—with housing that’s a whopping 24% cheaper—and you have a really sweet destination.6



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Best Suburbs of St. Louis


Not only is Kirkwood one of the best places to live in Missouri, but some folks think it’s also one of the best places to live in all of America. Yep, it’s true. In 2022, Money Magazine released a list of the 50 best places to live in the U.S., and Kirkwood came in at number 36.11

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Why? Probably because Kirkwood is just a 20-minute drive from St. Louis, which means people who live there get access to all the exciting entertainment options we just talked about while still being able to live in a smaller, less crowded city. Kirkwood, like many cities on this list, also has a fun downtown area where locals love to hang out.



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The second St. Louis suburb on our list is Chesterfield, which is about 20 miles west of downtown STL. Like Kirkwood, residents of Chesterfield get to access St. Louis’ world-class entertainment attractions and job opportunities while living in a smaller area with a lower cost of living. But the cool part about Chesterfield is that you don’t even have to go into the big city to have a great time.

That’s because Chesterfield is full of fun things to do. Want to impress your friends with your golf swing (or, alternatively, completely embarrass yourself)? Head over to Top Golf. Looking for something the whole family will enjoy, no matter if your kids are in grade school or college? Hit up the bowling alley and arcade at Main Event.

All told, Chesterfield is an affordable city that’s just a short drive away from St. Louis’ thriving business world and entertainment—but it’s also got plenty of charm and excitement of its own. 



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Best Suburbs of Kansas City


All the big-city suburbs on our list give their residents a smaller, less crowded place to live with easy access to a bigger metro area, but folks living in Parkville truly get the best of both worlds. That’s because, with a population of under 8,000, Parkville is the smallest city on our list by a pretty wide margin—and Parkville’s residents appreciate their city’s small size.

Folks living in Parkville share a strong sense of community and enjoy plenty of peace and quiet. But if they ever get the itch for something a little bigger (like flying out of an international airport or watching Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs), Kansas City is under 20 miles away.

And despite being the most affluent city on our list in terms of median household income, Parkville still has an affordable cost of living. It also has a great school district.



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Lee’s Summit

The second suburb of Kansas City in our list is Lee’s Summit, known for its strong sense of community, great schools, and outdoor activities.

While Lee’s Summit isn’t exactly the smallest town on our list, you’ll definitely feel like you’re in a classic small town when you visit its downtown area. There, you’ll find several great local breweries, restaurants and shops. Ask a Lee’s Summit local what they love most about their city, and you’ll likely hear about the downtown area.

Lee’s Summit also has a handful of nearby lakes and ponds that locals love (two favorites are Lake Jacomo and Longview Lake), both for the water itself and the surrounding trails. And since Lee’s Summit is just a 30-minute drive from Kansas City, its locals are never too far from all the big city has to offer.



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Best College Towns in Missouri


Columbia is home to the main campus of Missouri’s biggest college, the University of Missouri (or Mizzou, as most students and sports fans call it). That means Columbia is full of all the traditional college town staples.

It’s got bookstores—like the independently owned, two-story Skylark Bookshop downtown. It’s got coffee shops—like Shortwave Coffee, which has a super cool retro vibe. And it’s got plenty of great restaurants—like Shakespeare’s Pizza, a favorite among Mizzou students.

Plus, Columbia has the lowest rent on our list, and its overall cost of living is 8% below the national average.28



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Springfield is home to several colleges, including Missouri State University, Evangel University and Drury University. That means tens of thousands of students descend upon Springfield each fall, giving the city big-time youthful energy whenever class is in session.

You’ll also find several great fishing, biking and hiking spots in Springfield, so it’s a great destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. It’s also home to Missouri’s first Buc-ee’s location, so Springfield’s residents can always satisfy their cravings for fresh brisket and Beaver Nuggets.

To top it all off, Springfield has the lowest cost of living on our list at 15% below the national average.33 Yeah, it’s a pretty sweet place to live.



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Best Places in Missouri to Raise a Family

Lots of cities in Missouri are great options for raising a family—including some of the ones we’ve already gone over. But these two locations are at the top of the list.

St. Charles

St. Charles is practically tailor-made for anyone looking for a great place to raise a family. For starters, its median home listing price is 11% below the national average, meaning buying your family home will be a lot cheaper in St. Charles than most other places in the U.S.38

It’s also full of super fun (and affordable) things to do as a family. At the top of the list is Wapelhorst Park, which features playgrounds, a fishing lake, and a huge aquatic facility with multiple swimming pools and huge waterslides—it’s definitely not your normal city pool. St. Charles also has a skating rink, a go-kart track, and several other nice parks.

Plus, even if all that isn’t enough to keep the kids entertained, St. Charles is just a half-hour drive from St. Louis.



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If you’ve seen the hit Netflix show Ozark, you may be a little apprehensive about raising a family in the place it’s named after. But don’t worry, you probably won’t find any drug lords or money launderers in Ozark, Missouri. Instead, you’ll find a suburb of Springfield with a population that’s doubled over the last decade.43

While Springfield is more of a hub city thanks to its handful of colleges and universities, Ozark has much more of a small-town feel. It’s also very close to Branson, Missouri, in case you ever want to take the kiddos to the life-sized Titanic Museum or the Hollywood Wax Museum.



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Ready to Move to Missouri?

If one of these cities really stood out to you and you’re itching to move to Missouri, hold your horses for just a second. There’s something you need to do before moving to another state: Make sure you can afford the housing costs.

Missouri does have affordable housing costs across the board, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the price tag would fit within your budget—especially if you’re planning to buy a home. So, how do you know how much house you can afford? It’s easy!

Just make sure your rent or mortgage payment is no more than 25% of your take-home pay. If you’re a homeowner, that number includes private mortgage insurance (PMI), homeowners association fees and homeowners insurance.

Keep that rule in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to thriving as a new Missourian. You’ve got this!


Next Steps

1. Learn more about how much it costs to move, then crunch the numbers and see if it makes sense for you.

2. If you are ready to pull the trigger on a move to Missouri, connect with a RamseyTrusted real estate agent. The agents we recommend will serve you with excellence and make sure you wind up in a home that’s a good fit for you and your family. We trust them, and you can too.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The five safest cities in Missouri are Nixa, Kearney, Smithville, Maryville and Wentzville, according to FBI crime rate and law enforcement data.48,49

The most affordable place to live in Missouri is Springfield. Its cost of living is 15% below the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s cost of living index.50

Yes! Virtually every city in Missouri has a lower cost of living than the national average. Plus, several cities in the state are within driving distance of either St. Louis or Kansas City—major metropolitan areas that offer world-class entertainment, international airports and tons of job opportunities.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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