Welcome to Missouri! Also known as the Show-Me State, Missouri is home to natural landforms and fertile grounds, like the Ozark Plateau (FYI, it’s Missouri’s largest region). It’s also known for the Dissected Till Plains (a flat prairie with rivers and streams), the Osage Plains, and Meramec Caverns, a system of dramatic caves in the Ozarks. There’s lots of natural beauty and wonder to explore in Missouri—both above and below the ground. Add in the tallest monument in the United States—the Gateway Arch—plus 92 state parks and historic sites that ring in at over 150,000 acres, you will be mesmerized by loads of scenic landscapes.
If you’re looking to move to Missouri, let’s check out which cities are the best places to live.
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.11
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.63%
Violent crime index: 26.7
Nonviolent crime index: 45.8
Cost of living index: 94.1
First things first, Columbia-Jefferson City kicks off our list of the best places to live in Missouri. Sitting in central Missouri, this area includes three popular and bustling suburbs: Jefferson City, Fayette, and California. Columbia-Jefferson City hosts the state capitol, historical museums, and nature conservancies, in addition to campgrounds and RV parks. The liberal-leaning region has 93 schools and 12 hospitals, and as for climate, the city registers 192 days of sunshine and 44 inches of rain per year. Plus, this city is pet-friendly, with 21 pup-worthy hotels and restaurants.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.36
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.37%
Violent crime index: 31.1
Nonviolent crime index: 81.4
Cost of living index: 77
Say hello to St. Joseph, a buzzy area located in Buchanan County. With a population locking in at over 70,000, this city is primed with historic architecture, a 26-mile parkway system, hike and bike trails, and many family-friendly parks. With an economic hub and diverse entertainment— including two museums—St. Joseph houses four hospitals and three school districts. It also offers four schools, a university, a private community college, and a technical/vocational school. The sunniest city in our round-up, St. Joseph tallies up 219 days of sunshine per calendar year and marks the least amount of rain to boot—36 inches annually. Even better: the city is pet-friendly too, with over 24 places to stay or dine in with your dog.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.75
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.76
Violent crime index: 30.6
Nonviolent crime index: 95.1
Cost of living index: 82.6
Next up is a warm welcome in Joplin, Missouri. Located in Jasper County near the Ozark Mountain region, this moderately conservative city is the 13th most populous city in the state. Joplin clocks in at a population of over 50,000 and is home to notable attractions such as the Crystal Cave, the Keystone Hotel, the Fox Theatre, and the Liberty Building. Joplin includes 17 hospitals and 10 schools (with a median household income just above $45,000). As for climate, the city receives about 47 inches of rain annually and 212 days of sunshine. With eight highly notable lakes and many streams, this leafy and lush area is home to three popular suburbs too: Arbor Hills, Shoal Creek Estates, and Oakland Park.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.50
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.19%
Violent crime index: 86.6
Nonviolent crime index: 85.1
Cost of living index: 81.3
Meet us in St. Louis! This city brims with entertainment, culture, and art. It’s home to the iconic Gateway Arch, a prize-winning collection of barbecue restaurants, and a robust selection of blues-related music venues. It’s quite a sprawling city—from public parks and attractions to a sizable population of over 300,000. And while it’s bathed in sunshine 202 sunny days each year it can be a bit rainy with 42 inches of precipitation. If you are wondering about education, the city has 74 schools spread across the city. St. Louis is the most pup-conscious city on our list—so if you have a furry friend, you’re in luck. There are over 32 dog-friendly spots to crawl (including bars and hotels).
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.24
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.29%
Violent crime index: 62.4
Nonviolent crime index: 95.4
Cost of living index: 82.3
How about checking out the third-largest city in Missouri? Enter Springfield, with a population of over 165,000 residents. This bustling city is home to a world of imagination and exploration with major attractions like The Discovery Center, Dickerson Park Zoo, and the Fantastic Caverns. There’s also the 113-acre Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, where walking trails wind around botanical gardens. Missouri’s cavernous topography is well known and Springfield is no exception, as the Fantastic Caverns are a major tourist attraction. But there’s more that makes Springfield tick—a mostly sun-filled region (210 days annually) and heavier on rain and snow (45 and 14 inches, respectively), the conservative-leaning area serves a dynamic population. With 26 districts (rounding out at 50 schools) and nine hospitals, it’s also a booming college town. Missouri State University contributes to a bright and bustling downtown and creative scene. Oh, and it’s rather fur-friendly too, with over 120 pup-ready spots and dog parks!
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.