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The Show Me State' has a lot to show. So we've decided to play their game and show you their top ten best place to live in Missouri for 2021.
Where the Midwest meets the South, right smack dab in the middle of America, you can find some of the nicest people, best Friday night tailgating, and some of the best cities in Missouri.
What does an awesome city in Missouri look like? It can look like just about anything. The 'Mother of the West' has cities like Cape Girardeau that hug the Mighty Mississippi, an Arch and a riverfront welcome you in St. Louis, and Missouri's Kansas City has the best BBQ.
So, whether you're floating the Black River, checkin' out Mark Twain State Park, or catching a show in Branson, you'll soon figure out why Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the country. Super fun, super safe cities aside, we're here to get down to what the BEST city in Missouri looks like.
So without further adieu, grab some BBQ, crack a King of Beers, find a sunny spot at Marty Byrde's Restaurant and read on as we unravel the top ten best Missouri cities for 2021.
Whether you're a Kansas City Royals' fan or a Cardinal's fan, or just of fan of great Missouri cities, you're in the right place.
What does the best city in the "Cave State" look like? Well, after crunching data from the US Census in terms of median home prices and unemployment rates for cities with over 5,000 residents, Glendale is the best place to live in Missouri.
Take a look at the list below to see the cities that gave Glendale a run for their money. And if you don't see your favorite MIssouri city in the top ten, head to the bottom of the page.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In Missouri
- Cheapest Places To Live In Missouri
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Missouri
The 10 Best Places To Live In Missouri For 2021
The results are in and for the second year in a row, Glendale is Missouri's best city. A small suburb of St. Louis, Glendale's motto is "residents' welfare above all else," which gets to the heart of what the city is all about. The crime rate in Glendale is about 75% lower than the national average and ranks as the 4th lowest in Missouri. And if you do get banged up somehow, medical bills shouldn't sink you because 98.5% of residents have health coverage.
Poverty and unemployment rates are both extremely low in Glendale, sitting at 3.9% and 1.3% respectively, both of which rank in the top ten statewide. Of course, it's much easier to find good employment when you've got a solid education, which plays out in the super-smart Glendale. About three-quarters of residents have a college degree, with a whopping 40% having a master's degree or higher as well. Big degrees lead to big paychecks because Glendale's residents enjoy the 4th highest median household income in Missouri at $140,184/year. These big salaries are kind of a necessity when you consider that the cost of living in Glendale is about 30% higher than the statewide average. Housing costs alone are more than twice as expensive as your average city in Missouri, with homes going for around $414,800 and rent for roughly $1,407/month. 95% of Glendale buys instead of rents and with home prices increasing by about 5% annually, it does seem like a smart investment.
While Glendale doesn't have much in the way of entertainment on its own, its close proximity to St. Louis means you can be at nationally famous landmarks like the Gateway Arch in no time flat.
Clayton is a St. Louis suburb of 16,588 with an air of sophistication. High quality, locally-owned restaurants, bars, and cafes are found tucked between boutique shops, historic homes, and the gorgeous Shaw Park. Clayton hosts the St. Louis Art Fair and A Taste of Clayton, a festival of arts, music, and food, each year, so come ready to celebrate if you're moving to Clayton. Like other top cities on this list, the cost of living in Clayton is nothing to sneeze at, but we think having clean, safe streets filled with wholesome activities is worth every penny.
With a median age of 30, Clayton is the youngest city to make this list. That combined with the title of most densely populated city in Missouri means that Clayton is probably the most vibrant and dynamic place to be in the whole state. If you decide to buy a home in Clayton, it will set you back about $633,400. However, as a very young city, about 40% of the population chooses to rent instead and a typical rental price is $1,249/month, not much higher than the average rent in Missouri.
Last but not least, Clayton takes education about as seriously as you can. Clayton School District outspends your average Missouri city by 170% per student, has a very low student-teacher ratio of 11:1, a GreatSchools average rating of 8/10, three elementary schools with National Blue Ribbon Awards, and a high school that's won a College Success Award for two years running. There's really nowhere better to send your children to school in Missouri than Clayton.
If you do you in Ladue, you'll be la-doing just fine. This affluent inner-ring suburb of St. Louis has a whole lot going for it. We'll start with the affluent part; Ladue is the richest place in Missouri, with residents bringing home around $214,875/year on average, the highest median household income in Missouri. Being hyper-wealthy helps offset a cost of living that outstrips the statewide average by 90%, with housing costs more than 325% higher than Missouri's average. Since having a good job or lots of money pretty much guarantees you'll have health insurance, it makes sense that Ladue has the highest rate of coverage in Missouri at 99.1%.
Rest assured that the taxes on all this cash go worthwhile projects. Like keeping Tilles Park a top-quality community space, especially during the Christmas season when it becomes a Winter Wonderland. Ladue also spends about 60% more per student than the statewide average, and that investment pays off in higher test scores and graduation rates, as well as three local schools winning a National Blue Ribbon Award for excellence. The investment in the city's future comes from a community that has first-hand experience with the importance of education. After all, 80% of adults in Ladue finished college and 45% of folks have a master's, PhD, or professional degree to boot.
Don't worry about finding a job in Ladue either; at 1.3%, Ladue has the 8th lowest unemployment rate in Missouri. And very few are left in the dust of Ladue's money-storm, considering that the poverty rate of 2.1% is the 4th lowest in the state.
Creve Coeur is a city in western St. Louis County well-known for being a key node for technology, life and biosciences, and medical services. Residents of Creve Coeur enjoy the 16th highest median household income in Missouri at $96,319/year. The even better news? Household income went up by nearly 9% in the last year of available data, so you can expect Creve Coeur's income ranking to keep rising. The value of property isn't rising nearly as fast as income, with your typical Creve Coeur home already going for 7th most expensive price statewide at $402,300 and rent going for around $1,244/month.
The poverty level in Creve Coeur is a measly 3.3%, the 10th lowest in Missouri. That means everyone gets in on the economic success story in Creve Coeur. Creve Coeur is home to a lovely Antique Mall, but if you're a sports fan, chances are you're more likely to make the 20-minute drive to watch a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
Located just southwest of Springfield, Battlefield ranks as Missouri's 5th best place to live. Contrary to what its name suggests, Battlefield actually topped our list of the safest places in Missouri.
Still, if you're a history buff that wants to learn more about one of the earliest Civil War battles, you'll enjoy having Wilson's Creek National Battlefield nearby. And if that doesn't interest you in the slightest, then perhaps the shopping at Battlefield Mall will entice you.
Battlefield is a young city with a median age of 36. 41.95% of households have kids, and these parents can rest easy about their children's education, considering GreatSchools gave Battlefield's schools an average rating of 10/10.
Battlefield also enjoys low unemployment, a solid median household income of $61,373, and a median home value of $157,600 (that's up nearly 5% from last year). Additionally, the cost of living in Battlefield is right on par with the rest of Missouri, so you don't have to break the bank to move here.
Lake St. Louis is a city of 15,989 located 40 miles west of St. Louis. Besides being able to make it to the Gateway Arch in no time flat, residents can enjoy plenty of local amenities. Golf courses, beaches, and gorgeous parks are all on offer in Lake St. Louis.
Additionally, this planned community enjoys one of the best school systems in Missouri, which achieves an incredibly low high school dropout rate, and plenty of other family-friendly attractions. Lake St. Louis residents also enjoy the 17th highest median household income in the state at $92,298. Homes sell for around $274,400.
Crime, poverty, and unemployment rates are all well below average in Lake St. Louis. It's no wonder that the population has swelled in recent years, and with both property values and income rising substantially each year, we can expect this trend to continue.
We're sticking around the St. Louis area for Missouri's 7th best city, Ellisville. You may want to brush up on your studies if you want to fit in in Ellisville because 50% of adults here are highly educated.
Ellisville enjoys the 15th lowest poverty rate in Missouri, but residents are doing more than just getting by. They earn a median household income of $79,563 and homes here sell for a median price of $250,700. Seeing as folks with cash in the bank don't usually go around committing crimes, it makes sense that Ellisville also has one of the lowest crime rates in Missouri.
That means you don't have to worry about rowdy revelers at the local bar, Crafty Chameleon. And if life gets too stressful, there's always Salty Spa to turn to. Outdoorsy folks will also appreciate having Castlewood State Park just a short drive away.
With a population of 87,242, O'Fallon is Missouri's seventh biggest city. It's also the 8th best place to live in the state. Whether you're an aficionado who's thrilled by all the local art galleries, a family-man enjoying a day out with the kids at Fort Zumwalt Park, or a young professional tying off your day with a pint from the Missouri Beer Company, there's something for everyone in O'Fallon.
The first stand-out statistic for O'Fallon is crime -- with the 11th lowest overall crime rate in Missouri (50% lower than the national average), you never need to worry about your safety in O'Fallon.
Education in O'Fallon also gets top marks -- local schools are doing their jobs well, and the primary high school received a College Success Award from GreatSchools for three years running. Don't let the low median age of 37 fool you -- folks in O'Fallon know how to live the adult life correctly. The median household income in O'Fallon is $90,025, and the median home price is $226,300. Even better, those numbers have been going up in recent years.
Dardenne Prairie makes a special appearance in the best places to live in Missouri for 2021 coming in at number 9. This is one of the few times I remember ever seeing Dardenne Prairie on a list, so this is big news for the town of 13,293 people.
When you dig into the data it's easy to see why this suburb of St. Louis is a great place to call home. Located on the otherside of the Missouri River from St. Louis, it boasts above average schools, very desiarable real estate, and crime low enough that you'll feel safe leaving your doors unlocked when you run to the super market.
There are plenty of parks in town to bring the kids on a Saturday and St. Louis is an easy thirty minute or so drive away. And we bet you'll make friends with your neighbors, which means that a good time is just a house away.
We included Lee's Summit on our list of the best Kansas City suburbs, and a lot of those same factors came into play here. GreatSchools gave Lee's Summit's schools an average rating of 8/10, and one HomeSnacks user even commented that they moved here for its "good public schools...great diversity...[and to enjoy] the advantages of living in a large city without the congestion and crime."
It's true -- crime is low, traffic isn't so bad, and schools are excellent. Besides statistics, Lee's Summit is chock full of fun things to do. Paradise Park is the mecca of local family fun, Longview Lake offers plenty of water-based fun, and the mom-and-pop shops in downtown Lee's Summit provides oodles of charm.
Homes in Lee's Summit have a median value of $223,700, and your typical household brings in around $89,969. Add to that the 5th lowest high school dropout rate in Missouri, and you've got a recipe for lasting success.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Missouri
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit cities with populations over 100,000 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities -- Populations over 5,000
- Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000
This left us with 128 cities, 230 towns, and 534 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Missouri have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Missouri
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Missouri across a number of criteria from one to 128, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Missouri".
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Missouri? That would be Glendale.
If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Missouri.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Glendale at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Missouri
If you're looking at areas in Missouri with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Glendale made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Missouri for 2021.
Best Towns To Live In Missouri
- Frontenac (Pop. 3,527)
- Oakland (Pop. 1,649)
- Warson Woods (Pop. 1,870)
- Weatherby Lake (Pop. 1,900)
- Fremont Hills (Pop. 1,006)
- Rock Hill (Pop. 4,628)
- Clarkson Valley (Pop. 2,638)
- Pleasant Valley (Pop. 3,043)
- Winchester (Pop. 1,505)
- Grantwood Village (Pop. 1,013)
Best Small Towns To Live In Missouri
- Country Life Acres (Pop. 135)
- Crystal Lake Park (Pop. 518)
- Shoal Creek Estates (Pop. 116)
- Pasadena Park (Pop. 515)
- Westwood (Pop. 289)
- Weldon Spring Heights (Pop. 109)
- Lake Tapawingo (Pop. 718)
- Windsor Place (Pop. 451)
- Lake Waukomis (Pop. 973)
- Platte Woods (Pop. 430)
If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Missouri according to the data:
- Jennings (Pop. 14,712)
- Caruthersville (Pop. 5,616)
- Sullivan (Pop. 6,564)
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Missouri
- Richest Cities In Missouri
- Safest Places In Missouri
- Worst Places To Live In Missouri