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 2020.
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 2020.
The 10 Best Places To Live In Missouri For 2020
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 lowest in Missouri. And if you do get banged up somehow, medical bills shouldn’t sink you because 98.1% of residents have health coverage.
Poverty and unemployment rates are both extremely low in Glendale, sitting at 3.3% and 1.7% 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 3rd highest median household income in Missouri at $141,217/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 $385,700 and rent for roughly $1,350/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.
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 $192,500/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 99.2%.
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 1.6%, Ladue has the 2nd lowest unemployment rate in Missouri. And very few are left in the dust of Ladue’s money-storm, considering that the poverty rate of 2.2% is the 4th lowest in the state.
Clayton is a St. Louis suburb of 16,448 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 31, 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 $630,400. However, as a very young city, about 40% of the population chooses to rent instead and a typical rental price is $1,196/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.
Webster Groves is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis with a population of 23,029. Old homes and an eclectic mix of architectural styles imbue this leafy enclave with a relaxed atmosphere. Home to Webster University and the the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Webster Groves has plenty going on without the need to make the 15 minute trek to downtown St. Louis. It’s one of the reasons that HomeSnacks and Family Circle Magazine have included Webster Groves on compilations of the best cities for families in Missouri. Of course, having a superb educational system that spends more per student and consistently scores higher on tests and graduation rates than the statewide average also helps.
Nearly a third of residents have a master’s degree or higher, which helps residents achieve their status as the 14th best-paid populace in the state, with a median household income of $94,617/year. Educated folks with plenty of cash on hand don’t have much reason to go around committing felonies, so Webster Groves’ crime rate being about 70% lower than the national average and ranking as the 4th lowest in Missouri also makes sense. As a bonus, 97.6% of Webster Groves residents have health insurance, making unwelcome medical surprises a little less scary here.
Next up on our list of the premier places to live in Missouri is Kirkwood, yet another inner-ring suburb of St. Louis (we’re starting to see a pattern here). A historic railroad community, Kirkwood has blossomed into a fully-fledged city of 27,693 with loads of opportunities for dining and shopping in hip, local shops with funky names like Rusted Chandelier. Kirkwood is a highly-walkable community with fourteen parks, an amazing farmer’s market, and a bustling downtown that regularly holds events for everything from cars to guitars to peaches. All this densely-packed activity is one of the reasons we named Kirkwood one of the best places to retire in Missouri. And while Kirkwood may have been beaten out by Webster Groves on this list, they still have the chance to take home the trophy after the annual Turkey Day football game between the two cities, an event that’s been going on for over a century.
While the cost of living in Kirkwood is about 15% higher than the statewide average, most of that is due to the higher cost of housing. Rent goes for around $1,031/month, while your typical Kirkwood home will set you back around $293,200. These higher housing prices are worth every penny, though. Crime in Kirkwood is about 40% below the national average, with violent crime being especially uncommon. Three of the five local elementary schools have received national awards and Kirkwood High has roughly 20% higher proficiency scores than the statewide average and a graduation rate over 99%. With unemployment and poverty also quite low, Kirkwood is a stand-out city for retirees, working adults, and students alike.
Town and Country is an affluent city of 11,066 located in western St. Louis County. Town and Country’s high median age of 52 reflects how awesome a place it is for retirement. A quiet, green residential landscape doesn’t offer much in the way of hustle and bustle, but Town and Country maintains all the essentials for a good life. It’s one of the safest places in Missouri, with a total crime rate about half as high as the national average. Residents are well looked after in other ways, seeing as 98.1% of folks have health insurance, the 7th highest rate in Missouri.
Nearly 40% of Town and Country’s adult population has a master’s degree or higher, so you won’t be dealing with dummies here. And everyone takes education pretty seriously, seeing as Town and Country has the lowest high school dropout rate in Missouri. If you need some brushing up on your scientific prowess, the Myseum is a great place to start. This heavy focus on education has translated into the 2nd highest median household income in the state, so make sure you’re earning about $178,000/year if you want to keep up with the Joneses here. Without that, you won’t be able to afford the 2nd most expensive homes in Missouri, which go for a median price of $726,600. Even better than the big paychecks and the beautiful homes is the fact that both income and property values are growing at a rate of about 5% annually, so things seem to just keep getting better in Town and Country.
With a population of 47,663, Chesterfield is the most populous of the west St. Louis suburbs. Nicknamed “the City of Volunteers,” Chesterfield’s residents know how to pitch in to continually improve their community. The gorgeous Faust Park is a local favorite, especially if you have time to wander around the Butterfly House or take a ride on the carousel. The Chesterfield Amphitheatre is always putting on events and shopaholics will be delighted by the wide breadth of options at Chesterfield Mall.
In Chesterfield, crime is low, paychecks are high, and people generally have health insurance. Both of Chesterfield’s high schools received a College Success Award from GreatSchools, so you know your kiddo(s) will be all set when it comes time to move into a dorm. Poverty and unemployment rates are both among the lowest in Missouri, sitting at 4.7% and 2.2% respectively. Homes in Chesterfield go for around $370,300, while a typical rental will set you back about $1,177/month. That’s actually quite reasonable when you’ve got the 8th highest median household income in Missouri at $106,250/year.
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 11th highest median household income in Missouri at $100,735/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 5th most expensive price statewide at $399,400 and rent going for around $1,211/month.
The poverty level in Creve Coeur is a measly 3.1%, the 9th 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.
Ballwin is a southwestern suburb of St. Louis with a population of 30,332. While we’ve mostly been dealing with some undeniably pricey cities, the cost of living in Ballwin is only slightly higher than the national average, so it’s a good balance of quality and affordability. Homes are the cheapest of anywhere on this list, with a median price tag of $246,200. That may explain why 80% of residents choose to buy instead of rent. You don’t need a whole lot of property to have easy access to outdoor spaces in Ballwin either. If you’re just looking for a bit of green in the middle of your day, Queeny Park is always a good option. But if you’d rather spend a full day following the winding Meramec River on foot or by mountain bike, then Castlewood State Park is where you’ll want to be.
You won’t have much to worry about in terms of criminal activity in Ballwin, seeing as the crime rate is about 70% lower than the national average and ranks as the 5th lowest of anywhere in Missouri. I’m no expert, but the fact that Ballwin also has the 6th lowest poverty rate in the state at 2.6% may be a factor in the super-low crime rate.
Last but not least on our coverage of the best places to call home in Missouri is Brentwood, another inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. As the closest city to the Gateway to the West, Brentwood residents have easy access to touring the Anheuser-Busch Brewery or the exceptional Forest Park, depending on their inclination. For having such awesome amenities in the neighborhood, the cost of living in Brentwood is quite reasonable; just about on par with the national average.
The unemployment rate in Brentwood is just 1.6%, the 4th lowest in Missouri. Folks also don’t have to worry about shocking medical bills as much in Brentwood either, seeing as 98.5% of residents have health insurance, the 2nd highest rate in the state. Not to mention that Brentwood is a young city with a median age of just 34, meaning there’s plenty of fresh blood and new ideas here. And with over a third of residents possessing a master’s degree, PhD, or professional degree, you’d better believe that you’ll have some smart neighbors in Brentwood.
On the downside, Brentwood is the only city on this list with a crime rate higher than the national average; 80% higher, unfortunately. But Brentwood makes up for it with some top-quality public schools. The student-teacher ratio in Brentwood is 11:1 and the school district spends nearly three times as much per student as the statewide average.
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 125 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’.
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 125, 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 2020.
For more Missouri reading, check out: