17 Pros and Cons of Living in Missouri

A nighttime photo showing the Great Arch and the St. Louis skyline. The lights are reflecting off the Mississippi River in the front of the picture.

In the following article, we will explore why over 6 million people call Missouri home and provide some facts to think about as you consider moving to this state.

11 Advantages of Living in Missouri – Pros

First, we’ll look at the positive aspects of Missouri which might make you consider a move to this state.

1. Low Cost of Living/Housing

Missouri has the 5th lowest cost of living of any state, falling below average in every major cost category. Overall, the state has a cost of living that is 15% lower than the national average. This is driven mostly by the fact housing costs are 30% below average ($194K MO versus $291K US).

The cost of living is also improved by the relatively low taxes in Missouri. The state has a tax burden of around 7.75%, making it the 11th lowest in the country. 

2. Decent Economy/Wages

Missouri’s low cost of living is combined with decent salaries. The average individual income for the state is $28K MO versus a $31K national average, and the average household income is $51K MO versus $57K national.

Missouri has the 22nd largest economy in the country, with its primary industry being manufacturing. Top products include food, beverages, tobacco, chemicals, cars, computers, and appliances. 90% of this business is produced by small and medium-sized companies. The state also has a healthy aerospace and defense industry, assembling products for Boeing, GKN Aerospace, and LMI Aerospace. Finally, its mining industry is also worth mentioning as Missouri is a top American producer of lead and zinc. 

With decent incomes, Missouri has poverty rates of 13%, around the national average, and 18th best in the country.

3. Central Location

One of the biggest reasons Missouri is ranked so highly in manufacturing is because of its geographic location in the middle of the country. The state is within one day of travel (600 miles) to 50% of the country’s manufacturers and 50% of American residents. 

The state sits on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, providing over 1,000 miles of shipping waters. In addition, the state sits at an intersection of major railways heading east, west, and down to Mexico. Its airports offer direct flights to nearly 75 cities. 

Because of this central location and robust transportation infrastructure, some of the biggest retailers in America have distribution warehouses in the state.

4. Everyone is Near A Major City

The big cities of Kansas City and St. Louis are on opposite sides of Missouri, but there is only a 4-hour car drive between them. Residents in the state can typically reach one of these big cities within a 2-hour drive. These large cities provide Missouri residents with more options when they need a major hospital (Barnes-Jewish Hospital is ranked 17th best in the country) or are looking to attend a major recreation or sporting event.

An aerial photo of green farmland in MO. A major river can be seen i the far back.

5. A Lot of Farms

Agriculture is another major industry in Missouri. The state has over 100K farms, second-most in the nation behind only Texas. Nearly 66% of the state’s land area is covered by farms, and 90% of these farms are privately-owned and operated. The state is the 2nd largest producer of beef, and its other major products include rice, cotton, turkey, hogs, soybeans, and corn.

6. Protected Lands

Not only does Missouri have a ton of farms, but it also has a lot of protected land. There are six National Parks in the state, with the Federal government owning more than 1.6 million acres of land. There are also 92 state-owned parks covering 160K acres. The Missouri state park system has been ranked the 4th best park system in the country, visited by over 20 million people every year, and home to over 1,000 miles of trails, and several thousand camping and picnic sites. 

7. Deer Hunting

With its millions of acres of farms and protected lands, it is not surprising that Missouri ranks as one of the country’s top deer hunting states. Missouri’s deer population is at record highs, and the state is ranked 7th in the country for producing trophy bucks, with the majority of its record-setting deer coming in just the last 20 years. The state holds the world record for the largest deer antlers ever harvested.

8. Water Recreation

If you prefer to recreate in the water instead of the woods, then Missouri deserves consideration. Even though the state is located in the center of the country, residents have access to a lot of water. Nine of the state’s parks are located on large manmade lakes. The most popular lake for residents and tourists is the 55K acre Lake of the Ozarks. All of these lakes offer opportunities for boating, swimming, skiing, and more.

The state of Missouri is known for having some of the best trout and bass fishing in the country. There is also an abundant supply of catfish to fish and/or eat. In addition to fishing the lakes, Missouri has thousands of miles of rivers that can be fished, including the famous Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

9. Beer

After a hard day of woods and/or water recreation, you can enjoy Missouri’s beer scene, inspired by its long history of German immigrants. The city of St. Louis is home to Anheuser-Busch, which operates the largest beer plant in the country. The state is also home to over 150 craft beer breweries, located mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

If you prefer wine over beer, then you will be happy to know Missouri has its own wine country. The German settlers of the Herman area have been growing grapes and making wine since 1837. In fact, in the early 1900s, Missouri was the country’s second-largest producer of wines. Today, the state ranks 14th in wine production.

A photo of some yummy ribs, red with BBQ sauce,, being held by tongs over an open flame.

10. Food

Thanks to its rich history of German, French, and Italian immigrants, Missouri has developed some nice menu options.  Missouri is ranked the 3rd best state in America for BBQ, with its famous ribs from Kansas City and St. Louis. St. Louis is also famous for its pizza, helping to rank Missouri as the 10th best pizza state. Other popular dishes in the state include toasted ravioli, provel cheese, and award-winning charcuterie. With immigrants from all around the world, the cities of Missouri are rich in ethnic foods.

11. Sports

If you enjoy drinking beer and eating ribs while watching a game, Missouri has you covered. Overall, the state ranks as the 8th most sport-friendly state in the country. The St. Louis and Kansas City areas are home to two pro baseball teams, one football team (a second team recently left), and one hockey team. The state has won three pro championships since 2000. With 1 pro team per every 1.2 million, the state ranks 2nd in the nation for pro teams per capita. 

Missouri also has one Division I college football team, though the Missouri Tigers usually aren’t competitive in the rankings.

6 Disadvantages of Living in Missouri – Cons

A picture of MO trees in nice autumn colors. But the tree is partially submerged by water as the river has overflowed its banks

12. Crime in the Cities

Crime in the city of St. Louis is off the charts bad, with the city having the #1 highest murder rate and the 3rd highest violent crime rate in the country (per capita). Its crime rates are 3-4 times higher than national averages. The other cities in Missouri didn’t fare much better with Kansas City having the 8th highest violent crime in the country and Springfield the 10th highest. Overall, the state ranks as the 5th worst state for crime, corrections, and public safety. 

Please note that much of this crime is isolated to the larger cities. There are many rural areas that have small, tight-knit communities and experience near-zero crime. 

13. Poor Health Care

Missouri ranks 8th worst in the nation for health care. The state scored poorly on access to care, health care quality, public health factors, health care cost, average emergency-room wait time, and life expectancy. The state has been ranked 3rd worst in the country for drug use, and #1 in the country for most drug-related arrests. Overall, Missouri has the 10th lowest life expectancy in the nation.

14. Pollution

Missouri has 10 power plants and 8 of them are coal-burning. As a result, the state is ranked 15th worst for air pollution and has one of the highest mercury emissions in the country. St. Louis, specifically, has received a failing grade for its high level of ozone pollution. 

It is not just the air that is of concern in Missouri but also the water. With a lot of farms (Pro # 5) and manufacturers (Pro #2), there is a large amount of runoff flowing into the waters. Of specific concern are the state’s largest rivers. The Ohio River, which touches the state just on its very southeast corner, has been rated the most polluted waterway in the country. The Mississippi River, along the state’s entire eastern border, is the 2nd most polluted waterway. And the Missouri River, cutting through the center of the state, has the 7th worst levels of pollution.

15. Road Conditions

A photo of a damaged road, several potholes filled with water.

Missouri may be known for its strong transportation infrastructure (Pro #2) but the quality of its roads is lacking. The state ranks 10th worst in the nation for road conditions, with 25% of its roads being unacceptable, and 9% of its bridges ranking poor.

With the state’s high deer population (Pro #7), it is not surprising to find Missouri ranks the 15th worst state for deer-vehicle accidents.

16. Tornados

Missouri sits on the edge of the famous Tornado Alley. The state is the 11th most active tornado state, averaging 47 tornadoes per year. The state was the location of the deadliest tornado in American history, along with the 3rd and 7th deadliest twisters. 

17. Flooding

Missouri has such great soil for farming because, throughout its history, flooding rivers deposited nutrient-rich sediment onto the land. Man has since built farms, houses, and businesses on these same flood plains. 

All of the manmade lakes found in Missouri (Pro #8) were created by the building of dams in an effort to control flooding. The state of Missouri has 9 dams on the Mississippi River and 5 dams on the Missouri River. But dams can get overwhelmed by high waters, so they are occasionally opened to relieve pressure, causing flooding downstream. 

Missouri is ranked 12th in the country for highest flood risk with 15% of the state’s land area in a flood hazard zone. An estimated 9% of Missouri properties are at risk of a severe flood by 2030. As climate change occurs, there is a fear that flooding will become more common in the state.

Is Missouri a Good Place to Live? 

A photo of the Kansas City, MO skyline. A large river is at the front of the picture

Yes, with its low cost of living, decent wages, and strong job market the state of Missouri is worth considering as home. 

Missouri offers a wide range of living environments. The state has many small, close-knit farming communities, where life moves at a slower pace. Unfortunately, these rural towns often lack modern infrastructure such as quality hospitals.

The state also offers a few large cities, specifically St. Louis and Kansas City. These two cities offer everything one would expect from a large city but unfortunately come with some of the worst crime rates in the country.

As with any big move decision, the precise pros and cons depend on your individual priorities and which exact town you select.

What Does it Cost to Live in Missouri? 

Missouri has the 5th lowest cost of living of any state, falling below average in every major cost category. Overall, the state has a cost of living that is 15% lower than the national average. This is driven mostly by the fact housing costs are 30% below average ($194K MO versus $291K US).

Missouri’s low cost of living is combined with decent salaries. The average individual income for the state is $28K MO versus a $31K national average, and the average household income is $51K MO versus $57K national.

This combination of low cost of living with decent salaries makes Missouri worth considering. 

How cold does it get in Missouri? 

Missouri can experience freezing temperatures 5-months out of the year (Nov-Mar). The coldest temperatures occur in January where the average low is 21 degrees F. 

For 3 months of the year (Jun-Aug), high temperatures will average between 85-90 degrees F

Related: 17 Pros and Cons of Living in Mississippi