A Guide to Moving to: Missouri

(Everything you need to know - and more)

Panoramic image of St. Louis downtown with Gateway Arch at twilight

Looks like you've been toying with the idea of a move to Missouri, huh? But maybe you’re still not 100% sold. Well, you've come to the right place. We’ve rounded up countless travel brochures and scoured some pretty dark spots on the Internet to put this guide to #MissouriLife together, just for you. And hopefully it’ll help you finalize your decision, no matter which way you go - just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Hello, MO

Back in 1821, Missouri became the 24th state to join the union, making it pretty close to America’s middle child. And if you like nicknames, you can call it The Show-Me State, which is a reference to the character of Missourians—not gullible, conservative, and firm lovers of proof (according to statesymbolsusa.org). 

Missouri currently has about 6,135,888 residents (22,356 moved here in 2017 alone), ranking it 18th in terms of population. The state has some good size behind it too, and is the 21st largest in the nation by size. It even touches eight other states, which makes it tied with Tennessee for the most neighbors in the nation.

Now that we’ve broken the ice a bit, let’s get into the meat course of this Missouri meal. Who wants to talk about jobs?

Job Market

Unless you’re made of bitcoins, you’ll need a job. Now, maybe you’ve already got a career path all mapped out or maybe you’re in the mood for a big change. Either way, let’s talk about what’s hot.

The fastest-growing jobs in the state include: occupational therapist, physical therapist, operations analyst, interpreter/translator, home health aid, millwright, web developer and computer machinist. They then go on to list the highest-paying jobs as: anesthesiologist, psychiatrist, surgeon, OB/GYN, pediatrician, dentist, CEO and health specialty teacher. There’s definitely no shortage of options out here, especially in the medical world, it seems.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Missouri's current unemployment rate is 3.6%, which is better than the national average. The current minimum wage, however, is $7.85 per hour, according to minimum-wage.org—just a hair above the federal minimum. While this number may not seem super-inspiring at first glance, it might be worth noting that Missouri is often ranked in the top 10 states with the lowest cost of living, so it does all balance out a bit.

Housing

As great as it would be to become a professional couch surfer and NOT pay for monthly housing costs, you’re probably gonna wear out your welcome pretty fast. But there’s a ton of options in Missouri, from ramblers in the ‘burbs to studios in the cities. And no one to yell at you for eating all their yogurt again. Let’s chat about the housing market in Missouri a bit, then.

Current Missouri home values are around $153,800 after rising 7.5% over the previous year. Homes here are currently listed on the market for an average of $180,000. But if you’d rather avoid a long-term commitment, you can always rent a house for about $998/month.

But if apartment life is more your speed, you can get a one-bedroom in Jefferson City, the state’s capital, for about $475/month, according to bestplaces.net. But in Missouri’s larger cities like St. Louis and Kansas City, you’ll be paying about $836/month to $854/month. Or you can just go somewhere right in the middle and pay about $666/month in Independence. Of course, if you’re moving for a job, you may not always have the opportunity to choose your city, but it’s good to see what’s out there and where you stand.

The housing know-it-alls at Zillow also mentioned that the big housing boom in Missouri was in the ‘50s, but there’s still a fair amount of current new construction happening throughout the state. The centerline of the state, from Kansas City to Jefferson City to St. Louis, seems to be where most of the newness is going on. There's also a good bit going on in the southwestern corner of the state, around Joplin and Springfield.

As you can see, you’ve got tons of options here in Missouri and you really can’t beat those prices, huh?

Culture and Natives

Missourians are said combine the qualities of both Southerners and Midwesterners, due to the state's location. You'll find a mix of accents around here, all depending on who you talk to. Locals here describe their fellow residents as friendly people who dress casually and form tight-knit, lifelong friendships.

Locals who have moved to Missouri also say that the people here tend to drive slowly, and enjoy striking up long conversations with strangers, watching vicious thunderstorms from a seat on their porch, and tailgating before sporting events. The friendliness seems to be strongest in the state's more rural areas, where residents insist on waving to everyone that passes by, neighbor or not. 

Missourians love to get outdoors and get down on some fishing and hunting. And there's plenty to hunt, too—in this state, turkeys actually outnumber people almost 2-to-1. In some areas, Missourians, are also known to get in on what’s called "frog gigging." At night, “giggers” get together, hunt, catch and cook up the frogs. Frog legs are a must around here, and taste like chicken... or not. 

Speaking of eating, popular around here are pork burgers and toasted ravioli (not necessarily together). And you can’t talk about Missouri food without talkin’ BBQ—and the sweeter the sauce, the better. In fact, Kansas City and St, Louis both have their own unique flavors, techniques and traditions on BBQ. We’ll let you decide which is yours.

“Show-Me” Trivia

Here's a little rapid-fire trivia for you, MO-style. Better hold on to those saucy ribs, though, this is gonna get wild.

Missouri was acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The state got its name from the tribe of Sioux Indians known as "Missouris" who were living in the area at the time. When translated, "Missouris" means "wooden canoe people." 

The state is home to the largest beer producer in the US, the Anheuser-Busch brewery, located in St. Louis. And speaking of cool things in St. Louis, the country's tallest national monument, the Great Arch, stands here at an impressive 630 feet tall. 

And next time someone asks you what you know about lead production, tell ‘em you know Missouri’s the nation’s leader in the matter. You’ll blow them all away.

Missouri is also the home of the "father of rock 'n' roll," Chuck Berry. He wrote a few of his megahits, including "Johnny B. Goode" and "Rock and Roll Music," in his house in St. Louis. The state's also the birthplace of Mark Twain, whose classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are set in Missouri. Brad Pitt and Steve McQueen also grew up in Missouri, and Walt Disney lived in K.C. 

That's not the end of The Show-Me State's fame, though. The Beatles immortalized the town of Kansas City in one of their songs, "Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey!" Estately also called attention to the town of Springfield, when they set out to find which town of the same name was most similar to the hometown of The Simpsons

Springfield, Missouri was declared the winner based on criteria like donut shops, bars, comic book stores and mini-marts per capita. Springfield, Oregon is more likely the true Springfield, based on where the show’s creator is from, but it’s fun to imagine. 

Another strange thing to note about Missouri is that it’s home to the world's largest fork, which stands at 35 feet tall, in Springfield. Missouri is also very soggy. The weather here is extremely humid, and locals say it rains pretty much constantly. In addition to the rain, there is the Lake of the Ozarks, which has 1,150 miles of shoreline—and locals proudly point out that it's longer than the entire Californian coastline. So if you're into water, Missouri might be the place for you.

Can't-Miss Missouri Fun + Activities

Whether you're a pro BBQ eater or you're looking to eat the world's largest bowl of pasta with the world's largest fork, The Show-Me State has plenty to see and do.

Here’ are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  • Defiance RoadHouse: Located in the town of Defiance (pretty cool name for a town, we think), this place is a favorite among locals to get a good sandwich, burger or pizza. To add to your appetite, the place is fully decked out with dozens of stuffed squirrels—taxidermy stuffed, not teddy-bear stuffed. And they’re all posed in unique situations, like in a bank robbery or sick motorcycle stunt. 
  • Mark Twain Cave: Located in the town of Hannibal is the famous cave that Twain wrote about in five of his best-selling books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Jesse James also used the cave as a hideout after robbing a bank in Saverton in 1879. Apparently his signature can still be seen in the cave, though it’s not part of the tour.
  • BoatHenge: Found in Columbia on a lawn adjacent to the Katy Trail, this work was created by a group of anonymous artists. BoatHenge features six fiberglass boats sticking vertically out of the ground, arranged in a semi-lunar formation. The measurements were all checked and found to precisely resemble those of the original Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire, England. 
  • Jesse James Home Museum: The infamous Wild West bank robber made an attempt to settle down with his family in the town of St. Joseph. But there was a $10,000 reward out for his capture, and a man named Robert Ford just couldn't resist. Ford was a former partner-in-crime until he gunned James down in his home in 1882. Today, the home has been turned into a museum, featuring artifacts from James' life, including his old guns and portraits. You can even still see the bullet hole in the wall from the shot that killed him.
  • Wonders of Wildlife Museum: Inside, you'll find taxidermied animals (what’s with Missouri and stuffing dead animals?) such as elephants, bears, lions, and bison in environments ranging from rain forests and swamps to forests and plains. The museum is also home to the National Archery Hall of Fame, as well as the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Fishing boats used by Jimmy Buffett and Ernest Hemingway are also on display.

Pros and Cons of Life in The Show-Me State

You’ve heard us go on and on, but wouldn’t you rather hear about Missouri from people who live there? 

Some pros (from the mouths of real-life Missourians):

  • Low cost of living: Missouri was ranked as the #10 most affordable state to live in. In addition to the low cost of rent, utilities, groceries and entertainment, overall costs are said to be lower than the national average. If you like frugal livin', this could be the place for you.
  • BBQ: While there are many states that rave about their BBQ and swear that theirs is the best in the country, Missouri was actually ranked as the "#5 most BBQ-crazed state." The state has the fourth-highest number of  BBQ joints per capita, and consumes more BBQ sauce than any other state. As Estately declared, "Missouri is a true barbeque state."
  • Attractions: Commonly ranked as a strength for The Show-Me State are its attractions. The state has, in fact, plenty to "show" visitors—from museums and theaters, to historic architecture, national parks and national monuments. Also, you can’t forget Branson, the self-declared “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” it’s a total must-see on every Missouri resident or visitor’s list.
  • Nice people: Residents all raved, pretty much unanimously, about how nice the people in their state are. Even though it’s not technically a southern state, there’s still a fair amount of "southern hospitality" creeping in. 

And a few cons, too (also from the mouths of real-life Missourians):

  • Poorly ranked: Missouri ranked as the "#5 worst state to live in" on CNBC's list in 2018. In 2016, the state was ranked 49th out of 50, so at least it's moved up a couple of spots since. The ratings are based on things like crime rate, health and inclusiveness—all important things to keep in mind when considering a move.
  • Crime: Kansas City was listed among CBS's most dangerous cities in America in 2016, and the state as a whole has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation. As if that wasn't bad enough, crime rates are actually on the rise. Violent crime is ranked as being 31% higher than the national average, and property crime is 15% higher. Springfield, Bridgeton and St. Louis were ranked as the three most dangerous cities in the state by roadsnacks.net in 2018. But there are other cities there, too.
  • Hot and humid: Locals complain that the weather here is mostly hot and very humid during the summer, with lots of rainy days as well. The humidity turns into lots of snow and ice storms in the winter. The weather here is so unbearable that it causes locals to joke that their state's name should be pronounce "Misery" instead of "Missou-ree."

Weird Laws

We know you came to get the goods regarding all things Missouri, and we don't want to disappoint. That's why we've compiled a list of a few of the most outdated, and downright head-scratchingest, laws still in existence.

Here’ are a few:

  • Clotheslines are banned in Columbia. But you are allowed to drape your wet clothes over your fence. We're a little baffled by this one.
  • You can't give elephants beer or other intoxicants in Natchez. Just stick to the peanuts.
  • You need a permit to shave while driving. Running late for work again and you forgot to shave? Well, unless you've gotten prior approval, looks like you're out of luck. 
  • In Kansas City, you can't have old-school clawfoot bathtubs. Taking away residents' right to bathe in style? Now that's a crime.

Time to Explore Missouri, Tom Sawyer-Style

Well, there it is. A behind-the-scenes tour of Missouri and the most important factors to consider when moving, all smothered in BBQ sauce. Though we probably couldn't address your entire list of concerns (‘cuz we've got some caves to explore), we hope to have at least set you on the right path.

Now it's up to you to decide if The Show-Me State is a place you'd like to be. Considering the history, how it inspired adventures such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the nice people, the amount of rain, and of course the world’s largest fork, this might just be your dream state. 

No matter where you choose to move in Missouri, make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy. Good luck, and may your adventure lead you straight to your perfect new home.

NOTE: if you decide Missouri isn't right for you, we've covered all the other states, too, to help you find YOUR spot. If hot, humid and wet isn't your thing, have you thought about Arizona?

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