They say home is where the heart is, and the heart of America lies in Missouri. While that quality doesn’t automatically make this state the perfect place to put down roots, growing families gravitate toward Missouri for many reasons.
Combining Midwestern sensibility with Southern charm, Missouri balances urban and rural traits well with its richly diverse culture, economy and landscape. Two major U.S. cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, border the eastern and western sides of the state, while a popular tourist destination, the mountainous Ozark region, dominates its southern half. The plains to the north are perhaps what many outsiders imagine when Missouri comes to mind. But each of these areas serves an important role and contributes heavily to the state’s strong economy.
This year, Missouri’s unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level since September 2000, while personal-income growth remains healthy. And with the fourth lowest cost of living in the U.S., affordability in Missouri puts more money back in parents’ pockets — perhaps to save for a comfortable retirement in the state or invest in long-term educational goals for their children. Missouri is home to several of the best and cheapest colleges and universities in the Midwest.
But not every corner of America’s Heartland is so lovable. To determine the best places to raise kids in the Show Me State, WalletHub’s analysts compared more than 80 of its biggest cities across 21 key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from housing affordability to quality of school system to unemployment rate. Read on for our findings, expert commentary on family matters and a full description of our methodology.