Help me choose a city in MO! : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi everyone! My husband and I are excited about the possibility of moving to Missouri next spring or summer. His corporation here in WI has several branches nationwide that he could transfer to. The MO branches are in: KANSAS CITY, SPRINGFIELD, ST. LOUIS, and COLUMBIA. We would want to live in the surrounding area up to around 30 minutes from the city he works. We've been trying to gather information about each place and plan to visit, but this is an overwhelming task! Can anyone help us narrow it down some? We are a bit partial to the beauty of the Ozark area, but is this practical, land usage-wise?

We want to have a very minimal mortgage (build as we go if need be), at LEAST 10 acres somewhat private, land suitable for pasture for a couple goats, a beef steer, chickens, etc. and a large garden and orchard...We are a homeschooling family of six, still-growing, and want to supply as much as we can ourselves. We want this to be our last move so we need to make sure there's enough room for us in the future.

Right now we have 5 acres, but not very usable, and can barely afford to live here anymore. The taxes are outrageous (went up by $1000 last year!!!)and we had searched long and hard for this place. The only reason it was affordable was because it's not near any big towns and has a pop. of 75. The commute for my husband is HORRIBLE. We can't find land for much under $10,000 an acre unless we buy a HUGE plot(Or move to the middle of the state where there is no work for him)and the zoning stinks!

So that's where we are. Any suggestions? Any and all information will be wonderful!

-- Tina in NE WI (, October 17, 2001


Hi Tina. I am in St. Louis. Springfield has horribly high utility bills and housing is pretty high also. Land is costly because of Branson and the Lakes. KC is ok, kinda flat and uninteresting. Cost of living is comparable to SL. I don't know about land prices, probably like the northern part of the state, where it's mainly agricultural. Per acre prices tend to be pretty high (5-10,000 / acre). Here in SL, it's high also, but from the yuppies buying 2nd and 3rd homes out from the city. If you go past Washington County (out 44 towards Cuba, Sullivan) you will still find land around 1000- 2000 an acre. The commute on 44 isn't horribly bad, people come from 90-100 miles away. We had 10 acres in unincorporated SL county, but lost the home in a storm and had to find something asap and bought a place on a half an acre w/ excellent southern exposure and paid 55,000 for it. It's in a community in SL (we have a million small towns that comprise SL county). I personally like SL the best and here's why: The hills (Missouri mountains) start in Jefferson county and develop south till you get to Arkansas. We have been looking for property in Iron county (by Salem (Reynolds county)) and found a piece that the owner is selling for 500 an acre. Two problems, one, the land is on a hill, and two, no employment. Back to SL, it's a nice city, jobs are pretty good and the cost of living is reasonable. I have lived in KC, Springfield and Branson, so I am compairing my experiences with life in SL now. You can't beat the hills though. They are beautiful. The shut-ins, waterfalls, springs, caves, hills, rivers, people, did I mention hills????, are spectacular. We had to put off the search for a while though, I developed rheumatoid arthritis and am beginning treatment that may or may not work (don't look good right now). Meanwhile, back at the ranch I refuse to give up. I want out of this city and out where I can breathe and be alone!!! If I have to do it from a wheelchair I'll just customize it with ATV tires. Give me a yell if you need any more specifics. ~Mary

-- Mary in SL (, October 17, 2001.

I live about 45 miles southwest of KC, and used to commute daily. We have 40 acres in southern Miami county. It is quite flat here, but we like it! We're close enough to the city to go there when we need to, but far enough away to still be in the country. The property prices here are rising pretty fast though. Right now, it's going for approx 2-3,000 per acre. If you do decide to move to this area, I would advise moving to Linn County, which is just a couple miles south of us. Property is cheaper, and there isn't so much hassle with county ordinances. (We're too close to Johnson County!) Lots of people from the Johnson County (southern KC) area are moving down here, and they're bringing their city ideas about how things should be done. So, if it were me, I would move to the next county south, which is Linn county. The people around here are wonderful (with the possible exception of the few Johnson County immigrants!). Wherever you choose to live in this part of the great USA, I'm sure you will love it. People in the heartland are just fabulous.

I should have stated that the areas I'm telling you about are on the Kansas side of the border. It is sort of flat here, but I was raised in Oklahoma, so I like it flat! :-)

-- Cheryl in KS (, October 17, 2001.

Hi Tina- I recently moved back to Missouri the end of last year. I am now living about 30 miles south of Lebanon takes me about about 1 1/2 hours to get to Springfield. If you are planning to live out away from Springfield, utilities shouldn't be too bad. We are on well water, the hot water heater runs on propane. We have a central heat unit that is on propane; but have never used it. We were lucky enough to have one of those outside wood funances, so we were able to heat all winter on wood and it kept the place nice and cozy. Our electric bill has been quite reasonable....don't think it has ever been much over $60.00. But then we didn't run the air conditioner until August. Don't have central air, but had a window unit that knocked the heat down for us. We sit on a hilltop so we are able to catch any breeze that comes by, so that made most of the summer bearable. I think the property taxes are quite low, compared to what I was use to in South Carolina. The ground is quite rocky in this area, and you can find some of the hardest clay around. In fact most people out here don't have septic tanks. It is a lagoon. You get four seasons, right now the fall is just gorgeous up in these hills. Our winters'll have a few in a row that are quite mild...then a few with what will seem like constant ice and/or snow. Think we are cycling now with the snow. Had 14 inches on the ground the middle of December, and had more thru January. With a little thaw in between. People as a whole are good, solid, hardworking people. I grew up in the south county St. Louis area, moved from there about 1982. It is a was nice 'big-small' city. But there has really been a tremdous amount of growth since I left. I have a sister who still lives there, and I am amazed when I go see her 'how things have changed'. Use to be plenty of 'outskirts'; but from what I can tell, that is almost gone. But it is still a great city to be able to do and find almost anything you want. And a lot of the county areas still seem to have that small town feeling. I am a 'little' prejudice, but it is hard to beat Missouri no matter where you decide to settle.

-- Lacey (, October 17, 2001.


I grew up in Kansas City and attended the University of Missouri in Columbia while my older brother attended the Univ. of Missouri in Rolla. Columbia would be my personal choice if I were to return to the state. It is a "small" college town half way between KC and SL. At the time I was there, it had 30,000 residents and 30,000 students. During the summer, the town empties out until fall brings the students back. It is rural and definitely country for miles. I cannot speak to the price of land currently, though I know it is going up in most farm towns. Columbia has a medical school and center and two other near-by hospitals including Boone County Hosp. So healthcare and related occupations are available. Your 120 miles from the big cities, either way. But living in a college town has a feeling all its own. The attitudes are young, forward looking, and full of aspiration. The energy on campus spreads through the town. And on football Saturdays, the entire community comes together and the crowded stadium can be heard from blocks away. You really and truly feel like you're part of the town. I always considered it the best of both worlds. The weather is a bit more harsh than in the Ozarks, but coming from WI, you are more than prepared. Anyway, thats my opinion.

-- Dwight (, October 17, 2001.

Hi Tina. I live in Paris, MO and work in Columbia, MO. 50 miles. Takes me an hour to get to work. When we lived in St. Louis, I lived 25 miles from work and it still took me an hour to get to work. I like driving by horse farms and river valleys better that breathing exhaust in stop and go traffic!!

Living just 30 minutes from the areas you mentioned, still puts you in the high rent districts of those cities. They call them bedroom communities in order to keep the land prices (thus taxes) high.

We have 80 acres. Our taxes are 900.00. That is after we put up a double wide, built a 30 x 40 pole barn, 20 x 15 chicken house, and built a 3000 sq ft earth contact home. Before all this building the taxes were 65.00.

We love it out here. My wife works at home and part time for an a lawyer in town. I work at a small college, and teach there part time also. I couldn't make the kind of money I make if I worked in Paris. If we lived any closer to Columbia, we couldn't afford the land or the taxes. Best of both worlds I suppose. I don't mind the drive as I plan my day going in, and plan work around the farm on the way home.

Non farming land is about 750.00 to 900.00 per acre. There are lots of small places for sale around here. You are 25 miles from two fairly large shopping areas, and then there is Columbia. Northeast Missouri has a lot to offer. Write if you have any questions.


-- Rickstir (, October 17, 2001.

Hi Tina, Pick Columbia! It's the smallest of the cities you mentioned, but has far more amenities than Springfield without the crime and congestion of either St. Louis or KC. For a homeschooled family, you couldn't pick a better location, Columbia is a college town with some phenomenal resources. It's also a very clean and attractive town. Springfield is ugly, really. We live in Ava, and hour southeast of Springfield, 3 hours south of Columbia. The soil is far better north than south, while I find it much prettier down here in southern MO, the soil isn't the greatest. I'd say prices around Springfield will be cheaper than around Columbia, KC or St. Louis, contrary to an earlier post the land between Springfield and Branson is quite affordable...I know, I was a broker in that area for years. Columbia is higher..but less than the two big cities. Depends on how far you're willing to drive. You'll find the least regulated areas outside of Springfield, some counties still have little to no zoning laws, you WON'T find that leniency in the counties surrounding Columbia, not sure about KC or ST. Louis. CJ

-- CJ (, October 17, 2001.

Hi Tina

We live on a farm west of Boonville, hubby works in Columbia. The river hills here are just as pretty as the Ozarks only we have SOIL, rich, deep, loess soil(Sorry Ozarkers..Ava's lovely but the rocks!! If I see a rock here it's probably an arrowhead or a chunk from the driveway). I used to live in the burbs of STL and hated it. Lived in Columbia proper and it was expensive, near Millersburg on the east side of Columbia and it was less expensive but clay soil. Look at Howard and Cooper counties as possibilities, especially near the river. Land is dirt cheap compared to what you quoted.

-- Susan (, October 17, 2001.

Wow--now I'm even more confused, I think! Everyone has a spot they like best! Columbia sounds nice, but I'm worried it would be too "yuppie-ish". I don't want to worry if my lawn is too long for someone, and want to be able to live in a trailer while building a house if need be...Seems like there would be too many restrictions? (I don't consider myself a "hick", but maybe a "country bumpkin" ;-) Hee hee). But the better soil does sound good...or maybe we could do mostly raised beds for gardening if the soil's hard and rocky? What about for animals--can they get sufficient pasture in Ozark soil? And the orchard--would that be impossible? Is ALL land near Springfield areas hard and rocky? Thanks for all the input, you guys, it sure is great to have this forum!

-- Tina in WI (, October 17, 2001.

I freshly transplanted to Mountain Grove. That's about an hour from Springfield. I'm too green to tell you about expenses, but, from where I'm from everything is about 1/2 to 3/4s cheaper. I bought 5 acres, a great house, a super garage with two floors, and chicken coop, more outbuildings, a stream, all for $40,000.00 I saw older houses as cheap as $12,000.00 that were nice.

You asked about orchards? Here they have the states school and research departments for growing fruit and I've gone brain dead, I can't think of the name of the facility or even what the proper terms are. Anyway, it's some big deal down here for growing fruit. There's 220 growing days a year and the winter's aren't too hard. We're close to Ava. I have more dirt in my yard than rocks. ;) ;) ;)

Good Luck on what you choose. Anyway, I feel like I've found a peace of heaven here. And Laura Ingals Wilder (Little House on the Prairie) moved to Mansfield next door as her final residence.

-- Diane (, October 18, 2001.

Sounds like you want the best of both worlds. 30 min. to work anywhere you are still in the "city" . Traffic, high taxes and living expenses, lots of people. The best city you mentioned is Springfield excellent hosp. and all services needed. A good area to live in is the area aprox. 50 mi. east of Springfield . Mountain Grove area is an excellent area. You have U.S.60 4-lane access to Springfield. There are alot of good small farms for sale in this area. South of U.S.60 is hilly and more rocks, Most of these farms are productive farms ,the rocky ground is good for grazing livestock ,no foot problems with sheep or goats, can graze almost year round .Most of the small farms have a nice productive "garden area" a lot still have fruit trees.Find a farm with a good well and prefer a year round spring, water can be critical in a dry summmer.The people in this area are the best. Good neighbors , low crime, very few problems.Be very selective in choosing a realtor, there are a lot of them.Try site this site has 100s of listings for this area. Good Luck!

-- buzz mo (, October 18, 2001.

Yes, I guess it would seem that I want the best of both worlds! :-( I guess I'm forgetting just how big those cities like KC, SL, and Springfield are! The largest cities near where we live are 40 to 60 thousand people and an hour away, and 30 minutes away from them is already pretty rural. So I know I need to actually SEE these areas to get a better picture of things. But this has really helped me, "talking" to all of you. It's kind of confirming in our minds what we had thought: Springfield is probably the spot! Columbia sounds nice too, but there wouldn't be as much work there. My husband is a journeyman electrician and data comm. technician. Just today he found out that Springfield is exploding with opportunities in his company, whereas there isn't much in the Columbia branch. Some of you mentioned properties you had seen or found near Springfield--sounds just like what we are looking for! I believe in my heart that the right place is out there if we look hard enough! I would be very grateful if anyone could recommend good, honest realtors...and thank you, Buzz, I will check out! Again, my thanks to ALL of you for your valuable insights!

-- Tina in WI (, October 18, 2001.

Hi Tina, I think you are making the right choice in Springfield. I live an hour away from Columbia and KC, and 2 hours from Springfield, but if I had my choice, I'd rather live closer to Springfield. It is not ugly there, really. I hate going to Columbia and KC, but I don't mind visiting Springfield at all. It's always seemed a very nice comfortable city with tons of things to do and see. It's in the Ozarks, which are beautiful! I really don't know about land values and taxes, but, after living in Missouri for 26 years, if I had to move near or in a bigger city, I would choose Springfield anytime. Good luck to you!! Diana

-- Diana (, December 31, 2001.

I have lived in all four areas in missouri. So I can really judge the differences. If you could tell me where in KC or St. Louis that you would be working , it would make a difference on commuting.

Springfield would be number 1 for quality of life, but between springfield and branson, the land is outrageous. east, west and north of springfield the land is not bad priced, north being the cheapest. Its the bible belt and its very religious there. there is lots to do and its a great place to live. Its very white down there. I only say that because, a person of color might not find the cultural things of a bigger city. Its not prejudiced down there, but there are not very many minorities. I wish i had not moved. Its very rocky, but lots of fishing to be had.

Columbia would be second choice. Boone county has restrictions about trailers and septic and taxes are higher. Which is good and bad. Good that its harder for people to trash out the place next door. the area south of columbia is towards the river and Jeff City(the capital) is expensive and rocky. But the other three directions are great. I live in callaway county and schools are good and the soil is great for gardening. Prices are good. All the area schools are pretty good. Lots of good little country towns. I live in williamsburg, pop 45. It still has a country store that sells everything from food to lightbulbs.

The St. louis area is busy and congested. you have to drive out to warren, lincoln, or jefferson county to get out. jefferson is rocky and getting expensive. traffic is bad, costs are high. the baseball and football is great (rams and cardinals). depending on where the job was, would tell you alot. I think Ill has no state income tax, but proberty is high, but the land is good.

Kc is great to get around. the roads are better than in st. louis. Mainly because there is less rivers to cross. It doesnt feel like a big city, because there is a little distance between theem. the burbs that is.

to sum it up, springfield, columbia, kc then stlouis. Cape Girardeau is the untold gem of missouri, it has the best of everything and i don't live there.

-- randy wybrant (, January 22, 2002.

Tina, I stubbled on to your web by accident. I am writing you from Springfield, MO and I found all the feedback you received about my beloved state very interesting. I am a Missouri native. I have lived in the Springfield, St. Louis area, and south-central Missouri. Springfield is the best. It offers enough resources and activities to keep one happy and healthy yet still maintains an essences of the small town atmoshpere. I think the cost of living is reasonable. Land north of Springfield is less expensive than land South. It doesn't take long to be where it feels very rural. I work in a small school district just 16 miles north of Springfield. the community is composed of many dairy farms. Springfield is the best Pick! Susan

-- (, February 07, 2002.

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