Missouri is overall a great place to raise a family with its charming small towns and cultured larger cities. When
Niche.com released their “best of rankings” in 2015, the following towns made the top 10 for being the best places in Missouri to raise a family. The towns were ranked based on factors like crime rates, high school graduation percentage, access to amenities and recreation, and the cost of living and childcare. A high ranking in this area would indicate that the town would tend to attract young families with good schools and a safe community.
Note: For purposes of this article, “towns” excludes suburbs and cities with over 100,000 residents.
Eureka is a large town in St. Louis County with 10,375 residents. Its low unemployment rate, high education levels and high income levels make it particularly attractive to families. The city also plays host to the amusement park Six Flags St. Louis.
Willard is a midsize town in Greene County with 5,395 residents. With a reasonable cost of living, and high levels of support for its school activities, the overall atmosphere of the town is warm and inviting. The unemployment rate at 5.3% is lower than the national average.
With two Willard High School alums having participated in the Olympics, the town’s main east-west road, U.S. 160, is known as Olympian Boulevard. The town has also shown tremendous growth in recent years, which is a good sign of things to come.
Located in Pulaski County in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, Waynesville is a mid-sized town with 5,147 residents. The town boasts a moderate cost of living, high education levels and high income levels.
The town is also located along historic Route 66, with major attractions including the Old Stagecoach Stop, the oldest standing structure in the county, and the Courthouse Museum. A nice town with great people and beautiful scenery, Waynesville’s constant growth over the years, points to a very bright future.
Kearney is famous for being the birthplace of Jesse James. It is a midsize town with 8,845 residents located in Clay County. It has a moderate cost of living and a low unemployment rate at 3.8%. High education levels and income levels, along with low crime rates make Kearney a great place for families.
Located in Webster County, Marshfield is a midsized town with 6,789 residents. The town’s cost of living is far below average with low rent costs, and the unemployment level is respectable. A local attraction that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Hosmer Dairy Farm Historic District, also known as Walnut Springs Farm.
The town also boasts the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the state of Missouri, and has hosted presidential visits. In fact, when the National First Families Library and Museum was dedicated on the square in 2006, the city made national news for having the largest gathering of Presidential relatives in the history of the U.S.
6. St. Charles
The county seat of St. Charles County, the small city of St. Charles has much to offer families. Its 66,900 residents appreciate a moderate cost of living, and a decent unemployment rate. A graduation rate of 90.9% is well above the national average.
It is a beautiful town with lots of things to do including access to the Katy Trail, and the St. Charles Historic Main Street shopping and restaurant district. With healthy new home construction, and tremendous commercial and population growth in recent years, St. Charles’ future looks very bright.
A picturesque town with 13,982 residents, Washington is located on the Missouri River in Franklin County. Low rent costs and very low unemployment levels along with high school graduation of 91% makes the town quite appealing for families. Missouri Meerschaum, a producer of corncob pipes and located on the riverfront gives Washington the title of “corncob pipe capital of the world.”
A large town in St. Francois County, Farmington has 17,213 residents. A low cost of living and low unemployment rates, as well as a high school graduation rate of 92% makes the town great for families. With a rich heritage, residential and economic growth, Farmington beautifully represents the best of Missouri.
9. Pleasant Hill
Pleasant Hill is a flourishing mid-sized town in northern Cass County with 8,173 residents. With an impressive high school graduation rate of 95%, a reasonable cost of living, and low unemployment makes it great for families. With a beautiful historic downtown and lots of activities, along with great schools and businesses, their Chamber of Commerce predicts Pleasant Hill has a “Proud Past. Exciting Future.”
10. Bonne Terre
An extremely low cost of living gives the mid-sized town of Bonne Terre appeal for young families just starting out. Its 7,025 residents are also able to enjoy the historic town’s attractions, The Bonne Terre Mine, and The Space Museum. Bonne Terre was originally a French settlement named “La Terre Bonne,” which means “Good Earth,” in reference to the area having the richest lead ore mineral wealth in the world at the time.
Niche lists the following five towns #11-#15: Odessa, Savannah, Warrensburg, Excelsior Springs, and Rolla.
Did your town make the list? Do you agree with the findings? We would love to hear from you!