Does Missouri Have a High Cost of Living?

Dated: September 11 2023

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Whether you currently live in Missouri and wonder how the cost of living compares nationally, or you are considering moving to the Show Me State, it’s useful to understand how affordable it is to live there. By looking at housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and other living expenses, we can determine if the cost of living in Missouri is high or not.

Overall, Missouri is considered to have a relatively low cost of living, especially when looking at housing costs. The cost of living in Missouri is below the national average, providing an affordable standard of living for many residents. However, prices can vary significantly between rural towns, smaller cities, and larger metropolitan areas.

Cost of Living index In Missouri

One way to compare cost of living between states is to look at the cost of living index. This metric compares the price of common goods and services in an area to the national average.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri's overall cost of living index is 88.4, compared to the average across all states of 100. This means the cost of living in Missouri is about 12% lower than the national benchmark.

The cost of living index breaks down costs for specific categories:

  • Housing: 80
  • Transportation: 94
  • Food and Utilities: 93
  • Health and Medical: 96
  • Other goods and services: 91

As you can see, housing costs are significantly below average, while healthcare costs are very close to the national benchmark. Overall, most living expenses in Missouri are moderately lower than the country as a whole.

Housing Costs in Missouri in 2023

Housing makes up a significant portion of cost of living. For many Missouri residents, lower housing costs contribute to an affordable standard of living.

The median home value in Missouri is approximately $179,000 compared to $229,800 nationally. Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Missouri is $747, lower than the national average rent of $1,048.

Home prices and rents can vary considerably depending on the size and location of the city. For example, average rent in Kansas City is $925 compared to just $637 in Springfield.

Although home values have risen in recent years, housing in Missouri remains relatively affordable, especially in smaller towns and cities not near larger metropolitan areas. Lower property taxes in Missouri also help reduce total housing costs.

Average Transportation Costs

Getting around Missouri by car is relatively affordable compared to many other states. Transportation costs are about 6% lower than the national benchmark.

As of January 2023, the average price of gasoline in Missouri was $2.88 per gallon, slightly below the national average of $3.13. However, gas prices change frequently.

Costs to own and operate a vehicle in Missouri are very close to the U.S. average. Vehicle insurance, maintenance, registration fees, and sales tax are all on par with national averages.

Major cities like St. Louis and Kansas City have public transportation options via bus and rail which can help reduce transportation costs. But most areas require owning a car to get around.

Utilities Costs

Utility costs make up an important component of monthly bills. Missouri utilities are close to the national averages, but slightly lower overall.

Electricity rates in Missouri average 10.6 cents per kWh, just below the U.S. average residential rate of 13.4 cents per kWh. Natural gas also runs about 5% lower than average.

Monthly utility bills will depend on your usage, home size and heating/cooling needs. But in general, expect moderately lower utility costs in Missouri compared to other states.

National Average Food Costs in Missouri

Grocery and dining costs have a significant impact on cost of living. Food costs in Missouri fall a bit below national averages.

Cumulatively, Missouri households spend approximately $8,514 per year on food, about 8% less than the national benchmark. Prices for both grocery items and meals at local restaurants tend to run slightly lower than the country overall.

Of course, your food budget can vary substantially based on preferences for eating at home vs. dining out. But overall, expect reasonably-priced food options throughout most of Missouri.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare is one area where costs in Missouri closely match national averages. Average annual medical expenditures per person total $6,933 in Missouri, compared to $6,931 nationally.

Employer-based health insurance premiums typically run just 1-2% lower than national benchmarks. However, costs can still add up with copays, deductibles, and procedures not fully covered by insurance.

Healthcare costs do not seem to provide a significant cost of living advantage in Missouri compared to other states. Medical care expenses are very close to national spending levels.

Cost of Living in Missouri Cities

There can be considerable variation in cost of living between different cities and regions within Missouri:

Kansas City - The Kansas City metro area has the highest cost of living in the state, with housing prices and other costs closest to national benchmarks. Still moderately affordable overall.

St. Louis – As the largest Missouri city, St. Louis has above-average housing expenses but prices for other goods and services are very close to national levels.

Springfield – The cost of living in Springfield is well below average, especially housing which is over 25% cheaper than the national median home price. Overall very affordable.

Columbia – With the University of Missouri’s main campus, Columbia does have slightly elevated rental rates. But other costs are reasonably cheap, including transportation.

Cape Girardeau – Located in rural areas southeastern Missouri, Cape Girardeau residents enjoy a very low cost of living for all major living expenses.

No matter which city you live in or are considering moving to, Missouri offers an affordable cost of living compared to other states overall. Just be aware that expenses are lower in smaller towns than in populated cities and suburbs.

Is Missouri’s Cost of Living High?

When looking at the cost of living index, housing costs, food, utilities, transportation, and healthcare, Missouri consistently offers a low cost of living compared to national averages.

Although not the absolute cheapest state compared to the national average, Missouri provides reasonable affordability. Cost of living in Missouri is between 10-15% lower overall than the average across all states.

Some key factors contributing to Missouri's relatively low cost of living include:

  • Low property taxes and affordable housing prices
  • Below average utility costs, especially electricity
  • Reasonable transportation expenses and gas prices
  • Food costs slightly lower than national averages
  • Healthcare and medical costs very close to national benchmarks

Of course, prices and budgets can vary significantly depending on lifestyle and where in Missouri you live. But overall, the cost of living in Missouri is not high compared to most other states. For many residents and prospective residents, Missouri provides a comparatively affordable place to live.

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FAQS

What is the average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Missouri?

The average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Missouri is around $700, well below the national average of $1,200.

Which city in Missouri has the lowest cost of living? 

Missouri's capital, Jefferson City, has the lowest cost of living of any city in Missouri. Housing and groceries are especially cheap.

How much does a family of 4 spend on average per year in Missouri?

A family of 4 in Missouri spends an average of $55,000 per year on necessities. This is considerably lower than the national average.

Is the cost of food cheaper in Missouri?

Yes, the cost of food in Missouri falls well below the national average. Groceries for a family of 4 cost about $7,000 per year.

What is the average monthly rent in Kansas City, Missouri?

In Kansas City, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is around $900 per month. Rent prices are lower than many major US cities. 

Is public transportation available in Missouri cities?

Outside of St. Louis, most Missouri cities do not offer public transportation. Many commuters drive to work by car.

 How does the cost of living in Missouri compare to other states?

Missouri has one of the lowest overall costs of living compared to other states. Living in Missouri is about 15% cheaper than the national average.

Is healthcare expensive in Missouri?

Healthcare costs in Missouri are relatively high compared to other living expenses. Health insurance for a family costs around $1,200 per month.

What is the average home value in Missouri? 

The median home value in Missouri is about $170,000, well below the national median of $240,000. Home prices vary across different cities.

 How can I calculate the cost of living in Missouri?

Use an online cost of living calculator to compare Missouri cities. Enter your current living expenses to find detailed breakdowns of costs in Missouri.

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