Exploring the Cost of Living in Missouri

Missouri’s cost of living is a topic of significant interest for individuals considering relocating to the state. The cost of living in Missouri is influenced by various factors, including geographic location, housing market trends, and the economic climate. As of the latest data, the cost of living index in Missouri stands at 85.6, which is below the national average, indicating that Missouri is more affordable compared to many other states in the U.S.. This affordability is one of the many attributes that make Missouri an appealing destination for families and individuals alike.

The question of what is the cost of living in Missouri is often linked to personal lifestyle choices and the specific region within the state. Urban areas like Kansas City and St. Louis offer a vibrant city life but might have slightly higher living expenses compared to rural areas. On the other hand, smaller towns and suburban areas offer lower living expenses, making them attractive for those seeking a more cost-effective lifestyle.

Housing Costs in Missouri

Housing is a significant component of the cost of living in Missouri. The state boasts some of the most affordable housing options in the United States. The median home cost in Missouri is about $212,300, which is substantially lower than the national median of $338,100. This affordability in housing makes Missouri an attractive market for potential homebuyers looking for quality living at a reasonable price.

In the rental market, Missouri also presents affordable options. For example, renting a two-bedroom apartment costs around $950 per month, which is considerably lower than the national average. This affordability extends across various Missouri cities, with cities like Springfield and Joplin offering some of the lowest rental costs, further underscoring the state’s overall affordability.

Healthcare Costs in Missouri

Healthcare costs in Missouri have been a significant concern for residents, with a substantial portion of the population facing affordability burdens. In a survey conducted by the Missouri Foundation for Health, 62% of more than 1,100 Missouri adults reported experiencing healthcare affordability issues in the past year. 

These issues included being uninsured due to high costs, delaying or foregoing care because of cost, and struggling to pay healthcare bills. There is a heightened concern among residents about their future ability to afford healthcare, with more than four-in-five (82%) expressing worry.

In terms of healthcare spending, Missouri recorded a per capita expenditure of $11,592 in 2020. This figure places Missouri 30th in the nation for healthcare spending per person. Despite the efforts to enhance healthcare coverage, such as the expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the high cost of healthcare remains a significant barrier for many Missourians. This situation underscores the need for continued efforts to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all residents of Missouri.

Food and Grocery Expenses

I found some information on Food and Grocery Expenses in Missouri from the USDA ERS website. According to the website, in 2022, U.S. consumers, businesses, and government entities spent $2.39 trillion on food and beverages in grocery stores and at other retailers as well as on away-from-home meals and snacks. The average annual food-at-home prices were 11.4 percent higher in 2022 than in 2021. 

The price increase for beef and veal was closest to its historical average of 4.4 percent. Egg prices rose most sharply, by 32.2 percent, primarily as a result of the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak. Prices for fats and oils increased by 18.5 percent, poultry increased by 14.6 percent, other meats increased by 14.2 percent, and cereals and bakery products increased by 13.0 percent.

In addition, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center provides cost of living data for Missouri. According to their data, Missouri had the sixth lowest cost of living in the United States for the third quarter of 2023. The cost of living index for the third quarter 2023 was 88.3. Cities across the nation participate in the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER) survey on a volunteer basis. Price information in the survey is governed by C2ER collection guidelines which strive for uniformity.

Transportation Costs

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, the average Missouri driver pays about $32 per month in state and federal transportation taxes and fees. This is relatively low compared to what the average Missourian pays for cell phone service, cable television or internet service.

In addition, the Road Information Program’s 2018 “Missouri Transportation by the Numbers” report calculated that driving on rough roads costs the average Missouri driver $762 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $3 billion each year to the state of Missouri. The report also states that due to inadequate state and local funding, 52 percent of major roads and highways in Missouri are in poor or mediocre condition.

Utilities and Household Expenses

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri had the sixth lowest cost of living in the United States for the third quarter of 2023. The cost of living index for the third quarter 2023 was 88.3. The least expensive areas were the Midwest and Southern states. The cost of living index is based on the average cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities.

In 2022, consumers on average paid 14.3% more for electricity than in 2021, which is more than double the overall 6.5% rise in prices, according to Consumer Price Increase data released by the website. On average, Missouri residents spend about $202 per month on electricity. That adds up to $2,424 per year. That’s 17% higher than the national average electric bill of $2,078. The average electric rates in Missouri cost 14 ¢/kilowatt-hour (kWh), so that means that the average electricity customer in Missouri is using 1,395 kWh of electricity per month.

Education Expenses in Missouri

In Missouri, there have been significant developments in educational expenses and funding in 2023. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced the launch of a $25 million grant program, which offers up to $1,500 for education expenses to students in the state’s public and charter schools. 

This program, named “Close The Gap,” primarily aims to assist families living at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. The funds can be used for a variety of educational needs, including classroom materials, computer equipment, internet access, tutoring, and educational programs outside of regular school hours.

Legislative efforts in Missouri are also focusing on various aspects of school funding and spending. Proposals include increasing the minimum salary for teachers, providing additional funding for early childhood education, and adjusting how state funds are distributed among schools. These proposals reflect an ongoing effort to address key education issues in the state, such as teacher pay and the equitable distribution of educational resources.

For students attending the University of Missouri, the estimated cost of undergraduate attendance for the 2023-24 academic year ranges from $27,672 to $31,272 for Missouri residents, and $51,472 for non-residents. This estimate includes tuition, fees, housing, and dining, but does not account for books, supplies, and personal expenses. The university has implemented a new tuition model for the 2023-24 academic year, which may influence these costs.

Taxes in Missouri

In Missouri, significant changes in tax laws came into effect in 2023, impacting both individual income tax rates and the structure of taxation. The top individual income tax rate in Missouri has been reduced from 5.3% to 4.95%. This reduction is part of a larger tax reform initiative aimed at lowering the tax burden on residents. Moreover, the state’s income tax laws now exempt the first $1,000 of income from taxation. This change represents a notable increase from previous rules, which exempted only the first $100 of income. The tax reform legislation also stipulates additional potential reductions in the top income tax rate in future years, depending on the state’s revenue growth. These changes are part of Missouri’s efforts to make the state more tax-friendly and economically competitive.

For the 2023 tax year, Missouri’s Department of Revenue advises filers to be aware of these changes as they prepare their tax returns. The new tax legislation is expected to bring considerable savings to Missouri residents and is estimated to result in a significant reduction in overall tax revenue for the state. This is considered the largest tax cut in Missouri’s history and is projected to have a major impact on individual taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Entertainment and Leisure Costs

Entertainment and leisure activities form a part of the cost of living in Missouri. The state offers a wide range of recreational activities, from outdoor adventures in its beautiful parks and forests to cultural events in its bustling cities. The cost of these activities can vary, with some being free or low-cost, while others, like attending concerts or joining sports clubs, can be more expensive.

Missouri’s diverse landscape provides ample opportunities for affordable leisure activities. State parks, hiking trails, and lakes offer low-cost options for outdoor enthusiasts. For those interested in arts and culture, museums, galleries, and theaters provide enriching experiences, though ticket prices and membership fees can add to the monthly budget.

Best Places to Live in Missouri for Affordability

In Missouri, several cities and towns offer affordability combined with quality living, making them attractive destinations for those seeking a cost-effective lifestyle. Independence stands out as a notable example, with its rich historical landmarks and museums such as the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum. It offers the charm of a smaller town with a population of around 123,000, without the premium costs associated with living in larger cities.

St. Louis also emerges as a highly affordable city, with a median home price of about $253,500, which is significantly lower than the state’s average. The city, with a population of approximately 301,600, is known for its diverse neighborhoods, cultural landmarks like the iconic Gateway Arch National Park, and a plethora of recreational and entertainment options. St. Louis style barbecue is a must-try for residents and visitors alike. A local moving company has noted a trend of more people moving to St. Louis, likely attracted by its affordable housing and rich cultural offerings.

Another city to consider is Kansas City, where the median home price is around $270,000, and the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,132. Kansas City, with a population of about 508,100, offers a balance of urban amenities and mid-sized city comfort. Attractions include Penn Valley Park, the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium, and notable museums. These cities offer an appealing mix of affordability, safety, and access to a variety of amenities, making them attractive options for those looking to relocate within Missouri​


In conclusion, the cost of living in Missouri is characterized by its affordability across various sectors, including housing, healthcare, and education. The state’s diverse cities and towns offer a range of living options to suit different lifestyles and budgets. For those considering a move to Missouri, understanding the nuances of the cost of living in specific regions is crucial. With its overall lower cost of living, Missouri stands out as an attractive option for many seeking a balance between affordability and quality of life.

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