Guide to Moving to St. Louis, Missouri: What You Need to Know

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Welcome to the “Gateway to the West”

The point of departure for Lewis and Clark. The host of the 1904 Olympics. The one-time home of Chuck Berry, Jon Hamm, Maya Angelou, Nelly, and Ellie Kemper. The birthplace of Anheuser-Busch, toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake and square-cut, cracker-crusted, provel-topped pizza. Call it the Gateway City, the Mound City, the 314 or the Home of the Cards, St. Louis is a complex and cosmopolitan place to call home.  

Often underestimated, this Midwestern city of 286,578 and St. Louis County of 990,791 have lived ruefully in the shadow of its big sister Chicago for the better part of the last 100 years, but St. Louis was once the nation’s fourth-largest city. Some of the country’s most consequential acts have happened here: The Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the 1904 World’s Fair, the construction of the world’s first steel-truss bridge — The Eads — and, notoriously, the Dred Scott decision, often deemed the Supreme Court’s worst failing.  

The fur trade and railways may have made St. Louis a major hub on the mighty Mississippi, but today’s economy is far more diversified (and significantly less fuzzy). Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University have made the city a hub for research and a cool college town. Fortune 500s like Edward Jones, Graybar and Centene contribute billions to the regional economy. And the city’s many artists, writers, designers and performers give St. Louis a flourishing creative scene that even larger cities envy.  

If you’re ready for a look at this city beyond the gleam of the Gateway Arch, get the scoop on St. Louis’ job market, affordable cost of living, family-friendly attractions, neighborhoods and schools below.  

Want to know more about the region before you move? Get the lowdown on moving to Missouri in our guide to the Show-Me State. 

Weather in St. Louis

In St. Louis, the topic that brings everyone together is the weather. And let’s be honest, it has a bit of a bad reputation. Except for that one amazing day in October!  

St. Louis isn’t the worst place in any season, but it tends to get a taste of everything. Summers are hot and humid; winters can be interminably gray, wet and cold; and spring and fall sometimes evaporate before they’ve even started. According to NOAA, the average annual temperature in St. Louis is 57.4 F, with summertime highs in the upper eighties and wintertime lows in the 20s F. St. Louis weather is a minute-by-minute game, as anyone watching the climate in early 2024 can attest.  

In January 2024, St. Louis recorded 23 degrees warmer than the average, but a sudden polar blast from Canada brought sub-zero temperatures, maintaining the month’s normal average. February surpassed January’s surprises, breaking a longstanding record high at 86°F on the 27th, followed by a 60-degree drop overnight. Essentially, you must think of St. Louis weather as a series of minor car crashes:  Be prepared for whiplash. 

St. Louis is also no stranger to extreme events: Tornadoes, flooding, wind, sleet, ice and hail spawned by activities in the Rockies, the Gulf or Canada. The city even dealt with distant wildfire smoke, creating a smoggy scene in the summer 2023. And let’s not forget the looming threat of earthquakes from the New Madrid Fault. Someday, there might be “a big one.” 

So, now you know why everyone clings to that perfect day in October. It’s a moment to forget that the rest of the year’s weather happened.   

Cost of Living in St. Louis

Want to know St. Louis’s best-kept secret: it’s cool and affordable to live here. Sure, you’re a long way from the coasts, but there is terrific real estate in the city, and much of it costs far less than the U.S. average.  

The median home value in St. Louis is only $174,100 — more than $100,000 lower than the national average of $281,900, and the median gross rent here is a mere $958/mo. But the median household income in the city is only $52,941, and the poverty rate in the city tops 20%. These are both a far cry from averages in St. Louis County and the nation, where household incomes top $75,000 and poverty levels are below 12%. Homeownership rates are also 20 points lower in St. Louis City than St. Louis County, where 68.5% of residents own their own homes.  

The price of gasoline in St. Louis is usually far below the national average, but, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all other common expenses in this Midwest city are slightly more expensive than the national average, including food, transportation and healthcare. However, according to Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the St. Louis region comes in below the national average in every category except for Utilities. All told — and depending on your lifestyle — what you’ll save on housing in St. Louis is more than enough to offset the imbalance in other expenses, but it’s not always enough to compensate for the area’s significantly lower wages.  

Job Opportunities in St. Louis

With two major research universities, seven Fortune 500s and tons of homegrown ingenuity, St. Louis has a diverse job market that suits a range of professionals from creatives to financiers and entrepreneurs. Edward Jones, Enterprise Mobility, Centene, Emerson Electric, RGA (Reinsurance Group of America), Graybar, Ameren, and Olin are the biggest companies in the area, and with Springfield’s O’Reilly Autoparts, Missouri’s Fortune 500s employ over 19,000 workers and account for $2.3 billion in wages.  

But that’s not all. The region is also home to Boeing, Hubbell Power Systems, Scott Airforce Base, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). St. Louis also has one of the best hospital systems in the country — BJC HealthCare — part of the Washington University School of Medicine, and the BJC and WashU are the largest employers in the St. Louis region, totaling more than 50,000 workers. The city’s new Cortex Innovation District, led in part by WashU, has helped spark interdisciplinary partnerships and startups, and it’s already generated billions of dollars in economic growth for the region. 

The top three industries in the St. Louis area are education and health services (275,000), trade, transportation and utilities (273,000) and professional and business services (220,000). Most industries saw nominal growth between 2022 and 2023, but leisure and hospitality saw a 6.4% spike, and other services and education and health Services both increased by 4% or more.  

Employment in the region is something of a mixed bag, reflecting entrenched economic divisions between St. Louis City and St. Louis County. In St. Louis City, the unemployment rate had risen to 3.5% in December 2023, an uptick from the 2.8% it sat at in the previous winter. But in the County — which envelopes the city on all sides west of the Mississippi — unemployment rose by a similar margin but arrested at 2.7%. In the metro area, which includes parts of Illinois, unemployment remained a half point below the national average at 3.0%.  

Wondering how much you might earn in this new city? See what St. Louis’ average wages by occupation are.  

St. Louis Neighborhoods

Most city-dwellers would kill to have the housing options that St. Louis offers — historic brick, oodles of charm, shockingly affordable. And with 79 different neighborhoods in the city, plus the sprawling suburbs in St. Louis County, you’ll be able to find a style that’s all your own.  

St. Louis has two main highways that run east-west — 64/40 and 44 (which those with a thick St. Louis accent pronounce “farty-far”), and I-44 takes a southerly route, and several popular neighborhoods hug its southern edge, including the Grove, Tower Grove (East and South), the Hill — St. Louis’ Little Italy — and Shaw. These intensely popular areas are loved for their historic red brick homes, great neighborhood restaurants like Lona’s Lil Eats, Sasha’s Wine Bar and Ices Plain & Fancy, and their proximity to two of the city’s greatest treasures: the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park. On Saturdays, you’ll find most of the city shopping the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market for their weekly provisions. These diverse, international neighborhoods are also favored by the academic set, as they make for fairly easy commutes to both St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. 

Tucked into one neat square mile of Southwest City between St. Louis Hills and Bevo Mill, St. Louis’s Southampton neighborhood is a residential district known for its tidy gingerbread houses, its Prairie style bungalows and its easygoing vibe. Although this area isn’t known for its diversity, homes are modestly priced in the family-centric area, and you’ll be close to great playgrounds and greenspaces like the Buder School and Francis Park in the popular St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Located just off Kingshighway, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, you’ll have easy access to big-box, suburban conveniences like Target and Home Depot, but you can also walk to local restaurants like Russell’s on Macklind, known for its farm-to-table fare, and Salt & Smoke, a wildly popular, born-in-STL BBQ chain known as much for their addictive white cheddar cracker mac & cheese as their half-slabs and pulled pork.  

WashU’s med school is located just north of the Grove in the tony Central West End neighborhood. The ever-expanding WashU medical campus overlooks the eastern edge of Forest Park, and you’ll find upscale shops, restaurants and galleries along the neighborhood’s urban corridors. Favorite spots include the French bistro Brasserie, the longstanding indie retailer Left Bank Books and the local grocery store, Straub’s. Flower-lovers will want to visit Bowood Farms — an urban nursery — and its charming restaurant, Bowood by Niche, where you can dine al fresco among the plants. The Central West End has slick new condos and humble apartments designed to appeal to tired medical students, traditional and modern high rises with great views of the city and several private streets lined with spectacular mansions.  

From the Gateway Arch to the Eads Bridge and the Wainwright building, Downtown St. Louis has a glut of iconic sites and some of the country’s most beautiful historic buildings. But, like many urban centers, Downtown has suffered from decades of population loss and poor development and preservation practices that left some of the greatest architectural treasures in ruins while others were simply demolished. Still, over the past twenty years, major investments have been made on several fronts that have breathed new life into the city’s commercial core. The Gateway Arch is now a National Park, and its new grounds and renovated museum have been well-received by residents, visitors and <gasp> even architecture critics. New additions like Citygarden Sculpture Park created a pocket-size cosmopolitan oasis to further reanimate the district, as did the major renovation of the St. Louis Public Library, which is nothing short of an astonishment. But nothing compares to the opening of Citypark, the new home of the MLS’ newest team, St. Louis City SC, who wowed fans from near and frustrated fans from far and wide with its breakout first season. The fandom really took this tried-and-true baseball town by storm, but Cardinals’ fans have also really enjoyed the new offerings of Ballpark Village surrounding Busch Stadium. If you’re hoping to live downtown, you’ll find a range of apartments and condos and lofts, from modest modern studios to renovated artists’ digs.   

Note: If you’re planning to move to St. Louis, it’s important to thoroughly research the neighborhoods and areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to reside, make sure you understand the neighborhood’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Education and Schools in St. Louis

St. Louis has some terrific educational institutions, both at the secondary and university level. Public high schools in Clayton, Ladue, Brentwood, Lindbergh and Kirkwood are standouts, and private academies like Crossroads, MICDS, John Burroughs and numerous Catholic schools are also held in high regard. 

At the college level, students have several worthy institutions to choose from. The behemoth is Washington University in St. Louis, which is one of the area’s largest employers and one of the nation’s top 25 research institutions. It’s known for its medical school, but it has excellent programs in the arts, literature, business and engineering, and it offers all the collegiate gothic your Hogwarts heart desires. St. Louis University also has a fine medical school and hospital system, and this longstanding Jesuit academy is in the fun, Midtown area of the city, just south of the Grand Center Arts District and just west of the new MLS stadium. The University of Missouri’s flagship is 90 minutes west of Columbia, but it also has a campus in the north-central area of the city. One thing unites all institutions of higher learning in the region: funny acronyms. WashU, SLU, Mizzou and UMSL don’t exactly roll of tongue, but the upshot is they are very hard to forget.  

Exploring St. Louis

St. Louis is big enough to not get bored in but not too big to get completely lost, either. A couple of things make the city stand out from all others though. 

First: the city’s parks. There are 108 in total, and they’re all worth visiting. St. Louis residents will be quick to brag that Forest Park is bigger than Central Park in NYC. But the bragging rights are well-deserved and hard-earned by this urban greenspace, where you’ll find the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Art Museum — all of which are free. There are miles of hiking and biking trails to explore, a nice public golf course and a network of waterways to paddle around on, too. Summertime brings a season full of musical theatre to the Muny in Forest Park, which you will have to pay for, but the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival is always free and delightful, as is the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s annual concert on Art Hill.  

When the pandemic hit, everyone else in the country got a taste of what St. Louisans knew all along: dining al fresco in a park is a great way to spend the day, and Tower Grove Park — with its colorful pavilions — is crowded with barbequers and picknickers for most of the year. If you want to shop locally, be sure to check out the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and the Soulard Farmer’s Market near downtown — both will be mobbed by mid-morning on any given Saturday.  

While you’re downtown, visiting Gateway Arch National Park is never disappointing. The Arch is truly magnificent to behold up close, and the grounds offer panoramic views of the Mississippi, where you can even take a riverboat cruise. While you’re downtown with the family, stop by St. Louis’ most original institution of them all: the City Museum. This so-crazy-it’s-true urban wonder site repurposes — and reimagines the purpose of — materials old and new into a multi-story, sometimes-scary, seriously-sweaty, OMG-W-O-W playground for all ages. No child has ever been disappointed hearing that they are going to this museum. Other family-friendly activities include touring the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and meeting the Clydesdales (yes, it’s OK to bring minors on this tour) or seeing a game. St. Louis has three powerhouse pro teams: the Cardinals (MLB), the Blues (NHL) and the St. Louis City SC (MLS).  

Of course, there are lots of great events in the city, too. The Great Forest Park Balloon race brings colorful orbs to city skies each September — be sure to attend the magical balloon “glow” on the eve of the race. In the spring, the area is awash in excellent fish fries for Lent, and Holi celebrations turn suburbs like Olivette into festivals of color. The Whitaker Music Festival in the Missouri Botanical Garden and Music at the Intersection bring in acts big and small, and the annual Print Bazaar on Cherokee Street brings the city’s many illustrators and zine-makers out to for the beloved pre-holidays showcase and sale. 

Other things not to miss: the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Magic House (a children’s museum), the Butterfly House in Faust Park, the Scott Joplin House and hiking at Castlewood State Park.  

Moving to St. Louis Soon? Let Mayflower Get You There

Ready to move to Gateway City? Get a moving quote for St. Louis from Mayflower. 

As America’s most trusted mover for nearly 100 years, our long-distance movers are ready to help you relocate to St. Louis from anywhere in the United States. And we’re dedicated to helping make the process hassle-free. Our customized, full-service moving packages include all the services you need to make your move smoother: packing and unpacking, shipping your car, storing your belongings, removing debris and more.  

Moving locally to St. Louis? Our interstate agents in Missouri and St. Louis provide you with local moving services under their own businesses and brands. 

Wherever your journey takes you, let us ease your mind with our comprehensive moving guide. With easy-to-follow steps, we’ll walk you through the entire moving process. Learn how moving quotes are calculated and stay on track with our week-by-week moving checklist. Trust us to provide the tips and tricks you need for a stress-free move. 

New St. Louis residents should also check out these resources from the city of St. Louis that can help you register your vehicle in the state, set up your utilities, register to vote, find schools and more. 

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