Planning on moving to St. Louis? Our insider advice will bring you up to speed on what to expect from Missouri’s vibrant Gateway City.

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From iconic structures and beautiful architecture to historic metro areas and family-friendly communities, it’s no wonder people are moving to St. Louis and loving every part of it. It’s currently home to 303,000 residents who are proud of the tight-knit community they’ve fostered.

St. Louis is one of America’s most historic cities. The city’s past, as a staging post for westward expansion, as an industrial and transportation hub, and as one of the country’s musical and baseball capitals, is etched into the city’s DNA. It’s not immediately obvious to a new arrival, but sooner or later you realize that St. Louisans are imbued with the conviction that theirs is one of America’s great cities – and that’s part of the charm. Whatever anyone else tells you, this is not a “small” city, even if it’s no longer the hub it once was. 

In fact, now is the best time in years to move to St. Louis – and it doesn’t matter who you are. After decades of decline, the city is undergoing regeneration that is bringing new jobs and research facilities, revitalizing abandoned industrial land and attracting tourists. So whether you’re relocating for a job, starting a new chapter with your family or simply getting a taste of a new city, you’ll enjoy everything St. Louis has to offer.


St. Louis Neighborhoods

1. Get to know the best St. Louis neighborhoods.

Known as the “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis can be described as a big city with small-town charm. Whether you’re looking to be in the heart of downtown or settle in the suburbs, you’ll easily be able to find the perfect neighborhood for you and your family.

If you have kids, investigate the school districts before settling on a neighborhood. Some neighborhoods lean more residential, while others have more of a balance of commercial and residential property. The suburban areas are cities in their own right, offering all the amenities you need to enjoy the quiet life without compromising on convenience.

Here are some of the most popular St. Louis neighborhoods:

Central West End

Over a century old, the Central West End is chic and full of charm. Stop by antique shops, boutiques and restaurants after exploring the neighborhood’s visitor attractions. Forest Park is on your doorstep with its roster of cultural institutions and acres of green space.

The Central West End is home to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, one of the largest mosaic collections in the western hemisphere. The Cathedral offers both masses and tours to view its magnificent artistry. The World Chess Hall of Fame offers chess lessons as well as championing St. Louis as a global chess capital. Throughout the year you can also attend the Earth Day Festival and Microfest in Forest Park as well as Bookfest St. Louis, Halloween in the CWE,  and the Greek Festival on Labor Day Weekend.

Population: 14,471
Median income: $44,734

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square is small, but one of the most iconic and historic neighborhoods in the city of St. Louis. Along with Central West End, it’s home to some of the city’s most spectacular, expansive homes. As you stroll through 30 acres of greenery in the center of an urban landscape, you can try fantastic food and drinks in the neighborhood’s classy restaurants and bars, stroll through specialty shops and enjoy free concerts during the summer.

Population: 2,189
Median income: $54,623

Soulard

Just a five minutes’ drive from the Gateway Arch, Soulard is a historic French neighborhood that will charm you with its red-brick townhouses and their balconies, courtyards and blues music scene. Looking for something unique to check out here? Visit the Soulard Farmers Market, open Wednesdays through Saturdays — it has been operating since 1779!

Population: 3,448
Median income: $55,449

The Hill

If you’re looking to settle somewhere with a strong Italian heritage, you’ve come to the right place. This neighborhood is home to a large number of locally renowned Italian-American restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and bocce gardens. The neighborhood’s narrow streets can get clogged with traffic on weekends, but The Hill is also one of the most walkable, compact areas in St. Louis. And fun fact: Baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, Sr., both grew up on The Hill!

Population: 2,443
Median income: $42,477

Chesterfield

Just 30 minutes west of downtown St. Louis, Chesterfield is a peaceful residential area offering beautiful homes and great schools. Known as the “City of Volunteers” due to its citizens’ involvement in helping the city, you’ll find several cultural outlets, historic villages, public parks and community initiatives.

Population: 47,720
Median income: $97,100

Kirkwood

Known as the queen of the suburbs, Kirkwood’s art, nature and small-town charm make it the perfect neighborhood for families or anyone who wants a quieter life with access to a range of amenities. The area offers an abundance of great schools, churches and family-friendly attractions including parks, farmers’ markets and museums.

Don’t forget about the kids! The Magic House has been voted the number one children’s museum in the U.S. and offers hundreds of hands-on educational exhibits. Be sure to also check out Laumeier Sculpture Park – a 105-acre park featuring 60 pieces of large-scale outdoor sculptures (and one of the first and largest sculpture parks in the country). The National Museum of Transportation is another nearby attraction that’s a great day out for families.

Population: 27,610
Median income: $77,900

Clayton

Conveniently located less than 10 miles from downtown St. Louis, Clayton is also the seat of government for St. Louis County. It’s a lively administrative center, business and financial hub, and the white-collar atmosphere draws in premium boutiques, restaurants, hotels and bars. Enjoy a seasonal farmers market, multiple food festivals and pristine art galleries. The Saint Louis Art Fair, held every September, is rated one of the best in the nation. It attracts more than 150,000 people each year!

Population: 16,030
Median income: $88,300

Webster Groves

Suburban Webster Groves has a great range of homes at varying prices, some fantastic restaurants and bars, as well as being just a 20-minute drive from downtown St. Louis along Interstate 44. Webster Groves is one of the metro area’s up-and-coming success stories. 

Population: 23,110
Median income: $85,900

Shaw

If you want an older home, look at this leafy South City neighborhood. Cute corner stores and cafes are one attraction, while nearby Tower Grove Park is a beautiful place to experience St. Louis’ four seasons. The locals here are spoiled for natural beauty: The Botanical Gardens (still known to many locals as Shaw’s Garden, after its founder, Henry Shaw) is a short walk away and a stunning oasis in the city. 

Population: 6,811
Median income: $54,922


Moving to St. Louis

2. St. Louis ranks among the best places to live.

According to the 2019 U.S. News & World Report, St. Louis ranks among the best places to live in the U.S., coming in at number 81 of 125 cities. The report analyzed metro areas in the U.S. to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there.

We had a chance to speak with Kelly Hutchison from the Gateway Arch Riverfront. She gave us some firsthand insight into the report’s findings: “One of the most attractive aspects of living in St. Louis is the cost of living. It’s one of the lowest in the country. What’s even more amazing is the number of free and low-cost attractions the city offers. There is so much to see and do in St. Louis, and you won’t break the bank!”

With average sales price of homes well below the national average, the city is currently a buyer’s market and the cost of living in St. Louis is affordable. You and your family will be able to find the perfect home in your desired neighborhood while sticking to your budget.


3. The cost of living in St. Louis is affordable.

While St. Louis has stunning historical homes, grandiose cultural institutions, first-class schools, sprawling parks and a packed events calendar that you might expect of a big city, it doesn’t come with the price tag of moving to large cities like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. St. Louis is listed as one of the top 25 best cities in the country for first-time homebuyers, with a median home price of $168,600. If you’re moving to St. Louis, you’ll be able to settle in your dream home (and enjoy endless things to do) without breaking the bank.


4. St. Louis has four distinct seasons (sometimes all in the same day).

When it comes to weather, St. Louis experiences all four seasons. In July and August, it’s hot and humid around the clock. The prolonged winter sees temperatures range from 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. One day can be sunny, then a snowstorm can shut down the highways the next. The spring and fall are short, but glorious, particularly fall’s riot of colors as the city’s trees shed their leaves in spectacular fashion. Beware: the region is also prone to occasional extreme weather such as flooding and tornadoes.


5. St. Louis’ job market has global companies, thriving startups, healthcare, science, agritech and more.

On top of affordability, St. Louis has been named the United States’ best city for millennials by personal finance site The Penny Hoarder. The city offers growing tech, education and healthcare industries. Some of the biggest companies that are headquartered in St. Louis or have a large presence in the city include:

  • Emerson Electric
  • Bayer (formerly Monsanto)
  • Boeing
  • Centene
  • FleishmanHillard
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Nestle Purina Petcare
  • Reinsurance Group of America
  • Edward Jones Financial
  • Energizer

The city’s job market is about more than just the big-hitting corporate workplaces, though. The metro area also has a thriving startup and small and medium-sized business scene. St. Louis Business Journal publishes an annual list of the best workplaces in the city.


6. St. Louis is one of the most charitable cities in America.

Any local knows that residents take pride in their city. But what makes St. Louis a true gem is its eagerness to give. St. Louis has repeatedly been ranked one of the most giving cities in America. In total, St. Louis residents donated 730 million hours of service in 2016 — adding up to more than $1.6 billion dollars!


7. It has a family-friendly atmosphere.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in St. Louis with the family, you won’t have to look far. Families make up a significant portion of the community and nearly 30 percent of households include children under the age of 18. From museums and parks to baseball games, your options are endless, and growing – witness the huge new development at the Union Station featuring the Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel and other new attractions.


8. St. Louis boasts an impressive school system.

After moving to St. Louis, you’ll quickly get used to being asked, “Where did you go to high school?” And you’ll soon understand why. St. Louis residents take pride in their alma mater, and by identifying yourself by your high school, you’ll be able to spot mutual acquaintances and commonalities.

There are more than 75 schools in the St. Louis Public Schools district, which educate more than 23,000 students each year. With a number of fantastic schools of all types in the area, choosing one that’s right for you can be quite daunting. Start by establishing your priorities, finding the right area and then choose from conventional, magnet, charter or private schools.

Higher Education

If your kids are slightly older, or you’re looking at enrolling yourself into a college, you’re moving to the right place. St. Louis has some first-class colleges. Look no further than Washington University, which regularly ranks among the top colleges in the United States. The pride of Wash U is Washington University School of Medicine, one of the best medical schools in the country. Saint Louis University is not just the oldest university west of the Mississippi – it’s also a top school in its own right. Both universities attract bright minds from across the states and around the world, adding to the city’s vibrancy and giving local companies an endless supply of talent to power innovation and entrepreneurialism in the city. 

You don’t need to spend a ton on getting educated in St. Louis, though – institutions like St. Louis Community College offer affordable programs and adult education courses throughout the year. Looking for a change of career? Consider one of the numerous coding boot camps run by a variety of companies, many of which offer work placements that can lead to permanent jobs.


Free things to do in St. Louis

9. There are endless (free) things to do in St. Louis.

If you’re looking for adventure in your new city but also trying to stay budget-conscious, you’re in luck. St. Louis has more free major tourist attractions than any other city in the country! Whether you’re hitting the town with your entire family or headed out on a solo shopping trip, St. Louis has something to fit your every mood.

Here are just a few of the attractions you can visit free of charge:

  • Saint Louis Zoo. Recognized as one of the nation’s leading zoological parks, the Saint Louis Zoo has every creature you can imagine. Hop on the Emerson Zooline Railroad for a guided tour or check out the petting zoo and interactive stingray pool for an entire day of family fun. (Special exhibits can run $3 to $8.)
  • St. Louis Art Museum. From classic to contemporary, St. Louis certainly has an appreciation for arts of all kinds. Stop in the St. Louis Art Museum to check out sculptures, oil paintings and photography from centuries ago or visit the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis to enjoy the works of newly established artists.
  • Forest Park. Spanning almost 1,400 acres (500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park), Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Offering biking trails, scenic walks, tennis, golf and a beautiful greenhouse, the park attracts more than 12 million visitors per year.
  • The St. Louis Science Center. Seeing as many as one million visitors per year, the St. Louis Science Center offers live demonstrations, planetarium shows and over 700 interactive exhibits. And here’s the best part: Admission is always free.
  • Gateway Arch. Perhaps the most famous attraction in the city of St. Louis, the Gateway Arch offers stunning views from every angle. At 630 feet, the structure is more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. On a clear day from the very top, visitors can see almost 30 miles in each direction. Fun fact: if you feel like you’re almost moving, have no fear — since the structure was built to withstand earthquakes, it’s designed to “sway” over a foot in each direction. The surrounding area and underground museum are looking better than ever after a major renovation and reimagining of the museum to include perspectives on American history from previously marginalized communities. (The museum is free, but riding to the top requires ticket purchase).

10. Here’s where to find the best food, festivals and fun outdoors.

Restaurants

From thin-crust St. Louis pizza topped with sticky Provel cheese, to deep-fried toasted raviolis and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louisans are the inheritors of a hearty culinary legacy, even if our delicacies aren’t to everyone’s tastes. But beyond those iconic treats, this is a city that loves its food, and is blessed with creative chefs and restaurateurs who are dedicated to their craft. With access to some of the best produce in America, from artisanal cheeses and dairy products to fresh seasonal vegetables, St. Louis chefs are putting the city on the map. Restaurants like Vicia, Gioia’s Deli, Balkan Treat Box, Bulrush, Savage and more have garnered acclaim from national media and organizations like the James Beard Awards.

Breweries & Bars

We’ve always liked our beer, as you can learn from a visit to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. But today St. Louis is home to a thriving, creative craft beer scene that has been named the best in the country by USA Today. Some of the city’s craft leaders include Schlafly, Urban Chestnut and 4 Hands. Small-batch producers like Side Project create barrel-aged wild beers that are sought after by connoisseurs around the U. S. The city also has its share of great cocktail bars. Planter’s House, Taste and Yellowbelly lead the way in that department.

There are food and drink festivals all year round, in addition to arts festivals and community events. Some of the biggest draws range from Taste of St. Louis and Q in the Lou to Mardi Gras, the Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and the Festival of Nations. This city loves an opportunity to gather in a crowd. After moving to St. Louis, get involved and join the fun. Just be prepared with a strategy for parking!

Opportunities Outdoors

With appetites like these, St. Louisans need to stay active. We’re blessed with all kinds of options for getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. Acres of urban parks give residents a daily outlet for walking, jogging, a variety of games. OK, we admit it, also the occasional picnic. Countless hiking trails and greenways are also accessible within 30-60 minutes drive from downtown. You’ll find exercise and the opportunity to get in touch with nature, exploring Missouri’s plethora of flora and fauna. 

St. Louis is also a river city. While we’re not suggesting you go swimming in the Mississippi, we are suggesting you get out of town and take part in the tradition of the float trip. Head out of the city for a weekend and rent a kayak, inner tube or raft at any number of facilities on one of Missouri’s rivers. St. Louis is also a great jumping-off point for exploring other parts of Missouri and other major cities in the Midwest and South, including Louisville, Nashville, Memphis and Chicago.


St. Louis traffic

11. St. Louis traffic is a dream.

While you may still have to deal with some sluggish rush-hour traffic, the St. Louis congestion is relatively modest compared to similar metro areas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, St. Louis consistently ranks below the national average commute time to work. It’s also known as a 20-minute city, due to the fact that its popular spots are in the same area with little-to-no travel time needed to hop between them.

The MetroLink is a decent option if there’s a station near where you live and near to where you’re going, but its coverage is limited. Similarly, using the bus service can be convenient if your start and end points line up with a bus route, but you don’t want to rely on the buses, as travel times can increase quickly when you need to transfer buses mid-route (which is hard to avoid).

Here’s how you can get to where you need to be:

  • MetroLink and MetroBus. As one of the best mass transit systems in the country, MetroLink’s rail system offers multiple lines and stops through St. Louis County near several St. Louis attractions: Busch Stadium, the Gateway Arch, Forest Park and more. MetroLink operates during the week and on weekends from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. MetroBus also operates over 70 MetroBus routes in Missouri.
  • Taxis/Uber/Lyft. In addition to MetroLink and the Downtown Trolley, there is no shortage of taxis and rideshares in St. Louis. You can even download the St. Louis Taxi Cab app so you always have a ride around town once you make the move. Costs can mount up if you rely on these services though.
  • Drive yourself. St. Louis is predominantly a driving town. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 236,000 workers commute into St. Louis County each day. While there are plenty of public transportation measures available, the city’s short commute and close proximity make it super convenient to drive to work every day. Are you planning on moving to St. Louis and prefer to walk around on foot? You’ll have no problem finding your way around neighborhoods and must-see venues. St. Louis has “Attraction Corridor” signage located along major streets that see large amounts of visitors.

Transportation tip: In St. Louis, one of the major Highways is 64. However, you’ll rarely hear a traffic report or someone’s directions mentioning Highway 64. St. Louis residents call it Highway 40 since it’s Interstate 64 and Missouri Highway 40.


St. Louis cardinals

12. If you weren’t a Cardinals fan, you will be.

While St. Louis boasts impressive fine arts and cultural scenes, no cities exhibit baseball like this one. St. Louis is home to the St. Louis Cardinals — 11-time World Series winners, second only to a certain team from New York. Cardinals have one of the largest and strongest fan bases in the MLB. Bleacher Report and Fox Sports have also ranked Busch Stadium as one of the top 10 in the country for its views, hospitality, and ability to see a game from inside and outside.

Enjoy a home game with a view or take a tour of the stadium during the offseason where you can see the locker rooms, the press box, World Series trophies, and learn insider trivia about the Cardinals organization. But purchase your tickets early — they often sell out!Hockey is also top of discussion in St. Louis and the Blues do a great job of making sure local sports fans have something to talk about. If you’re moving to St. Louis, you can catch the St. Louis Blues in action at Scottrade Center, or visit IceZone, the rink where the team practices, which is open to the public year-round.

We’re also no longer just a baseball town. The St. Louis Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup win saw St. Louis rally behind its long-suffering NHL ice hockey team, who emerged from the Cardinals’ long shadow to deliver a feel-good moment that the city will not forget in a hurry. The party still hasn’t really ended, so come and join us!


Are You and Your Family Moving to St. Louis?

Between a historical hub, beautiful parks, a world-class zoo, one of the top botanical gardens in the world and its family-friendly charm, it’s no wonder families are planting their roots in the Gateway to the West to experience all St. Louis has to offer. Whether you’re relocating across the country or just across town, the moving process can be quite overwhelming. That’s where we come in! Life Storage offers various self-storage options in St. Louis to make the move as seamless and stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Here are a few other questions you may need to consider:

More Moving Resources:

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 2, 2017 and was revised on Nov 21, 2019 with new information from St. Louis expert, Iain Shaw.

Sources:
Population of St. Louis, Missouri, Statistical Atlas
Household Income in St. Louis, Missouri, Statistical Atlas

About the Authors

Iain Shaw

Iain Shaw is a writer and editor based in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to the city in early 2018 after living in China for nearly 15 years. He has been traveling to St. Louis regularly since 2014. Iain writes about food and drink, tourism and the hospitality industry, and you can find him digging into all aspects of the local dining scene as a regular contributor to local publications including St. Louis Magazine and Riverfront Times. His writing has also appeared in publications including Vinepair, Roads & Kingdoms and Today's Hotelier.

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Molli Spear

As the former Content Manager at Life Storage, Molli is an expert in all things related to storage and moving. She graduated from Niagara University and spent several years of her career in the self storage industry. As a mother of three and a stay-at-home mom, Molli knows how difficult it can be to stay organized at home when things are feeling a little cramped. That's why she contributes to the Life Storage Blog.

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