Best Cities for Homeownership in Missouri

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A healthy labor market, affordable homes and a high quality of life make Missouri a great place to call home. The state gained 42,000 jobs from May 2013 to May 2014, and personal income in the state grew 0.6% from 2013’s last quarter to the first quarter of 2014, according to a report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Jobs in the professional and scientific sectors saw the biggest increases in income, the report found.

Missouri is an outdoor playground with mountains, lakes, plains and forests ripe for exploring. Fishing, hunting and camping are popular activities throughout the state. For city lovers, St. Louis offers good jobs, great food and lots of activities.

Prospective homebuyers in Missouri can get help from certified housing counseling agencies. Organizations such as Credit and Homeownership Empowerment Services Inc. in Kansas City offer homebuyer education courses, mortgage counseling and down-payment assistance for homebuyers.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers of the 84 cities in Missouri with more than 10,000 residents to find the best cities for homeownership. Here’s what the best cities had in common:

  • The top 10 places were all within commuting distance to St. Louis or Kansas City.
  • Homeowners in 19 out of the top 20 places spend less than 30% of their median monthly household income on mortgage and utility costs, which meets the standard of affordability set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Many of the best places for homeownership in Missouri were also among the best places for job seekers in the state, according to a recent NerdWallet study.

NerdWallet’s analysis to find the best places for homeownership in Missouri answers three questions:

1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher.

3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

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For more details on our methodology, see the section at the end of this study.

To see the full ranking of all 84 cities and download the data, click here.

Top 10 Best Cities for Homeownership in Missouri

1. Dardenne Prairie

The city northwest of St. Louis is an affordable place with the state’s highest homeownership rate of 98%. Homeowners in Dardenne Prairie spend just 22.7% of their median household income on monthly mortgage and utility costs, according to U.S. Census Bureau data crunched by NerdWallet. Incorporated in 2001, Dardenne Prairie is home to more than 200 local businesses, including 22 retail stores and eight local restaurants.

2. Wentzville

Wentzville had the state’s highest population increase of 13.8% from 2010 to 2012. Located northwest of St. Louis, Wentzville was recently named in a NerdWallet study as the best place for job seekers in Missouri because of the General Motors assembly plant and insurance claims processing centers located in town. Wentzville is home to the assembly plant for the new Chevrolet Colorado truck and Chevrolet full size van, and to Serco, a company that processes insurance claims for people enrolled in government health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

3. Raymore

Homeowners in Raymore spend just 24.9% of their median monthly household income on mortgage and utility bills, making it one of the most affordable places to own a home on our list. The city southeast of Kansas City hosts weekly farmers markets in the summer and year-round community events such as the “Jog With Your Dog” trail run, a dog-friendly fun run that raises money for the Raymore Animal Shelter.

4. Eureka

Located in the southwest suburbs of St. Louis, a large portion, 89.3%, of Eureka homes are occupied by owners, rather than renters. The city offers lots of opportunities to have fun in the sun, and it most recently added a pool and fitness center complex called The Timbers of Eureka. The city also has an extensive trail system that links to Route 66 State Park. For amusement park enthusiasts, Eureka is home to Six Flags St. Louis.

5.  O’Fallon

About 26 miles north of Eureka, O’Fallon is the largest city on the top 10 list. The city’s population increased 5.7% from 2010 to 2012 to reach 79,073 residents, according to census data. O’Fallon also made the list of best cities for Missouri job seekers with employers including CitiMortgage, the home-lending arm of Citigroup, and MasterCard’s St. Louis Operations Center.

6. Oakville

In this census-designated place south of downtown St. Louis on the Mississippi River, homeowners spend just 23.5% of their monthly income on mortgage and utility costs. Nearly 1,000 new residents moved to Oakville from 2010 to 2012, and the median home value, at $214,600, is among the highest on our list.

7. Grain Valley

The city, about 23 miles east of downtown Kansas City, is one of the fastest-growing cities on our list, with a population increase of 9.4% from 2010 to 2012, according to census data. The city brings residents together at summer farmers markets and helps residents help each other with the “Badges for Backpacks” program where people make donations to the police department, who provide backpacks stocked with school supplies for children in need. 

8. Wildwood

With both a high median income and a high homeownership rate, Wildwood is an excellent place for homeowners in Missouri. Wildwood residents had the highest median monthly household income of any community on our list at $10,042, according to census data. The city’s homeownership rate of 90.9% is the second highest on our list, and the median home value of $351,800 is No. 1 on the list. The most common occupations for Wildwood residents are in the fields of management, business, science and art, according to census data.

9. Crestwood

Crestwood is an affordable city in the southwestern St. Louis suburbs where the median home value is $188,800, and homeowners spend 24.8% of their median household income on monthly mortgage and utility costs. Crestwood residents go to Whitecliff Park for the community pool, summer productions at the theater, outdoor tennis courts and fitness classes.

10. Concord

Just south of Crestwood, Concord is another affordable St. Louis suburb. While it’s technically an unincorporated census-designated place, the homeownership data here is similar to that of Crestwood: homeowners spend 26% of their median monthly household income on mortgage and utilities, and the median home value is $187,400. Most Concord residents work in management, business, sales and office occupations, according to census data.

Rank City Nearest Big City Home Ownership Rate Median Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs Median Monthly Household Income Homeowner Costs as a Percentage of Household Income Median Home Values 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Home Owners
1 Dardenne Prairie St. Louis 98.0% $1,907 $8,413 22.7% $263,700 10.2% 88.8
2 Wentzville St. Louis 84.7% $1,682 $6,074 27.7% $198,500 13.8% 85.1
3 Raymore Kansas City 83.5% $1,530 $6,155 24.9% $174,800 5.5% 73.8
4 Eureka St. Louis 89.3% $1,881 $7,548 24.9% $232,000 4.3% 73.4
5 O’Fallon St. Louis 82.9% $1,596 $6,434 24.8% $199,300 5.7% 73.1
6 Oakville St. Louis 86.4% $1,585 $6,746 23.5% $214,600 2.5% 70.4
7 Grain Valley Kansas City 65.7% $1,479 $5,458 27.1% $153,700 9.4% 68.7
8 Wildwood St. Louis 90.9% $2,262 $10,042 22.5% $351,800 1.2% 67.7
9 Crestwood St. Louis 88.7% $1,392 $5,602 24.8% $188,800 0.1% 67.5
10 Concord St. Louis 88.3% $1,371 $5,263 26.0% $187,400 0.2% 66.6
11 Lemay St. Louis 77.6% $1,030 $3,400 30.3% $108,800 4.3% 66.4
12 Lee’s Summit Kansas City 75.7% $1,652 $6,348 26.0% $185,100 4.0% 65.7
13 St. Peters St. Louis 81.7% $1,438 $5,905 24.4% $170,500 0.6% 65.3
14 Republic Springfield 63.4% $1,054 $4,279 24.6% $118,300 6.3% 65.0
15 Lake St. Louis St. Louis 78.0% $1,745 $6,490 26.9% $240,900 3.5% 64.0
16 Liberty Kansas City 77.9% $1,480 $5,404 27.4% $163,500 2.1% 63.5
17 Nixa Springfield 63.3% $1,126 $4,289 26.3% $135,200 5.6% 62.3
18 Arnold St. Louis 81.4% $1,336 $4,621 28.9% $153,300 0.5% 62.1
19 Ozark Springfield 63.0% $1,168 $4,083 28.6% $136,000 6.5% 61.9
20 Ballwin St. Louis 80.7% $1,749 $6,953 25.2% $236,400 (0.2%) 61.0

To see the full ranking of all 84 cities evaluated for the study and download the data, click here.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from each of these measures:

1. Homeownership rate made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher rate earned a higher score. The rate comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

2. Selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of median household income made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower percentage earned a higher score. Monthly homeowner costs as a percentage of median household income made up one-half of the affordability score. Median household income comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 03. The figure for monthly homeowner costs comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

3. Median home value made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower value earned a higher score. Median home value made up one-half of the affordability score. Median home value comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

4. Population change from 2010 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher percent change earned a higher score. The 2010 population comes from the 2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. The 2012 population data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. NerdWallet calculated the percent change.

Only places with 10,000 or more residents were included in the study.

Image: Stuart Seeger/Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/cJ21uG