Springfield is the third-largest city in Missouri and has the nickname, “Queen City of the Ozarks” because of its location amid the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Springfield is also known as the home of the “Mother Road” because if its integral role in the Route 66 era when autos could first drive from Chicago to Los Angeles, often stopping for a rest and re-fuel in Springfield.

The array of nature to explore in the Ozarks, the low cost of living, friendly neighborhoods, highly rated schools, and a plethora of job opportunities among many industries are just some of the reasons people are attracted to Springfield. Both the economy and housing market continue to boom as the metropolitan area grows, making Springfield a great place to call home, whether you’re a college student, young professional, family, or retiree.

Springfield residents enjoy all four seasons, with hot summers that call for days at the public pool and snowy winters that make the holidays extra-special. There’s much to do in Springfield no matter your age, from the Nathanael Green Botanical Gardens to the Dickerson Park Zoo and Fantastic Caverns, to the Ozark Park Trail and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Gardens. Springfield, MO, is also home to three prestigious universities: Missouri State University, Drury University, and Evangel University. Fun fact: Springfield is near the population center of the United States.

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Living in Springfield: What to Know Before You Move to Springfield, MO

As one of the largest cities in Missouri and home to multiple universities, Springfield, MO, is estimated to have about 168,200 residents. Springfield is known to be a friendly city with an expanding job market, great healthcare, and terrific entertainment options — without many of the downsides that you’ll find in much larger cities.

Pros and Cons of Living in Springfield

Here are a few reasons why people rave about living in Springfield, Missouri:

  • Great job opportunities – The city is an economic hub of the area, and its gross metro product has grown about 23% in the last ten years. Even better, Springfield was ranked third in the top five American cities for job growth by 24/7 Wall Street.
  • A low cost of living – At 82/100, Springfield has a lower cost of living than Missouri and the nation.
  • State-of-the-art healthcare – Springfield is known for its cutting edge healthcare and its two top-rated hospitals.
  • Breweries and beyond – The city and surrounding countryside boast a bevy of craft breweries, wineries, and micro-distilleries.
  • Sports –  With college teams, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Double-A baseball’s Springfield Cardinals, and a multitude of golf courses, you’ll find plenty of spectator or active sports.

And here are some cons to living in the Springfield area:

  • Weather – Some people aren’t thrilled by the summer humidity and snowy winters.
  • Crime rate – Unfortunately, the Springfield area is known for having a high crime rate.
  • Transportation – Springfield isn’t an incredibly pedestrian-friendly city. However, the neighborhoods with the highest walk scores are downtown, Rountree, and Walnut Street.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: Springfield property owners pay 0.880% average county tax. On a home valued at $145,000, your annual property tax would be $1,276.
  • Sales tax: You’ll pay an 8.1% sales tax rate in Springfield.
  • State income tax: Missouri’s state income tax averages 5.9% compared to the US average of 4.6%.

Housing Market

The Springfield housing market was very hot as of December 2019, and industry analysts project that it will continue to boom in the coming year. Home prices rose 7% in 2019 and are forecast to go up another 5.3% in 2020. According to Zillow, as of December 2019, the median home value was $144,982 and the median list price was $164,900. If you’re hoping to buy a home in Springfield at a more affordable price, the neighborhoods of Rountree, Midtown, Downtown, Phelps Grove, Brentwood South, and North Town have lower average home prices, ranging from $67,000 to $175,000.

About 55.1% of Springfield residents rent their homes. According to RentJungle.com, the average rental apartment costs $839, as of October 2019. This rate reflects a giant increase of 25.27% from 2018 when the average was just $627. One-bedroom apartments rent for an average of $711, while two-bedroom apartments rent for an average of $929. The median rental rate of a home in the area is closer to the two-bedroom apartment rate, coming in at $750-$800.

Cost of Living

Springfield’s cost of living is 18% lower than the national average, and housing is 41% lower. Groceries are about 6% lower, utilities 4% lower, and transportation is 17% lower. Health costs are about 1% higher than the national average.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, a family of four living in the Springfield metro area would need an annual salary of $75,822, or $6,319 a month, for a modest but adequate standard of living.

Weather and Natural Disasters

The Springfield metropolitan area is known for having four distinct seasons, with hot, muggy, wet summers, colorful autumns, springs with perfect temps, and cold, snowy, wet winters.

Springfield summers last for about three and a half months, from the second half of May through the first half of September. The hottest month is July, which reaches a humid average high of 89°F and an average low of 69°F. Winter also lasts about three months, from the end of November through the end of February. The coldest month is almost always January, with average lows of 26°F and average highs of 43°F.

The most common natural disaster threats you’ll face when living in Springfield will be flooding, winter storms with heavy ice and snow, and tornadoes. Be prepared for any type of natural disaster threat by exploring the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management website.

Economy and Job Market

Springfield and its surrounding metropolitan area have a healthy job market and economy that has increased by 1.1% over the past year. The job market is projected to grow by 29% in the next decade, about 4.5% short of the national growth average of 33.5%. The median household income is $32,473 compared to the US average of $53,482. However, your paycheck may go further than in other cities of the same size, thanks to Springfield’s low cost of living.

The most prominent industries are healthcare, transportation, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and education. Major employers are Mercy Hospital Springfield, CoxHealth, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Bass Pro Shops, BKD, Prime Inc, Missouri State University, and SRC Holdings. As of 2018, 2.8% of Springfield area residents were unemployed, which is 1.1% lower than the 3.9% national average.

If you’ll be looking for work, start your job hunt online at job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, etc. You can also find a career path through services like Jobfinders.

Traffic and Transportation

Springfield has a fairly low walk score of 38, meaning that most residents depend on their cars to get to work and run errands. Many university students bike, but without bike lanes, Springfield’s bike score is 49.

Because so many Springfield residents rely on their own automobiles to get around, traffic can be heavy and congested during commute hours. Springfield’s bus system, The Bus, operates throughout every single day of the year, and the Greyhound bus station sits in the northeast region of the city.

The city is dissected by Interstate 44, Highway 744, Highway 13, Highway 65, Highway 75, and Highway 160. Interstate 44 cuts east-west through the north end of the city, along with the smaller Highway 744. Highways 160, 13, and 65 all operate north-south.

What To Do

Although the city is known for being a “college town,” there are many activities to enjoy, no matter a resident’s age, marital status, interests, or hobbies. Midwesterners aren’t strangers to awesome beer and state-of-the-art distilleries and breweries. Springfield and surrounding towns offer many year-round craft breweries, wineries, and micro-distilleries to visit, tour, and sample a tasty beverage.

Love sports? Springfield is the city for you. From housing the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Double-A baseball’s Springfield Cardinals to college sports galore, a multitude of golf courses, and a booming fitness and running scene, Springfield residents love their sports.

From mountain biking trails to forested hikes to lots of land and bodies of water for hunting and fishing, the Springfield area offers many activities if you love the outdoorsy life. Residents are just a short drive from free state parks like Busiek, Ha Ha Tonka, Roaring River, Table Rock ‒ and the national parks Mark Twain and Ozarks National Forests.

Schools and Universities

The Springfield Public School District is Missouri’s largest district, serving over 25,000 students in 50 schools. Other districts that serve the Springfield metro area include Nixa Public Schools, Ozark R-VI School District, and Willard R-11 School District.

According to greatschools.org, some of the top-rated schools include Gray Elementary School 9/10, Willard Central Elementary School 9/10, and Kickapoo High School 7/10. Of the Springfield private elementary and middle schools, the New Covenant Academy rates #1, The Summit Preparatory School #2, and Immaculate Conception School #3.

Missouri State University enrolls about 26,000 students each year and consistently ranks among top Midwestern universities. Other post-secondary institutions include the private liberal arts college, Drury University; Ozarks Technical Community College; Baptist Bible College; Evangel University; Assemblies of God Theological Seminary; and Cox College for nursing and allied health.

Crime

Unfortunately, Springfield’s crime rates are high. Violent crime is 62.4 compared to the US average of 22.7. Property crime is 95.4 compared to the US average of 35.4. As with any city, some areas are safer than others. When considering which part of the city to live in, consult crime maps.

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Best Neighborhoods in Springfield, MO

When moving to Springfield, MO, it may be overwhelming to research and choose a neighborhood to call home. Whether you’re retiring or you’re a millennial looking to start your family in Springfield, there’s a neighborhood for you. Based on desirable factors like lower crime rates, nearby schools, things to do, and housing prices, here are a few of the best neighborhoods in Springfield:

Cooper Estates

Well-known for being a friendly and quiet neighborhood, Cooper Estates sits east of downtown and Missouri State University, right off of 65 Highway. Cooper Estates is one of the smallest, least populated neighborhoods in all of Springfield. And with a teensy population of 52, this neighborhood feels safe and is great for folks looking to get to know their neighbors and feel a sense of community.

The average age of Cooper Estates residents is about 58, making it ideal for empty nesters and retirees. If you’re hoping to rent, you can find a home in Cooper Estates for an average monthly payment of $667.

Residents of Cooper Estates enjoy the smaller size of the neighborhood, adding to the neighborhood’s walkability. The total area of Cooper Estates is only 0.247 square miles! You’ll be able to stroll to the neighborhood Starbucks, Supreme Bakery, Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a few movie theaters, and much more. Population estimate: 52

  • Median household income: $59,906
  • Median home value: $212,000
  • Schools: Pershing School, Field Elementary School, Springfield School District

Downtown Springfield

The downtown area of Springfield is known for being a millennial mecca, housing young adults, and college students. Bordered by Kimbrough Ave on the east, Elm St on the south, Grant Ave on the west, and Chestnut Expressway on the north, downtown has one of the best walking scores in the city. While there are many renters in this area, the average home cost is about $145,000. Because this area is home to many Missouri State University students, the population varies and fluctuates.

There’s always something to do downtown — from grabbing dinner at a well-rated restaurant then heading to a bar for a few beverages to shopping and beyond. Locals enjoy strolling to Phelps Grove Park and check out local and chain businesses on the way.

  • Population estimate: 5,478
  • Median household income: $33,178.33
  • Median home value: $145,000
  • Schools: Campbell Elementary School, Sunshine Elementary School, Central High School

Eaglesgate

Known for being small, attractive, and just east of the James River, Eaglesgate, governed by the Eaglesgate Community Association, is a great area to call home. The neighborhood sits between Hwy 160 and Lake Springfield, about 20 minutes south of downtown. It’s got everything one would want — a friendly vibe, tons of local businesses and services nearby, a great walking score, and many local eateries.

Eaglesgate residents enjoy taking walks in their neighborhood to visit local businesses, like Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe, Supreme Bakery, Black Sheep Burgers, Galloway Grill, and much more.

The average age of residents is 51, making it a slightly older neighborhood and popular among families and retirees. Even better, its low population and the fact that 88% of the population own their homes make Eaglesgate feel very cozy and friendly, just like a small town.

  • Population estimate: 1,527
  • Median household income: $34,775
  • Median home value: $189,900
  • Schools: Gray Elementary School, Cherokee Middle School, Kickapoo High School

Midtown

Known for its rich history, the Midtown district is Springfield’s oldest and most recognizable region. Midtown binds E Commercial St on the north, N Benton Ave on the west, Hwy 44 on the south, and N National Ave on the east. You’ll know you’re in Midtown when you pass old, historic homes that ooze charm. Every year, Midtown holds a Victorian Christmas Homes Tour. While about 32% of Midtown residents own, about 67% are renters.

Even with all of the amazing homes and architecture, this neighborhood is still a very affordable area, making it perfect for young adults just starting in their careers and young families looking to purchase their first home. The average age of a Midtown resident is just 23 years old.

Midtown is known for being family-centric and fairly safe, especially compared to some other areas of Springfield. Locals enjoy the greenspaces at Jenny Lincoln Park.

  • Population estimate: 4,012
  • Median household income: $23,428
  • Median home value: $67,900
  • Schools: NM Rountree Elementary School, Central High School, Drury University, Cox College of Nursing, Ozarks Technical Community College

Olde Ivy

Olde Ivy is an eastside neighborhood known for being upscale, with more expensive homes than other areas of Springfield. The residents of this neighborhood are often older, established in their careers with higher salaries, are very neighborhood-centric, and have families. They work to keep their neighborhood safe, and they put a lot of time and effort into maintaining beautifully-landscaped yards, especially in the balmy spring and summer seasons. Fun fact: Most residents in Olde Ivy own a golf cart to cruise the neighborhood and run errands.

Residents of Olde Ivy feel safe in their neighborhood and enjoy local activities, like visiting the Farmers’ Market of the Ozarks on Saturday mornings or taking a walk or jog around the neighborhood’s peaceful natural spring.

  • Population estimate: 37,000
  • Median household income: $33,320
  • Median home value: $482,450
  • Schools: Field Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Glendale High School

Ozark Heights

Ozark Heights is a desirable neighborhood to live in because of its liveliness, overall friendly attitude, and an abundance of fun activities. Located just south of CC Highway and west of Highway 65, this small planned community features all-brick homes, lovely landscaping, and plenty of amenities such as basketball courts, tennis courts, a pavilion, large playground, a walking trail, a serene lake, and a community pool. Ozark Heights is ideal for families and young people who love to be active and explore.

The average age of Ozark Heights residents is mid-twenties, and locals are very community-oriented. Neighbors often know each other and are friendly. Things really get exciting in Ozark Heights when the holidays arrive. Each year, there’s a Christmas decor competition and goody bags given out to kids for Halloween.

  • Population estimate: 457
  • Median household income: $50,500
  • Median home value: $347,400
  • Schools: High Pointe Elementary School, Summit Intermediate School, Ozark Middle School, Ozark High School

Rountree

The affluent Rountree neighborhood is in central Springfield, bordered by E Walnut St on the north, S National Ave on the west, E Grand St on the south, and Glenstone Ave on the east. The Missouri State University campus is just to the west.

The Rountree area rates better than most Springfield neighborhoods in terms of walk score, making it fantastic for families, dog owners, and active people who enjoy walking and jogging. It’s known for being an older, charming neighborhood with homes that have a lot of character and differentiating styles. Some of the styles you’ll find include Craftsman, Federalist, and American Foursquare.

Many families choose to live here because of its family-friendly and more upscale vibe, and most people who reside here own their homes. The residents of Rountree tend to lean more left in terms of politics.

  • Population estimate: 3,845
  • Median household income: $23,428
  • Median home value: $219,900
  • Schools: NM Rountree Elementary School, Missouri State University, Phelps Center for Gifted Education

Walnut Street

Walnut Street, directly east of downtown, is a historic neighborhood dotted with charming, old homes and hidden gems for visitors and residents to explore. The neighborhood borders Hwy 44 on the north, S Kimbrough Ave on the west, E Walnut St on the south, and Glenstone Ave on the east.

Walnut Street has the designation as Springfield’s National Historic District. Many houses, buildings, and streets date back to the early 19th century and feature Queen Anne-style architecture — think stone walkways, brick streets, carriage blocks, quaint carriage houses, and homes with parapets, stained glass, and friezes.

Walnut Street feels like a cozy, small, and friendly residential neighborhood, making it a great area to retire or raise a family. About 58% of Walnut Street’s inhabitants own their homes, and the median age is about 44.

Walnut Street residents enjoy staying in their neighborhood, walking their dogs, and running their errands via local business, like florists, movie theatres, a farmers’ market, and dry cleaners. There are also great food options, like the Missouri icon, Shakespeare’s Pizza or Bambinos Cafe. Even better, Walnut Street has a better walk score than most other Springfield neighborhoods. There’s no question why locals often view Walnut Street as a favorite neighborhood in Springfield.

  • Population estimate: 1,758
  • Median home value: Homes currently listed range in price from $122,000 to $264,000
  • Schools: Campbell Elementary School, Sunshine Elementary School, Central High School Phelps Center for Gifted Education

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