The Best Place for St. Louis Workers to Live is… Illinois?
HSH.com, a mortgage and consumer loan site, recently crunched the numbers to find the best places to live if you’d rather commute to the city you work in. They looked at income tax, consumption taxes, cost of living and housing costs, and the result? Illinois was actually the best spot to live in the St. Louis area.
The Illinois side of the Mississippi, known as Metro East, is home to over 30 percent of the overall population of St. Louis. That number includes thousands who work in the state of Missouri, but live in Illinois. Many choose to live on the Illinois side because if the cheaper cost of living as well as the opportunities for growth in communities such as Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, O’Fallon, Troy and Columbia.
Living the small town life of southwestern Illinois seems to be growing on St. Louis residents looking to “stretch out” a bit. The full Metro East area covers the eastern suburbs of St. Louis, and spans five counties in Southern Illinois which are considered part of the entire St. Louis metropolitan statistical area.
Belleville is the biggest city in Metro East, and the area is the second biggest in Illinois in terms of population after Chicago. According to the 2010 Census, the Metro East Area is home to over 700,000 people. It’s an area that’s grown from 599,845 in 2010. This is mainly due to the growth in job opportunity in the area as well as many moving to the area from St. Louis for the value the area affords in terms of cost of living.
Its easier than ever to commute to St Louis from the Metro East area. The drive takes between 20‐30 minutes, depending on your exact location, to downtown St. Louis. The north and south counties are close as well, with access to the north from the Chain of Rocks Bridge and the Jefferson Barracks Bridge from the south.
If you’re in Belleville, the biggest city in Metro East, you can easily get to Downtown St. Louis by train. There are three St. Louis Metrolink stations in Belleville connecting it to St. Louis and the larger Metrolink network. If you’re a Belleville resident and you need to travel by air, you’re close to Lambert St. Louis International, and there’s an airport right near the heart of town ‐ Midamerica Airport, which offers passenger service to Florida.
Lets take a look at the median home prices in the Metro East area vs. the St. Louis area. According to Trulia, the average price of a home in Edwardsville is $173,000 (based on 68 home sales between this past April and July. They break it down even further: price per square foot is averaging around $138 this summer, and that’s down over 10% from the last year. It’s a buyers market in this Metro East community, as median home prices have decreased this summer from the Summer of 2014 a whopping 17.4%. That comes out to average savings of almost $36,000.
The St. Louis area is clearly much more expensive. The average listing price for a home in St. Louis was, according to Trulia, $206,073 for the week ending July 29th. Clearly the value is in Illinois. More and more people in St. Louis are starting to realize that, and they’re making their way across the river.