St. Louis Is the Worst City in the U.S. for Young Families, Study Says

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O'Fallon, Missouri, is no St. Louis — it's one of the best places in the nation for young families. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/PAUL SABLEMAN
  • Photo courtesy of Flickr/Paul Sableman
  • O'Fallon, Missouri, is no St. Louis — it's one of the best places in the nation for young families.
If you  thought our diversity, our low cost of living and our good Midwestern values made St. Louis a good place to raise a family, guess again.

In a new study released this morning, Apartment List found that St. Louis is actually the worst city in the entire nation for young families — 474 of the 474 cities it surveyed.

And that's even though housing costs — an area where St. Louis traditionally does well compared to overpriced coastal cities — were one of four factors being considered. That's because, instead of just looking at the cost of an apartment, the site looked at what percentage of a median renter's income would be necessary to pay for it. Measured that way, our overall low wages did us no favors, earning us an 18 out of 100.

Then add our high crime rate, lousy schools and low rate of residents under 18, and it's enough to drag us down to dead-last ... worst than Cleveland, Birmingham and Detroit.

(And look who's clocked in at No. 465 ... Yes, we're even worse than Flint, where kids have been poisoned by their own drinking water. Could it get any worse for St. Louis?)

Oddly, if you want to live in one of the best cities in the country for families, though, you only need move to the suburbs. O'Fallon, Missouri, was named one of the top cities in the nation, earning an A+ for its low crime, affordable housing and good schools. Hooray?

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But there are limits to how much we can crow about that strong showing ("The Gateway City: Where At Least One of Our Suburbs Doesn't Suck"? Umm, maybe not). So, in the spirit of positivity, we're going to suggest spinning this in a different, more contrarian way.

Everyone knows people with kids are annoying, and the only thing more boring than someone worried about safety is someone obsessing over schools. So maybe we could make this something that works in our favor.

Rather than try to keep with the Texas exurbs and bucolic Indiana towns that dominate this list, we could play up our bad-ass, dangerously fun good times. Go to Allen, Texas for soccer moms and strollers; come to St. Louis for sex, drugs and rock & roll. 

And hey, if that doesn't work for you, there's always O'Fallon.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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