When people refer to St. Louis, they often mean the St. Louis region. The actual city of St. Louis is relatively small, with about 300,000 residents. The surrounding area is often called “St. Louis” even though it is made up of dozens of small municipalities. The entire “St. Louis region” contains about 2.8 million people and includes outlying suburbs in both Missouri and Illinois. This is an important distinction when choosing where to live as well as understanding the statistics about affordability in the area.
Within the city limits, for example, the median home price is roughly $160,000, and it is possible to find properties under $100,000. Price per square foot ranges from about $105 to $120. In “Greater” St. Louis, however, the median is about $260,000, translating to about $142 per square foot. This difference is due to the wide variety of types of homes and price points. There are some neighborhoods with houses that are affordable to a wide demographic, while some zip codes, mostly outside the city, boast luxury homes of a half a million dollars or more.
It is worth noting, though, that the most expensive luxury homes in St. Louis cost about half of what the same house would fetch in the hot market areas on either the east or west coast. Overall, the national median home price is $350,000. That’s $90,000 more than the median price in our region.
St. Louis REALTORS monthly report for August 2021 indicates that the Housing Affordability Index was at 155. This index shows the median household income that is necessary to qualify for a mortgage on a median priced home (given current interest rates). So, an HAI of 100 would mean that a family with the median income is making just enough to buy a median priced home. A higher number means that more families in the area can afford those homes, so a score of 155 is quite good.
St. Louis ranked #22 on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of 150 Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022. The publication analyzes 150 metro areas to come up with its Best Places to Live list, comparing desirability, quality of life, the job market, and value.