5 Missouri Towns People Are Fleeing as Soon as Possible

Missouri boasts a state with a rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty; however, not all of its towns enjoy thriving or desirable living conditions. Some face significant challenges, including crime, poverty, unemployment, and a declining population. Here are five Missouri towns experiencing an exodus of residents.

1. St. Louis

St. Louis, the largest city in Missouri, is unfortunately one of the most dangerous. With the highest murder rate in the country, recording 87 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2023, it also ranks high in other violent crimes such as robbery, assault, and rape. St. Louis has witnessed a population decline over decades, as people opt for safer and more prosperous suburbs or relocate to other states. The city’s population decreased by 5.5% from 2010 to 2020, reaching its lowest level since 1870.

2. Poplar Bluff

Poplar Bluff, a small town in southeastern Missouri near the Arkansas border, is recognized for its low cost of living but suffers from a low quality of life. With a poverty rate of 31.4% (compared to the state average of 13.4%) and a median household income of $30,731 (less than half of the state average of $62,979), Poplar Bluff faces challenges. Its population, particularly the young and educated, has been steadily declining, experiencing a decrease of 3.6% from 2010 to 2020.

3. Sedalia

Sedalia, situated in central Missouri and known for hosting the annual Missouri State Fair, struggles to offer significant opportunities to its residents. With a high unemployment rate of 7.1% (compared to the state average of 4.2%) and a lower educational attainment level, with only 16.4% of adults having a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to the state average of 30.4%), Sedalia contends with a stagnant and shrinking population. The town’s population decreased by 0.4% from 2010 to 2020.

4. Kennett

Kennett, a town in southeastern Missouri near the Tennessee and Arkansas borders, while being the birthplace of singer Sheryl Crow, is among the poorest and most isolated towns in the state. With a high poverty rate of 28.9% (compared to the state average of 13.4%) and a median household income of $32,895 (less than the state average of $62,979), Kennett’s population is declining and aging, experiencing a decrease of 12.5% from 2010 to 2020.

5. Moberly

Moberly, a town in north-central Missouri, renowned for its historic downtown and railroad heritage, grapples with economic and social challenges. With a high crime rate of 1,027 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2023 (compared to the state average of 573%) and a poverty rate of 22.9% (compared to the state average of 13.4%), Moberly faces a declining and aging population. The town’s population decreased by 4.4% from 2010 to 2020, as residents seek safer and more prosperous living conditions.


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