The land of the "Show Me State," Missouri has a long, well-established history within the formation of the early United States. The state is bisected by two major highways, one of which running from east to west, from Kansas City to St. Louis. With the gateway to the West literally symbolized by the St. Louis Arch, Missouri is split between the Ozark plateau making up the southern half while the northern part of the state is generally reliant on the Missouri River.
Missouri's economy is primarily funded by agriculture, heavy machinery manufacturing, beer production, and natural resources mining. The birthplace of President Harry Truman, Missouri prides itself as part of the old South and a majority of the state is rural. The two major population centers are in Kansas City and St. Louis with Jefferson City as an exception in the middle of the state. Because the state is one of the more populated regions of the country with a mixed political population, it is often chased after as a swing state, which makes it regularly influential in presidential elections.
The Show Me State is America's 18th largest by population - over six million Americans - and 21st biggest by area. The state economy produces about $225 billion annually, with per capita income coming in at right about average for the country.
As of this writing, the average home value in MO is nearly $130,000, and unlike most of the United States, this figure actually fell in 2013. The most expensive cities in the state by median sales price are Wildwood, Parkville, and Lake Ozark. The most affordable are Raytown, Grandview, and Salem. A recent survey named Nixa, Ozark, Wentzville, and Kirkwood, MO as the best cities to raise a family.
Kansas City, MS is the larger of the two midwestern cities that bear the name. The city's nickname is the Heart of America, which came about due to Kansas City's location in the center of the continental United States. KC is also home to many well known American companies, including Applebee's, H&R Block, Hallmark, and AMC Theaters. The Kansas City metro generates over 20% of the state's annual state product.
Best known for its iconic Gateway Arch, St. Louis is the 58th largest American city and the heart of the 19th largest metro area with a population of nearly 3 million Americans. Major corporations such as Monsanto, Peabody Energy, and Edward Jones Investments call the city home. Healthcare and services dominate the St. Louis economy.
Springfield is Missouri's third largest city, and its metro area is home to more than 400,000 Americans. The city's top employers are CoxHealth, Walmart, the public school system, and the US government.
It's important, but finding the right bank in MO doesn't need to be stressful or difficult. The main choice you'll need to make is whether you want a local financial institution or one with more of a national reach. The tradeoffs are simple to understand - local institutions are more relationship driven and strive to really understand the community, while national chains emphasize technology, convenience, and access to your money in many places across the country. Here are a few of your choices, broken down by category.
Biggest local credit unions:
Now that you know your options, it's time to compare interest rates and figure out where you can save money. You'll want to see offers on auto loans, CDs, and any other product you're considering lined up side by side. Check out RateZip's financial search engine, designed for this very purpose.
For those who want to be in the heartbeat of election politics every four years or just to live near places like St. Louis, RateZip.com can help with finding competitive mortgage rates for home buying. It's simple to get started.
The most basic choice that a homeowner will need to make is between a fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage. With a fixed rate loan, the interest rate and payment are constant for the entire life of the loan, which can range from 10, to 15, to 20, to 30 years in duration. An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has a constant rate and payment for an initial period, and then it adjusts every year thereafter based on an index.
The general rule of thumb is that homeowners who want to stay put for a long time should be a fixed rate loan, while buyers who plan on moving soon may be better suited with an ARM. This is especially true for first time home buyers who plan on "moving up" into a bigger home in the near future to raise a family.