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Joshua Adamson

Joshua is a copywriter at Obrella who for more than 10 years has been creating content about insurance, health care, and more. He helps companies explain complex insurance subjects in simple ways so that customers can make smart buying decisions. He spends way too much time binge-watching Netflix, loves the outdoors and has a cat who tolerates him.

UPDATED: Mar 22, 2024

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25 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Missouri

Best Commuter Cities in Missouri

The average American’s commute to work is about 25 minutes. But residents of the best commuter cities in Missouri only spend 16 minutes getting to and from work, and 65 percent commute for less than 15 minutes.

Besides being inconvenient, long commutes can impact our lives in a number of ways. For example, long commutes can result in higher auto insurance premiums and affect overall health. On the other hand, people can benefit from short commutes and we want to recognize the 25 best commuter cities in Missouri for bringing these benefits to their residents.

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To create this list, Obrella referenced the 2013 Census Survey and found cities with more than 5,000 residents. Then, we analyzed the most recent survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau and took a look at the traffic data of those cities.

How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums

When you request a car insurance quote, you’re asked how far you drive to work because the chance you’ll be involved in an accident increases the longer you commute. If you have a long commute, you’re considered a greater risk to your auto insurance company and you’ll typically pay a higher insurance premium.

If your commute increases, your monthly auto insurance premium could go up by as much as $10. Contact your Missouri auto insurance company to find out how a change in your commute may impact your insurance premium and don’t forget to notify your insurance provider if your commute shortens or lengthens.

Click here to see the worst commuter cities in Missouri.

How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life

Here are a few facts about how the length of your daily commute can impact your life.

  • Commuters with lengthy commutes are more likely to feel tired and experience less enjoyment.
  • California State University Long Beach and the University of California Los Angeles conducted research that revealed the number of miles a worker commutes had a stronger correlation with obesity that any other factor studied.
  • Social geographer Erika Sandow discovered there is a 40 percent greater chance a marriage will end in divorce when one partner in the marriage commutes longer than 45 minutes a day.
  • According to a study from Thomas James Christian of Brown University, every minute a person spends commuting decreases the time they spend taking part in healthy activities, like sleeping, preparing meals and exercising.
  • A Gallup Poll found that workers who commute more than 90 minutes are at an increased risk for chronic back or neck problems.
  • Political Scientist Robert Putnam reports that for every 10 minutes a worker spends commuting, their social connections decrease by 10 percent.

If you haven’t realized how a long commute may be negatively impacting your life, including increasing your auto insurance rate, now is the time to do so. You might consider using mass transit, or even working a few days from home to shorten your commute and improve your quality of life.

Here’s a look at how the best commuter cities in Missouri keep commute times to a minimum.

The 25 Best Commuter Cities in Missouri

#1 – Maryville

The best commuter city in Missouri is a dynamic and growing community that boasts an educated workforce, burgeoning housing market, and easy access to major cities like Kansas City and Omaha. Maryville is also home to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a 47,000 square foot business incubator that supports technology based start-up companies. Whether this is where a Maryville resident works or not, they enjoy an average commute time of just 12.9 minutes, which is 50 percent faster than most Americans.

Maryville - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#2 – Kirksville

Located in northeastern Missouri, Kirksville is a thriving community that takes transportation seriously. In fact, it’s noted as the first community in the state to develop its own transportation plan, which expanded more than 20 miles of Highway 63 to four lanes. That could be one reason why eight out of 10 Kirksville commuters get from home to the office in less than 15 minutes.

Kirksville - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#3 – Marshall

Marshall is a traditional farming community in Saline County, which lies in the heart of Missouri. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to open a business, the Marshall-Saline Economic Development Corporation provides a myriad of resources. Saline County is also one of the few counties in the state recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. If you open a business in Marshall, you and your employees will likely enjoy a commute that’s 10 minutes shorter than the national average.

Marshall - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#4 – Poplar Bluff

Located in southeastern Missouri, Poplar Bluff is considered the economic and entertainment center of the region. It’s bordered by national forest, so there are lots of places nearby to explore. If you’re looking to find work, Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center and Briggs and Stratton Corporation are the community’s largest organizations, and together they employ more than 2,000 people.

Poplar Bluff residents deserve recognition for their use of mass transit. A higher percentage of Poplar Bluff workers use mass transit than any other city on our list.

Poplar Bluff - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#5 – Rolla

The county seat of Phelps County, Rolla is consistently showered with kudos. In addition to being honored as one of the most livable and desirable communities in America, Rolla boasts Blue Ribbon Schools and is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology, which is ranked as one of the best technological research universities in the nation. If you’re headed to Rolla for school or for a new job, there’s a 75 percent chance your drive to work will take less than 15 minutes.

Rolla - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#6 – Lebanon

Lebanon is a community concerned about pedestrian safety and that’s good news for locals who want to walk to work rather than get behind the wheel. A federally funded grant project is helping the city connect all public buildings and schools with sidewalks, and improvements are taking place in Lebanon’s Downtown Business District to encourage pedestrian traffic.

In addition to walking, Lebanon ties with Marshall for having the highest percentage of workers who carpool. Lebanon also has the third highest rate of telecommuters among the cities on our list.

Lebanon - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#7 – West Plains

Nearly 90 percent of West Plains’ residents get to work in 29 minutes or less, and about three percent work from home. Thanks to things like this, as well as strong business growth and affordable housing, the southern Missouri community is recognized as one of “America’s 10 Best Small Towns.” It also boasts safe neighborhoods and schools that consistently earn Triple A ratings.

West Plains - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#8 – Nevada

Nevada is a rural town located in the southwestern part of the state. Known for its natural beauty and abundant green space amenities, it’s no wonder “417 Magazine” listed Nevada as a “Top Ten Best Community to Live.” Due to their close proximity to Interstate 49 and Route 54, those who call Nevada home enjoy all the perks of small town living with easy access to metropolitan areas.

When it’s time to head into the office, Nevada residents don’t have to travel far. The typical worker commutes for a mere 16.2 minutes, and 14.7 percent carpool. 3M, Nevada Regional Medical Center and American Standard Brands are a few of the city’s top employers.

Nevada - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#9 – Hannibal

Hannibal is situated in northeast Missouri, along the Mississippi River. It’s intersected by Highways 61 and 36, which provide four-lane access to major cities like St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and Minneapolis. But Hannibal residents can stick close to home and enjoy plenty of local amenities, including a thriving historic district that boasts unique galleries, several antique stores, and a craft brewery.

When it’s time to go to the office, two thirds of residents only commute 15 minutes or less, and many of them are heading to the major employers in the area, like General Mills, Hannibal Regional Hospital, and BASF.

Hannibal - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#10 – Trenton

Trenton is a small community located in north-central Missouri. The residents of Trenton enjoy friendly neighbors, a low cost of living, and nominal crime. In fact, in recent years, the violent crime rate in Trenton has been less than half the national average.

Highway 65 runs north and south through Trenton, giving residents the option of working locally, or in nearby Chillicothe. Those employed in Trenton may find themselves working at ConAgra Grocery Products, Modine Manufacturing or Wright Memorial Hospital, a few of the city’s major employers. The typical Trenton resident gets to work in 16.4 minutes, which is nearly 10 minutes faster than the national average.

Trenton - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#11 – Jefferson City

Jefferson City was named one of America’s Most Beautiful Small Towns by Rand McNally and We were impressed that the video, which helped Jefferson City earn kudos from Rand McNally, touts the city as a bicycle friendly community. When it’s time to hop off the bike and take the car into work, the average commute in Jefferson City is just 16.5 minutes. Even better than that is that the current renovation and expansion of Route 50 may help workers get to the office even faster.

Jefferson City - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#12 – Sikeston

We respect Sikeston dedication to energizing its downtown and making it more pedestrian friendly. In addition to being one of Missouri’s D.R.E.A.M. cities, which stands for Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri, it also received a grant to make transportation and streetscape improvements as well as install new sidewalks and crosswalks. If you currently call Sikeston home, or you’re looking to make the move, there’s a six in 10 chance you’ll spend less than 15 minutes behind the wheel.

Sikeston - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#13 – Joplin

Located in the four states region of Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas, and near Interstates 44 and 49, Joplin is perfectly positioned for business. And business is booming here, thanks to economic incentives, a robust Chamber of Commerce that’s earned a five star ranking from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a skilled labor pool. Plus, Joplin is recognized as the first city in America to earn distinction as a Certified Work Ready community.

Read more: 20 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Oklahoma

A regional airport and affordable operating costs are more reasons why businesses thrive in this commuter friendly community, where 88 percent of workers get to the office in 29 minutes or less.

Joplin - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#14 – Cape Girardeau

Short commutes, low cost of living, and a welcoming small town vibe are just a few reasons why locals love living in Cape Girardeau. It’s also the regional destination for education and healthcare. Cape Girardeau was recently awarded one of only three 2015 Great American Main Street awards.

But the great qualities of this town don’t end there. These residents enjoy short commute times, with 60 percent of them commuting for less than 15 minutes and nearly 90 percent getting to work in 29 minutes or less. Part of what helps keep traffic moving is that 10 percent of workers carpool, saving time and the environment.

Cape Girardeau - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#15 – Mexico

Mexico is a mid-Missouri town with a lot to offer. In addition to an average commute time that’s eight minutes faster than the national average, Mexico residents enjoy safe neighborhoods and schools that are ranked in the top 20 percent of schools in the state. Mexico also boasts a strong spirit of entrepreneurship, and it is becoming known as a regional center for technology innovation.

Mexico - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#16 – Columbia

Columbia has plenty of feathers in its cap, including making the “Best Small Places for Business and Careers” list in “Forbes” as well as being named one of the “Top 30 Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs.” Columbia is also a great place to live and work if you want a short commute. The city earns our praise for having one of the highest rates of carpoolers and mass transit users among the state’s best commuter cities. Fewer cars on the road could be one reason why 88 percent of Columbia locals get to work in 29 minutes or less.

Columbia - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#17 – Macon

Macon is an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, which means it provides businesses with tax credits and incentives that help create local jobs. As a result, residents don’t have to travel far for work. In fact, on average, Macon residents commute a nominal 17.7 minutes. Ardent Outdoors, Chariton Valley Telecommunications and ConAgra Foods are a few of Macon’s leading employers.

Macon - Best Commuter Cities in Missouri

#18 – Carthage

Historic, friendly, and family focused are a few ways to describe the southwestern Missouri city of Carthage. Considered part of the Joplin, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area, America’s “Maple Leaf City,” has one of the highest percentages of carpoolers among the cities on our list. That could be one reason why eight out of 10 Carthage locals get from home to the office in 29 minutes or less.

Carthage - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#19 – Kennett

We were pleased to discover that Downtown Kennett is enjoying a modern renaissance, thanks in part to a grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. New sidewalks, period street lighting, and building revitalizations have enhanced Kennett’s downtown corridor over the last several years.

The Kennett community is the primary source of business and commerce for approximately 100,000 people who live within a 30 mile radius. For those headed in to the office, more than 10 percent of Kennett residents share a ride to work and almost 68 percent enjoy a commute that’s half the national average.

Kennett - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#20 – Dexter

The town of Dexter is situated in southeast Missouri. In addition to offering easy access to Interstates 55 and 57, Dexter boasts a well developed rail system and a regional airport that make it appealing to large corporations like Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies and Tyson Foods. On average, those who call Dexter home enjoy a commute that’s seven minutes faster than most American’s.

Dexter - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#21 – Clayton

High per capita income, a booming Central Business District, and an economy that supports white collar jobs are just a few reasons people chose to live and work in Clayton. It’s also a safe community. In fact, the chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Clayton is only one in 1,222. To put that into perspective, the state average violent crime rate is one in 231. To add even more great gems about Clayton, this city has the third highest percentage of telecommuters among the best commuter cities in Missouri, as well as one of the highest rates of mass transit users.

We were impressed to learn that Clayton believes its streets should work for everyone, whether they’re walking, riding a bike, or driving to work. To that end, the city has adopted a “Complete Streets” philosophy and undertaken numerous streetscape projects over the last several years.

Clayton - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#22 – Springfield

A booming job market, first-class healthcare and affordable housing are just a few benefits of living and working in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield was also ranked among the “100 Best Communities for Young People” and all five of Springfield’s high schools earned A+ ratings.

Springfield is not only the largest city in Missouri, it’s the fastest growing too, which makes its enviable commute time of just 18 minutes all that more impressive. Plus, Springfield has one of the highest rates of mass transit users, and 88 percent of locals commute for 29 minutes or less.

Springfield - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#23 – Perryville

Perryville is a small town with big industry appeal. The establishment of an Enterprise Zone and creation of the Perryville Industrial Park have further fueled Perryville’s economic progress and helped it gain a reputation as manufacturing oasis.

Roughly one third of Perryville workers are employed by local manufacturing companies, such as Gilster-Mary Lee, Toyoda Gosei, and Seguin Moreau. Thanks to the jobs available right in their hometown, six out of 10 Perryville locals commute for less than 15 minutes.

Perryville - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#24 – Bolivar

Bolivar offers the peace and beauty of rural living, but it also boasts state-of-the-art medical facilities, award-winning schools, and a thriving business climate. When headed to one of those offices, more than eight percent of Bolivar residents carpool and 65 percent get to work in less than 15 minutes, while three percent work from home. And if you’re coming here for education before starting in the work force, Bolivar is home to Southwest Baptist University, which has been acknowledged as one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys” for 16 years.

Bolivar - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

#25 – St. Joseph

With approximately 75,000 residents, St. Joseph is one of the most populated cities in Missouri, and recognized as the number one consistently growing metropolitan statistical area in the state.

St. Joseph was honored as a manufacturing “hotspot” by “Industry Week” magazine, and is home to several major corporations, such as Nestle Purina Petcare, The Hillshire Brands Company, and Triumph Foods. A strong economy means those who live in St. Joseph can also enjoy working there, and that’s one reason why five in 10 residents commute for less than 15 minutes, and eight in 10 make the trip in 29 minutes or less.

St. Joseph - Best Commuter Cities Missouri

Which are the Worst Commuter Cities in Missouri?

Although these are the worst commuter cities in the Show Me State, their average commute time is only four minutes longer than the state and national average. And a longer than average commute is a trade some people are willing to make for a better paying jobs, top rated schools, or access to city amenities.

Worst Commuter Cities in Missouri

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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only Missouri cities whose population exceeded 10,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report.

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