St. Louis Vs. Chicago: How Do These Midwestern Cities Stack Up?

St. Louis and Chicago are two of the Midwest’s most iconic and beloved cities. Located just hours apart, they both offer unique cultures, cuisine, entertainment, and more. But if you had to choose just one for your next trip or move, how do you decide? This comprehensive guide compares and contrasts these two great cities across key categories.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Chicago is better for jobs, entertainment, and global culture, while St. Louis has more approachable affordability, attractions, and Midwestern charm.

Economy and Job Market

St. Louis Industries and Employment

St. Louis boasts a diverse economy with a range of thriving industries. One of the key sectors in St. Louis is healthcare, with renowned institutions like Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital providing exceptional medical care and generating numerous job opportunities.

The city is also home to major corporations in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, such as Monsanto and Pfizer.

Additionally, St. Louis has a strong manufacturing and transportation sector, thanks to its strategic location along the Mississippi River. The city’s manufacturing industry is known for producing a variety of products, including automobiles, aerospace components, and consumer goods.

Companies like Boeing and Anheuser-Busch have a significant presence in the area, contributing to the local economy and employment.

Furthermore, St. Louis has been experiencing growth in the technology and innovation sector. The Cortex Innovation Community, a vibrant hub for startups and research institutions, has been instrumental in fostering entrepreneurship and attracting talent to the city.

With a focus on bioscience, technology, and advanced manufacturing, St. Louis offers exciting opportunities for professionals looking to work in these fields.

Chicago’s Diverse Professional Opportunities

Chicago’s job market is known for its diversity and abundance of professional opportunities. The city is a major financial hub, with headquarters of major banks and financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and Northern Trust.

It also houses the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, making it a prominent player in the global financial market.

Furthermore, Chicago has a thriving technology sector, attracting companies like Google and Facebook to establish a presence in the city. Startups and tech companies have taken advantage of Chicago’s vibrant ecosystem and access to top talent from prestigious universities like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

The city’s cultural and creative industries are also significant contributors to the job market. Chicago is home to world-class theaters, museums, and art galleries, providing employment opportunities in the entertainment and arts sectors.

The film and television industry has also seen growth in recent years, with major productions choosing Chicago as their filming location.

Moreover, Chicago has a robust manufacturing sector, although it has experienced some decline in recent years. However, the city’s proximity to major transportation networks and its skilled workforce continue to attract manufacturing companies looking to establish a presence in the Midwest.

Housing and Cost of Living

Affordable St. Louis Neighborhoods

St. Louis is known for its affordable housing options, making it an attractive choice for those looking for a more budget-friendly city to live in. There are several neighborhoods in St. Louis that offer affordable housing options without sacrificing on quality of life.

One such neighborhood is The Hill, known for its charming homes, local restaurants, and close-knit community. Another affordable neighborhood is Tower Grove South, which offers a mix of historic homes and newer developments, along with access to the beautiful Tower Grove Park.

According to a recent study by Niche, the average home price in St. Louis is significantly lower than in Chicago. In St. Louis, the median home price is $145,000, while in Chicago it is $245,000. This means that homeownership is more attainable in St. Louis, allowing residents to build equity and invest in their future.

Chicago’s High Cost of Living

On the other hand, Chicago is known for its higher cost of living compared to St. Louis. The city offers a vibrant urban lifestyle with world-class amenities, but it comes at a price. The cost of housing in Chicago is higher, with the median home price being $245,000, as mentioned earlier.

Additionally, renting in Chicago can also be expensive, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center being around $1,800.

The higher cost of living in Chicago is not limited to housing. Other expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and healthcare, are also higher compared to St. Louis. For example, the cost of groceries in Chicago is 7% higher than the national average, while in St. Louis it is 6% lower.

However, it’s important to note that Chicago offers a wide range of job opportunities and a higher average salary compared to St. Louis. This can offset the higher cost of living for some residents, making it a viable choice for those seeking career advancement and higher earning potential.

St. Louis Chicago
Median Home Price $145,000 $245,000
Average Monthly Rent (1-bedroom apartment in city center) Around $900 Around $1,800
Cost of Groceries (Compared to national average) 6% lower 7% higher

Cultural Offerings

St. Louis’ Down-Home Music and Barbecue

When it comes to cultural offerings, St. Louis has a unique charm that is deeply rooted in its down-home music and mouthwatering barbecue. The city is known for its vibrant music scene, with live performances ranging from blues and jazz to country and rock.

Whether you’re visiting a local dive bar or attending a music festival, you’re guaranteed to find talented musicians that will make you tap your feet and sing along.

St. Louis is also famous for its barbecue. The city boasts a plethora of barbecue joints, each with their own secret sauces and flavors. From tender ribs to juicy pulled pork, St. Louis knows how to satisfy any carnivorous cravings.

Don’t forget to try their unique local specialty – St. Louis-style ribs, which are known for their sweet and tangy flavor.

Chicago’s World-Class Museums and Dining

Chicago, on the other hand, offers a different cultural experience with its world-class museums and diverse dining scene. The city is home to iconic institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, which houses an extensive collection of artworks from around the world.

From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, art enthusiasts will be in awe of the museum’s vast and impressive collection.

When it comes to dining, Chicago is a food lover’s paradise. The city is renowned for its deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches. However, its culinary scene goes beyond the classics. With numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning chefs, Chicago offers a wide range of cuisines, from fine dining to street food.

Whether you’re craving sushi, tacos, or fine French cuisine, you’ll find it all in the Windy City.

For more information on St. Louis’ music scene, you can visit To learn more about Chicago’s museums and dining options, you can visit and

Sports and Entertainment

St. Louis Cardinals Baseball

When it comes to sports, St. Louis is perhaps best known for its beloved baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. With a rich history dating back to 1882, the Cardinals have won a total of 11 World Series titles, making them one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball.

The team’s home, Busch Stadium, is a state-of-the-art facility that offers an incredible game-day experience for fans. From the iconic Gateway Arch in the backdrop to the deafening roar of the crowd, attending a Cardinals game is an unforgettable experience for any sports enthusiast.

Chicago’s NFL, NBA, NHL, and More

On the other hand, Chicago is a sports lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of professional teams in various leagues. The city is home to the Chicago Bears (NFL), the Chicago Bulls (NBA), and the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), among others.

These teams have a passionate fan base and have achieved considerable success over the years.

Whether it’s witnessing the raw power of the Bears at Soldier Field, feeling the electric atmosphere at a Bulls game in the United Center, or experiencing the fast-paced action of the Blackhawks on the ice, Chicago provides sports fans with a plethora of options.

In addition to these major sports teams, Chicago also hosts numerous other sporting events throughout the year. From the Chicago Marathon to the Lollapalooza music festival, the city offers a diverse range of entertainment options that cater to all interests.

For more information on the St. Louis Cardinals, you can visit their official website:

For more information on the Chicago Bears, you can visit their official website:

For more information on the Chicago Bulls, you can visit their official website:

For more information on the Chicago Blackhawks, you can visit their official website:

Parks and Outdoors

St. Louis Parks and Green Spaces

St. Louis is known for its abundance of parks and green spaces, making it a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most iconic parks in St. Louis is Forest Park, which spans over 1,300 acres and is larger than New York City’s Central Park.

Forest Park is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and the Muny, an outdoor theater that hosts Broadway productions during the summer. Visitors can enjoy walking paths, picnic areas, and even paddleboats on the park’s serene lakes.

Another popular park in St. Louis is Tower Grove Park, a beautifully landscaped park with Victorian pavilions, a rose garden, and a variety of recreational facilities.

In addition to these larger parks, St. Louis also boasts numerous smaller neighborhood parks that provide residents with easy access to green spaces. These parks offer playgrounds, sports fields, and community gathering spaces.

The city’s commitment to preserving and maintaining its parks has earned it recognition as one of the greenest cities in the United States.

Chicago’s Lakefront and Riverwalk

When it comes to parks and outdoor spaces, Chicago is no slouch either. One of the city’s greatest assets is its stunning lakefront, which stretches for 26 miles along Lake Michigan. The lakefront offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, including jogging and biking paths, sandy beaches, and beautiful parks.

One of the most popular lakefront parks is Grant Park, often referred to as “Chicago’s front yard.” Grant Park is home to famous landmarks such as Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago is also known for its impressive Riverwalk, a pedestrian walkway that follows the Chicago River as it winds through the city’s downtown area. The Riverwalk features picturesque views of the city’s skyscrapers and offers a variety of activities, including kayaking, boat tours, and outdoor dining.

The recently expanded Riverwalk has become a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, providing a vibrant and scenic outdoor space in the heart of the city.


In summary, Chicago outshines St. Louis when it comes to jobs, culture, dining, and entertainment, but comes with a higher cost of living. St. Louis offers Midwestern charm, approachable affordability, and down-home attractions. Evaluate your priorities to decide which city better suits your needs.

Hopefully this detailed comparison gives you the information to determine whether St. Louis or Chicago is the right fit for your next move or trip!

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