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Missouri does have some economical real estate. I moved here from NJ in 2006. Property tax on my house in NJ is $15K; here $4K.

Missouri is adjusting to the decline in rural population. Mechanization on the farm and smaller family size means many communities have fewer people. Also pre-WWI, railroads were the main transportation. Everyone lived within 20 miles of a train station. Farms were 80 acres. Now full time farmers farm 2000 acres. Many of those old farm houses are no longer maintainable. The rural towns are losing their industries. Not enough labor. So you have retirees staying near family, but many are little more than a post office these days.

The midsized college towns in Missouri are a bright spot. Columbia, Jefferson City, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, Joplin, Warrensburg, Kirksville, Maryville. They have city services and you can live cheaply in the suburbs or within commuting distance.

One concern is internet service. Many rural areas have dial-up or satellite service. Not high speed. But they make do.
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