What's it Like to Live in St. Charles County, Missouri? The Life of a St. Charles Resident
What's it like to live in St. Charles County?
Considering a move to St. Charles County, or just wondering what it's like on the other side of the bridge? St. Charles County is located in Missouri, and includes St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, Lake St. Louis, New Melle, Weldon Springs, Cottleville, and Dardenne Prairie.
In 2009, there were 356,587 residents of St. Charles County. 91.2% were Caucasian, 4.6% were African American, and the remaining respondents classified themselves as another race. The median household income was $68,221, compared to a national average of $50,221.
Okay, enough with the facts and statistics...
You can read those anywhere.
What you can't find anywhere is a firsthand account of what it's like to live in St. Charles, Missouri.
I'll be honest: I used to hate St. Charles. I grew up in North County, which is basically the low-income part of St. Louis. Things were a lot different there, even though St. Charles was just 30 minutes away (thanks to the new Page Extension, now it's only 15 or 20).
Diversity: What's That?
I still remember my first day at Francis Howell High School. One of my new friends laughed at me when I asked where all the black people were. I was being serious. Before I moved to St. Charles, I assumed all areas were as diverse as St. Louis. Recent statistics show that Ritenour (the school I attended for my entire life until I moved to St. Charles) is 54.6% white. 37.2% of the students are black.
Current statistics for Francis Howell show that the school is 93% white. Only 2% of the students qualify for the free lunch program. At Ritenour, 36% of students are eligible for a free lunch and 10% are eligible for a reduced lunch.
Are people racist, or does it just happen to be a predominantly white area?
Not everybody in St. Charles County is racist, but not everybody is open-minded either.
Racism is definitely more common here than it was in St. Louis, which is another thing I dislike about St. Charles.
I frequently hear comments like "It's really dark in here today" (referring to a store or mall with a lot of black people) or "I don't cross the bridge" (the bridge from St. Charles to St. Louis). When I moved to a certain apartment complex in St. Charles, 5 different people warned me not to move because "lots of black people live there". Because black people are automatically dangerous and intimidating, right? No.
Is it really a middle class area?
That depends on which part of St. Charles County you live in.
St. Charles County kind of reminds me of China. There is an uneven distribution of wealth across the county. Cheap trailer homes and rundown apartments are next to $350,000 houses. Low income apartments are located inside of a nice subdivision.
I know very few people who make the median income in St. Charles County. I have some friends who make $10,000 a year, and some who make $100,000.
Basically, St. Charles County is middle class, but St. Charles City isn't. I've heard snotty comments made about the people who live in St. Charles City. I've even known a few people in St. Charles who would tell others they were from O'Fallon (one of the nicer parts of St. Charles County).
I'm sure this happens in any county, but I didn't really see it happening in St. Louis.
Are people friendly in St. Charles County?
Yes and no.
People are friendly as long as you're attractive (but not too attractive), employed, married, and have a college degree.
College seems to be extremely important to residents of St. Charles County. Yes, I think college is important too, but I don't need a lecture on it from every random stranger I encounter. I also don't need to hear how I can't get a good job without a degree. I am financially secure right now, and I'm a high school dropout who still hasn't finished college. It's called working hard to get where you need to be. We are all capable of it.
I'd also like to stop hearing the birth control lectures and "haven't you figured out how that happens?" when people find out I have 2 children. I AM NOT MARRIED, AND I HAVE 2 CHILDREN. I knew plenty of people like that in St. Louis. There are still a few in St. Charles County, but it's not as common here.
Would you live in St. Charles County?
If you hate it so much, why don't you just move?
I don't hate it.
I do, however, believe in sharing both sides of the story. I will tell you what I like and don't like. This article will not just be filled with sunshine and rainbows.
Besides, my boyfriend likes it here. He has already refused to move to St. Louis with me.
Is there public transportation in St. Charles County?
That's another thing that I strongly dislike about St. Charles County.
When I lived in St. Louis, I took the bus everywhere. My friends and I went to the mall, movies, and whatever else sounded fun.
There are no buses in St. Charles County. No Metrolink. No trains.
There also aren't any sidewalks. I've seen a few, but sidewalks are not the norm. The other day, we tried taking our son on a walk down the road. We quickly decided we'll never be doing that again. We usually go to a local school and use the track.
If you live in a safe, kid-friendly neighborhood, I guess you can survive without sidewalks. Your neighbors probably drive slowly enough to avoid hitting you and your family. My neighbors think my apartment complex is a race track.
What can you do in St. Charles County?
It's not a big city, but there's still plenty to do.
If you have kids, take them to one of the many parks. One of the most popular is the park near the Rec Plex, located in St. Peters. The park features a playground for kids of all ages, including those with special needs. There are also picnic tables, trails, and ponds. Feed the fish, or pack a picnic and feed yourself.
Speaking of the Rec Plex, it's a great place to go for classes and lessons. My daughter used to take swimming and dance lessons there, and I know that they also have yoga, ice skating, and a workout center.
As I just mentioned, the Rec Plex is a great place to work out. There are also tons of gyms in St. Charles County- Gold's Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, and Club Fitness, to name a few. If you're not into gyms, walk or bike the popular Katy Trail.
I'll talk more about restaurants later in this article, but there are plenty of good places to eat. Chain restaurants such as Applebees prevail, but you can still find a few decent hole-in-the-wall places as well.
Main Street, in St. Charles City, is the main party spot. It's almost the equivalent of The Landing, although I'll admit it's a bit more fun downtown.
Probably the most popular spot in St. Charles is the Ameristar Casino. Gamble all night, or stuff your face at the buffet. You'll usually find live shows and bands.
What's the best place to shop in St. Charles County?
Mid Rivers Mall isn't the best, but it's the largest mall in the county.
Many of the stores have recently shut down, so it's a bit empty. You'll find the typical department stores at Mid Rivers, like Macy's, JCPenney, and Dillards. You'll also find the typical mall retailers- Gymboree, Spencers, The Children's Place, and The Limited. There have been talks of an Old Navy for years, but I have yet to see one.
If you're looking for brands that are a bit more upscale, head to The Meadows in Lake St. Louis. You'll find Von Maur and Banana Republic there.
Into handmade stuff, antiques, and cutesy, craftsy things? You'll love all the small shops on Main Street. The bars and restaurants are the main attraction at night, but you'll enjoy the stores and restaurants during the day.
What's the best place to eat in St. Charles County?
As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of chain restaurants in St. Charles County. You'll also find a lot of fast food.
You'll find Applebees, Friday's, Olive Garden, Pasta House, McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby's, Chevy's, Red Robin, and Denny's.
Personally, my favorite places are Kitaro and Blue Sea, but I'm into Asian food. I also love La Carreta. It's a delicious Mexican restaurant, and not as Americanized as places like Chevy's. The restaurant is usually packed, so dine during off-peak hours if you don't want to wait to be seated.
As far as breakfast goes, Gingham's is delicious. They have more omelets than any other place in St. Charles. I like the veggie.
If you're into buffets, Ameristar has the best one. You can also visit Golden Corral or Pizza Street if you're looking for something cheaper.
What's the weather like in St. Charles County?
If you're moving or visiting from another state, you're probably curious about the weather.
We have all four seasons: spring, summer, winter, and fall. Winters get incredibly cold and snowy. Fall is cool and beautiful, with bright leaves and colorful sunsets.
Summers are hot. Very hot. I remember it being 115 degrees when I was pregnant. It's also very humid.
Spring is rainy and warm. If you have allergies, I'd recommend staying inside til summer. Okay, maybe that's not reasonable, but we have tons of pollen out here.
The funny thing about St. Charles County is that you can have your heat on in the morning and your air on in the afternoon. Temperatures increase and drop drastically. If you're from St. Louis, you're already used to this.
What's the traffic like in St. Charles?
Terrible. Absolutely terrible.
Everything is under construction. I heard Missouri was ranked as one of the worst places for road conditions. Pot holes and rough roads are the norm.
Luckily, that will change in a few years. As I mentioned, everything is under construction, and they're really doing an excellent job so far.
They're building new roads and highways all over St. Charles County, and traffic is definitely improving as the Page Extension gets closer to being finished.
Are there plenty of jobs in St. Charles County?
Most people drive to St. Louis or Chesterfield for work.
If you have a certificate or degree, you can work in the healthcare field. There are at least 3 hospitals in St. Charles County (BJC, St. Joseph's, and Progress West), and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. There are also tons of medical centers and doctors. I used to be a chiropractic assistant.
Oh, and the hospitals are awesome here, just so you know. BJC took great care of me when I had kidney stones. St. Joseph's is where I delivered both of my children. The staff at both are friendly, patient, and attentive.
Where can I attend college in St. Charles County?
St. Charles Community College is probably the most popular. I went there. Along with everybody else I know.
Lindenwood is an excellent 4 year college, but the tuition is a bit higher than colleges in St. Louis.
There is also a Sanford Brown in St. Charles County. I'm pretty sure I've seen a dental school and a culinary school as well, but don't quote me on that.
Final Thoughts on St. Charles County
Every county has its pros and cons.
There are things I hate about St. Charles, such as the lack of diversity and public transportation.
There are things I love about it, though. The parks and ponds are nice. It's also fairly safe. I've had very few problems since I've lived here, and they could have happened anywhere.
All in all, it's not a bad place to live.
Do you have questions or opinions about St. Charles County?
If you disagree with my article, feel like I forgot a few things, or just want to say hello, please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.
- Ritenour Sr. High School in St Louis, Missouri (MO) - Test Results, Rating, Ranking, Grades, Scores,
Ritenour Sr. High School in St Louis, Missouri (MO) - Test Results, Rating, Ranking, Detailed Profile, and Report Card
- Ritenour High School Info
Ritenour Senior High School located in St Louis, Missouri/MO. View school profile, reviews, maps and more.
- St Charles County Government Official Website - Welcome
The Official Website of St Charles County Government, St Charles County Missouri Government Home Page
- St. Charles County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau
Frequently requested statistics for St. Charles County.
- Census survey: St. Charles County residents have lighter wallets
St. Charles County residents' earnings dropped 5.7 percent in 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
All photos were taken by the author, Missy Nolan. Please do not reuse photos without crediting the author.