St. Joseph, Missouri

Loving Life
in St. Joseph

Locals explain why St. Joseph, Missouri, feels like home

By Hayley Tharp

Historic St. Joseph is nestled on the Missouri River with an abundance of Midwestern charm and character. Known for its nationally recognized, 26-mile-long parkway system and historical architecture, the city also boasts a thriving art scene and multiple museums and festivals. While some flock to St. Joseph for a weekend getaway or family adventure, many have also chosen this city as their permanent home.

We interviewed four residents who relocated to St. Joseph to discover what they enjoy most about the plentiful amenities and small-town feel of this distinctive city.

Dana MassinOwner, Manic Snail

Dana Massin is the owner of Manic Snail, a downtown paper and gift boutique. She moved from St. Louis to St. Joseph five years ago with her husband, a St. Joseph native, to be closer to family.

What are some advantages of living in St. Joseph?

Affordability of housing is one of our favorite features of St. Joseph, along with the number of beautiful historic buildings and homes in the city. Before moving back to St. Joseph, we lived in St. Louis, which also has historic homes, yes—but at five to 10 times the price! We love seeing so much of St. Joseph's architectural history restored to its original beauty by passionate historians, architects, and investors.

Moving from St. Louis to St. Joseph, do you think there’s a small-town feel to the city?

Our transition from St. Louis to St. Joseph was a positive one for many reasons. We were comforted by less crime and traffic, but also charmed by the smaller community size, which allowed us to become quickly and easily integrated into social and professional circles. St. Joseph as a city provides a great balance for us. It certainly has the amenities we have become accustomed to in larger cities, but unlike larger cities, it has a Midwestern warmth and charm that is often lost with a larger population.

What are the benefits of owning a business in St. Joseph?

I often tell friends and acquaintances that my life-long dream of owning a paper store may not have been realized in any other city; St. Joseph was the perfect fit of size and community support to give me the boost I needed to succeed.

How do you anticipate the downtown revitalization impacting your business?

Larger cities and their downtown districts often have certain niche markets already saturated and lots of competition, both of which can be intimidating to entrepreneurs just starting out. For entrepreneurs looking to do something different, St. Joseph—specifically downtown—is the perfect place to grow a business and learn the ropes of business ownership. With the local community really starting to get excited about downtown revitalization, there are numerous opportunities for unique businesses—like mine—to flourish.

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David CripeSenior Vice President, Commerce Bank

David Cripe serves as senior vice president of Commerce Bank. He has lived in St. Joseph with his wife, Dina, and their three children, Michael, Jenna, and Jack, for almost a decade. David enjoys the local amenities, but also likes the convenience of the nearby metro area of Kansas City.

What brought you to the area?

There are two reasons I moved to St. Joe in 2009. The first was my career; I had reached a bottleneck with my employer, a mid-sized bank in Indiana, so I wanted to find a great bank to work for where my career could take the next step. The second reason is that my wife, Dina, and I had a young family; we wanted to raise the kids in a city big enough to provide strong amenities and support a growing economy, but small enough that we would feel safe and not be burdened by long commutes and congested traffic.

“The first thing that I think of is the generosity of the people in St. Joseph.”
Would you say St. Joseph is a great place for your family?

Yes. This is home to us now. We’ve raised our family here and invested so much time, money, and effort here. We believe in St. Joe and always will.

How is St. Joseph unlike other communities you’ve lived in?

The first thing that I think of is the generosity of the people in St. Joseph. For example, our United Way receives average contributions that are near the top of the charts when compared to peers. I think that gives rock-solid evidence to support the high character of our community.

So do you think the city has the feel of a smaller community?

St. Joe does seem, to me, to have a pace of life and friendliness more commonly associated with a smaller community. I love it. Nearly every time I go to the store—or to a restaurant or movie or whatever—I’ll see and visit with friends and acquaintances.

What do you believe to be the benefits of the downtown revitalization?

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent and in the right ways: attracting jobs, investing in aesthetics, and thinking ahead toward the future, while respecting the past at the same time.

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Angela CraneOperations Manager, Candlewood Suites

Angela Crane is the operations manager at Candlewood Suites. She moved to St. Joseph almost three years ago after her husband joined the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard (MO ANG). Angela enjoys the variety of arts and cultural experiences at her fingertips in St. Joseph, specifically the vast offerings of shows at the Missouri Theater.

What are your favorite features of the city?

My favorite parts of St. Joseph are the Sounds of Summer music series each week downtown, the Art Walk, Trails West!, Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp, the Pony Express Museum, and Pumpkinfest.

Are you excited about the downtown revitalization and potential for the future of the city?

I am very excited about the changes to the downtown area. Downtown already has character; we just need to capitalize on the treasures that are already here and bring them back to life.

Do you feel St. Joseph has a smaller feel with all the amenities of a larger city?

I would not say all the amenities of a large city, but more than average for a city the size of St. Joseph. The arts in St. Joseph have the same quality of a big city, and we are growing with locally owned restaurants and businesses.

What makes St. Joseph “uncommon” in a positive way?

Uncommon is the history of St. Joseph. St. Joseph has so many businesses and buildings. These are what make St. Joseph unique.

Do you see yourself staying in St. Joseph for a long time, and why?

Yes. Once you are involved with the community here, it is easy to see why this is a desirable place to live. I enjoy the small-town feel of St. Joseph and the ability to go to the theater.

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Kevin KellyChief Executive Officer, LifeLine Foods

Kevin Kelly is the CEO of LifeLine Foods and has lived in St. Joseph for the past year, after relocating from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

What prompted you to relocate to St. Joseph?

I was offered the opportunity to lead LifeLine Foods. Having milling, food, and agricultural business experience in my background made this an ideal fit for me, personally.

“We have all the retail shopping, entertainment—concerts, festivals—and amenities of a large city but without the hassles.”
What do you love about St. Joseph?

From the 1800s mansions that are being refurbished and brought back to life to the downtown area that is seeing a revitalization effort, St. Joseph has a classical feel to it. We have community assets, such as the extensive parkway system (that I currently live on), pools, and parks that match any other town in America.

Do you feel you have access to larger amenities with a small-town feel?

We have all the retail shopping, entertainmentconcerts, festivals—and amenities of a large city but without the hassles. A real bonus is that if I do ever need something only a large city offers, Kansas City is only 45 minutes away. The affordability of St. Joseph along with the ease of living in a smaller town—no traffic jams, the ability to eat in a restaurant on Friday nights without having to wait an hour for a table, etcetera—has been a great experience for me and my family.

Are you excited about the potential that the revitalization offers for the city?

There is still a ways to go, but the city is moving in the right direction. The St. Joseph 2040 project to map out our future is very exciting and timely. The city will have a plan and map for the future.