Top 10 Reasons Transplants Criticize St. Louis

Categories: Lists, News

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Over the weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed written by a St. Louis transplant called "Loving the Midwest." In the piece, writer Curtis Sittenfeld discusses her move to St. Louis in 2007 for her husband's job -- and why the two of them were at first not so happy with their new home. "If our friends from the coasts disparaged the heartland, we were quick to defend it," she writes. "Privately, however, we were critical."

The conclusion of her piece is that she has actually grown to love St. Louis, in large part because it's a great place to raise children and its size fosters a sense of community.

But before Sittenfeld explains her appreciation for St. Louis, and why she now considers herself a "local," she outlines her initial disdain, touching upon some of the oft-stated reasons why transplants may at first dislike it here.

For our transplant and native readers alike, we've compiled below some of the most common complaints from outsiders, which the author nicely summarizes in the op-ed.

Do you have a response to these typical critiques from non-natives? Are you a transplant who decided to stay in St. Louis? Let us know in the comments!

See also:
- St. Louis Rules, Kansas City Drools: A Response to the Kansas City Star
- 25 Reasons to Love Summer in St. Louis
- 20 Reasons to Love Winter in St. Louis

10. Provel tastes like cellophane

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Kristie McClanahan
Provel cheese (in a plastic Easter egg).

RFT's food writers can probably relate to this one.

Sittenfeld writes in the op-ed, "We thought that pizza made with the beloved local cheese -- Provel -- tasted as if it had been cooked with cellophane."

9. St. Louis is in a red state!

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Those damn red-state people with their Bush stickers and SUVs! Folks from more liberal states on the coasts especially seem to like this complaint, even if St. Louis is a blue city.

"There was a particular car I soon came to think of as distinctly St. Louis-ish: a gigantic white S.U.V. with a W. bumper sticker on it for George W. Bush," she writes.

8. Really bad drivers

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In the Times op-ed, the author writes of her husband: "[O]n the highway, he was mystified by drivers, all of whom seemed to crowd into the right lane."

(Some national studies have shown that Missouri does in fact have some of the worst drivers in the country.)

Continue for more common complaints from St. Louis transplants.


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223 comments
Heather Smith
Heather Smith

I was a transplant there for two years (2009 - 2011) and I loved St Louis. I'd go back. I'm in Jersey now. Don't get me started. :)

Mylosmylo
Mylosmylo

You forgot to mention the horrid, humid weather AND the lack of recreation and scenic beauty. This place is the armpit of the US!! I lived here for 3.5 years and thank goodness I'm never moving back. Ever. There are plenty of great places to raise kids that are not St. Louis or surrounding areas. Yuck! You guys can keep it.

Jerry Ross
Jerry Ross

You forgot the StL Morgue. At shows, no one dances. They just lean against a wall and nod.

John McGaughey II
John McGaughey II

Cloistered community. I grew up in Affton, when the Bosnian's came and fixed Rat City, and Gravios the whole city became overtly bigoted. These war torn families improved our neighborhoods and the Hoosiers only bitch about it. Right "moving" to where it's "okay" to live worked like "white flight"! Just abandon these places, and everything is okay! Urban sprawl from racists who cannot work to improve just move is why this racist shitty driving town sucks. It's not the town itself.

Terri Laughlin
Terri Laughlin

It's amazing to me how many people on Facebook and the RFT site are bitching about provel. Really? If you don't like it don't eat it. Most places give you the option of mozzarella also. At least you can get about any kind of style pizza crust here - anything from cracker thin to deep dish. I have been places where you ask for thin and get that floppy New York style crap. Just don't eat the style you don't like and get over it. No one is forcing you to eat provel or cracker thin crust.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

"It may take a year and a half to be invited to a dinner party..." and "Following the theme of St. Louis being a tough place to make friends as adults, one of the author's observations is that transplants don't really befriend non-transplants." - it is not the Saint Louis natives that are the problem, but the transplants that cannot stomach being a friend of a local. I wouldn't invite you to a dinner party either. Not because you are not a native here, but because you criticize others without seeking to understand. For the record, I am a transplant, and I received plenty of invitations, still do, too. Why? Perhaps I'm a tad more friendly than some snob writing articles.

Duffy George
Duffy George

I moved here from Dallas 2 years a go. I really like it here, except the winter. WTH is that about??? -15 for 6 months?

Kevin Vance
Kevin Vance

Moved to Seattle never looked back. Hate visiting to be honest. Feels like a big waste of money but I still have family there

John McGaughey II
John McGaughey II

Born and raised here. I've lived in CA,OR,WA,FL,AR and Indiana. STL drivers suck donkeys off! Aggressive idiots who don't know the laws of the road. The far lane is a PASSING lane NOT a fucking driving 60 mph lane. Hip Hop Hoosiers everywhere. Cigarette smoking, tall-boy drinking, under age baby factories. More murder and STD's per capita than just about anywhere. Racist cops. Horrible roads and infrastructure because of cheap gas prices. Unaccredited School districts abound. A homeless population that the city and it's inhabitants treat like lepers. Overly conservative "christians" who have never read the bible! I love this place.

cweidle226
cweidle226

Hey NattyDude - you are a shining example of everything wrong with humanity. Your complaints are based solely on your inability to recommend yourself to others. Don't blame the good people of this city for your shortcomings. Please, by all means, depart! When you land, please don't smear our reputation by tacking "I'm from St. Louis" on to the end of your atrocious spelling, and social ineptitude.

Katey Smith Pittman
Katey Smith Pittman

I love STL!!! I have lived in TN, KY, FL, and IL. All of them were ok, but STL is home. For all of you bitching... Move.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

I heard that so much I finally had to ask someone what it meant. I've lived a lot of places and never heard so many people ask which HS you attended!!! Evidently, the county schools were better than the city schools at one time.

Gary Muich
Gary Muich

All out of towners,flock to the city at those times!

Gary Muich
Gary Muich

Still nothing but shootings,murders,knifings,gang bangers,car jackings,knockout game crap everyday! Better know where your driving,especially at night!

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

The racial bigotry is evident even if a person just works but not lives, in St. Louis. I've had people I work with start to look for homes in IL because they say the racial climate is better.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

I'm a transplant but don't plan to retire here. There are lots of pros and cons about St. Louis. Like other towns around here, I think they need some new leadership to breathe the city in a different direction.

Zepel Anderson
Zepel Anderson

And the stl native women here??? Ugh!!!! Too many of them either eat too much, smoke too much, or/and drink to much...way too many of them are out of shape...too many of them fall into the ghetto/trailer category...i can only count on one hand them amount of stl native females I would not mind being in a close relationship with...

Victoria Warmaster
Victoria Warmaster

when there isn't an event they are probably at home drinking (house party!) or at the local dive bar... drinking. someone's gotta finish all those bud lights.

Zepel Anderson
Zepel Anderson

I am a stl native and I cannot stand many of the natives here and their ways...i mean 'what high school did you go to??' is so effin stupid on so many levels...

Pratie Head
Pratie Head

While your on the topic of driving, don't forget the St. Louis stop at a stop sign..rolling stop. And the non use of a turn signal.

Darlene Meyer Yurkins
Darlene Meyer Yurkins

since i drive quite a bit, i will comment on the driving. tailgating in the right lane when there are two or more free lanes to the left to pass. passing on the right is annoyingly epidemic. coming to a near stop in the right lane of the highway to let someone who doesn't know how to merge onto the highway may be nice for them, but it's downright sinister for the fifty people in the right of way behind you. and those green left turn arrows? gogogo! geez, where i come from, you get through those turn arrows in formation as tight as a conga line or you will hear the wrath of multiple frustrations behind you.

Sheila Smith
Sheila Smith

Been here this time about 10 years I love the diversity. I love downtown, midtown, the architecture.. The people can be a bit odd though..

Linda DiMeo Lowman
Linda DiMeo Lowman

If you do move back, live in the city. It's much less white bread.

Linda DiMeo Lowman
Linda DiMeo Lowman

I lived in St. Louis for 22 years (originally from the Northeast). I hated it at first, but within a year I grew to love the place. BTW, I never had a hard time making friends there. Here in the NE, if you talk to someone in say a grocery line, they look at you as if you had three heads. Not in the Lou. Also, compared to other places I've driven, I don't think they are bad drivers. Of course, I saw some bad driving, but some of it was mine when I first moved there. I had to lose that east coast craziness and calm down, before I stopped trying to run people off the road. Best place I've lived and I've lived a lot of place. I can't wait to move back.

Craig Aye
Craig Aye

I am a St Louis native who married a woman from Dallas and have friends from Houston, Tulsa, Kansas City, Central Illinios, Milwaukee, Italy and Turkey. As a native I always look to welcome transplants into my life and educate them on all the great things about St Louis. Yes we may not have the abundance of culture and nightlife like NYC, LA or Houston/Dallas but it still exists, you may have to look for it but it is there.

Jack Semelsberger
Jack Semelsberger

I'm from Orlando, moved to Seattle for ten years, and now have been here ten years. St. Louis is a pretty decent town.

jedi_master_wroark
jedi_master_wroark

I am from San Francisco - made friends easily - people are nicer here in St. Louis - and the drivers are a lot more courteous - at least that has been my observation.  Provel does suck - what provel lacks is greatly made up in other delicious food in St. Louis.  What St. Louis lacks in nightlife, it more than makes up for in free public museums, zoos and other cultural niceties. The only thing St. Louis really lacks is affordable, prevalent and expansive public transportation!  Come on St. Louis!  I love ya but get with the 21st century with respect to public transportation!  <3

mslizzie
mslizzie

Is this a joke? I'm from STL, and I have lived in LA most of my life, including now. Every single freaking day I wish I was back in STL. Bad drivers? Come to L.A. for an hour on the 405, after you stop shaking you will fly back home. Provel is amazing and if you don't like it don't eat it, I have to actually import it from Imo's. Every time my kids and I come to STL the neighborhood kids ask if my kids want to play, that NEVER EVER happens here, and I've lived on the same block for 14 years. I'm still friends with the neighbors from before we left. All the cultural stuff is free in STL, museums, zoo which I like better than the L.A. zoo. City museum is the most artistic imaginative place I've ever been. if your can't find nightlife you haven't looked in the RFT, or walked down Delmar in the Loop. There's fantastic foodie stuff going on right now, plus all the old school great places on the Hill. I'm dying to move back where you can actually afford to buy a reasonably priced house. I will never ever be able to afford a house here. And Busch Stadium kicks Dodger Stadium's ass. And you can actually not only wear but buy opposing team gear at the stadium and don't have to worry about people harassing you or beating your ass in the parking lot.

Matt Benson
Matt Benson

Not a good article. I'm a foreigner also and there's plenty of better observations to make positive or negative than this. The provel thing was right though

Lucas Kellogg
Lucas Kellogg

Transplant originally from Michigan but moved here from Baltimore. Pros: love Midwest friendliness compared to East Coast snobbery. Love the museums, and the number of things to do for free. Love the food and lower pricing. (Restaurants were about 30% pricier in Bmore). Love the history!!!!! Cons: It has been somewhat difficult making a circle of friends but we take responsibility for that, too. Provel IS gross and certainly should not be melted! Haha. ;) The racism I have encountered here (surprisingly) is even more extreme than Baltimore, and I'm not on the receiving end of it. If you have an ounce of doubt, read the Rants and Raves on Craigslist! Blue city or not, the people who live and/or work here have some very primitive thinking about the racial divide. Overall, we are happy to be here and love exploring all that St Louis has to offer! :)

Eammon Azizi
Eammon Azizi

Transplant w/ 10+ years. My opinion: STL is the perfectly average city. I dig it.

Nathan Hipstername Watson
Nathan Hipstername Watson

I think no one showed up to her party because shes an overly critical jerk who didn't seem to care about giving stl a chance. There's always a party somewhere, who cares if you like the cheese, and our drivers have been voted most polite.

Kevin Thompson
Kevin Thompson

Racist (from both sides), the people are mean, and the city doesn't stay up past 10pm. the weather sucks. Great transportation system!

Roxanna  Islam
Roxanna Islam

ppl from bigger states (ny, ca, tx, fl) are very happy with where they live but will transplant all the time for new opportunities and no one sees anything wrong with it. i moved here a couple of years ago knowing it was only temporary and now i'm telling people i'm moving back, no one can understand why i want to leave! there's a whole world out there these people don't know about lol

Travis Sheridan
Travis Sheridan

I'm a transplant from CA (arrived Jan '12). I love it here. Best kept secret in the US.

Scott Lockhart
Scott Lockhart

Native St. Louisans tend to be very provincial and anti-change. Racial bigotry is evideneed by the amount of White Flight to the boonies. All reasons I moved away and probably will not move back.

NattyDude
NattyDude

I hate living in St. Louis, everyone seems to really like talking shit and judging one another and personally, I am sick as fuck of hearing negativity and everything that is wrong with everyone else, bitching and moaning about everything, finger pointing and playing the blame game, and everyone seems to have something to prove, even when they have no clue what that something is. The city is disgusting, I started going to local punk shows when I was 13, and there was never any shortage of bums trying to fuck with kids, trying to sell them "weed" that they pull out of their shoe or yesterdays newspaper, I have seen friends get stabbed in the parking lot by homeless crazy dudes who insist that they own the parking lots.

if you exit the highway to go down town, just after the iconic AB sign, you are greeted first with a sign that says "NO BEGGING" and half the time there are tweakers pushing shopping carts full of scrap metal down the street, the hokey stadium is always swarmed with homeless people trying to get on the vent in the side walk, sleeping on the park benches all around washington ave, why they decided to put a shelter next to a "down town hotspot" so there is no end of potentially deranged, mentally disturbed, or just homeless and desperate people to come ask you and your family for change after a hokey game, or to harass people coming from the bars, drunk people make easy targets right? well, I guess to be fare the bums are just as equal targets to the drunk drivers, and come one, who would miss'em right? 

oh, and the drunks, where you see booze, you will meet real, drunken narcissistic assholes from this great city, ready to pass judgement upon you so that they can make themselves feel important and justify to themselves what they do, because, well, at least their not "that guy" but the reality is, st louis as a city, it all "that guy" the loud mouthed arrogant know it all the smells like sweaty balls and booze. oh, and want to talk about great smells, come check out the lovely town of Bridgeton, where the smell of everyones rotted milk and discarded diapers wafts through the air, and don't bother closing your windows, it creeps in through your vents like a bad x-files creature thanks to the wonderful trash dump, and don't worry, it close enough the dieing mills mall that you can still smell it on a day with a good breeze from the right direction. 

 most bands seem to avoid st louis as well, so if there is a band on tour you really want to see, plan to be headed to chicago or KC, or deal with the idiots at pop's who's security seem to pick and choose who they want to kick out, they fuck with kids because they don't like the bands that are playing, stand around and talk shit about people, I lost my keys at a show a few years back, the people refused to even acknowledge me when I was trying to ask them to keep an eye out for them, and when I did find them, the dude that I talked to about losing them, was throwing them in the fucking trash and laughing about it. 


 I wouldn't wish living in St. Louis on anybody, I was born here, it wasn't my decision to live here, and it takes time to up root yourself and leave, but every day I am that little bit closer to the day I move my family out of this hell hole

skater314159
skater314159

You'd better NEVER go to Dallass, Texas then... more humidity, no colleges or universities to help with community educational levels /coolness, and it's all just freakin' concrete-covered urban sprawl. And everyone is rude & judgemental based on how much money they THINK you have based on how you dress and how much bling you display (this was often hilarious to me!)

I moved here after having to live in Dallas for two years and I hafta say I like it here a lot, but the comments about meeting people and making friends is true. It's very German that way, which I can understand. Now for Provel cheese.... weelllll, that's something I can't understand. ;)

skater314159
skater314159

It is easy to get some people to ask you over or to do things - work is a great connection for our family.... but we've been to churches where people were nice to us, but they didn't try to get to know us better or as friends, and for me, a church community is supposed to be defined by that quality - and I don't care which denomination or religion you are, it should still apply. I've lived in many different places, and this was the first to show this unfortunate quality at several different parishes.

skater314159
skater314159

It's never been -15 for a month let alone six. I wish it was true but it's not.

You like it 90 - 110 for six months a year better?

lol

skater314159
skater314159

yes! The rolling stop makes me soooo angry!!!!

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@skater314159 , I guess I was lucky enough to find the right people who welcomed me. Our church holds socials, and volunteering to help right away got me known to the congregation. Make yourself available. Get out there, and people will return the favor to you. Perhaps not all, perhaps there is something about them or you that is not to be close friends. My experience has been different.

One way to make friends is to volunteer, whether at church or Habitat for Humanity or wherever. Once people see you have a good heart, they respond in kind. Be the person that does more than their share of the work, and everyone will be your friend.

Sometimes that means going over to the elderly people's houses to do yardwork or housework for them. Often it is just to drop in and chat. Heck, make dinner for them, and join in eating with them. Invite yourself over for that meal by bringing the meal. You will see it returned in many folds over.


Friends help friends. They do not sit around and pout about not getting dinner invitations.

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