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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174 comments
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

Laura Annette Miller
Laura Annette Miller

I don't think that's at all fair- that transplants want to change St. Louis? No one is going to change a city - and we all know it. What I think they want is acceptance - and not the kind you need to 'earn' first. A transplant isn't the enemy coming to threaten your way of life. Jeez, they moved. Plain and simple. Maybe instead of telling people what to do so that you'll welcome them - you could just say hi. And tell them some of the fun things you know about - and take them there - offer to help them find it - etc. It's not that hard to be friendly. Seriously, trot those midwestern manners out for a spin, most of the people you'll bump into might just appreciate that. Stop asking what high school someone went to - stop asking them to 'prove' something to you. Just say hi. Be sincere. And help a person out. Think it's easy to be a transplant? Find a good dr, the mall, a hair stylist, an OB for women, the best park, the restaurants that don't run on midwest time (and yes - too much closes too early compared to other places). The 'secrets' of St. Louis are not some secret to be protected. Share them. Be open. This isn't that complicated. How could you not 'know' about the Loop? I don't know I haven't lived here. What do you mean that you can't find anything open late? There's tons of places ... Really? I wouldn't know, I haven't lived here. Do you see? Maybe St. Louis has everything everyone needs - but if you don't tell them where to find this stuff it can take years. And that causes some resentment. Period.

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

I haven't insulted anyone. It's just my opinion it's disrespectful to be rude about someone's home. I hear lots of people complain about living here, when many times its their choice or they are too lazy to make a change.

Marita Donalds
Marita Donalds

Don't forget, people were invited by this publication to write about their experiences. YOU are the one with the insults. NICE Talk!

Marita Donalds
Marita Donalds

I like everything you said, but I don't get the 'smell funny' remark ?

Annette Pentecost
Annette Pentecost

There are tons of things in St. Louis to go do where you can get out and meet new people.

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

Neil, how about having any respect or manners? Insulting another persons home is surely bad manners, regardless if you like it in STL or not.

ronaldclements
ronaldclements

I am a Wisconsin native who has lived in California, northern Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina. I have also spent significant time in Colorado, Texas, South Carolina and Georgia and I will say I probably found the nicest people in Augusta, Ga. That being said, I love St. Louis. But provel cheese is awful and it is hard for outsiders to be accepted by locals because people from St. Louis rarely leave St. Louis. Hence the whole, where'd you go to high school thing.

Marita Donalds
Marita Donalds

I like St.Louis. Wonderful history, Museums, the Arts, Theatre, lots of events, Restaurants, the list goes on. The country-side is beautiful + the people very friendly. I don't have a problem driving here, having moved from NM. There, folks just point + go. On the flip-side, Racism seems to be alive + well in these parts. People appear to be obsessed with their 'Right to bear Arms', they party excessively + the 'F-word' is used more here, than anyplace else I've ever been. Also, people love to talk, unfortunately only about themselves. There is no sign of interest, should you mention something about yourself. In short, the 'Good' very much outweighs the 'Not so Good'. St.Louis is a beautiful + vibrant city.

Tim Probst
Tim Probst

Seriously though Phoenix... Where did you go to high school?

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Oh yes, because it's always so easy for anyone to just pick up and leave....ha ha ha Sorry but for most people life is just not that simple. I could describe a million different circumstances of just how people get stuck in places but you don't sound like the type of person that carries enough empathy to care. And as for your absurd claim that "It's an insult to those of us who consider this home!"??? That is completely subjective. Maybe you have a wonderful life inside your little bubble but realize that life is not always as joyful for most people. It's called compassion. Something you obviously lack.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

We have culture...we have great things to do every weekend...people here are friendly without being fake. Perhaps the problem is with the negative people posting these negative comments, NOT with our St. Louis city? We have our problems in STL, but we are a great city. If people choose not to see it, then, there is not much that can be done about that.

ella.becker8
ella.becker8

I don't think that's at all fair- that transplants want to change St. Louis? No one is going to change a city - and we all know it. What I think they want is acceptance - and not the kind you need to 'earn' first. A transplant isn't the enemy coming to threaten your way of life. Jeez, they moved. Plain and simple.

Maybe instead of telling people what to do so that you'll welcome them - you could just say hi. And tell them some of the fun things you know about - and take them there - offer to help them find it - etc. It's not that hard to be friendly. Seriously, trot those midwestern manners out for a spin, most of the people you'll bump into might just appreciate that.

Stop asking what high school someone went to - stop asking them to 'prove' something to you. Just say hi. Be sincere. And help a person out. Think it's easy to be a transplant? Find a good dr, the mall, a hair stylist, an OB for women, the best park, the restaurants that don't run on midwest time (and yes - too much closes too early compared to other places).

The 'secrets' of St. Louis are not some secret to be protected. Share them. Be open. This isn't that complicated. How could you not 'know' about the Loop? I don't know I haven't lived here. What do you mean that you can't find anything open late? There's tons of places ... Really? I wouldn't know, I haven't lived here. Do you see?

Maybe St. Louis has everything everyone needs - but if you don't tell them where to find this stuff it can take years. And that causes some resentment. Period.

Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising

I've lived here for seven years now and I love it. My only complaint is the lack of non-bar-goers within the lesbian community but I've experienced that everywhere. And I've never had anyone ask me where I went to high school.

Craig Richason
Craig Richason

St. Louis is an equal opportunity place to be murdered.

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

If these so called "transplants" don't like it, FUCKING LEAVE. I hear people complain and say how it sucks compared to one place or another, you don't have to live here and it's an insult to those of us who consider this home!

Tim Probst
Tim Probst

Eyeyeye...This subject is so tired.

Jillian Ashley
Jillian Ashley

I meet new amazing people all the time! Nobody asks me where I'm from. I put myself in new situations every chance I get. StL has tons of variety! Go out and meet new people. People don't come to you. Also, maybe you aren't making friends because you smell funny.

Jeremy J Whaley
Jeremy J Whaley

What high school did you go to??? Oh and I'm from StL and couldn't wait to escape.

Margaret Booker
Margaret Booker

Yes I do. I lived in STL from 1987 to 1994. Made great friend. Felt truly embraced.

Mychal Anne Voorhees
Mychal Anne Voorhees

Mixed experiences. I find it much easier to friend other transplants than natives of the city.

Angeles Jonske
Angeles Jonske

When I moved here 16 years ago I met people really fast and have the best friends I've ever had so my experience was great!

omomma
omomma

The article in the NYT was written by a whiner [who also happens to be a really good writer]. When she mentioned no one came to her Superbowl Party, that was understandable. Too many casual comments about provel, or that high school thing, or the lack of nightlife [totally perceived--there's plenty to do in St. Louis after dark] likely turned off any potential partiers. 

It's tough to make new friends anywhere. Every city has its idiosyncracies. St. Louis is a very small town. Blaming local habits related to food/conversation/socializing for your difficulties won't improve your situation. Writing an article in the New York Times about finally getting over whatever it was that provoked the whining in the first place is even less helpful. 

Ms. Sittenfeld is among very few locals who would refer to the Arch grounds as "elegant". She writes that she and her husband found their comfy space in St. Louis at trivia nights and Blues games. That means they passed on live music, art, history and river-related outdoor life. Pathetic.

Maia Palmer
Maia Palmer

I'm a transplant to Stl, and I think it's a wonderful city with both pros and cons. As someone who has lived on both coasts, in several different countries, and also in Hawaii, I have to admit, that I have never had as hard of a time making friends as I have had here. Truth be told, that is why I'm moving back to my hometown in September - although I will honestly miss St. Louis quit a bit! However, I don't think it's for a lack of warmth among 'natives.' All of my friends here are born and bred St. Louisians, and they are all such lovely people - the different I'd point to is that it is an incredibly family oriented town (which is, really, a positive - it just makes it harder for outsiders) so when I want to hang out with friends on Sundays or Saturdays, often the response is, oh, my family and I always have brunch at Blueberry Hill, or I'm taking my niece and nephew to the zoo...Which I admire, and is part of the reason that I am motivated to now move back to be near my family for the first time in 15 years. During my most recent relationship even, a HUGE chunk of our time was spent with his family - which I at first thought was really weird, then I realized...oh...that's how they roll here. So, all in all, (despite the terrible pizza and bad drivers - but hey, EVERY city has their quirks and things to pick on!) despite the fact that I'm leaving, St. Louis ranks right up there with cities like Honolulu, Seattle, Hiroshima, and others that I've lived in - and I'm proud to say that I've lived here - and, if living here was the smack in the face that I needed to realize the value of family, then hey, St. Louis, you get a 10 out of 10 from me!

emilyklasing
emilyklasing

Perhaps I have a unique perspective on being both a native AND a transplant. I spent early childhood in St. Louis but left at age 11 for junior high, high school, and college. I married a born/bred St. Louisan and consider St. Louis to be one of my "home-bases" (with Albuquerque my 2nd home-base).

When I came back to St. Louis after college, I immediately sought out friendships with people who shared my interests: I found the house music scene, and began making friends through the workplace. It really wasn't that hard. Now granted, I was in my early twenties - this is a prime time for friendship-making as people like to enjoy nightlife and single-living. I would say that it would be more difficult to transplant here in that in-between life phase (where people are getting married, beginning to have children and you're not). BUT - I think that goes for transplanting ANYWHERE.

Look, lifestyle and friendships and activities and what you do with your time are your CHOICES. It's up to YOU whether or not you enjoy where you live. I have gone through periods of "get me OUT of St. Louis" and also periods of "I love this place." Upon careful examination of these times in my life, it's become quite clear that I felt those sentiments based on my own personal happiness within my own life. People move for different reasons. 

Here's some more unsolicited advice:

Don't like provel or thin-crust pizza? Then don't eat it. Move on.

Are you bored with the nightlife scene? Then maybe try something outside your comfort zone. Go to a jazz performance, enjoy a play, eat somewhere you've never considered going, get a coffee at a place where the baristas do a helluva job... etc. You can find EXACTLY what you're looking for in St. Louis, trust me. It just takes some looking around!

There is a culture of having strong family ties here - get married in your 20s, have children, spend BBQ's with your family. If that's not your style, that's okay. Just keep in mind that it is, indeed, part of the culture here. 

You know what else is part of the culture here? Beer. Baseball. Cherokee Street. Brick buildings that inspire you. Grand Ave. The Delmar Loop. Parks that will blow your mind. Good food. Even better music. Outdoor festivals. Pubs. Industry. Jobs. Low cost of living. Art. Garage Sales. Antiquing. 

Just... just make life what you want it to be, people. It's really that simple.

Andy Fariss
Andy Fariss

Only got to visit St. Louis once and I loved it.

Jennifer Timpe
Jennifer Timpe

Judith, I moved many, many times as a kid. This area is PARTICULARLY hard to make friends in or 'fit in' as a newbie. I have discussed this issue with multiple other transplants who also moved a lot as children. The culture of being closed off to 'outsiders' here is very pervasive.

Rosemary Badame
Rosemary Badame

It's gotta be friendlier than in the 70s. I love that city.

Bradford T Duncan
Bradford T Duncan

I agree, I've driven a lot of other places and St Louis isn't that bad at all really.

Donna K Sanders
Donna K Sanders

As a Californian transplant, I find most of them true. However, there are many things "wrong" or negative about California as well. Nowhere is perfect. I much prefer the climate, land and culture of SoCal but I like the people here too much to want to go back.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Oh I am well aware that there are some 24hr places outside of Denny's and Steak n' Shake "in the city". But that's the problem. Not everyone lives in or even wants to live in the city. That's the problem. STL concentrates anything that might be cool into the city. For example there are no all ages rock clubs anywhere out in the burbs. And on top of that there is no underground circuit. Where I come from bands like The Smashing pumpkins played basement shows. Yes Basement shows! Ya know like house shows? I play music and know a ton of musicians out here and next to none of them have ever had the experience of playing a house show in Missouri which both boggles my mind and saddens me at the same time. I remember coming threw Missouri years ago hearing about places like "The Pitt" and "Sally T's" They were rural all ages rock clubs that apparently got shut down. Shame. And you still have not addressed the property tax on vehicles. I think Missouri is one of the few states that still does that. It's a real burden when you don't have money coming out of your ears to pay for the expense that come with owing a vehicle and then having to pay property taxes on top of it. And I mean come on! No strip clubs? Please someone explain that to me! Missouri could be generating a ton of tax revenue off of that as opposed to losing all to IL. Same goes for Medical Marijuana.

Susan Moroney-Peterson
Susan Moroney-Peterson

After reading the full NY Times article, I think RFT completely misrepresented what the author actually wrote. Overall, the author described St. Louis in a positive way, but I guess RFT's version does a better job at stirring the pot. That said, most of what the author wrote was accurate. And, the author and her husband weren't from "the coast" anyway.

Michael Dulick
Michael Dulick

Ah, yes, the Riverfront Times, parasite publishing.

Allison Benoit
Allison Benoit

I'm not sure what you consider not many, but in case you're interested here are a few great 24-hour places in the city: City Diner Courtesy Diner Uncle Bill's Pancake & Dinner (not really a diner but similar style menu)

Judith Murphy
Judith Murphy

I think the making friends for outsiders is probably hard but would probably be difficult in any new city where you knew no one. I love St Louis but it is a bit cliquish. The restaurant comment was weird, where were these people eating? St Louis and St Louis County have wonderful restaurants.

Allison Benoit
Allison Benoit

I will admit I'm not the best at making friends, but I think the key to making friends in this city is to get involved in an activity. You can meet some great people if you find something you love and find a group that loves it along with you. You're not going to make friends by going out to a restaurant/bar on a Wednesday after 8 p.m. I joined a chorus and they're not just friends, they're like extended family. Also in the core of the city, at least, not sure about the County, not a lot of people become friends with their neighbors unless you have the kid thing to bond over. I barely talk to my neighbors, and I'm fairly certain we have nothing in common. You're not going to get Pleasantville in this city. I don't get the high school question, but I grew up on the IL side, so it wasn't really a thing over there. The one and only time I've asked someone where he went to high school was because I thought I recognized him as a former classmate I hadn't seen in 15 years. For any reason other than that, I think it's a stupid question. I love provel, but I can understand why outsiders don't get it. I do hate St. Louis style pizza, though. Not because of provel but because of thin crust. It's like throwing pizza sauce and cheese on a cracker.

mark.early
mark.early

There have been and will continue to many basement shows that happen in St. Louis. You just have to get off your ass and look for them since most occur illegally. As far as strip clubs go... Haven't you ever heard of the East Side?

leesadiva1
leesadiva1

@Neil Aimaro I'm a local, and grew up going to tons of basement shows. Local bands like The Urge, Ultraman, and many, many more played plenty of basement shows. There used to be several all ages clubs here as well, and there are a few 18+ left. The local music scene here is vibrant and thriving. 

BillyGoatMusic
BillyGoatMusic

@Neil Aimaro your complaints are all over the board. Every major city has a similar situation with burbs having little to do and nightlife being concentrated to urban areas.  Then the no strip clubs one comes out of left field.  Then there's the medical marijuana one, but the truth is that this is not in any way unique to St. Louis.  Basically, you're upset because you want to have a night life but aren't willing live near it so that makes it too hard, cant see nekkid chicks in your area, have to pay taxes, and want to pay more taxes on your pot.  Jiminy christmas.  hard to please much?

leesadiva1
leesadiva1

@Susan Moroney-Peterson She described it in a positive way for people who have kids and don't like nightlife. Anyone else, she implied, would think it's rather boring here. 

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