Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Living Outside City Limits
Leaving City Limit sign

Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Living Outside City Limits

So, apparently I don’t actually live in Springfield. Despite our mailing address including Springfield and part of our backyard likely falling under the city’s jurisdiction, technically, we just live in Greene County, Missouri. This is something we only confirmed yesterday — although I had my suspicions before that.

When we first came to tour this house, we were surprised to see a “Leaving City Limits” sign just before our street. You’d think this would be pretty clear but, when we asked the realtor, they said that it was in city limits after all — so we operated under that assumption. Alas, more recent developments would insist that, no, we’re not really in Springfield.

This begs the question: what does living (just) outside of city limits really mean? Well, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Impacts of Living Outside City Limits

Voting

The way we finally determined that we truly were outside of the city is when we went to vote yesterday. While Springfield itself had two ballot measures to vote on in addition to the school board election, our ballot only had the school board nominees. Luckily, I found this out before heading to our polling place so I didn’t look like a confused moron while there. Sidenote: this polling place had coffee, donuts, and cookies available — so I’m digging it so far.

To be honest, I’m disappointed that I won’t have a say in future city issues or electing the City Council. Nevertheless, there will of course still be county, state, and national issues that we’ll be able to vote on.

Taxes

On the upside, since we have no representation on the City Council, that means we have no taxation from the city! Well, sorta. Obviously, there are still plenty of taxes to be paid in general, but I’m just now noticing some areas where we’re saving by being outside of the city.

When I came across a Reddit thread on living outside of Springfield limits, someone mentioned this being an advantage when buying a car since the sales tax is based on your home address. Sure enough, entering dummy numbers into a Missouri tax calculator showed a $600+ difference in taxes due on a $30,000 vehicle.

After learning this, I then headed to Amazon. Once again, while I hadn’t noticed, we’ve been paying less in sales tax when shipping to this address than we were previously when we lived in the city. Granted, these smaller purchases also mean smaller sums of savings (which would be why I didn’t even notice for four months), but they are savings nonetheless.

One thing I’m not yet clear on is if our property taxes are also lower. Being new to the whole real estate thing in general and having all of that handled via an escrow account on our mortgage, I honestly have no idea how our taxes compare to a similar property on the other side of this seemingly random city limits line. I’m guessing that we probably are saving, but I’ll need to do more research to know for sure.

Laws (?)

Finally, in the same subreddit where the car-buying tax savings were highlighted for me, there was mention of how people like us might be immune from certain city statutes as well. The example they gave was that, in the city of Springfield, you can’t own chinchillas. Does that mean I can own chinchillas over here, though? Um — I guess we’ll never know.

In reality, I can’t think of anything that might be illegal specifically in Springfield but not in the county, state, or country that I’d want to do. Furthermore, I’m not a lawyer and can’t speak to any possible legal loopholes. But, I am a writer who wants to have at least three points in each of my article sections and so I’m going to include this potential “benefit” anyway 😉

What’s Not Affected

Utilities

One of the reasons I didn’t think much about possibly being outside of city limits was because our house is still serviced by the aptly named City Utilities. This includes our electricity, water, sewer, and gas. I’m also thinking that the fact that City Utilities handles these things for us is why the realtor might have assumed it was in city limits to begin with.

Meanwhile, we also haven’t had issues with other service providers either. For example, we were able to set up fiber Internet with no issues and have blazing-fast connections. I’ll also get to another service provider in a moment but first —

Mail

I realize that USPS delivers pretty much everywhere, so the fact that we don’t live in city limits is moot. But, if you were going to write me a letter, you’d still address it to Springfield because our zip code is a Springfield zip code. Again, this is another reason why I didn’t think much of the distinction until now.

Trash collection

Lastly, one service that I could see being affected by living outside of city limits in other towns is trash collection. However, in Springfield, there is no city-run trash service. Instead, there are a variety of privately owned businesses to choose from. Heck, in our small neighborhood alone I’ve seen at least four different can types.

Say what you will about that system overall — but at least it means that we aren’t left out as citizens of not-Springfield.


Even though I still think it’s odd that we weren’t properly informed that our home was outside of city limits before we bought it, so far, it seems there are more advantages to this than drawbacks. Although being excluded from city elections is a bummer, the potential tax savings are, of course, a win. And, since we can get all of the utilities and services we need anyway, it really doesn’t seem to be making a big difference. So, while I’d advise potential homebuyers to maybe do a bit more research into the matter than we did, I think things will turn out just fine for us here in Springfield Greene County.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Head Writer ~ Fioney
Kyle is the head writer for Fioney. He is a personal finance nerd, constantly looking for new apps and services to test and incorporate into his own financial game plan. In addition to his role at Fioney, he's written for other publications including Born2Invest, Lifehack, and Laughing Place, as well as his own site Money@30. He also creates personal finance and travel-related videos for Fioney's YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 2 million views. Currently, Kyle resides in Springfield, Missouri with his wife of 10 years. Together, they enjoy traveling (including visiting Disney Parks around the world), dining, and playing with their dog Rigby.

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