I re-located to West Plains several years ago with my family and grand kids. My wife and I had researched and visited many places across the states before the move, and accidentally came across West Plains. We have been here for 5 years and we have never lived in a place where we felt so at home.
West plains is typical small town. There are things about it which are frustrating. The growth has been controlled by a couple of families which owned a large portion of the properties in the area, However, their grip has loosened, and the town is set to grow in a big way. We have recently seen A Coltons restaurant, a Walgreens Drug store, and a new strip mall completed. Rumor has it that Home Depot is not far off.
The local economy is somewhat depressed. Good paying jobs are hard to find, but they are here. This is a good area to be in if telecommuting is an option (you will have to get onee of the new cellular phones with internet modem capability since there is little high speed internet infrastructure in place outside the city limits). The cost of living is pretty low here, but just like most other places, it is going up because of fuel costs, etc. Land prices are very reasonable, and there are spectacular views to be found just outside of town!
I have had 3 grand children attending the local schools and not only I but They have nothing but good to say about the schools! They are Anxious to return to school by the time summer vacation is over! The Howell Valley School has a (free) Summer School program which takes the children to places all over southern Missouri for educational, but mostly FUN experiences. I wanted to go too!! The interesting thing about the schools here is that the cost per child is less, but the Quality of education is better than the national average!
The area around here is Beautiful! Rolling hills of pasture and hardwood forests. There are beautiful clear, clean rivers to fish and float,and BIG warm lakes to fish and swim in in the summer. The Missouri State Conservation Depertment is very active and does a great job maintaining the many conservation areas, as well as publicising a free magazine to all state residences which ask for a subscription. I recommend checking out their web site www.missouriconservation.org
Night life is a bit lacking here, but it makes going to Springfield (the next larger town in the region) an event. Also, St. Louis and Memphis Tenn. are close enough to get to for flying out of, or making a fun weekend out of a visit (Beal Street in Memphis!!).
Finally, the people in West plains are Very friendly and genuinely concerned. This is especially the case if one is a church going person. This is the Bible belt! We have made closer friends here and in a shorter amount of time, than any other place we have lived. People wave (and not a singel finger salute) as you drive past. It is not unusual to be on first name basis after a very short period of time, with the person at the hardware and grocery store!
I have taken a job out of state, and am required to move. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I love West Plains! If you are looking for a place to enjoy Good Country Livin' and a secure place to raise the young-uns, than you will love it too!