There was a specific type of neighborhood I always envisioned my kids growing up in. There would be tree-lined streets. I would walk or ride my bike to stores and restaurants. My children would be part of a mob of kids wandering through the neighborhood. I would know those kids too, and they would think of our home as their home — and though I would complain about it, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Almost five years ago my family and I moved to St. Charles, Missouri, which is part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. In Phoenix, where we moved from, buying a home in a tree-lined neighborhood would have set us back at least $500,000 — and it isn’t like Phoenix is known for a high cost of living. I just looked on Zillow, and in San Jose $200,000 might get you a mobile home. In San Francisco, as of this writing, there is a single 1400 square foot lot available for that price.

In St. Charles, less than $200,000 got me 3500 square feet, in the community-oriented neighborhood I always envisioned.

In Omaha, even in a recovered real estate market, less than $200,000 can still get you a three-bedroom home. That’s also true in Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, and several other cities with thriving startup scenes.

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This low cost of living in cities across the middle of America plays an important role in creating entrepreneurs — and more importantly, entrepreneurs who don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical young, male tech founder.

I know from personal experience.

About a year after I moved to Missouri, I started writing blog posts on LinkedIn, primarily for fun — which is, I acknowledge, a strange statement. Shortly after I started writing, companies began to contact me about working as a content consultant. After talking with my wife, we decided to take a chance, and I started my own public relations and marketing strategy company.

When I made that decision, I took an immediate and substantial pay cut. I could never have done that and still paid the bills if we lived in Phoenix. If we lived in San Francisco or San Jose, we couldn’t have taken a pay cut either, because to begin with, we would have been living in a literal shoebox and testing the theory of whether a diet that consists solely of Top Ramen and bananas stunts a child’s growth.

(It probably does.)

The low cost of living here in the heartland affords entrepreneurs the chance to take a risk. While the stereotype of the entrepreneur is a college student living with 17 other college students, the reality is much different. According to research conducted by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, the average age of the founder of a startup with $1 million or more in revenue is 39.

The average 39-year-old has responsibilities that still need to be met, even if they decide to become an entrepreneur. Meeting those responsibilities is a lot more feasible when you’re paying a mortgage somewhere that has a reasonable cost of living. I know for cities and communities, affordability and cost of living aren’t the sexiest selling points, but they are an important part of creating a community where entrepreneurship thrives.

A low cost of living made my entrepreneurial dreams possible.

And judging by the growth of startups across the heartland, a low cost of living is making entrepreneurship possible for a lot of other founders, too.

Dustin McKissen is the CEO of McKissen + Company, a marketing and management consultancy located in St. Charles, Missouri.