MJ Gutierrez

Affordable, safe and peaceful – a home her family loves in Missouri

The U.S. is a large and diverse country. Having a clear idea of your priorities for the type of community where you’d like to live and partnering with an agency that will help you land the right job in the right spot, is a critical decision.

Two years after she made the move to the U.S. from the Philippines with her family, MJ Gutierrez says she’s certain that working with the LifePath Health Careers team and its president, Buddy Goldammer, was the best decision she could make.

“What I like about LifePath is they ask you, ‘what are your priorities?’ and they’re going to put you somewhere they think you’ll fit,” MJ says. “For me, my priority is my kids’ safety and schooling. So, they placed me in Forsyth, Missouri, near Branson. We’re so happy where we are right now.”

A dollar earned can go a long way in Missouri. It has among the lowest costs of living in the U.S. For instance, MJ pays $625 per month in rent for her family of four. That’s less than 25-percent of what a single Filipino nurse would pay for monthly rent in New York City or another major U.S. city.

MJ Gutierrez with her husband, Ace and children, Sophia and Cassie, in Forsyth, Missouri.

“We like it here, not just because we are able to save money each month with the cost of living, but it’s safe, peaceful and quiet here,” MJ says. “The apartment LifePath got for us is a five-minute walk to where I work. It’s near my daughter’s school and the grocery is very near. Everything we need is very close.”

Low rent means more dollars for groceries and other expenses. MJ says her family budgets between $600 – $1,000 for groceries and eating out. The dollars she and her husband (a Certified Nursing Assistant who is preparing to take the NCLEX exam) earn stretches much further than that of her friends in larger urban areas who may make a few more dollars per hour. Plus, MJ says the people seem friendlier.

“Everyone says ‘How are you?’ Whenever you go to the grocery store, it’s just normal to see smiles and talk about your day,” MJ says. “I learned from some of my friends that are in other states you can’t look at other people because they might get mad or think it’s rude. But here, everyone is saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’”

MJ’s daughter, Cassie, is in the gifted and talented program in her grade school. She seems to have made the adjustment well and is thriving, which comes as a great relief to MJ.

“When we came here, I was so scared that there would be bullies at school, but there’s none,” MJ says. “Everyone is so good. They are so kind here. The teachers are so good.”

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