The Higgins family at home in Ozark, Missouri.
Photo by Brandon AlmsPaul and Julie Higgins found their dream home in Ozark, Missouri. Purchase Photo

Nestled between Springfield and Branson, Ozark, Missouri has expanded notably over the years, especially with the addition of Finley Farms. The City of Ozark reports it has grown at a record pace of 119% in the last 10 years. According to the United States Census Bureau, about 22,512 people live in Ozark.

Paul and Julie Higgins have been married for 35 years and have lived in Ozark for 24 of those sweet years. They live about a mile from the Ozark Mill in a charming European-style cottage formerly owned by Johnny and Jeanie Morris, which they just finished renovating in December—they added a beautiful gathering room and a primary suite. Julie acted as the project’s general contractor and describes herself as a “decorating hacker,” though her professional role lies in organizational development and change management at Higgins Business Consulting.

Paul and Julie’s children—Graham, 30, and Grace, 27—both currently live in Washington, D.C., but grew up in the Ozark school district. Julie credits much of their success to the individual teacher investment from Ozark teachers. “I can’t think of a better school district to have had my kids raised in,” she says. “The leadership has been phenomenal.” Even now, years later, Graham and Grace keep in contact with some of their former teachers.

For 11 years, Julie was the CEO of I Pour Life—a nonprofit for at-risk and foster care youth—and she passed the torch in August 2021. During those years, she frequently traveled to Ethiopia, sometimes every other month. After 16-plus-hour travel days, Julie relished coming home to Ozark. “Coming back here, there’s something about feeling safe and secure and having the greatest neighbors and having so many outdoor refuges to go to to be rejuvenated,” she says.

To fully embrace Ozark’s outdoors, Julie embarked on a gardening journey last spring and witnessed its vibrant success. The staff at The Workshop at Finley Farms guided her in selecting the best seeds for her garden. Her gardening venture has led her to equate spring and summer with new growth. As that time of year rolls around, Julie loves going to the farmers markets at The Workshop and all the other events Ozark holds at the Finley River Park and on the square. “Ozark just has a beautiful way of bringing people together,” she says. “I live in the greatest place in all of America. It’s a dream town.”

Smallin Civil War Cave

Smallin Civil War Cave is steeped in history.

Purchase Photo
Finley Farms in Ozark, MO

Finley Farms has become a must-stop destination in Ozark.

Photo by Brandon Alms, courtesy Finley Farms

What Residents Love About Ozark, Missouri