If you imagine flat plains, dusty roads, and barren towns when you think of the Midwest, particularly Missouri, this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Located on the Missouri-Kansas border, Kansas City is built around limestone cliffs and ridges carved out by the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. The city encompasses sophisticated culture, diversity, a strong job market, and family-friendly living. Music, history, art, a long-standing culinary scene, and education are staples of KC – the largest city in Missouri and the most centrally located big city in the United States.
As the third-largest beef capital in the world, KC residents indeed love their meat. Kansas City’s nationally renowned strip steaks keep customers coming back for more. Neighborhoods are diverse, residents are friendly, and KC is a wonderful place to raise a family. While you can enjoy the multitude of activities in the city, it’s only a short, thirty-minute drive to experience KC’s amazing rural landscape of lakes and creeks. Kansas City offers one of the lowest costs of living in the US, making it an ideal destination to plant roots and build a future. Once you settle into your new home, get out and explore the surprises of your new hometown.
Living in Kansas City, MO: What to Know Before Moving to Kansas City
Kansas City offers a wonderful quality of life for its residents. With a population of approximately 491,918, not only is it a great place to raise a family, it has multiple characteristics that set it apart from other Midwestern towns. An ever-expanding arts and culinary scene, steady job market, and the constant celebration of history are just a few of the features that will make you fall in love with Kansas City.
Pros and Cons of Living in Kansas City, MO
Making a move is a decision that needs careful consideration. Comparing the benefits and downsides of a new city is the best way to make sure it’s the perfect fit for your needs.
- Steeped in history: The city offers a wide variety of historical exhibits and multiple museums, including The National WW1 Museum and Memorial, the only one of its kind in the United States.
- Surrounded by natural beauty: If you love the outdoors and water, you’ll appreciate the many lakes that surround the city. These include Longview Lake, Lake Jacomo, Table Rock Lake, and Smithville Lake.
- Very light traffic conditions: Other than a bit of congestion during rush hour, residents enjoy extremely light traffic conditions. For a metro area, Kansas City is nicely spread out, allowing for easy commutes.
- Growing job market: The city has a steadily growing job market with a wide variety of job opportunities. USnews.com reports the market is promising – a huge benefit for those looking to relocate.
- Low cost of living: Residents enjoy more of their income as their dollars go a bit further in Kansas City compared to other big cities. This lower cost of living is influenced greatly by the affordable housing prices.
- High crime rate: The crime rate in Kansas City is higher than most large cities in the United States. New residents should research safe neighborhoods.
- Lack of public transportation: The city does have a bus system, Amtrak, bike-sharing system, and streetcar, but the routes are limited and not easily accessible in some areas.
- Relative location: It’s just under a thousand miles to the nearest ocean and over eight hours to the next “big city.” Short day trips to these destinations aren’t possible.
- Severe weather threats: Included in Tornado Alley, on average, the area can experience up to 60 tornadoes annually. Other threats include flooding, snowstorms, and strong thunderstorms.
- Property Tax: The property tax rate in Jackson County is 1.387%, which is slightly higher than the Missouri state average property tax at 1.004%. It’s also higher than the national rate of 1.211%.
- Sales Tax: Kansas City has a combined sales tax rate of 8.6%. This rate is the sum of the state rate of 4.225%, the county rate of 1.25%, the city rate of 3.0%, and a special tax of 0.125%.
- State Income Tax: Missouri’s income tax rate is moderate, at 4.6%. Both its neighbors to the north and south experience higher rates. Iowa income tax is 8.53% while Arkansas’ is 6.90%.
The housing market in Kansas City is hot for sellers right now. As of September 2019, the median home price was an affordable $149,600, and the median rental price was $1,025. Most residents own their homes, and just 38.1% of the population are renters.
Some of the cheapest places to live in the city are Norble and Gregory Ridge, Cunningham Ridge, and West Blue Township. Keep in mind that several factors determine the overall cost of living in a particular neighborhood.
Cost of Living
Bestplaces.net offers a cost of living index that allows individuals to compare the costs of living in a particular city to a national average of 100. A rating lower than 100 means the expense is less than average, and a higher number means it is more expensive. Overall, Kansas City has a very affordable cost of living index of 91.9. Utilities, at 101.4 and health at 100.2, are a fraction higher than average. Grocery, at 92.9, is lower than average and housing is the most affordable index feature with a rating of 72.2.
The family budget calculator reports that a family of four needs $6,534 a month to live comfortably in KC. This monthly budget results in a necessary annual income of $78,407. A household may need two incomes to maintain financial stability.
Weather and Natural Disasters
As a KC resident, you’ll experience all the advantages of four distinct seasons. The summer consists of warm days and comfortable nights, while the winter is not bitterly cold. Spring and fall are mild and sometimes see unseasonable conditions that can vary quickly from icy winds to hot and humid days. The two warmest months are July and August, with high temperatures between 89-90 and lows between 70-72. The two coldest months are December and January, with high temps in the 40s and lows in the 20s.
The average annual rainfall is 39 inches, with rain falling mostly between May and June. Snowfall averages 15 inches a year, lower than the national average of 28 inches.
Kansas City sits within Tornado Alley, so natural disasters do threaten and affect this area; there have been 40 federal major disaster declarations since 1990. Threats include ice storms, tornadoes, flooding, and severe weather. Residents can visit the Office of Emergency Management to get up to date information on preparedness and weather alerts.
Economy and Job Market
Kansas City enjoys a steady job market; by the end of 2019, employers will add a projected 11,000 new jobs to the area. The unemployment rate is 3.6% compared to the average national rate of 3.9%, and the job market increased by 1.4% over the past year. Sectors that provide the best opportunities are production; transportation; utilities; health, education, and professional services; and government.
The city is home to major employers such as Garmin, Hallmark, Dairy Farmers of America, Bushnell Corporation, and Kansas City Life Insurance. If you are looking for employment, check out kcjobs.com, an online resource that aids employers as well as applicants in the Kansas City area. You can get a good idea of the jobs being offered by checking out linkedin.com, simplyhired.com, indeed.com, and many other online job boards.
Traffic and Transportation
You’ll be primarily car-dependent in Kansas City; however, there are a few public transportation options that offer assistance. Union Station, a historical monument, is a hub for Kansas City Streetcar, Amtrak, and The Metro bus system. Short trips around downtown can be completed using a bike-sharing system.
Thoroughfares include Route 9, a north-south highway that connects north Kansas City to downtown. Interstate 670 serves as a connector by way of west-east running I-70. When navigating, it’s helpful to know that in Missouri, odd-numbered highways run north-south, and even-numbered highways run east-west. Traffic conditions are light, and wallethub.com ranks KC traffic 50 out of 100 for big cities in the US.
The city doesn’t have many bike lanes and has a bike score of 32. As the 42nd most walkable large city, walkscore.com has rated Kansas City with a walk score of 34 and a low transit score of 29. These ratings confirm that you’ll be dependent on your vehicle to commute and run errands.
What To Do
There’s an abundance of amazing activities in Kansas City. Outdoor activities support family fun while cultural events take place year-round, including the KC Renaissance Fest and the American Royal Livestock, Horse Show, and Rodeo. A perfect blend of fun, entertainment, history, arts, and culture creates memorable, educational experiences for everyone.
Take in the natural beauty of the outdoors at one of the many parks located in the city. The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden is a gorgeous two-acre park filled with flowers, benches, and a flowing fountain. Loose Park offers 74 acres of relaxation; from the rose garden to the small lake, there are multiple areas to enjoy.
With so many activities, events, and venues to visit, residents are never without an opportunity to explore. The vast number of museums includes The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Nelson Atkins Museum. Worlds of Fun is a theme park covering over 230 acres with multiple rides and interactive experiences. Kansas City Zoo was opened in 1909 and continues to be one of the most popular attractions in the area. Other desirable destinations include The Sealife Aquarium and Lego Discovery Center, located in the Crowne Center downtown.
Sports lovers will find a team to support in the community. The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional football team while the Kansas City Royals are members of Major League Baseball. There are also several minor league teams. College basketball is also well represented by the Kansas Jayhawks.
Schools and Universities
The quality of education is an important aspect of a new community. Seventy-four school districts serve the greater Kansas City metro area. Some of the largest are Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, and Olathe Public School System. Many schools have received high rankings such as Nashua Elementary (10/10) and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy (9/10).
Several four-year universities or community and tech schools offer post-secondary education. There are 24 four-year colleges within 40 miles of Kansas City, and the University of Kansas is one of the best-known. There are also seven community colleges, including Johnson County Community and Metro Community College Penn Valley.
Kansas City has high crime rates, and the problem seems to exist throughout the city. However, remote areas downtown and areas north of the river seem to have slightly higher incidences of crime. The city has a property crime rate of 65.4 which is much higher than the US average of 35.4. The violent crime rate is also substantially higher at 70.8 compared to the national average of 22.7.
The following is a list of area utility providers and the links to help get your service started as soon as possible.
- Gas: Spire is a natural gas company serving more than 1.7 million customers in Alabama, Missouri, and Mississippi. Visit their page to begin service.
- Electric: Evergy creates sustainable energy while offering savings and solutions. You can start a new account with them by visiting their start service page.
- Water: The city provides water service. You can start or stop services at city hall or by visiting their website.
- Trash Pickup/Recycling: The city provides trash pick-up, recycling, and other waste services. For information and new accounts, click this link.
- Internet/Cable: There are several options for internet and cable services in Kansas City. Some of these include AT&T, CenturyLink, and Spectrum.
Best Neighborhoods in Kansas City, MO
Shoal Creek Valley
Located near the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Shoal Creek Valley is a small community surrounded by large agricultural areas. While it’s home to many families and young professionals, most residents are homeowners, while only 13% are renters.
Highly-rated public schools serve this community, and with Missouri Southern State University located here, Shoal Creek Valley has become a center for learning and health care. Several trucking industries have headquarters in Shoal Creek, as well as the bedding manufacturer, Leggett and Platt.
Residents can enjoy a day on Shoal Creek Golf Course, or a visit to Liberty Jail, a local historical site. If you enjoy wine tasting, grab a designated driver and visit Belvoir Winery, only five miles away.
- Population: 44,188
- Median Home Price: $236,458
- Median Rental Price: $612
- Schools: Served by several school districts, including North Kansas and Liberty. Highly ranked schools include Chapel Hill Elementary and Discovery Middle
Just south of the Missouri River, in west-central Kansas City, is the very small, yet lively neighborhood of River Market. This neighborhood is a friendly community that provides numerous activities – one of the true highlights is the farmers market, among the largest in the region. It houses 140 booths full of flowers, produce, baked goods, and other locally made artisanal items.
Most residents rent their homes, as the town consists of dozens of condos and loft apartments. Young professionals and those who love the urban feel are drawn to River Market, and it’s easy to walk to just about anywhere you want to go.
Attractions include the Arabia Steamboat Museum, which houses over 200 tons of recovered, sunken treasure. Foodies will love the unique dining experiences such as Pigwich, a favorite local sandwich shop and The Blue Line, a hockey-themed sports bar. River Market Antiques and Houndstooth are among the diverse shopping options located in the neighborhood.
- Population: 3,058
- Median Home Price: $228,900
- Median Rental Price: $899
- Schools: Kansas City Public School District and private schools serve this neighborhood. Local schools have high rankings and include Meservey Elementary
Overland Park is the second largest town in the Kansas City metro area. Located southwest of downtown, this area is not only a great place to live and work, but it’s among the best for play. The community offers many annual events, from kid’s performances to live music.
Overland Park is home to several national landmarks, including the Overland Theater and Blackfeather Farm. Several outdoor venues are perfect for relaxation, fun, and entertainment. The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place for a picnic or to take a long walk. The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is home to over 250 animals and birds that people of all ages can observe, interact with, and gain hands-on education.
- Population: 195,040
- Median Home Price: $319,500
- Median Rental Price: $1,650
- Schools: The schools that serve this neighborhood have above-average rankings and include Heartland Elementary, Harmony Middle, and Blue Valley North High. School districts include Olathe Public, Blue Valley, and Shawnee Mission
Right outside of the Kansas City metro area, to the southeast, is a town full of hospitality known as Independence. This community is made up of diverse neighborhoods with friendly residents of all ages. While Independence is a great location for Midwestern living, it’s also full of activities, events, and delicious dining.
The city boasts immaculate parks, a variety of retail shops, and even offers covered wagon rides through the Historic Square. Sports fans can catch events at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena and then grab a meal at any of the popular cafes, pubs, and restaurants. This neighborhood is a food lover’s dream with original locations such as Salvatores Italian and Fun House Pizza and Pub, along with fast food and other familiar choices.
- Population: 117,306
- Median Home Price: $122,000
- Median Rental Price: $962
- Schools: Four school districts serve this community, including Fort Osage, Raytown, Blue Springs, and Independence. High ranking schools in the area include Truman High and Van Horn High
Armour Hills is a charming town that got its name from its founders, the Armour family, who were part of Armour and Company. The city has a boundary of 65th Street to the north and Gregory Boulevard to the south. It sits between two busy business districts, which makes it an ideal location for job seekers.
A convenient place to live, everything in the community is either within walking distance or a very short drive. Residents enjoy the variety of amenities, which include home services, entertainment, auto services, shopping, and dining. Arbor Villa Park allows members of the neighborhood to play, relax, or swim in the pool during warm weather.
Houses in the area are fairly diverse – capturing the vision of Armour Hills’ original developers. The founder wanted each single-family home to be unique, no two just alike, so it wouldn’t feel like a cookie-cutter community. With 87% of residents being homeowners, the community boasts an eclectic, colorful atmosphere.
- Population: 2,422
- Median Home Price: $240,700
- Median Rental Price: $852
- Schools: Academie Lafayette School District serves the community and has high rankings including Academie Lafayette-Oak
Residents of Quality Hill enjoy beautiful views. The area is located on top of a 200-foot bluff, overlooking parts of the river and valley below. This historic community sits on the western edge of downtown Kansas City. The architecture of the neighborhood is beautiful and includes everything from historic mansions and vintage buildings to high rise apartments and newly constructed townhouses.
The city is home to the headquarters for KC Southern Industries as well as DST Systems. However, it’s not all work and no play. Quality Hill is just four blocks away from Kansas City’s renown party zone, KC Live!. This block is made up entirely of popular hot spots that create a buzzing nightlife scene. When you’re ready to romp outside, you and your dog will enjoy the 1.5-acre, fenced-in dog park that allows canine companions to run off-leash.
- Population: 1,303
- Median Home Price: $189,900
- Median Rental Price: $1,003
- Schools: Quality Hill Academy is a public charter school which falls under the Crossroads Academy of Kansas City School District
What once began as a simple farm in 1841 has grown into the beautiful family-oriented neighborhood of Waldo. Located nine miles from downtown, on the southern edge of Brookside, the residential streets are more commonly lined with trees than sidewalks. You’ll commonly see locals out biking and walking in the community.
If you’ll be looking for a smaller or starter home in a thriving community, Waldo is a great area to check out. The quaint town offers residents an array of grocery stores, restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops. Of the over 600 businesses in the town, over 50% are locally owned.
- Population: 13,000
- Median Home Price: $180,200
- Median Rental Price: $1,003
- Schools: Served by the Kansas City School District including Academie Lafayette-Oak and Lincoln College Prep Academy
The extremely diverse historic community of Volker is just a few minutes’ drive from downtown and is within two miles of the Country Club Plaza, which offers exquisite shopping and dining choices. It also includes the Old Westport historic district with its eclectic nightlife that attracts the younger, partying crowd.
Volker is a walkable neighborhood that encompasses large homes, smaller bungalows, and various apartment complexes. Locals favor the Stock Hill and Pierpont’s at Union Station steak houses. The City Market is a popular weekend spot for residents who are looking for fresh produce and flowers. This lively community is probably not the ideal choice for retirees or those looking for a calm, quiet life.
- Population: 4,577
- Median Home Price: $217,000
- Median Rental Price: $1,060
- Schools: Kansas City Public School District serves Volker and includes Swinney/Volker Elementary and Global Montessori
* * *
Great Guys Moving provide you with the best, vetted, licensed, and insured moving companies to help with your Kansas City relocation. Get your free quotes today!