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Moving to Kansas City, MO

So, you're thinking of moving to Kansas City, but you know nothing about the city except that it’s known for its barbeque and jazz music? Or maybe you didn't even know that?

No worries. Your friends at Bellhops are here to help (we're movers in Kansas City, FYI). We’ve done all the hard work of research for you. Here, we've got more than just a listicle for you.

We've done our homework, we've done the digging, and we've talked to Kansas City locals to bring you all the info you need on the economy, the people, jobs, the cost of living, and more. At the end, we've also provided several valuable resources to help you do your own research on relocating to KC.

As KC resident John Hardy told us on Quora, “Kansas City is just like Chicago, New York, and L.A., except without the [jerks].” (Except John used a different word that you can probably guess.)

The Kauffman Performing Arts Center. Photo by Rob DeGraff. Creative Commons License.

Kansas City Basic Info: History, The People, Jobs, and Cost of Living

  1. Kansas City is a Confusing City.

    Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri and the sixth largest city in the Midwest. The current population of Kansas City is around 481,420, which makes the city the 37th largest city by population in the United States.

    Some confusion surrounds the city’s beginnings though. First founded in the 1830s as a river port, 1850 saw the incorporation of Kansas. And a little later came the Kansas Territory. Out of confusion, it was assigned Kansas City to distinguish the two.

    Located on the border of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is spread over 15 counties in both states, with Kansas City, Missouri as the anchor city. There’s a lot more to this that we won’t get into here. But if you’d like to know more about the surrounding areas, read this.

  2. The People of Kansas City.

    Though predominantly white and African-American, Kansas City’s population boasts the second largest Sudanese population in the United States. Also, it’s home to a large Irish-American community, and home the famous Browne’s Irish Market.

    As Leslie Alexandria told us on Facebook, "I moved to Kansas City from metro Atlanta, where the traffic is atrocious, but I’ve never had to sit in that type of rush hour in Kansas City. Part of that is the population difference, but also because Kansas City’s infrastructure is a little better for traffic control. Kansas City is a location for a lot of refugee resettlement, which translates into some really awesome food. Notably, our two biggest refugee communities are the Congolese and Somali."

  3. The Job Market in KC.

    According to U.S. News & World Reports, the average salary in Kansas City’s is $47,640, which is lower than the national average. Also, unemployment is at 4.3%, which is also lower than the nationwide average.

    The top industries here are healthcare and social assistance; professional, scientific and technical services; finance; and insurance. Also, in 2015, CNN rated Kansas City No. 2 in its Top 10 Cities for Jobs list.

  4. The Cost of Living in KC.

    The low cost of living is one of the top reasons many people move to Kansas City. In fact, Kansas City prides itself on having one of the lowest costs of living in the country. There are tons of options for where to live and even different types of living spaces at various prices. However, they are all relatively cheap for being in such a vivacious city.

    Expatistan is a great tool for comparing the cost of living in Kansas City with wherever you currently live. Here you can find average housing costs, food costs, health clothing costs, and way more. According to Expatistan, the cost of living in Kansas City doesn’t look too bad at all.

    As our friend Leslie tells us, "The most notable thing about KC is it's relatively cheap cost of living—even downtown and midtown. I'm a graduate student, and I can still afford a one-bedroom apartment in midtown. And speaking of midtown, because Kansas City isn't too sprawling, I feel as though I'm five minutes from everything."

Kansas City Country Club Plaza. Photo by Brent Flanders. Creative Commons License.

Moving to Kansas City: Pros and Cons

  1. Con: You’re Going to Need a Car.

    Public transportation in Kansas City is only subpar. The bus system for downtown, which is part of the Kansas City Transportation Authority, or KCATA for short, is decent. However, it’s a different story everywhere else. Buses do not often service the larger areas of the city. If you're moving to Kansas City, then you are going to need a car.

  2. Pro: Traffic Is Not a Problem.

    One thing that is definitely a pro when it comes to living in Kansas City: you won’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic very often. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kansas City has some of the quickest commutes in the country when compared to the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. It averages out to about 22.9 minutes, which means Kansas City has the fifth shortest commute time in the US.

  3. Pro: There's a Good Property Tax Rate.

    If you’re thinking about moving to Kansas City, this might tip the scale. The state's average effective property tax rate is 0.99%, somewhat lower than the national average of 1.19%. Not many cities offer a lower property tax rate than their state.

    This tax rate calculator might come in handy to help you get an idea of how much this might save you.

  4. Con: A High Crime Rate.

    You need to know about the crime rate. Living in Kansas City, your chance of being a victim of a property crime is 1 in 22. These statistics mean that there is a higher crime rate in Kansas City than most U.S. cities. Do your research on the area you’re planning to move to and decide if it's safe for you and your family.

    According to the Kansas City Star, Kansas City’s crime rate in 2016 at 130 homicides was the highest it had been since 2008. And even though the rates are decreasing, they are doing so at a pace that’s slower than the rest of the country. Unfortunately, this makes Kansas City’s crime rate worse than Chicago’s.

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Where to Live in Kansas City? A Mini-Neighborhood Guide.

Kansas City offers a nice mixture of urban and suburban communities from which to choose. You can easily find an area of Kansas City that will make you feel like you belong immediately. A few of the more notable areas to think about living in if you’re moving to Kansas City are listed below.

  1. River Market.

    Located just south of the Missouri River, you'll find River Market, a riverfront neighborhood that was the first incorporated district in Kansas City. It has gone through several names over the years such as Westport Landing, the City Market, and River Quay. River Market is home to the Midwest’s largest Farmer’s Market and a neighborhood booming with young professionals who enjoy that everything is within walking distance. This neighborhood is mostly made up of couples in their late 20s and early 30s.

  2. Westside.

    Cottage Living magazine named Westside one of the country’s top 10 neighborhoods in 2008. Westside has become extremely multiracial and multicultural, resulting in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods with an age group of the late 20s and 30s.

  3. The Country Club Plaza.

    In the Country Club Plaza, the architecture is beautiful, comprised of Spanish influences, fountains, hand-painted mosaic tiles, and custom ironwork. You will find most homes located on the outskirts of the shopping areas. The home types vary between different kinds such as condominiums, apartments, and single-family homes. Some of these homes are refurbished and modern, while others have an almost antique vibe. The population here is mostly educated people in their 30s with a mixture of singles and couples without children.

  4. Westport.

    Westport lies north of The Country Club Plaza and is well-known for being one of Kansas City’s oldest entertainment and shopping districts. The history of Westport is interesting since it used to be an outpost along the historic Santa Fe Trail. In this residential area, you'll find both longtime residents and a younger crowd who prefers a quieter place to live. Westport residents range in age; the average is approximately 34, and a small are number are married with children.

  5. Brookside.

    Brookside is home to Kansas City’s first suburban shopping area, and it is home to approximately 110,00 residents. Brookside is home to mostly high school graduates, and three-quarters of adult residents have college degrees. The median household income around $100,000. The type of people who live here enjoy an older home with shopping within walking distance. Shopping includes a grocery store, markets, restaurants, cool shops, and coffeehouses. It even hosts the Brookside Art Fair, and an Annual St. Patrick's Day Warm-up Parade.

Library parking garage in downtown Kansas City. Photo by Jonathan Moreau. Creative Commons License.

More Resources on Moving to Kansas City.

For all the stuff we didn’t get to cover, like concert venues, shopping, theaters, museums, parks, and more, here's a list of helpful links:

  1. 6 Helpful Links

    • Visit KC: Kansas City’s official tourism website where you can find everything to do: festivals, museums, concerts, sporting events, and more.
    • Why Kansas City, Missouri Plans to Privatize Sidewalks: An interesting look at how the use of public and private space in cities (and this one in particular) is becoming blurred.
    • Kansas City Historical Society: A great place to learn about the city’s rich history, including it’s proud jazz tradition.
    • For Rent: A handy place to find an apartment in Kansas City.
    • Out to Eat: A local food blog about the best places to eat, recipes, culture and more.
    • Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque: We couldn’t write about Kansas City and not mention barbeque. This is the stuff of legends, or so we’ve been told.

Should You Move to Kansas City? To close, Here are Two Differing Opinions.

To conclude, we’ll leave you with two differing opinions about living in Kansas City to help you with your decision.

Adina Stoica lived in Kansas City for three years. She had this to say about her time there, "I didn't like it. Unless it's a first Friday, you won't find people on the street walking anywhere. Lots of barbeque and sports (baseball, football) if that's your scene. Me? I'd rather live in a 500 square foot apartment and be able to walk on the street and have something to do, without having to plan and drive and coordinate and park. Your mileage may vary. If you like suburbia, it might be your favorite place. There is absolutely nothing fast paced about Kansas City—not if you've ever lived in an actual city before..."

But Jason Wacknov on Facebook disagrees, noting all of the shopping there is to do there, "The fairly new Lenexa Market is a wonderful experience in local stores, produce, and restaurants. It’s worth a day just to wander, and you’ll fall in love with the charm. Furthest west is The Legends. Now Lenexa and the Legends kind of blend into each other, but the Legends is a GIGANTIC outdoor shopping experience surrounded by restaurants, Sporting Park where our MLS champion team Sporting KC plays, and beautiful homes."

If you decide to take the plunge and move to Kansas City, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Kansas City and we would love to help.

Header photo by Vincent Parsons. Creative Commons License.