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.)
Want to learn more about where people are moving to, and why? Check out our 2022 report on the state of moving.
Whether it's a long-distance move or just across town, we have teams of local professional movers ready to help. We can walk through your move options online or over the phone, with transaprent, easy-to-understand pricing.
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Kansas City's Roots
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.
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."
The Job Market
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.
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."
Needless to say, Kansas City is a unique place to live with lots to offer families and young people alike. So, what are the schools like? Let’s talk about this.
Kansas City has 181 public schools, and Kansas City Public Schools alone consists of 35 schools and 14,113 total students. The math proficiency in the city is 36% (Missouri’s state average is 42%), and the reading proficiency is 41% (again lower than the state average of 49%).
Now, you might be curious about the high-school graduation rate. Spoiler alert: it’s 74.9%. That is below the state’s graduation rate of 89.6%.
However, you can rest assured that while Kansas City comes in lower in some categories, there are still many good schools you can send your kids to when the new school year comes around. The suburbs, in particular, are a wonderful choice that comes with great ratings for classes, clubs, and activities overall.
Take a look at some of the best public schools in Kansas City below:
Here are some of the highest-rated private schools in Kansas City:
If you move to the suburbs, you’ll find that the schools there fit the bill as some of the best in the city. Why? As with most students, there’s a smaller student-to-teacher ratio, helping students thrive. In addition, suburban schools tend to be rated the best when it comes to education, safety, and the works.
If you’re looking for the best schools in Kansas City, here are the suburbs to look at:
These are a few of the best school districts in Kansas City:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What you (probably) won't love about Kansas City:
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.
KC has a high crime rate.Kansas City has a higher crime rate 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.
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.
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