Navigation Jump Links
- Kansas City at-a-glance
- What it’s like to live in Kansas City
- Economy and job outlook in Kansas City
- Real estate, cost of living in Kansas City
- The top neighborhoods in Kansas City
- How to get around in Kansas City
- School and education snapshot
- Weather and climate in Kansas City
- 10 can’t-miss things to do in Kansas City
Kansas City At-A-Glance
If you’re moving to Kansas City, you should know that it’s not in Kansas, it’s in Missouri. Of course, it’s right on the state border, and the Kansas City metropolitan area is made up of 14 counties from both sides of the line. How’s that for confusing?
Kansas City, home to more than half a million people, is nestled in the center of the U.S., giving it its charming nickname, “the Heart of America.” This Midwestern gem brings charm and barbecue together with urban sophistication and industry. You’ll find one of the best job markets in the country here and a relatively low cost of living. On top of all that, residents are known to be friendly, forming strong communities across the city’s diverse neighborhoods.
Read on for more things to know before moving to Kansas City.
A City Known for its Jazz (and its Sports)
Kansas City may not have birthed jazz, but it certainly helped raise it through big names like Count Basie and Charlie Parker. If you enjoy “America’s music,” you’ll want to stop by the American Jazz Museum or check out a live show at next-door Blue Room Jazz Club.
In addition to its musical roots, the city is filled with art centers, museums and public sculptures to enjoy. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts brings plenty of live performance art, from ballet to opera.
There are also many great outdoor spaces to enjoy, including parks, outdoor sculptures and of course the city’s numerous public fountains. As you get to know your new city, you may even recognize the Kansas City Library’s parking garage; designed and painted to look like a giant bookshelf, it’s famous among book lovers.
Of course, if you’re moving to Kansas City you need to know about the sports. Sadly, while Kansas City is another place that lost its NBA team to relocation, football fans are in luck. The Kansas City NFL team (Chiefs) has been on fire in recent years, and tailgating before a game is a local rite of passage. If you prefer baseball, you’ll be able to cheer on the Royals (MLB) or the Monarchs (AAPB).
Kansas City’s Job Growth is at a High
Good news if you’re moving to Kansas City in search of job opportunities: the city’s job growth has been coming in hot following on the heels of the pandemic, with the labor market recently reaching an all-time high. In fact, last year the Wall Street Journal included Kansas City in its list of 10 Hottest U.S. Job Markets. Accordingly, the unemployment rate has remained below the long-term average at 3.2 percent.
There are plenty of big-name companies headquartered in the Heart of America, including Hallmark Cards, Garmin International, H&R Block and AMC. Other major employers include FedEx, Honeywell and Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Twenty percent of Missouri’s state employment comes from Kansas City. You’ll also find healthcare, manufacturing, retail, finance and tech to be among its top industries.
Kansas City Isn’t as Expensive as Other Big Cities
While you’ll have a lower cost of living here than some other major metropolitans like Chicago—and definitely lower than New York or Boston—the median household income is slightly below national numbers at $60,042. Thankfully, Kansas Citians save on food, healthcare and transportation when compared to the rest of Missouri and the country.
Where you won’t save is on utilities and housing. Although median home sale prices had been on a downward trajectory at the start of 2023, they picked back up slightly with the median sale price of $270,000 in July. While homes are staying on the market a little longer than they were in recent years, you’ll still need to move quickly and be willing to offer above asking if you find your dream home.
Rather give renting a try? The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,029, with a two-bedroom costing not much more at $1,197. Rent growth has been ahead of the rest of the state by about 1 percent, reflecting more demand for living in Kansas City.
Neighborhoods Built on a Strong Sense of Community
Kansas City neighborhoods are full of charm and history. With over 240 official neighborhoods, you’ll find some areas that are better suited to those who love the urban flow and nightlife, and others full of neighborhood events that are perfect for suburban-seeking families. Check out these highly recommended neighborhoods for those moving to Kansas City:
This affordable, close-knit community is near the center of the city and features a mix of residential and commercial areas. It’s considered great for families, with plenty of neighborhood-wide events to enjoy.
Career-minded folks or those who enjoy a busy city lifestyle will want to check out River Market. Housing is pricier, but it pays off with great job opportunities, beautiful views and plenty of things to do.
This eclectic neighborhood is home to a diverse, young population. You’ll have access to some of the hottest nightlife in Kansas City, including hip bars and restaurants. With Country Club Plaza nearby, there are also plenty of shopping options.
Nature lovers and families will enjoy this suburban neighborhood. With Waldo nearby, you won’t have far to find good shopping and dining—or you could stick around for fun neighborhood events like the Ice Cream Social.
If you enjoy trying different cuisines, Brookside’s diverse restaurant options are sure to satisfy. The neighborhood also boasts a charming array of fairs and parades perfect for the whole family.
Other neighborhoods to include in your Kansas City home search:
- Crossroads Art District
- West Bottoms
- Crown Center
- Downtown Kansas City
- Manheim Park
Kansas City Comes with a New Public Rideshare Service
As far as traffic goes, Kansas City ranks somewhere in the middle of U.S. cities. Commuters spend about 84 hours in rush hour each year, with most places being within reach in 40 minutes or less. That’s a fraction of the time commuters deal with in other large metros such as New York, Boston and Chicago.
Buses, a shared bike system and the free streetcar service are all operated by RideKC. While the streetcar is your best way to get around downtown, dozens of bus routes extend into the Kansas City metro area.
New in 2023 is the city’s on-demand rideshare service, IRIS—that’s right, get out of the way Uber and Lyft! IRIS is intended to fill in gaps commuters face with the bus and other services, giving residents and visitors a more cost-effective way to control their commute over using private rideshares.
Education Opportunities in Kansas City
Moving to Kansas City with your family? If you haven’t already picked out a place to live, check out neighborhoods served by Rising Hill Elementary, Park Hill High School or Bell Prairie Elementary School—these institutions have the best test score rankings among the city’s 185 public schools. If you would prefer to provide the little ones with a private education, you’ll have over 70 to choose from.
There are several colleges and universities to check out as well, including Rockhurst University, Kansas City Art Institute and University of Missouri, Kansas City. Of course, if you want to take a drive across the state line, University of Kansas is just 40 minutes away.
Kansas City Weather Can Be Unpredictable
While some folks will tell you that the weather gets “crazy” living in Kansas City, it’s just unpredictable due to the city being in the center of the country. Many locals will tell you that the weather is rarely as bad as you hear on weather reports.
That said, if you’ve never lived in an area prone to tornadoes, you should familiarize yourself with safety measures in the event of a warning. Kansas City is in the epicenter of the country’s infamous Tornado Alley—they experience enough of these twisty storms that they once had a professional basketball team called the Tornadoes.
All that aside, this is your typical four-season city with hot, humid summers, and winters that are cold and snowy. (If you don’t love that white stuff, don’t worry—KC sees an average of 14 inches each winter, less than the U.S. average.)
You can expect the hottest month to be July with average highs of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. January brings the lowest lows, sometimes dipping down to 20 degrees.
10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Kansas City
Kansas City is known for a lot of great things, including barbecue, jazz and fountains. You’ll also find trendy bars and nightlife alongside more family-friendly hot spots. Here’s a list of 10 must-dos in the City of Fountains:
- Get a stunning selfie with the Fountain at Mill Creek Park, the most well-known of the city’s 49 publicly operating fountains.
- Chow down on some Kansas City barbecue at one of the city’s more than 100 barbecue restaurants.
- Visit Union Station Kansas City, where you can experience traveling national exhibits, the interactive Science City, a planetarium and the Extreme Screen.
- Tailgate before kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City NFL team.
- Get local produce and goods or grab a bite to eat at the iconic City Market (aka River Market).
- Learn about Kansas City jazz at the American Jazz Museum.
- Gain a greater understanding of Black American history at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
- Catch a Kansas City Royals ballgame at Kauffman Stadium, one of the oldest parks in Major League Baseball.
- Step out of the city life to explore Ernie Miller Nature Center, full of diverse habitats and wildlife.
- Find eclectic shops and eats over on West 39th Street.