Located right in the center of the US, you’ll know Kansas as the ‘Wheat State’ or ‘The Sunflower State’. The state’s western two-thirds area lies on the great central plain of the country with a flat surface. It won’t come to you as a surprise that many people call it ‘flatter than a pancake’ because of its unusually flat and undulating surface towards the west. But you’re sure to greet several hills and forests if you move towards the eastern side of Kansas.
But let’s face it: simply the natural beauty can’t be enough to determine if Kansas is the state for you. So read our guide on moving to Kansas so that you can form a well-rounded opinion. Let’s get started!
What Should I Know Before Moving To Kansas?
The states of Nebraska and Missouri border Kansas towards the north and east whereas Oklahoma and Colorado border it towards the south and west respectively. With an area of 82,278 sq. mi., Kansas is the 15th largest state in the US and is also among the most populous (2,940,865 residents in 2020). You’ll get to greet several rivers in the state namely the Arkansas River that flows in the western and southern parts of the state and several other rivers like the Saline, Solomon, Spring, etc.
Kansas does have a reputation for being ‘boring’, but that may be quite subjective. While it’s indeed a bit quieter than the more happening states like New York or California, places like Kansas City have vibrant nightlife and festivals very often.
Even if the only reason you’re considering moving to Kansas is the food, we wouldn’t be surprised. The BBQ scene in Kansas is nothing short of legendary and if you’re in Lenexa, you could witness barbecue aficionados compete in The Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle!
Kansas may be called a ‘pancake’, but it’s not completely flat. That’s why you can also get to explore some elevated places like Smoky and Flint Hills. If you’re a nature lover and want to explore the flora and fauna of the state, you’ll be amazed by the state’s rare flora and fauna.
Crime Rate In Kansas
Just knowing about the beauty is not going to help you decide whether it’s a good place to settle in. You also have to think about your safety and for that, it’s good to know about the state’s crime rates.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be too worried about your safety in the state as there has been a decrease in violent crimes from 10% in the past years to just 3% in 2021 according to SafeWise. According to the study conducted by NeighborhoodScout, the crime rate for violent crimes in Kansas is 4.11 per 1,000 residents (lower compared to the national median of 4 per 1,000 residents). That means your chances of being a victim of violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and assault) is 1 in 243 people.
When it comes to property crimes (burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft), the crime rate in Kansas is 23.14 per 1,000 residents as per NeighborhoodScout. This is a bit higher than the national average of 21 per 1,000. Your chances of being a victim of property crime in Kansas are 1 in 43 people.
Overall, we can say that Kansas is a relatively safe state to live in. If safety is your number one priority, you can consider moving to cities like Valley Center, Gardner, Lansing, Mission Hills, etc.
Kansas has a humid, continental, and subtropical climate, so you’ll experience a different climate in different parts of the state. If you go towards the northeastern part of the state, you’ll get to experience a humid continental climate where summers are humid and winters are cold. Towards the west, the state has a semi-arid steppe climate where you’ll get to experience extremely hot summers and cool winters. The southeastern part of the state, especially in the city of Wichita, has a humid subtropical climate. There you’ll experience humid summers while winters tend to be mildly cold.
In summers, the temperature rises to almost 107°F to 114°F during the day and drops down to around 80°F, especially in the northeastern part of the state. During winters, the state experiences snowfall ranging from 130mm in the south and around 890mm towards the northwest.
Because of the state’s location and climatic boundary, Kansas is vulnerable to several intrusions. The state experiences thunderstorms and is located right in the Tornado Alley. So twisters are something Kansans have to put up with. Summers can be extremely hot especially in the western part of the state. You’ll also have to put up with the severe weather especially during the spring season and sometimes even early summers.
Is It Expensive To Live In Kansas?
This is something you need to think about before you decide to move to a new place. You have to carefully examine different aspects of the state like its housing expenses, healthcare facilities, utility expenses, etc. Let’s take a look at how expensive it is to live in Kansas.
Cost Of Living In Kansas
One thing you’ll notice when you’re in Kansas is that it’s very affordable. In fact, Kansas is among 15 states in the US that have the lowest cost of living. Even in Lawrence, which is the most expensive metro area in Kansas, the cost of living is lower than the national average.
Let’s talk about taxes in the Sunflower State: Kansas has a state income tax depending on your income and the rates are 3.10%, 5.25%, and 5.70%. The sales tax can range in the state averages at 6.5% but can vary depending on where you live.
When it comes to food, the expenses aren’t all that significant. An individual would spend about $3,136 and a family of four would spend $9,058 per year, according to 24/7 Wall St. To put it into perspective, the US average is $3,240 and $9,354 respectively.
Your health is the topmost priority and definitely cannot be ignored. Kansas is admittedly not the best-known state when it comes to healthcare. If you are a single person residing in the state, your health care costs would be around $4,536 per year which is more than the national average of $4,266 per year. And a family of four people would have an annual healthcare expenditure of $13,739, which is more than the national average of $12,950 per year.
Buying A House
You may wonder why we said Kansas is affordable. It’s because the primary expense you’ll incur is for housing, and this is where Kansas shines. The median home value in Kansas is $173,352, which is quite lower than the US average of $281,370.
An added bonus is that Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, is offering $15,000 to those moving to the city! But if you’re more into a countryside lifestyle, you can get free plots of land in the towns of Lincoln and Mankato if you agree to build a house on them.
Renting A House
Kansas is known to be a bit more landlord-friendly. The average median house rent in Kansas is around $831 per month which is less than the US national average of $1,023 per month as per the analysis of 24/7 Wall St. If you’re a single person looking for a one-bedroom house in the state, then your rent would be around $650 per month. But if you are a family of four or five and want to live in a five-bedroom house, your monthly rent would cost you about $1,174.
Apart from taxes and your housing expenses, you will also need to take care of other essential utilities. You’ll be spending about $422 on utilities a month when in Kansas.
Transportation costs also affect your overall cost of living to a great extent. If you need to drive to work everyday, then a gallon of gas will cost you around $2. So your overall expenses for gas alone will be around $76 per month in Kansas.
Kansas Economy And Employment Opportunities
When you think of Kansas, perhaps miles upon miles of farmland is what comes to your mind. You’re not wrong per se, as 90% of the state’s land is indeed engaged in agriculture with major outputs like wheat, soybeans, cotton, corn, salt, and cattle. But that’s not all this state is about.
Along with agriculture, aerospace is another major contributor to the overall economy of Kansas, primarily located in Wichita and Kansas City. Some of the major players of this industry here are Spirit AeroSystems, Spirit Corp, Cessna Aircraft Co., and Kansas State University.
Apart from that, the state boasts of military bases, namely Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, and McConnell Air Force Base. The state is also known to be one of the leading producers of wind energy as well as natural gas production.
Kansas has a promising economy and the low unemployment rate of 3.5% (compared to 6.1% of the US overall) makes it a nice place to move to. To add to that, the average yearly income of $31,814 is only marginally lower than the US average of $34,103. But if you factor in the low cost of living in the Sunflower State, it means more money in your pocket!
When it comes to jobs, translators, personal care assistants, meeting planners, and logistics coordinators would be in luck as these are some of the high-demand jobs in Kansas. The highest-paying jobs are for anesthesiologists ($276,800 per year), dentists ($184,070 per year), aerospace engineers ($106,300 per year), according to Zippia.
If education is the reason you’re moving to Kansas, you’re in luck. The quality of education in Kansas is quite good, with US News & World Report ranking the state 23 out of 50. Kansas has 300 school districts spread throughout the state. Each community operates several vocational and technical schools. The state is also home to six public universities namely Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, and Emporia State University.
The two prominent universities in the state are the University of Kansas which is in Lawrence and Wichita State University in Wichita. For those interested in going to law schools, the University of Kansas and Washburn University can be your best options in the state. Apart from these, there are several public and private medical and liberal arts colleges located in the state.
For those with young kids, consider moving to De Soto, Maize, or Goddard as these cities have some of the best school districts in the state.
Getting Around Kansas
A big chunk of Kansas is sleepy towns and rural areas, and with a lot of distance to cover between places, you’ll need your own vehicle if you’re moving to Kansas. Nevertheless, the state does have some public transportation options, managed by the Kansas State Department of Transportation, which we’ll get to below:
Buses: The average cost of a bus ticket for the top routes in Kansas is around $130. If you’re looking for the cheapest ticket, you will have to pay around $19 whereas the most expensive bus ticket will cost you as much as $253. You can choose from five bus companies that can take you to and from Kansas.
The Jefferson Lines will connect you to 3 cities within the state and from 144 locations from outside the state. There’s also the Tornado Bus which will connect you to Kansas from 14 locations outside the state but doesn’t offer any services within the state. You can also travel by Greyhound to Kansas from around 10 locations outside the state. Apart from these buses, you can also choose to travel by Amtrak Thruway or El Expreso Bus that don’t offer services within the state but connect you to Kansas from other places.
Taxis: Your minimum taxi fare in Kansas would be around $7.5 where you’ll be charged around $1.28 per km. If you want to explore the state or travel for work, you can always book an Uber.
Trains: Amtrak has its services in Kansas, connecting 7 cities of the state. The average train ticket for the top routes will cost you around $125. The cheapest train ticket available for you would be around $10 whereas the most expensive ticket will cost you as much as $278. Amtrak will connect you to the cities within Kansas and from 153 locations outside the state. You can also choose to travel by the Amtrak Southwest Chief which will also connect you to 6 cities within the state and from around 20 locations outside the state.
Best Cities To Live In Kansas
Located in Sedgwick County, Wichita is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the state. The city is diverse in its culture and economy and has plenty of museums, theatres, parks, and shopping centers for you to explore. The Wichita Art Museum will blow your mind with its collection of over 7,000 art pieces. If you want to explore the city’s diverse culture, you can head Downtown and participate in the Wichita River Festival where you will get to experience the city’s music, sports, cultural and historic exhibits.
Speaking of the city’s economy, Wichita is home to several aircraft manufacturing companies, namely Beechcraft, Cessna, Stearman Aircraft, etc. That’s why it’s often referred to as the ‘Air Capital of the World’. In terms of the educational sector, Wichita State University ranks third as the post-secondary institution in the entire state. If at all you want to enjoy the city life, then Wichita is the right place for you as it’s one of the state’s most popular metropolitan areas.
- Median Home Value: $129,300
- Median Home Rent: $857
- Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Located in Shawnee County along the Kansas River, Topeka is the capital city of Kansas. Topeka is known to be the state’s largest employing city with its diverse economy. To name a few of the largest organizations located here are Stormont-Vail Health Care, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, BNSF Railway, etc. The University of Washburn obviously cannot be forgotten if we’re talking about Topeka. The city’s largest university, it employs over 1,650 people.
If you want to take a historic tour of the city, you must definitely visit the Kansas State Capitol and Mulvane Art Museum to explore the city’s historical exhibits. To enjoy amidst nature, there’s no better place than the Gage Park in Topeka which is a 160-acre park famous for its Reinisch Rose Garden and the indoor tropical rain forest of Topeka Zoo. This is the perfect place for those who want to live in a city with great employment opportunities.
- Median Home Value: $111,500
- Median Home Rent: $794
- Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
Along the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers is the city of Lawrence. It is one of the largest cities in the state. Because of its location, you’ll get to see several creeks in the city like the Baldwin Creek in the northwestern region of the city and the Yankee Tank Creek in the southwestern region. The city boasts its highest elevation point at Mount Oread which is on the campus of the prestigious University of Kansas.
To experience fun recreational activities like hiking and bike trails, you must visit the Haskell-Baker Wetlands. The city also has a very diverse economy with several education, agriculture, scientific research, and finance industries. The University of Kansas located in Lawrence is known to be the city’s largest employer. So if you are seeking educational or employment opportunities, you should definitely consider the city of Lawrence.
- Median Home Value: $211,300
- Median Home Rent: $942
- Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Is Kansas A Good Place To Live?
This Sunflower State is definitely an amazing place when it comes to education and economy. There are plenty of employment opportunities because of the state’s diverse economy and many prestigious universities and colleges for those who want to study. But the weather can be a problem. You’ll also have to deal with the thunderstorms and tornadoes depending on which part of the state you’re residing. And to top that off, the state is comparatively quieter and more rural. But if that’s the kind of life you see yourself vibing with, why not move to Kansas?