20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Kansas City

Contrary to popular belief, cows don’t roam the streets of Kansas City, MO.

In fact, Kansas City, MO, ranked #15 on Bloomberg’s America’s 50 Best Cities list, and The Huffington Post ranked Kansas City as #1 on its 2014 “coolest cities to visit” list.

Admittedly, KC is no Chicago or New York. However, you’ll still find culture, fabulous food and beautiful homes for a fraction of what you’d pay in other cities.

Here are 20 things you need to know before you head across the prairie to settle in Kansas City.

1. Not in Kansas Anymore. No, Really.

Get used to out-of-towners asking how you like “living in Kansas” even if you live in Missouri. Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO, are actually two distinct cities with separate governments. There’s Kansas City, KS (pop. 147,000) but then there’s also much larger Kansas City, MO (pop. 465,000) just across State Line Road.

2. You’ll need a car.

The Kansas City metro area is nearly 315 square miles, and the only major mode of public transportation is the Metro bus system, which doesn’t typically extend to outlying areas.

3. You get more house for your money.

The median home price in Kansas City  is around $135,000. You can buy a modest home in a decent neighborhood for between $100,000 and $140,000 or move toward the $200,000 range for gorgeous 3 or 4BR, 2BA homes with huge back yards.

4. People are friendly.

After all, this is the Midwest. Your neighbors introduce themselves and throw block parties, coworkers invite you to lunch and your coffee shop baristas remember your name.

5. Downtown comes alive at night.

The place to be on weekend nights is the Power & Light District’s KCLive! Block, an entire city block filled with restaurants and night clubs. You can also attend huge sports “watch parties” like the crowd that cheered the Kansas City Royals when they won the 2015 World Series.

6. You’ll love the airport.

Kansas City International Airport is unbelievably easy. You don’t have to run for trains to catch a connecting flight, and if you get to this airport two hours early, you’ll be sipping coffee inside your gate for an hour and a half before boarding.

7. We’re big on fountains.

Kansas City is known as the  “City of Fountains.” That’s because early city planners envisioned Kansas City as having city “more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome.”  Kansas City has more than 200 registered fountains in the metropolitan area, and that number doesn’t come close to the total if you include private fountains at homes and businesses.

8. Boulevards abound.

Kansas City  has a vast boulevard system of more than 151 miles of inter-connected, multi-lane parkways and boulevards. These roadways are lush, green, dotted with flowing fountains and ease freeway traffic with alternate routes.

9. Kansas Citians hate to cross bridges.

If you live “north of the river,” be prepared to be the one driving into the city to visit everyone else. Midtown Kansas Citians recoil when they find out  they can’t drive to your house in five minutes.

10. You’ve got your pick of farmers’ markets.

Kansas City has the City Market in the River Market district, one of the largest farmers’ markets in the Midwest. And the Overland Park Farmers Market in nearby Overland Park, KS, was voted best farmers’ market in Kansas by Cooking Light Magazine. You’ll find plenty of farmers’ markets both on weekends and mid-week all over town.

11. Some of the best tours in KC are free.

There’s no admission fee for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Hallmark Visitors Center. You can tour the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations facility, the only Harley-Davidson plant that produces an entire motorcycle, the VRSCA V-Rod, for free. Other freebies: Harry S. Truman National History Site and Boulevard Brewing Company, the largest specialty brewery in the Midwest.

12. It’s nearly impossible to find bad barbecue.

Kansas City ranked #1 in the country on Travel & Leisure’s recent top best barbecue cities list. When it comes to KC barbecue joints, Gates is the most popular, and visiting U.S. presidents sample the ribs at Arthur Bryant’s. But Kansas City Joe’s at 47th St. and Mission Road, is my personal favorite.

13. KC has one of the nation’s most spectacular Christmas displays.

Tens of thousands of Kansas Citians flock to the Country Club Plaza, a 15-block Spanish-inspired shopping district, on Thanksgiving night for the annual lighting ceremony. A switch is flipped onstage and 280,000 multi-colored bulbs snap on, lighting up every building on the Plaza. Tip: If you don’t like being smashed against strangers in a massive crowd, you can always watch the ceremony on local TV stations or rent a hotel room overlooking the Country Club Plaza.

14. Kansas City loves St. Patrick’s Day.

Kansas City has one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, and it draws more than 200,000 spectators.

15. Kansas City has a first-rate arts district.

First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District, home of Kansas City’s avant-garde crowd, takes place on the first Friday night of the month. You can stroll this neighborhood on the fringe of downtown KCMO, sampling food trucks, listening to street musicians, watching performers and slipping into galleries to check out the art.

16. You’ll need to invest in Royals and Chiefs shirts.

Whether the Kansas City Chiefs are winning or losing, Kansas City becomes a sea of red shirts the day before the hometown football team plays. And now that the Kansas City Royals are World Series champs, if you’re never spotted in Royals wear, prepare to be eyed suspiciously by “Forever Royal” fans.

17. The public schools have room for improvement.

If you’ve got kids, you may want to opt for private school or choose a neighboring municipality. The Kansas City Missouri School District is notorious for myriad issues, including losing its accreditation at one point and then sheepishly gaining it back.

18. Kansas City has great Mexican restaurants.

For the best Mexican food, hit the Westside area, just west of downtown. It’s easy to stumble onto tasty Mexican food just about anywhere you go in both Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS.

19. Kansas City’s got a world-class art museum.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is one of the finest general art museums in the United States. The Nelson has a Chinese collection containing 7,000 works spanning 5,000 years, an outdoor sculpture park displaying the works of Henry Spencer Moore, 900 works of European painting and sculpture, 2,000 works of Japanese art and an African art collection that spans 2,500 years. Other collections: American Indian, Ancient, American, contemporary, Asian and Modern.

20. You’ll get all four seasons.

Springs are lush and green, summers drip with humidity that rivals Florida or Texas, falls are perfect and winter is a wild card, bringing either spring-like days and little snow or a perpetual onslaught of winter storms.

Deb Hipp