The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Kansas City

If you’re tired of paying astronomical housing prices and fighting traffic in East and West Coast cities, you might want to consider moving to Kansas City, MO, a little-known gem smack dab in the middle of the country.

Kansas City received plenty of attention for its livability when the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015. However, people who live in KC have long known about this city’s affordability, friendly residents and cultural treasures.

Love tree-lined streets? You’ll find them everywhere in Kansas City. Want a huge house for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than you’d pay for a tiny bungalow in Seattle? You’ll get a lot of house for your money here. You’ll also find top-notch concert and theater venues, outdoor music and ethnic festivals and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States.

So, how will you know which neighborhood in Kansas City is right for you?  You can start with this list of Kansas City’s 5 best neighborhoods, based on lifestyle and housing needs.

1. Brookside: Most walkable

Brookside, a neighborhood centered around a trendy shopping district, is one of the most desirable areas in Kansas City in which to live. Not only is the district packed with restaurants, unique shops and grocery stores, it’s also a great place to have a glass of wine or latte on an outdoor patio. Brookside, which is about six miles south of Downtown, is known for its beautiful homes, varied architectural styles, tree-lined streets and walkable neighborhoods. The six-mile-long Trolley Track Trail, a popular walking and biking path, runs right through Brookside’s shopping district and residential streets. You can easily buy a nice home in Brookside for $200,00 to $300,000, possibly less for a fixer-upper. Feel like spending more? You’ll be amazed at the lush yards and roomy homes you can purchase for upwards of $300,000 in Brookside.

2. Volker: Most diverse

The Volker neighborhood is in Midtown, a 5-10 minute drive from Downtown and only a couple of miles from the Country Club Plaza, a prime outdoor shopping and dining district. Volker is a large area located between Downtown and the Plaza and home to a diverse crowd of gay and straight residents, families and students, along with second-generation Mexican-Americans who’ve lived in their houses for decades.  Volker is highly walkable, with sidewalks on nearly every street and multiple city parks. This neighborhood also includes Westport, a hip and semi-quaint shopping and nightlife district.

If you’re looking for quiet nights, you risk having noisy neighbors who like to party in this part of town, which attracts a young, partying crowd. In Volker, you’ll find sprawling homes and bungalows, numerous apartment complexes, plenty of red brick four-plex and six-plex apartment buildings and character-filled apartments in large houses. If you love to walk, be in the midst of everything, mingle with a diverse crowd and enjoy lots of cool shops and restaurants, Volker is the neighborhood for you. Another bonus: The 2.7-acre, fenced-in Penn Valley Off Leash Dog Park is only a couple of miles away.

3. The Plaza: Most cultural

The Country Club Plaza (known as The Plaza) is famous for its shopping, dining, Spanish architecture and spectacular Christmas lights display but it’s also one of the best neighborhoods in Kansas City in which to live. Not only is the Plaza close to Brookside, Westport, and Downtown, housing is plentiful and varied, ranging from apartment buildings, complexes and rental homes to expensive (and less expensive) homes. On the Plaza, you’ll find small, affordable high-rise condominiums next door to million-dollar condos.

The Plaza is highly walkable with ready access to public transportation. You can easily hoof it to Westport, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of ArtKemper Museum of Contemporary ArtKansas City Art Institute and University of Missouri-Kansas City. There’s no shortage of festivities on the Plaza. In addition to outdoor live music in the summer and a Christmas display of around 280,000 lights during the holiday season, there’s the annual Plaza Art Fair, which features over 200 artists, the visual arts installation Waterfire and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.

4. Quality Hill: Most “downtown living” feel

Quality Hill is located on the west edge of downtown Kansas City, MO. In this neighborhood, you’ll find vintage buildings, a smattering of historic mansions, apartment high-rises, townhomes and condos. Quality Hill has plenty of restaurants, businesses and bars and is just a few blocks away from KC Live! Block, Kansas City’s party area, an entire city block of hot spots, and the Kansas City Streetcar route. Quality Hill is also just a few blocks from the River Market, which hosts a huge farmer’s market every weekend, has an abundance of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and ethnic grocers and is known for its loft and condo living. If you’ve got a dog, you’ll also love the 1.5-acre, fenced off-leash dog park in the Quality Hill neighborhood.

5. Waldo: Most affordable housing in a prime location

You’ll find less expensive houses in other parts of Kansas City, but Waldo, which begins on the southern edge of Brookside and stretches for several miles in all directions, is one of the best neighborhoods for starter homes, young professionals and those looking to downsize. You can buy a cute two-bedroom house in Waldo for anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000, with many in the $120,000-$160,000 range. You can also get a big, beautiful house for as little as $200,000 or so.

Sidewalks are hit-and-miss on Waldo’s tree-lined, residential streets but the same Trolley Track Trail that runs through Brookside continues through Waldo. You’ll find a plethora of grocery stores, ranging from Aldi’s to Trader Joe’s, pharmacies, coffee shops, restaurants and bars in Waldo, which is only five miles from the Country Club Plaza and about nine miles from Downtown.

Deb Hipp