Are you making a move to Kansas CIty or considering one, relocating from another city for a new job or a new adventure? There are many benefits to living in the bustling and culturally rich Midwestern City. There's a new state-of-the-art airport, low cost of living, world-class attractions, and international events like the FIFA World Cup which the city will host in 2026. Perhaps you've heard about the Superbowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs, the numerous fountains which earn it the nickname - city of fountains - and the world-class BBQ too! This is the ultimate guide packed with information on the cost of living in Kansas City, updated for 2023, so you know how much it will cost to live, work, and play in the Kansas City metropolitan region. If you move here, you can count on a high quality of life at a price that won't break the bank!
Cost of living in Kansas City
When you're moving to a new city for a job, of course, you want to know how far your money will go, which depends on the cost of living. Everyone's cost of living may differ, especially if you're a sports fan or like to attend cultural events. This guide breaks down the cost of sporting events, buying a home, renting, taxes, and more.
KCMO hugs the stateline of Kansas and Missouri. After reviewing the data, you'll be able to determine which state is better to live in - Kansas or Missouri.
With affordable prices, it's easy to live comfortably in Kansas City while also maintaining retirement goals.
So, how low is low when it comes to cost of living?
Just over the state line in Wyandotte County, KS, the annual salary is $52,223, according to The Council for Community and Economic Research. In comparison, the median income in New York County (Manhattan) is $87,745. But, that's not the whole story. Now, let's adjust for the cost of living. You'll make more money in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The adjusted income, with the cost of living factored in, is $63,005 in Wyandotte County and $30,769 in Manhattan.
So, living in Wyandotte county doubles your money and you still have access to culturally rich events without all the hustle and bustle of a large city.
According to Niche, the lowest cost of living in the Kansas City area belongs to these cities and neighborhoods:
- Claycomo (MO)
- Edwardsville (KS)
- Heart of the City (MO)
- Riverfront (MO)
- Swope (MO
- South Lake (Overland Park, KS)
- Truman Plaza
- Sugar Creek (MO)
- Tomahawk Ridge (Overland, Park, KS)
- Washington Estates (Overland Park, KS)
Whether you live on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area or the Missouri side, you'll enjoy a low cost of living in KCMO. Let's break down the affordability in each state, so you can determine if it's cheaper to live in Kansas or Missouri.
In Kansas, the cost of living is 13.5% less than the national average, according to C2ER 2020.
State sales tax is 6.5%, and the top individual income tax rate is 5.7%.
Many Kansas City families move to the Kansas side for its schools, which we'll discuss in detail later.
Kansas is not far from metro Kansas City, but not all the big companies are in the city. Garmin is in the suburbs and so are others. The average commute time is 19 minutes in Kansas.
Missouri had the 6th lowest cost of living in the United States in 2022, averaging cheaper than the national average, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Housing stood out as one of the cheaper costs compared to groceries, health care, transportation, and utilities.
While the Kansas City area was higher than the average statewide, living in the Kansas City region still costs less than the national average.
The tax rate is similar in Missouri, with the top tax rate slightly lower at 5.3.%
Kansas City earnings tax
In addition to state taxes, if you live or work in Kansas City, MO, you must pay a 1% earnings tax. This applies to nonresidents (people living in other suburban towns in and around the Kansas City region). In fact, fifty percent of the e-tax is paid by non-residents.
If you work outside the city and live in KCMO, you will also pay the tax.
Kansas City is 319 square miles, so it's spread out, with neighborhoods in southern KC stretching almost to Belton, the downtown and surrounding midtown, and northern neighborhoods near Liberty.
The earnings tax or e-tax pays for city services used by individuals who live and work in the city. It pays for essential services like trash collection, road repairs, snow removal, code inspection, police, fire, and other city services.
It catches some employees off-guard, so you need to know about this tax if you take a job with a KCMO employer. It's not a unique tax to KCMO, as it's in other metropolitan areas, including big and medium-sized cities, and sometimes at higher rates.
You don't have to pay the earnings tax if you are retired and your income is from Social Security, pensions, retirement accounts, and other non-earned income sources. Nonprofits and active duty military in combat zones are also exempt.
While this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, it’s something to consider when you budget. Keep financial planning top of mind when relocating.
Financial advisors suggest you consider tax rates when moving but focus more on other life factors like schools, housing, and entertainment. Adjust your budget accordingly based on taxes and other costs.
Kansas City Job Market
There are plenty of jobs on both sides of the state line. Even if you take a job with a company headquartered in Kansas City, MO, plenty of workers commute from the Kansas and Missouri suburbs.
Many businesses are headquartered in Kansas City, including H&R Block, Hallmark, American Century, Black & Veatch, and Burns & McDonnell. Several others are in the suburbs, including Garmin.
According to the Kansas City Area Development Council, Kansas City is known as a leader in transportation and distribution, eCommerce, manufacturing, animal health, technology, and the financial industry. It's also a hub of data and contact centers and supports entrepreneurs with a thriving startup culture, with $1.4 billion in funding for KC startups in the past three years.
Health care is also a leading industry in the area, with several hospital systems, including the VA, and Oracle Cerner is an internationally recognized information technology company providing solutions for health and care.
So it’s no wonder Kansas City earned a top 50 spot in a U.S. News and World Report of the top places to live and retire in the country. KCMO ranked #51 out of 150 metro areas for best places to live and #115 for best places to retire. The rankings are based on the quality of life and the job market.
In the Kansas City area, the diverse workforce means salaries vary. We break down household incomes when we discuss popular places to live. There's a solid and skilled workforce for public and private sector jobs.
The largest employer is the federal government, with over 38,000 employees, according to the Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board.
The National Archives and the Internal Revenue Service have a Kansas City location. Just across the border in Kansas, you'll find Ft. Leavenworth, the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River. It is home to the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center (CAC) and has a $2 billion annual economic impact on the Kansas City regional economy.
9,000 people work at Ft. Leavenworth, and there are more than 21,000 people at the post daily.
Other federal employers include the Federal Reserve Bank and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has a medical center that cares for veterans.
Schools in Missouri
If you move to Missouri and have a family, you need to discuss schools with your relocation expert. Are public schools a must, or are private and parochial schools something you’re willing to consider?
There are excellent school districts in Missouri, like the Liberty and Lee’s Summit school districts. Kansas City, MO schools recently earned back their full accreditation in 2022 after improving their graduation rate to 77.8% over six years and exceeding the state's expectations for English Language Arts academic growth.
You can also live in KCMO and be zoned for a different school district. Some Northland neighborhoods have KCMO addresses but are in the Liberty school district, which is a big plus.
Heather Bortnick is another Kansas City real estate agent. She knows the area well, with 25 years of real estate experience in Kansas and Missouri.
“I live in Kansas City, Missouri, personally. So I’m a huge fan,” Bortnick explained. “I get frustrated with agents sometimes who automatically dismiss it and say you have to live in Kansas.”
Unlike Missouri, most Kansas school districts have good reputations. “I never discourage looking in Kansas City, Missouri. There are other avenues school-wise. You need to be aware,” Bortnick explained. “It’s a little more challenging.”
For example, Academie Lafayette is an excellent option for kids living in the Kansas City school district. It’s a highly regarded French immersion charter public school. Many families living in Brookside and surrounding neighborhoods send their kids to Academie Lafayette, avoiding private school tuition.
Schools in Kansas
The Kansas Department of Commerce boasts about its schools, ranking 15th in the US News 2020 rankings for K-12 education. There are also 40 public universities and colleges.
Many families move to Kansas for the schools, for districts like Blue Valley Schools. The district earned the title of best in the state in Niche's 2023 rankings, and individual schools earned nearly all the top 5 spots in Niche's 2023 rankings of Kansas elementary, middle, and high schools.
Best places to live in Kansas City
We've already talked about some of the pros and cons to living in Kansas vs Missouri, including taxes and schools, but you also should consider what each area has to offer.
You have lots of options, from condos and neighborhoods in the urban area to hubs of activity in suburban cities. Of course, there are pros and cons to each area.
Downtown Kansas City offers a fine arts center, an entertainment district with the T-Mobile Center and Power and Light District, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Plus, the KC Streetcar takes you around downtown and the River Market for free.
With all these amenities, it’s no wonder, The New York Times noted many Millenials are living and working in downtown Kansas City.
There’s also an area described as Midtown. It’s near the Country Club Plaza, which is a shopping district, and Loose Park. Homes are older in this area. It’s a family-friendly area that’s less commercial.
Midtown is also home to American Century Investments.
North of the River, on the Missouri side, there are communities like Gladstone, Parkville, North Kansas City, and Liberty. There's also a section of KCMO in the northern part of the region.
Kansas City communities north of the river are also close to downtown and large employers.
In southeastern Jackson County (the county where KCMO is located), Lee's Summit is the top place to live, according to Niche. There are a lot of parks and highly rated schools. The annual household income is $98,960, far more than the national average of $69,021.
On the Kansas side, Southern Johnson County is close to the headquarters for Garmin and closer to Ft. Leavenworth. Plus, Kansas is known for its high-quality schools.
Johnson County, KS, was named the best county to live in Kansas by Niche. It also earned the top spot for Best County for Families in Kansas and Best County for Young Professionals in Kansas.
The annual household income in Johnson County, Kansas is $96,059, according to Niche.
No matter where you live, you're a short drive to entertainment, shopping, and dining. The Kansas City area earned the 11th spot on the Most Livable Cities by Far and Wide, naming it an "underrated" city.
Living in Kansas City
Now that you know why you should live in the Kansas City region, it’s time to search for a home. Brian Freeman, of the Freeman Team of ReeceNichols, is a lifelong resident of Kansas City and real estate agent with nearly 15 years of experience.
“I like to help you love where you call home,” Freeman said.
While most buyers focus on finding the perfect house, Freeman suggests you start with what matters most to you. Rate your top three priorities: schools, proximity to work, lifestyle, neighborhood, house amenities, etc.
Freeman asks clients, “What are your likes and dislikes about where you’re moving from, and what things do you want to emphasize as we move forward in your home buying process?”
There’s a happiness factor. Do you want to live in a quaint neighborhood or near shopping malls and big box stores? Schools are usually the number one priority for a family with children.
Second, proximity to work is something you should consider when moving to a new city. Drive the commute during rush hour to get a feel for your drive time each morning.
Freeman said the Northland is a favorite with relocating professionals, especially those who travel or work downtown, because of its close proximity to the airport and the city center. You also get larger homesites, even acreage opportunities, and the northern suburbs are close to Smithville Lake, which offers boating, camping, fishing, swimming and golf.
Third, take a home-buying trip. It’s a great way to get a lay of the land. Allow a couple days, up to a week, to travel the city with your real estate agent or relocation guide. Kansas City is easy to navigate, so buying is often doable when relocating to Kansas City.
There are major interstates, like I-35, I-70, and I-435. If you get on 435, you’ll drive a loop around the city. You can be anywhere you want in no time.
Fourth, consider what you can get, given the housing market.
“We’ll sort out the pros and cons of what’s available and always keep an eye on the potential resale of the property, and how that may or may not influence your decision making,” Freeman said.
The median listing price of a home in Kansas City was $225,000 in February 2023 according to Realtor.com. It's flat year-over-year. That price point is for the entire metro area, and the cost of buying a home can vary depending on where you're looking. For example, in Overland Park, KS, the median listing price was $425,000 in 2023. That's up 14.9% year-over-year. In Liberty, Missouri, the price was $315,000 where prices were up 10.5% year-over-year.
Renting in the Kansas City area
There are also many rental options, from suburban apartment living to downtown condos. The average studio apartment costs $1,034 a month to rent, and a 2 bedroom is $1,420, according to Rent.com.
You'll find prices change depending on where you look. The Country Club Plaza and midtown may have a different rate than the River Market or a North Kansas City neighborhood.
If you're not sure where to live, this heat map from Best Neighborhood color codes the prices making it easy to find a location that fits your budget.
Retirement planning in Kansas City
Once you move to Kansas City, and adjust to the low cost of living, take a look at your retirement account and make adjustments. Due to the low costs, you may be able to invest more money than you did in your previous city. Perhaps you may even be able to retire early.
Perhaps your personal situation changed too, and you moved to Kansas City due to a recent divorce. That changes your short-term finances and long-term retirement planning, which we can help you navigate.
If you're a federal employee, look at your TSP plan. We have a federal benefits expert as part of our team and advise clients to ask themselves these questions about their TSP plan.
Even if you're already contributing the maximum amount, look at the investment funds' rates of return. Are you investing in the best funds, or should you make adjustments?
Are you taking advantage of the TSP match?
These are questions to ask yourself periodically, especially when you move to a new city, because it affects your budget and can change your risk tolerance and the amount you can save for retirement.
Finding a KC financial planner
Meet with a financial advisor to get your financial house in order. Using sophisticated software, your planner will organize your investments, analyze your risk tolerance, and help you strategize retirement goals. They'll also be able to help you work through any financial obstacles.
Ask friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family for recommendations for a financial planner or wealth manager. These are the 10 questions you should ask.
One of the main questions should be how the planner gets paid. A fee-only financial planner is paid by the client. Other advisors receive commissions, which may make them biased in selling you financial products that earn them the most money. We're a fee-only planner.
Also, look for credentials like "certified." Todd Minear is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Kansas City, which is a standard of excellence in financial planning. To earn this designation, the individual must meet rigorous education, training, and ethical standards.
Financial planning is complex and incorporates other facets, including taxes, estate planning, financial planning, and retirement.
Even if you have a financial planner from your old city, getting a Kansas City financial advisor is good because they can advise you of the local cost of living factors and taxes.
Plus, they’re a valuable resource for your new city — offering information on contractors to hire for your house projects. Financial planners are full of connections.
Estate planning after a move
Don’t forget about your estate. It’s one of those things none of us like to talk about, but it makes a huge difference to your loved ones. You should update your estate plan every few years to reflect a divorce, marriage, growing family, and changing family dynamics. Your estate should include a will, beneficiary designation, and medical directive.
After a move, the person you chose to make medical decisions may no longer live near you. That makes a big difference if something happens suddenly and unexpectedly. You want the person in charge of your medical decisions to be nearby.
Also, you want the person in charge of your estate to be the one you trust the most. Let’s face it, relationships change over the years. That’s why a move is a good time to reflect on who is in charge of your estate. Is it still the most trusted person in your life?
Finally, update your estate to reflect changes in state law. In Missouri, there are different rules so you may need more or less language in your paperwork. You may have new opportunities in Missouri that you didn’t in another state, and an estate planner can help you find those avenues.
Things to do in KC
In a city with low costs, you get world-class events and amenities at reasonable prices. Of course, some of these activities will cost more than others, but your dollar goes further than in other cities with these entertainment options.
If you like to eat barbecue, you've come to the right place. KC is the barbecue capital of the world!
On Sundays during the fall, it’s a faceoff of BBQ and football in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs are two-time Superbowl champs and attract a large crowd every week for a seat in what the Guinness Book of World Records considers the loudest stadium in the country.
Of course, ticket prices have gone up with the team's success, as demand surges to see the team play. But, prices are not as high as they are in Las Vegas to see the Raiders play. They're the most expensive ticket in the NFL at $153.47, according to Sidelines.io. Add in a hot dog, beer, and parking and it'll cost you $273.47 to go to a Raiders game. The Chiefs were ranked 19th with the average ticket costing $99.47 and the total for parking, food, and drink came to $153.97.
The Kansas City Royals provide plenty of action in the spring, summer, and fall. The American League Central team won two World Series titles, four league championships, seven division titles, and one wild card berth. The team last won the World Series in 2015. With affordable tickets, catching a game at the ballpark after work is easy.
There's more than football and baseball in KCMO. Soccer is another popular sport.
On the Kansas side, there's Sporting KC in the other Kansas City - KCK. The soccer team plays at the impressive soccer stadium, Children's Mercy Park.
In KCMO, there's Kansas City Current, a women's professional soccer team. They're building a world-class stadium on the river at Berkley Riverfront Park.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera, and Kansas City Symphony. With diverse performances, there’s always something to hear or see at the Performing Arts Center.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art features more than 35-thousand works of art for FREE to a million visitors annually. Nearby, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is an acclaimed, FREE contemporary art museum featuring modern art.
The World War I Museum and Memorial is also in Kansas City, and there's a lot for families and adults at Union Station.
There are also opportunities to see international sporting events with FIFA World Cup games being played in 2025 and KC is hosting the NFL draft in 2023. The draft will offer free events over three days.
Getting to Kansas City
It's easy to travel to Kansas City by train, car (with major interstates through the city), and plane. Kansas City International Airport recently opened a new 1-million-square-foot terminal, the city's largest single infrastructure project in its history. It features art and local businesses and combined with the hotels and entertainment district in downtown, it allows the city to attract world-class events and conferences.
There’s entertainment for everyone in KC, no matter your budget.
Moving to Kansas City
So, is it better to live in Kansas or Missouri? It depends on the cost of living that you'd like to enjoy, as some neighborhoods cost more than others, whether schools are important to you, and how close you want to be to entertainment.
The city has a lot to offer besides your employer, and your money will go further. Compared to the East and West coast, the Kansas City cost of living is low.
Bortnick says people moving to Kansas City from the West Coast feel like they hit the lottery. You get a lot more house for your money in Kansas City.
When you deal with an experienced real estate agent and lifelong resident like Freeman, you get insight into the best neighborhoods and how to make the perfect offer.
“Local area knowledge and experience helps to structure an offer so that you can be competitive, yet leverage yourself to get the best terms,” Freeman explained.
While a relocation expert can guide you to the best home, talk to your financial advisor, too. He can ensure you’re following a smart home buying strategy, so you are not house poor. When purchasing a home, it’s important to keep your long-term financial goals within reach.
Once you’ve moved, consider a budget makeover to reflect your new expenses. Perhaps you can now invest more in your 401-K or 529 plan for your child. With a move, costs change dramatically, especially in a Midwestern city where costs are often lower. Make adjustments to your budget.
As if everything we mentioned is not enough, there are the people! You won't meet friendlier people anywhere else, and I can say that as someone who has lived here for years.
Where else in the country do you see so many people wearing Kansas City shirts, showing their pride for the city? The friendly locals will help you feel right at home.
Welcome to the neighborhood. You won’t be disappointed if your job or other personal reason brings you to Kansas City. Have a question about Kansas City or how to invest your money here? Let me help!