If you’re moving to Kansas City, here’s what you need to know so you can relocate like a pro.
Relocating to Kansas City for a new job or new adventure? You won’t be disappointed. The city continues to earn national recognition for its cost of living, food, and world-class attractions. With many businesses headquartered in Kansas City, there’s a strong and skilled workforce. With affordable housing, it’s a great city to raise a family while maintaining your retirement goals.
Sprint, Cerner, H&R Block, Hallmark, American Century, Black & Veatch, and Garmin all call Kansas City home. With headquarters located throughout the metro, these national companies attract talent from across the country. 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 in the country. The rankings are based on the quality of life and the job market.
Kansas City has a lot to offer whether you live on the Missouri or Kansas side. Think baseball, football, great BBQ, and more money to invest due to the low cost of living.
Best places to live in Kansas City
The cost of living is similar on the Kansas and Missouri sides, although there are slight tax differences.
In Missouri, taxes are lower than Kansas.
If you live in Kansas City, you’ll pay a 1-percent earnings tax. While this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, it’s something to consider when you budget. Keep financial planning top of mind when relocating.
The earnings tax pays for basic City services like repairing the roads, trash, and salaries for police, fire, and paramedics.
Financial advisors suggest you consider tax rates when moving, but focus more on other life factors. Schools, housing, amenities and so on. Adjust your budget accordingly, based on the taxes and other costs.
Downtown Kansas City offers a fine arts center, entertainment district with the Sprint 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.
Kansas City offers world-class features for art, sports, and travel.
Voters recently approved a new airport, by an overwhelming majority. Appropriately, for the city of fountains, a two-story fountain will be the centerpiece of a modern KCI. The airport design also includes convenient features like close parking, and two-level curbside pickup and drop-off. Edgemoor will develop the airport, paid for by airlines and passengers. The newly designed airport is expected to be complete by 2021, opening the city up to new possibilities.
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, it’s easy to catch a game at the ballpark after work.
On Sunday’s during the fall, it’s a faceoff of BBQ and football in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs attract a large crowd every week, for a seat in the modern designed stadium. It’s also considered by the Guinness Book of World Records, to be the loudest stadium.
The aforementioned 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 every year. Nearby, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is an acclaimed, FREE contemporary art museum that also features modern art.
There’s entertainment for everyone in KC, no matter your budget.
Searching for homes in Kansas City
Now that you know why you should live in Kansas City, 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 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 an easy city 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.
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?
While there are great school districts in Missouri like the Liberty and Lee’s Summit school districts, Kansas City schools lost their accreditation. That doesn’t mean you have to dismiss all Kansas City addresses.
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. With 25 years of real estate experience in Kansas and Missouri, she knows the area well.
“I live in Kansas City, Missouri, personally. So I’m a huge a 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 just need to be aware,” Bortnick explained. “It’s a little more challenging.”
For example, Academie Lafayette is a great 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.
Kansas City certified financial planner
Once you move to Kansas City, 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. He’ll also be able to help you work through any financial obstacles.
Ask friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family for recommendations of a financial planner. These are the 10 questions you should ask him.
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.
A fee-only planner puts your financial interests first! Even if you have a financial planner from your old city, it’s good to get a Kansas City financial advisor 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.
Moving to Kansas City
Overall, Kansas City has a lot to offer beyond your new employer. Financially, your money goes far. Compared to the East and West coast, the 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 on 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 make sure 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.
Welcome to the neighborhood. You won’t be disappointed your job brought you to Kansas City. Have a question about Kansas City or how to invest your money here? Let me help!