Kansas City one of the best places to live due to low living costs

“Picture 022” by verndogs is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Kansas City is no stranger to placing on some rather interesting national ranking lists. In 2010, Kansas City was awarded the number three spot for America’s Manliest City, according to the Mars’ company’s comparison of cities with the most steakhouses, sports teams, salty snack consumption and “manly occupations” per capita. Kansas City was also recognized as the 15th most romantic city for boomers, according to marriage rates, candy sales and restaurant availability. 

But when it comes to things that really matter and data collection methods that aren’t utterly sexist, how does Kansas City stack up? According to Numbeo’s current quality of life index, Kansas City, Missouri ranks 18th globally and 8th nationally. This impressive showing was determined by a quality of life index, which takes into account pollution, purchasing power, house price-to-income ratio, safety, health care, traffic commute time and climate. 

The average commute time to work or school in Kansas City was 26 minutes, compared to Los Angeles’s commute of 59 minutes and Lagos, Nigeria’s staggering 63 minutes. Kansas City also ranked 21st in quality of health care. However, the area Kansas City excelled most in was cost of living.

Property is cheaper in Kansas City than in 427 other global cities. Kansas City ranks 123rd out of 455 cities globally for cost of living, coming in at 31.93 percent cheaper than New York City. Numbeo factored in the cost of groceries, child care, clothing and rent. These figures were compared to the average monthly salary after taxes, which was $3,543. 

While this looks pretty good for Kansas City residents, Numbeo’s data collection methods are mediocre. Most categories were self-reported and only 40 people reported their commute times, meaning results might not be the most reliable. Besides, does a cheap city really equate to a good one? 

Luckily for Kansas Citians, Niche agrees that the city offers residents quite a bit of bang – and barbecue –  for their buck. And luckily for the skeptics among us, Niche has the data to prove it. 

Niche uses U.S. Census data, tax data, information from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, self-reporting and the FBI Uniform Crime Report to create a more accurate ranking system. Kansas City is the 34th best place out of 228 places in the United States to buy a house and comes in 40th for cost of living. 

However, Niche doesn’t only view Kansas City as a cheap place to live, but also a fun one. Restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts and percentage of residents who are 18-34 year old get Kansas City top-notch grades in the nightlife category. Even after a resident is done with their Power and Light days, Kansas City earns a respectable 54th out of 228 for best places to raise a family.

If this Super Bowl champion city is seeming a little too good to be true, there is a serious downside. Crime rates in Kansas City are daunting. Per 100,000 residents there are 1,148 assaults. The national average is 282. 

Per 100,000 residents, 332 rapes are reported – compared to the average of 135. This data is startling compared to crime rates of Overland Park, Kansas, which is just 30 minutes away. Overland Park receives an A+ for safety compared to Kansas City’s abismal C-. Plus, Overland Park comes in first nationally for best place to buy a house based on cost of living, safety and public schools. Meanwhile, Kansas City has better nightlife, diversity and lower living costs.

Every location has its pros and cons. When it comes down to it, there are many factors that make a place a good one to live – factors that are more qualitative than quantitative. Census data and tax reports can’t convey community or support systems. The cheapest, safest, cleanest cities can’t always replicate feelings of home. 

However, what the statistics can report is that the Kansas City area has quite a bit going for it. Out of 18,597 places to live in the United States, Kansas City is in the top 20 percent. Whether you think it’s in Kansas or Missouri, Kansas City is an ideal place to move for anyone wanting affordable housing, enjoyable nightlife, relatively short commutes and good public schools. Plus, I’ve heard their sports teams aren’t too bad.


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