Skyline of Downtown Kansas City

12 Things to Know About Living in Kansas City

Thinking about moving to Kansas City? Ranked in the top 50 Best Places to Live in the U.S., this fast-growing Midwest metro is an excellent place to live for job opportunities, affordable housing, top-rated colleges, pro sports events, incredible arts and culture, and—of course—some of the best barbecue in America. Here are 12 things to know about living in Kansas City!

Live in a City That’s in Two Different States

Skyline of Downtown Kansas City. Photo by Instagram user @naina_tejaswi
Photo via @naina_tejaswi

One of the first things you’ll notice after moving to KC is that there are actually two sides to Kansas City. More specifically, there’s a Missouri side and a Kansas side. That’s right—the metro spans two states! How did that happen exactly? The city was originally founded on the Missouri side, which is where you’ll find Downtown Kansas City and the historic Westport area where frontier settlers landed. As the city grew, people moved across the Kansas River to make their homes on the Kansas side, which is where the majority of the area’s suburbs are today. Even though KC residents consider both sides part of one big city, you’ll still run into the “KCMO or KCK?” question when you tell people you live in Kansas City.

Find Job Opportunities with Top Companies

White building Hallmark visitors center. Photo by Instagram user @samgrams
Photo via @samgrams

Did you know that Kansas City is one of the top U.S. cities for jobs? Not only does the “Heart of America” offer an affordable cost of living that attracts young professionals and families alike, but it also has a 3.6% unemployment rate and great jobs in government, finance, energy, healthcare, engineering, and technology. Where are some of the best places to work in Kansas City? You can find opportunities with major companies like Hallmark CardsBurns & McDonnellCommerce Bank, and H&R Block, all of which are headquartered in KC. You can also join the city’s growing tech scene with up-and-coming companies like K12itcRed Nova LabsLula, and Homebase. Or if you’re an entrepreneur, consider launching your business in Kansas City—after all, it’s one of the best cities for startup success!

Pursue Your Degree at Great Schools

Rockhurst University campus on a sunny day. Photo by Instagram user @rockhurstuniversity
Photo via @rockhurstuniversity

Moving to Kansas City for higher education? The KC metro is home to several top-rated colleges and universities! Attend University of Missouri-Kansas City, a public research school in the University of Missouri system that specializes in medicine, law, pharmacy, dentistry, education, and more. Check out private Jesuit school Rockhurst University, where you can find your passion among more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Get your graduate degree in biomedical sciences, osteopathic medicine, or clinical psychology at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, one of the area’s best medical schools. Find business administration, nursing and health sciences, education, counseling, and other top-rated programs at private Avila University. Or study graphic design, animation, creative writing, filmmaking, and more at the private Kansas City Art Institute.

Visit Kansas City’s Incredible Museums

National World War Two museum on a sunny day. Photo by Instagram user @nationalwwimuseum
Photo via @nationalwwimuseum

If you love art, culture, and history, Kansas City museums will keep you busy! See photos, films, and memorabilia from the American Jazz era and learn more about Kansas City’s jazz history at the American Jazz Museum. Spend an afternoon at the National WWI Museum & Memorial, the only nationally-recognized museum in America that honors those who fought in the Great War. Visit former train station Union Station, where you can learn about Kansas City’s railway history, catch a show in the planetarium, or explore the interactive Science City exhibit. View everything from Japanese ceramics to European Renaissance paintings at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Or take your family to LEGOLAND Discovery Center, where your little ones can build and create just about anything with LEGOs.

Check Out the Fine Arts Scene

Ballet dancers posing on stage. Photo by Instagram user @kc.ballet
Photo via @kc.ballet

Kansas City has excellent performing arts around practically every corner. You can find everything from operas and ballets to rock concerts and comedy shows at a number of Kansas City venues! Watch the Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas City Ballet perform at the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Catch concerts featuring hip-hop artists, country bands, alternative rock groups, and other popular musicians at the enormous outdoor Starlight Theatre. Get tickets for standup comedy acts, musicals, and family-friendly shows at the Music Hall. Or see local productions of Broadway shows and classic plays at The Barn Players Community Theatre or the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Don’t Miss Out on Live Jazz

Guy playing the bass in a lounge. Photo by Instagram user @greenladylounge
Photo via @greenladylounge

There’s a reason why Kansas City was once known as “The Paris of the Plains.” In the 1920s and ’30s, KCMO was a hotbed for gambling, drinking, and jazz music. Though the city isn’t as wild as it was back in the day, jazz still prevails in the city’s live music scene. Where are the best places for live music in Kansas City? Check out the Blue Room Jazz Club at the American Jazz Museum, where you can find some of the best local jazz musicians showcasing the “Kansas City Jazz” sound. Head over to Green Lady Lounge for live jazz performances every day—and be sure to pop into its sister joint Black Dolphin next door! Visit The Phoenix for live music throughout the week, as well as special Jazz Brunch events on Saturdays and Sundays. Or hide out in the speakeasy below The Majestic with cocktails and nightly jazz.

Rep Your Local Kansas City Teams

Baseball player up to bat. Photo by Instagram user @kcroyals
Photo via @kcroyals

If you love pro sports, you’re going to love living in Kansas City! Whether you’re a football, baseball, hockey, or soccer fan, KC has the perfect professional team for you. Cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) at Arrowhead Stadium. Root for the Kansas City Royals (MLB) at Kauffman Stadium. Catch the Calgary Flames’ affiliate Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL) at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Or hold up your scarf for Sporting KC (MLS) at Children’s Mercy Park—and get tickets early because they go fast!

Enjoy the Thrills at Worlds of Fun

People riding on a roller coaster at Worlds of Fun. Photo by Instagram user @worldsoffun
Photo via @worldsoffun

Looking for fun things to do in Kansas City with kids? Visit one of KC’s top attractions: Worlds of Fun! This 235-acre amusement park has been a Midwest summer vacation destination for families since 1973, and it keeps getting bigger and better each year. With thrilling rides like the Mamba, the RipCord, and the Detonator, as well as tons of carnival games, live entertainment, and food vendors, Worlds of Fun will keep your family entertained for hours. More interested in water rides? Oceans of Fun is just on the other side of Worlds of Fun! This 64-acre water park offers a wave pool, lazy river, splash pads, and plenty of waterslides to keep you cool during those hot summer days!

Fall in Love with Kansas City BBQ

Tray full of barbecue and fries. Photo by Instagram user @jackstackbbq
Photo via @jackstackbbq

If there’s one thing you can count on in Kansas City, it’s barbecue. Though cities like Austin and Memphis claim to have the best BBQ, KCMO residents would argue in favor of their hometown. Where can you find the best BBQ in Kansas City? Visit Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que for pulled pork sandwiches, ribs and burnt ends, and smoked chicken. Hit up the award-winning Jack Stack Barbecue for barbecue signatures like Lamb Ribs and Crown Prime Beef Ribs. Check out Gates BBQ, where you can get everything from BBQ short ends and long ends to center cuts and slabs—and don’t forget to grab some Gates barbecue sauces and seasoning for home, too! Head to Hawg Jaw Que & Brew for BBQ nachos, wings, brisket sandwiches, and so much more. Or try the Grilled Pork Belly Sandwich, Burnt End Burger, or Housemade Chipotle Sausage at Q39.

Discover the Non-BBQ Side of KC Dining

Plates full of breakfast. Photo by Instagram user @rach_lmao
Photo via @rach_lmao

Not in the mood for barbecue? No problem! Some of the best restaurants in Kansas City have nothing to do with sauce-slathered ribs. Find traditional breakfast favorites and vegan/vegetarian-friendly dishes at hip brunch spot Succotash in Longfellow. Order Croquetas de Pollo, Costillas Cortas, and Papas Fritas Con Ajo to share at tapas restaurant La Bodega in Westside South. Enjoy a Kansas City Strip or a dry-aged ribeye at upscale steakhouse Piermont’s in Union Station. Try Austrian-influenced dishes like Schweinebraten and Bauernschmaus at Grünauer in Crown Center. Savor the Spicy Miso, Roasted Sesame Chicken, or Tsukemen ramen dishes at Boru Ramen Bar in Waldo. Or dig into some of the best fried chicken, catfish, and mac ‘n cheese in the city at old-school Southern cafe Peachtree Cafe’Teria in Northeast Kansas City.

Sip on Locally-Made Craft Beers

Bottle of beer next to a meat and cheese board. Photo by Instagram user @boulevard_beer
Photo via @boulevard_beer

Kansas City was named one of America’s Best Beer Cities, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that KC has an amazing craft beer scene. Of course, the most famous brewery out of Kansas City is Boulevard Brewing Co. You can visit the beer giant for brewery tours, to learn more about how they create their brews, and to try some of their creations in the Beer Hall. But there are also tons of smaller local breweries throughout the city that are worth checking out! Sample the Hang ‘Em High IPA or House Brew Coffee Stout at Torn Label. Try the Campfire Porter or Patio Pale Ale at Border Brewing Company. Sip on the Helles Lager or the Dunkel at KC Bier Co. Toss back a We Are the Weirdos Mister IPA or Zelda’s Vanilla Cream at Big Rip Brewing Co. Or if you’re not sure where to start, you can try a bunch of breweries in one day by scheduling a trip with the KC Beer Tour!

Experience Kansas City Nightlife

Crowd of people at a concert. Photo by Instagram user @gonewestmusic
Photo via @gonewestmusic

Ready to hit the town? KC nightlife has a little something for everyone! Head to KC Live! in the Power & Light District, where you’ll find bars, live entertainment, and hot dance spots in an indoor-outdoor venue that spans a full city block. Hang out with friends at North Kansas City’s Chicken N Pickle, a giant entertainment complex that has good food, tons of beer, and fun lawn games to keep you busy all night long. Make your way to Westport, where you can find Kansas City’s best drag shows at gay club Missie B’s, your favorite games on big screens at sports lounge Westport Ale House, and delicious handcrafted cocktails at island-inspired tiki bar TikiCat. Or level up your retro gaming skills at arcade bars like Up-Down KC in Crossroads Art District or Broadway Arcade in Quality Hill.

***

Moving to Kansas City? With easily accessible storage facilities throughout the KC metro, including Overland Park, Shawnee, Grandview, and more, Extra Space Storage can make your transition easier. Find self storage near you!

Things to Know About Living in Kansas City