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Skyline of Downtown Kansas City

15 Things to Know About Living in Kansas City

Want to move to Kansas City? This fast-growing Midwest metro is an excellent place to live for job opportunities, top-rated universities, pro sports events, incredible arts and culture, and—of course—some of the best barbecue in America. Here are 15 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—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

When looking for jobs in Kansas City, you’ll find plenty of options. Not only does is the “Paris of the Plains” one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S.—KC also offers great neighborhoods for families, attracts singles and young professionals, and has a 2.6% unemployment rate. Some of the top industries in Kansas City include manufacturing, animal health, technology, and the financial sector. You can find KC job opportunities in major company headquarters like Hallmark Cards, Commerce Bank, H&R Block, and St. Luke’s Health System. Looking for tech jobs? Kansas City is a rising star in the industry, and you can be a part of that growth with tech startups like PayIt, iOR Partners, and TripleBlind. Or if you’re an entrepreneur, consider launching your business in Kansas City—after all, it’s one of the best cities for startups!

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Experience Convenient KC Transportation

A bike parked on a bridge in Kansas City Missouri. @ridekcbike

Photo via @ridekcbike

You’ll want a car to get around KC, but there are still other options for transportation in Kansas City! Frequent fliers can get to their next business or vacation destination with ease at the Kansas City International Airport. KC residents can also save on gas and instead rent an electric bike or scooter with the RideKC Bike app. One of the best options to get around Kansas City is to hop on a bus on the RideKC line. Or get a ride on the Kansas City Street Car, which can make your next trip to Downtown Kansas City a stress-free one, with 16 stops on its route.

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Pursue Your Degree at Great Schools

Thinking about enrolling in higher education? There are several top-rated Kansas City colleges and universities that call this sprawling metro home. Immerse yourself in programs like biology, medicine, marketing, computer science, and more at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Fuel your passion for business administration, biochemistry, and political science at private Jesuit school Rockhurst University. Go for a graduate degree in biomedical sciences, osteopathic medicine, or psychology at Kansas City University, one of the area’s best medical schools. Choose from nursing, international business, and other top-rated programs at private Avila University. Embark on the community college route at Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods and enroll in programs such as building maintenance and construction, cybersecurity, criminal justice, and more. Or study graphic design, animation, creative writing, painting, and more at the private Kansas City Art Institute.

Visit Kansas City’s Incredible Museums

If you love art, culture, and history, Kansas City museums will keep you busy! Explore 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 and immerse yourself in virtual reality with their War Remains exhibit, or walk through WW1 history in the Main Gallery. 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 the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Or build and create just about anything with LEGOs when you take your family to LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

View Fountains Around Every Corner

A water fountain wirh its water dyed blue and with several statues such as men riding horses and children with sea animals. @kcmoparks

Photo via @kcmoparks

Kansas City goes by a lot of different names, but thanks to its 48 publicly-owned fountains and 200 total registered fountains, KC has earned the reputations as the City of Fountains in the U.S. The history of KC fountains dates back to the 1800s, but the City of Fountains became officially ingrained with the city in 1992 when a fountain was incorporated into the city logo. Head over to Mill Creek Park to view the most photographed fountain in KC, which features four horsemen and children playing on fish. Honor the lives of six brave firefighters by visiting the Firefighters Fountain and Memorial, featuring two bronze statues enclosed by 48 streams of water falling into an 80-foot-wide basin located near the south end of Penn Valley Park. Kansas City takes great pride in its fountains and recognizes Greater Kansas City Fountain Day annually around early April, when all the 48 publicly-owned fountains are turned on.

Have Fun with the Entire Family

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 the best Kansas City attractions with thrilling rides like the Mamba and RipCord as well as tons of carnival games and live entertainment at Worlds of Fun. Make it out to one of the best Kansas City activities, Oceans of Fun, which is just on the other side of Worlds of Fun! This 64-acre water park offers slides like the Aruba Tuba, Constrictor, and Shark’s Revenge. Waddle with the penguins at Helzberg Penguin Plaza, swing to the Orangutan Canopy, or feel stingrays at Stingray Bay while exploring the 202-acre Kansas City Zoo. Immerse yourself in farm life and learn about more than 250 animals, bottle feed pygmy goats, or take a walk to the fishing pond at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. Test your mind with escape rooms like the The Da Vinci Code and A Dream at Escape Room Kansas City.

Check Out the Fine Arts Scene

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

Photo via @kc.ballet

One of the best things to do in Kansas City is to check out the excellent performing arts around practically every corner. You can find unique Kansas City activities that include 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 musicals and family-friendly shows at the Kansas City Music Hall. Or see local productions of Broadway shows and classic plays like Disney’s Frozen Jr. and Songs for a New World at The Barn Players Community Theatre. Watch classic Shakespeare productions like Twelfth Night or world premieres of shows like the ripple, the wave that carried me home at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Make a stop at the historic Folly Theatre to immerse yourself in live music performances, live podcast events, and world class ballet.

Don’t Miss Out on Live Jazz

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, Kansas City jazz clubs still prevail in the city’s live music scene. 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 club Black Dolphin next door! Visit The Phoenix throughout the week for live music in KC, as well as special Jazz Brunch events on Saturdays. Or hide out with cocktails and nightly jazz in the speakeasy below The Majestic.

Enjoy a Kansas City Festival

A muscian strumming a violin while on stage at a KCMO music festival. @crowncenter

Photo via @crowncenter

Kansas City has a wide variety of festivals that cover a range of interests, so KC residents will always have something to do! Dive into the art of filmmaking, celebrate visual storytelling, and enjoy film submissions from across the globe at Kansas City Filmfest. Meet comic book creators, enter a cosplay contest, play tabletop games like Warhammer 40k or Dungeons and Dragons, participate in esports tournaments for games such as League of Legends, or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and take part in special guest panel discussions at Planet Comicon Kansas City. Fulfill all your creative and culinary art desires for the entire family with face painting, balloon animals, a wide spread of food options, and creative art shows from artists all around the country at the Brookside Art Annual. Honor Kansas City performing and visual arts by getting a close-up look at showcases of theatre, dance, film, and more at KC Fringe Festival. Celebrate Irish culture with live musical performances from premier talent, learn about the history of Ireland, and taste classic Irish cuisine like meat pies at KC Irish Fest. Or visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to learn more about Deaf culture and American Sign Language at the Deaf Cultural Festival!

Rep Your Local Kansas City Teams

A Kansas City Chiefs football player about to catch a ball at Arrowhead Stadium while his deffender comes over to try to stop him. @chiefs

Photo via @chiefs

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) as they make their way to the end zone at Arrowhead Stadium. Root, root for the home team Kansas City Royals (MLB) as they knock the ball out of the park at Kauffman Stadium. Make a stop at Legends Field to watch the Kansas City Monarchs duke it out in the American Association of Professional Baseball, a partner organization to the MLB. Catch the Calgary Flames’ affiliate Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL) race across the ice and shoot for goals at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Take your friends out to the soccer pitch and hold up your scarf for Sporting KC (MLS) at Children’s Mercy Park. Or go out to Kansas Speedway for thrills as Nascar drivers race to the finish line in the ultimate display of skill and speed.

Fall in Love with Kansas City BBQ

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

Photo via @jackstackbbq

f there’s one thing you can count on in Kansas City, it’s barbecue. Though cities like Houston 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 dishes like the Open Faced Lean ‘n’ Mean, Carolina Pork Sandwich, and The Rocket Pig. Check out the award-winning Jack Stack Barbecue for signature barbecue dishes like Pork Spare Ribs, The Whole Pit Sandwich, and Honey Chipotle Chicken. Get everything from BBQ short ends and long ends to center cuts and slabs—and don’t forget to grab some barbecue sauces and seasoning for home from Gates BBQ! Head to Hawg Jaw Que & Brew for BBQ Nachos, Smoked Wings, or the Irish Hawg Combo. 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 like French Toast and Big Buttermilk Pancakes at hip brunch spot Succotash. Order Caldo Gallego, Elotes, and Ensalada De Mariscos to share at tapas restaurant La Bodega in Westside South. Enjoy a Kansas City Strip or Dry-Aged Ribeye at upscale steakhouse Piermont’s in Union Station. Try Austrian-influenced dishes like Schweinsbraten mit Knödel and Bauernschmaus at Grünauer in Crown Center. Savor the Shrimp Dumplings, Spicy Miso Bowl, Loaded Fried Rice, or Stir-Fry Ramen dishes at Boru Asian Eatery.

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

With the wide variety of local breweries, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that KC has an amazing craft beer scene—with the most famous brewery out of Kansas City being Boulevard Brewing Co., of course! You can visit the beer giant for brewery tours, to learn more about how they create their drinks, and 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 Chaos Magic beer, Monk and Honey, or Alpha Pale at Torn Label. Try the Campfire Porter, Strawberry Blonde, and the Patio Pale Ale at Border Brewing Company. Sip on the Helles Lager, Äpfel Cider, or the Dunkel at KC Bier Co. Toss back a We Are the Weirdos, Mister! IPA, Drake Equation, 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

In the mood 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 the Westport neighborhood to find Kansas City’s best drag shows at gay club Missie B’s, or see your favorite games on big screens at sports lounge Westport Ale House. Or level up your retro gaming skills at arcade bar Up-Down KC in the Crossroads Art District.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.