15 Best Places to Live in Kansas

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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Name the film ‘there’s no place like home’. You’ve guessed it! The Wizard of Oz! Now, where is Dorothy’s home? Why it’s Kansas!

This almost perfectly regular state can be called home by 2.9million people, and no, they don’t just click their heels and magic their way back here! Being the Midwest, Kansas State is well connected to the rest of the country by Route 70 and Route 135.

So we know that it is a well-connected state but what about other factors that potential new residents look for in an American State? What about access to public schooling, cost of living and population diversity?

With fifty states to choose from it can be bewildering to start the process of looking for a new place to live in the United States of America. Each state has its own merits and as a collection of settlements, they are incredibly diverse.

We have scoured the jumbled array of information out there about Kansas, eliminated the unnecessary and highlighted the useful, in this comprehensive guide of best places to live in Kansas, meaning you can focus on the fun part of the process, finding your new home!

1. Leawood

LeawoodSource: kcplumberpro.com

Leawood is what could be referred to as a triple threat, in the right kind of way. Not only ranked as the best place to live in Kansas but also the best suburb in the state and the best place to raise a family too, according to niche.com.

Having listened to what local residents say, it is the tight-knit community that really makes Leawood a special place to live, on top of that, the charming style of houses, and pride that people take in their properties all adds to the appeal.

The median household income is $139,000 which would explain, perhaps, the high median property value. At $398,000 this area is rather exclusive some would say. Median rent is $1,234 and with 93% of residents living in owned homes tenants are pushed for choice.

2. Prairie Village

Prairie VillageSource: A.D. Modlin / Flickr
Prairie Village

The endearingly named Prairie Village is a small city that borders Leawood to the north. Home to 21,000 people, although on paper a city, as its name would suggest Prairie Village is a small, homely neighbourhood.

House prices in Prairie Village are a little more affordable than Leawood, with median prices falling at $213,000 rather than $398,000. Given that Prairie Village too has an outstanding collection of public schools, 19 to be precise, parents who haven’t quite hit the six-figure income would do well to choose Prairie Village.

Median household income here is $80,584 making the suburb more accessible and more diverse all round.

Local people are also quick to note that proximity to commuter routes into Kansas City was another selling point when they were finding the best place to live in Kansas for them.

3. Westwood

Westwood, Kansas CitySource: Quint2724 / Wikimedia
Westwood, Kansas City

Talking of Kansas City, Westwood is the most highly desirable suburb of the city in Johnson County. Although very much within the city limits, being home to just 1,795 people the Westwood neighbourhood does evoke a village-like feel.

Property in the area is rather reasonable when remembering the proximity to the CBD and the idealistically low crime statistics. Median home value is $205,000, in excess of the nationwide average yes but this, in reality, matters little. It is value for money one should seek when investing in property.

Westwood is becoming an increasingly popular area with the millennial generation. With that in mind, properties like a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom charming home on 48th Street on the market for $189,900 would seldom be on the market for long.

4. Fairway

Shawnee Methodist Mission, North Building, National Historic Landmark, Fairway, KansasSource: User:Charvex / Wikimedia
Shawnee Methodist Mission, Fairway, Kansas

Sticking in and around Kansas City we come to the suburb of Fairway. This is a gorgeous area of Kansas to live, especially for those who are avid golfers. With Kansas City Country Club bordering the suburb to the east and Mission Hills Country Club and Carriage Club to the northeast, the aspiring golf star would easily fall in love with Fairway. Appropriately named place, don’t you agree?

The vast majority of residents live in owned homes and with median household income hitting $101,000 annually you can understand why. House prices here are on par with Leawood. Better value for money, however; $245,000 would see you invest in a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom family home with spacious grounds and private driveway too.

5. Overland Park

Source: Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA / Wikimedia
Overland Park

You will, no doubt, be excited to read that Overland Park is recognised as the 8th best city to live in all of America.

The resident population of 181,464 people would rush to agree that overall satisfaction is high. Flicking through community forums online it is hard to find anyone with anything even remotely negative to say about the place.

Median household income is $72,463 a year, making the community very diverse in terms of socioeconomic background. The public schools in Overland Park are nothing shy of outstanding and with 57 to choose from parents have every option available to their children from elementary school through to middle school and beyond.

6. Lenexa

LenexaSource: OrthoArchitectDU / Wikimedia

If property in Overland Park was just a touch too pricey then take a look at Lenexa. Situated immediately south-west of Overland Park, average house prices in Lenexa are a little more affordable, at $225,000.

By choosing Lenexa you would gain the best of both worlds; a slightly more affordable cost of living with access to all the amenities that make Overland Park the 8th best place to live in America.

Lenexa is less densely populated too, home to just 50,400 people.

This is a highly educated area and this is reflected in the average household income of $75,954. With 20% of residents holding a master’s degree or higher, this area is for the prosperous.

7. Olathe

Johnson County Courthouse In Olathe, KansasSource: Ichabod / Wikimedia
Johnson County Courthouse In Olathe, Kansas

Schooling in Olathe has to be one of its biggest draws. With an incredible 73 public schools in the neighbourhood, children growing up here really do get a sterling start in life. Boasting two of the top five schools in Kansas, Olathe is a great place to raise a family.

Houses in Olathe are, for the most part, detached and come complete with vast gardens and evergreen trees to guard against overlookers.

Should you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find that property in Olathe is more affordable than statistics would have you believe.

For an investment of $99,000, you would gain a quaint and cosy 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom family home on Chestnut Street. Ideal for young families looking to get onto the property ladder.

8. Roeland Park

Roeland ParkSource: www.roelandpark.net
Roeland Park

Sticking in Johnson County but heading back within the Kansas City limits we find Roeland Park. A charming suburb home to 6,800 very contented residents.

In contrast to its suburban aesthetic, Roeland Park has a village-like feel, perhaps due to the neighbourly nature of those who call it home.

Renting property in Roeland Park is one of the more affordable and desirable areas of Kansas City to do so. On average monthly rent in the suburb is $992, far more affordable than Prairie Village for example. With 29% of people living in rented accommodation, there is a good range of homes for tenants to choose from.

9. Mission Hills

Mission HillsSource: davedehetre / Flickr
Mission Hills

Adjacent to Fairway and directly north of Prairie Village is the suburb of Mission Hills. You may recall the name from when we discussed Fairway for Mission Hills is home to Mission Hills Golf Club.

There are dozens of quaint coffee shops and family run burger joints here in Mission Hills; First Watch – Fairway is a popular spot for brunch.

With a small population of just 3,500 people, Mission Hills is rather a sociable place. Residents are keen to keep the community atmosphere thriving so there are many opportunities throughout the year to do your bit for the neighbourhood.

Mission Hills is a very affluent neighbourhood, average house prices are $913,700 and sadly there is little change from $1million in this area.

10. Shawnee

ShawneeSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Looking back through our list of 15 best places to live in Kansas it is safe to say that our selection features not only great places to live in Kansas but great places to live in America as a whole. Shawnee is no exception.

Those looking to rent a property in Kansas can hit the jackpot in Shawnee. With median rent at $854 a month, this is a greatly affordable area for tenants in this state.

Local people describe the area as well balanced, in all respects; there is a diverse population of 64,100 people who earn around $77,000 a year.

Situated on the banks of the Kansas River, close to Lake Quivira, there are ample opportunities to get outdoors and explore.

11. Lawrence

Lawrence, KansasSource: Jeff Zehnder / shutterstock

Lawrence is the sixth largest city in Kansas. On the banks of Clinton Lake much like with Shawnee, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors here in Lawrence.

The city in Douglas County is home to 91,000 people; there is a solid market here for rental properties with nearly half of residents leasing their homes.

With median rent at $852, it is easy to see why many residents opt to rent. That said, investing in property in Lawrence is a smart move. Great value for money in a pleasant neighbourhood. On 21st Street a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom family home costs as little as $140,000.

Given the great selection of public schools in the area, young families can create a happy and homely base in Lawrence.

12. Mission

Mission, Kansas CitySource: www.kansastravel.org

Mission is another suburb of Kansas City. With job opportunities aplenty in the central business district, situating yourself a half an hour drive away from the business hub could prove a sensible move.

Mission has a vast selection of fast food joints and formal restaurants too. Should you wish you’d never have to cook again!

From a home base in Mission, parents have access to top end schools in Shawnee too for the school district here spans over both neighbourhoods. Residents of Mission are a diverse bunch who on average earn $55,000 a year.

It is sad to see that a spate of thefts in the area have cast Mission down in the crime statistics but local people claim they feel safe and protected living here.

13. Manhattan

Manhattan, KansasSource: SilverEdge / shutterstock

No, not the suburb of New York City, this Manhattan is very much in Kansas, in Riley County. In all honesty, there is very little to find fault with in this suburb and has it been in any other state it may well have ranked more favourably.

Median rent here in Manhattan is far lower than the national average, at $859 the cost of living here is a big draw. In fact, more of the 55,700 people who reside here live in rented accommodation, rather than owned properties.

This is a rather transient neighbourhood due to its college town status. Students bring with them a vibrancy and thirst for socialising that benefits the whole community.

14. North Newton

North NewtonSource: Weldon Schloneger / shutterstock
North Newton

North Newton is considered to be the safest suburb in Kansas. The cost of living is ideal and the availability of quality housing plentiful. This area has an aging population largely due to the schools in the area.

Although all are performing on par with government expectations compared to other schooling districts in Kansas State, North Newton is underperforming.

Nevertheless, if public schooling has no impact on your decision-making process then there are no issues to report from North Newton.

Just thirty-minutes drive away from Wichita, there are ample provisions in North Newton for most people. Should mega stores or a taste of big city life be in order it’s just a short drive away.

15. Derby

DerbySource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Derby is an all round good place to live. Easily affordable for a working family and with a huge variety of family homes on the market you’ll surely find a suitable match.

Investors would gain great value for money should they choose Derby as a place to play. A stately 2-storey family home with four bedrooms and 4 bathrooms to match currently fetches $179,000.

There is a good range of public schools in Derby too, with 23% of the 23,000 residents being of school age there is a thriving community of young people in the area.

As a suburb of Wichita, the city provides youngsters with all their entertainment needs; movie theatres and Exploration Place are popular weekend hangouts.


15 Best Places to Live in Kansas:

  • Leawood
  • Prairie Village
  • Westwood
  • Fairway
  • Overland Park
  • Lenexa
  • Olathe
  • Roeland Park
  • Mission Hills
  • Shawnee
  • Lawrence
  • Mission
  • Manhattan
  • North Newton
  • Derby