What's it like to live in Wichita, KS?


Jennifer Allen

Profile written by local expert:

Jennifer Allen

What started out as an 1860s trading post has since grown into a metropolitan area of nearly 645,000 people. Wichita, Kansas, which is located in the heart of the Midwest along the banks of the Arkansas River, is also the state's largest metro area and business hub.

Wichita's tremendous growth and success over the last century can be attributed to the cattle, grain, oil and aviation industries, as well as the spirit and determination of its founders. Although its cowboy roots are still celebrated, Wichita has since embraced higher education, world-class health care and technological innovation. In fact, many companies including Cessna and Learjet got their start here, earning the region the nickname "Air Capital of the World."

And even though it includes more than a couple hundred farms, Wichita boasts a wide array of diverse activities and a population equally broad in background and lifestyle. Residents find plenty of ways to stay entertained here, whether it's perusing modern and contemporary art at Wichita State University's Ulrich Museum of Art or imbibing in homemade beer at the River City Brewery.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Wichita, Kansas is ranked:

#79 in Best Places to Live

#99 in Best Places to Retire

6.4

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.6
  • Value
    7.7
  • Job Market
    6.3
  • Quality of Life
    6.0
  • Net Migration
    5.3

Read how we rank places

Wichita, KS Quick Stats

  • 642,339

    Metro Population

  • $43,880

    Average Annual Salary

  • 67.6° / 45.5°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.8

    Median Age

  • $143,850

    Median Home Price

  • 34.3 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $769

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 19.5 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Wichita, KS?

One of the greatest benefits of living in Wichita is the cost of living, which is well below the national average. Housing prices and rental rates are inexpensive compared to what you'd find in places on the East or West Coast. Residents also tend to spend less on daily expenses like groceries and utilities than the average American. However, Kansas has some of the highest sales taxes in the nation.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.7 /10

How we calculate this.


Wichita offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018


Wichita
$143,850

USA
$227,025

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Wichita, KS.

What's the weather like in Wichita, KS?

Wichita residents experience all four seasons, though there's one weather element that lasts all year long: wind. The weather can also be severe, from tornado season in the spring to triple-digit temperatures in the summer to icy and snowy conditions in the winter. Still, if you love a good sunset, the Wichita skies rarely disappoint.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

34.3°F


Winter

55.8°F


Spring

78.2°F


Summer

57.9°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

1.4 in


Winter

4.9 in


Spring

5.4 in


Summer

3.2 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Wichita, KS?

You will need a car to get around Wichita, as the metro area is fairly spread out, and although public bus service is available, it's fairly limited in reach. The average commute time in Wichita is one of the best in the country at less than 20 minutes.

Recent efforts have been made on the part of the local government to make Wichita more bike-friendly. Designated bike lanes have been installed throughout downtown and the bordering neighborhoods. There is also a network of recreational bike paths covering roughly 100 miles of scenic byways around the region. For those traveling throughout the downtown area, the Q-Line Trolley provides fare-free service.

The Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower International Airport offers nonstop flights to destinations like Seattle, ChicagoAtlanta and Dallas by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. Ground transport is provided by charter bus companies like Greyhound, while Amtrak trains service the nearby town of Newton.

Commuting in Wichita, KS

Means of Transportation
Driving
93%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
0%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

19.5 minutes

6.9 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Wichita, KS?

Wichita has a reputation of being a great place to raise a family. It also draws many young professionals and retirees with its employment opportunities and low cost of living. The median age of Wichita's population is 35, and residents older than 65 constitute roughly 13 percent of the population.

A traditionally conservative community, Wichita families have broad religious affiliations, with Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism being two of the most common faiths.

Demographically, there are neighborhoods known for various ethnic concentrations, but a major influence of cultural diversity is rooted in generations of Lebanese immigrants who have left a noticeable imprint on the metro area. Middle Eastern restaurants are located throughout Wichita, and every year, the St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral hosts a Lebanese dinner and food sale.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Wichita as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Wichita, KS?

Whether your idea of culture is a monster truck show, country music, theater, opera or ballet, you'll find something that suits your tastes in Wichita. The downtown Intrust Bank Arena hosts popular touring entertainment acts, music and sports. Other music venues include the historic Orpheum Theatre, Hartman Arena and Century II.

Meanwhile, the Sedgwick County Zoo is a great place to spend a family weekend. Kids also enjoy the Exploration Place children's science museum. While there are no major league sports in Wichita, the metro area is home to minor league hockey, minor league baseball and the Wichita State University men's basketball team, the Shockers.