What's it like to live in Kansas City, MO?

Tonya Goth Simmons

Profile written by local expert:

Tonya Goth Simmons

The country's images of the Midwest and Kansas City, like flyover country, cow town and endless open prairies, negate the truth: that Kansas City, Missouri – the larger of two cities that bear the same name – is a major metropolitan area with a diverse population of more than 2 million people.

Straddling two states and two rivers, Kansas City surprises newcomers who expect to find a homey metro area. Instead, they find a place that continues to celebrate its history while continuously innovating. Locals can sit down to a game of cards in a riverboat casino before enjoying a show at the Kansas City Symphony. Or they can honor resident legend Charlie Parker with a stop at the American Jazz Museum before sinking their teeth into the famous Arthur Bryant's barbecue.

As more millennials flock to Kansas City for its desirable cost of living and optimal job market, the area has fostered the growth of a creative community. Throughout the area, independent boutiques and coffee shops have sprung up, and walls of buildings are decorated by colorful murals.


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.

Kansas City, Missouri is ranked:

#58 in Best Places to Live

#80 in Best Places to Retire




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Kansas City, MO Quick Stats

  • 2,070,147

    Metro Population

  • $48,900

    Average Annual Salary

  • 64.6° / 44.5°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 37.0

    Median Age

  • N/A

    Median Home Price

  • 38.9 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.8%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $863

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 22.9 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Kansas City, MO?

The cost of living in Kansas City is cheaper than in other major metro areas like Chicago, while the average annual income is slightly below the national average. Daily necessities like groceries are generally cheaper in Kansas City. However, housing prices are on the rise. Although much of the action takes place on the Missouri side, living on the Kansas side of the metro area can be more expensive.  

Value Index

Index Score: 7.6 /10

How we calculate this.

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

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Kansas City, MO.


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What's the weather like in Kansas City, MO?

Periods of unseasonable weather are common in both winter and summer. Spring typically brings rain and sometimes violent storms. The metro area sits on the edge of Tornado Alley, and flash flooding is common. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

1.5 in


5.2 in


5.2 in


4.6 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Kansas City, MO?

Life in Kansas City is definitely easier with a car. There is a metro bus service that links into separate transit systems that run throughout much of the metro area, but public transit isn't nearly as fast or reliable as using a personal vehicle.

Downtown Kansas City and many of its individual neighborhoods are relatively walkable. Meanwhile, the BCycle bike-share program makes getting around fairly easy, with more than 40 bike stations located throughout central Kansas City.

Kansas City's KCI International Airport is located on the north edge of the metro area. Amtrak stations are located in both Union Station downtown and Lees Summit. 

Commuting in Kansas City, MO

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

22.9 minutes

3.2 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 Kansas City, MO?

Kansas City is a great place for families. More than a quarter of the metro area's population is younger than 20. The suburban areas are particularly attractive to families for their safety and great schools.

Downtown Kansas City has experienced a resurgence in recent years with a growing arts and culinary scene. Millennials are heading to the downtown area and filling the new residential developments.

Religion is an important part of life in the Kansas City metro area. About half of the residents identify as Christian, with a small percentage of adherents to Judaism and Islam.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Kansas City as national average

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

What is there to do in Kansas City, MO?

Kansas City is home to a vibrant arts community that includes the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kansas City Art Institute.

The region is also home to three professional theaters and a children's theater company. Kansas City has several professional sports teams, including the Royals baseball team, the Chiefs football team and the Sporting soccer team. The nearby Kansas Speedway hosts a variety of NASCAR events.

Meanwhile, families flock to Legoland, Sea Life aquarium and the Kansas City Zoo. History buffs can have their pick of museums that feature every era and genre of the region's past, from the National World War I Museum and Memorial to the Arabia Steamship Museum and the American Jazz Museum. 

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Kansas City, MO