10 Best Places To Live In Kansas For 2020


These are the cream of the crop when it comes to the Sunflower State.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Kansas.

Thinking of picking up everything and moving to Kansas?

Already live here and trying to find the right place to live?

Well, look no further than our set of the best places to live in Kansas for 2020 -- we've been doing these rankings since 2015.

How do you pick the best places to live in what many agree is the best darn state in the nation? If you do a survey, you'll most likely get opinions based emotions.

That's why we used science -- data from the Census and FBI on things people care about in a place in Kansas like low crime, quality of life, and friendly neighborhoods. After all, the data never lies.

After analyzing everything from weather and amenities to crime and education, we've come up with the following list as the best places to live in Kansas. Read on below to see how we calculated the results and where your hometown ranked. Hint: If you live in Johnson County, consider yourself lucky.

What city is the best place to live in kansas for 2020? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, Leawood ranks as the best place to live in kansas for 2020 amongst the 54 places above 5,000 people.

Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 15-minute drive of Leawood is the most desirable, according to science and data.

But as most Kansas residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Kansas reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

Leawood, KS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 34,570
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $447,100 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.4% (6th best)
More on Leawood: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Not only is Leawood the best place to live in Kansas, but it's also the only city on our top ten list to score a perfect 10/10 on our SnackAbility scale.

Leawood is used to being in the limelight as this is the second year in row that they have earned this rank--consistent strong numbers in areas like safety, affordability, education, and amenities, tend to do this to a city; and rightfully so as the crime rate here is below the national average. To put this in perspective, there were only 570 recorded last year.

In terms of cost of living, you will find savings comparable to the state average in transportation and utilities, but you're going to pay the highest median home price at $447,100. On the flipside, the median household income here is $149,736/year. Not to mention, if you were wondering how Leawood would best support your family, just know that this city is one of the best places to raise your family in the state and it's because they spend quite a bit per student.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,671
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $157,900 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.8% (1st best)
More on Bel Aire: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Is it time for a change? Are you bored with where you currently live? Have you ever thought about living in the Midwest? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, we recommend that you take a look at Kansas' 2nd best place to live, Bel Aire.

No, the Fresh Prince did not grow up here, but he probably wishes that he did with the Bel Aire's low cost of living--this would have freed up a lot more money for his expensive taste. Yes, Bel Aire has one of the best median home price to income ratios. Incidentally, living expenses like health services, groceries, and utilities are relatively less expensive in Bel Aire compared to the state average. And your biggest concern in terms of safety would be to make sure that you lock your car doors at night as the crime rate here is below the state average with most of the incidents property related.

Normally one would think of The Sunflower State as a bunch of farm fields and prairie, but not in Bel Aire. Located slightly northeast of Wichita you get the best of all worlds--that laid back Kansas lifestyle inside Bel Aire's city limits and some of the best nightlife a mere 15 minutes away in "the big city".

Derby, KS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 23,768
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $159,200 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.9% (13th best)
More on Derby: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Step outside of your comfort zone and think about this: Kansas' 3rd best place to live has low crime, a low cost of living, and it's one of Wichita's biggest suburbs, so you might want to pay attention if you're thinking about a change of pace.

And that change of pace would look like a crime rate that is below the state average. Derby's overall cost of living is slightly above the state level and slightly below the national level--you will find above average savings in housing, health services, and utilities. Just think of all of the money you will save with a combined household median income of $71,909/year and a median home price of $159,200.

Incidentally, Derby scored a 9/10 on our SnackAbility scale for amenities and whether you like to play outside or inside, there are plenty of places to take selfies in this city that will make your out-of-town and/or out-of-state friends super jealous. Yes, don't be afraid to share a photo petting the dinosaurs at the Field Station Dinosaur Park or the covered wagon at the Derby History Museum, as we're pretty sure that it will up your Instagram cred. Not to mention, commute times here are next to nothing, so that leaves plenty of time to enjoy Derby and Wichita on a daily basis.

Overland Park, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 188,687
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $261,200 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (20th best)
More on Overland Park: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Overland Park is one of the biggest cities in Kansas with 188,687, so the fact that it is also the 4th best place to live in the state and one of the best places to live in the United States is quite amazing.

So, how can the rest of the state as well as the rest of the country take a page from Overland Park's book? Well, first you need to find out how to get your crime rate below the state average and below the national level like yours truly. You also need to figure out how to get your cost of living at a manageable level. Overland Park might have the 2nd highest median home price (because so many people want to move here), but the city's median income of $82,651/year more than accounts for overall living expenses if you are part of the working class. And if you aren't part of the working class here, you have no excuse as the unemployment rate in Overland Park is the 20th best unemployment rate at 3.4%.

Lenexa, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 53,051
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $248,800 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (9th best)
More on Lenexa: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Low crime and a low cost of living have transformed Kansas' 5th best place to live, Lenexa, into a Kansas hot spot. Up three spots from last year, it is now a top ten-er and a well deserving one at that.

First of all, the homes in Lenexa are the 5th most expensive in the state of Kansas, with the average home worth a whopping $248,800.

Other numbers that stand out: the combined median household income for Lenexa's residents is $84,370/year and the crime rate here is way below the national average. Basically, folks, it's super safe here. In fact, it's one of the safest cities in the state. And this is important when you are looking for a place with safe urban adventures for you and your family.

Speaking of adventures, Lenexa scored a 9/10 on our SnackAbility scale with its number of educated residents, its job market, commute times, and amenities at the forefront. Hop on the easily accessible concrete rivers here and enjoy Lenexa's Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art or Shawnee Mission Park.

Mcpherson, KS

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 13,041
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $140,400 (23rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (8th best)
More on Mcpherson: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

One of Kansas' most centrally located places--literally, right smack dab in the middle of the Jayhawker State with Salina to the North, Wichita to the South, Topeka to the East, and Great Bend to the West--is the state's 6th best place to live, Mcpherson.

Naturally, you might be confused as to whether you should cheer for the Kansas State Wildcats or the University of Kansas Jayhawks, but one thing you will definitely have you cheering is the city's exceptional numbers.

You can buy a home here for the median home price of $140,400, and, folks, you only have to make household median income of $54,804 to afford the city's overall cost of living. You will find amazing saving on living expenses that include--but are not limited to--food costs, transportation costs, and utilities. More importantly, if you choose to buy your forever home in Mcpherson think of it as a long term investment as this city is also one of the best places to retire in the state.

Olathe, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 135,986
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $224,000 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (16th best)
More on Olathe: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

If you're thinking about Olathe as your forever home, you better start thinking about it now as this city is not only the 7th best place to live in Kansas, it's one of the fastest growing cities in America.

The homes in Olathe are the 5th highest in the state. We're not elitists, nor are we saying that big homes mean a better place to live, but price reflects demand, and simply put, a lot of people want to live in Olathe if they can afford it. And one way you can afford it is to get a job that pays the city's median income of $85,318/year to cover your cost of living. But, you can expect to find a job pretty easily in Olathe as the job market here is pretty strong and the unemployment rate is the 16th at 3.1%.

Olathe is also crazy safe. The crime rate here is very low. And surprisingly, for a city of 135,986 residents, there were only 2,262 reported last year and a majority of them were property related--so lock your doors!

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,747
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 6)
Median Home Value: $139,300 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.5% (2nd best)
More on Valley Center: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

The smallest city in population to make our top ten list, Valley Center, might only have 6,747 residents, but it's clocking big time numbers in jobs, affordability, safety and education, and that's why it's the 8th best place to live in Kansas.

Yes, the only people who do not have a job in Valley Center either physically can't work or don't want a job as the current unemployment rate here is the 2nd best in the state at 1.5%. And you're going to want a good job--one that pays the city's median income of $70,962/year so that you can afford the 24th best home price in the state at $139,300.

With numbers like these, it's evident that Valley Center is doing all it can to keep your cost of living down so that you can take that extra money and invest it in the city's neighborhoods and communities. More importantly, invest it in keeping everyone safe, happy, and healthy. It seems to be working as the city only recorded 89 crimes at the time of this report and the overall crime rate here is low.

And although Valley Center is the epitome of small town living, commute times here are some of the best in the state--you can hop on the I-135 and be in Wichita in minutes.

Gardner, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 21,351
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $178,700 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (23rd best)
More on Gardner: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Here's an update on why Gardner is the 9th best places to live in Kansas and why it continues to be one of The Wheat State's best of the best year after year.

Not only does Gardner have the youngest population in the state (32) running around keeping the city's energy up and spending money on all of the fun things that Gardner has to offer: like, visiting the quaint coffee shops downtown and the annual Grand Slam Beer and Wine Festival, but the cost of living here is super manageable for anyone just starting out. And if you're a youngster trying to date in one of the best places for singles in the state, you're going to need the extra cash.

But, we're not worried that Gardner's 21,351 residents will figure it out--this small town did score a 9/10 for education on our SnackAbility scale with one of the highest high school graduation rates in the state. Not to mention, smart people know a good deal when they see one; and for Gardner, that deal looks like a median home price of $178,700. They also know how to earn the city's median income of $75,985--the unemployment rate here is 3.6% and the poverty level is 5.5%.

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 9,437
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $169,500 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (4th best)
More on Mission: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

The biggest decision that you will have to make in Kansas' 10th best city, Mission, is whether to order your Kansas City BBQ with or without sauce, because this small town of 9,437 residents has handled the rest.

So, if you were worried about crime, don't be. Mission is one of the safest places in Kansas. If you stay up at night wondering how you will ever afford a house here, stop. Matter of fact, for a Kansas City suburb, the cost of living in Mission is relatively low and it has the 15th best median home price in the state at $169,500; not to mention, the residents here earn a great salary at $60,875/year.

Mission's unemployment rate is 2.0%, so stop stressing about the job opportunities here, too. Basically, save your time and your energy enjoying a family bike ride through the city's Streamway Park and/or spending the day exploring what Kansas City's other suburbs have to offer.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Kansas

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Topeka with a population of 126,877 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 54 cities, 140 towns, and 412 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Kansas have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Kansas

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Kansas across a number of criteria from one to 54, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Kansas".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Kansas? That would be Leawood.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Kansas.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Leawood at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Kansas

If you're looking at areas in Kansas with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Leawood made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Kansas for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Kansas

  1. Mission Hills (Pop. 3,582)
  2. Westwood (Pop. 1,747)
  3. Victoria (Pop. 1,316)
  4. Fairway (Pop. 3,964)
  5. Lindsborg (Pop. 3,417)
  6. St. Marys (Pop. 2,793)
  7. Silver Lake (Pop. 1,659)
  8. North Newton (Pop. 1,901)
  9. Rose Hill (Pop. 3,915)
  10. Colwich (Pop. 1,305)

Best Small Towns To Live In Kansas

  1. Westwood Hills (Pop. 414)
  2. Maple Hill (Pop. 695)
  3. Tipton (Pop. 255)
  4. Spearville (Pop. 964)
  5. Glen Elder (Pop. 521)
  6. Lake Quivira (Pop. 987)
  7. Eastborough (Pop. 742)
  8. Assaria (Pop. 471)
  9. Andale (Pop. 790)
  10. Willowbrook (Pop. 94)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Kansas according to the data:

  1. Independence (Pop. 8,847)
  2. Parsons (Pop. 9,876)
  3. Coffeyville (Pop. 9,578)

For more Kansas reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Kansas?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Leawood 34,570 2.4% $447,100
2 Bel Aire 7,671 0.8% $157,900
3 Derby 23,768 2.9% $159,200
4 Overland Park 188,687 3.4% $261,200
5 Lenexa 53,051 2.7% $248,800
6 Mcpherson 13,041 2.6% $140,400
7 Olathe 135,986 3.1% $224,000
8 Valley Center 6,747 1.5% $139,300
9 Gardner 21,351 3.6% $178,700
10 Mission 9,437 2.0% $169,500

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

9 thoughts on “10 Best Places To Live In Kansas For 2020

  1. You quite clearly did not do any research on this list. Beloit is the WORSt place I have ever lived. the unemployment rate is higher than you claim, the schools are NOT the 3rd best by any means. The court system here is horrid and they do not care whether you are innocent or guilty as long as you pay them money. The cops are pathetic and hassel anyone with a certain last name. A few years ago there was a ‘Hazing incident’ as they called it where Logan Eck and Joe Studor held a freshman down and rubbed Icy Hot on his genitals. That should have been serious legal action. But no, they didn’t get into any actual trouble. They had to sit out of a couple football games. That’s it. Beloit should be far lower on this list.

  2. I was born in Scott City. I say Kansas sucks then I think about where I came from. I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t come from Kansas.

  3. I am not sure where to start with this one. I have to ask, have the authors ever been to Kansas? No one that has ever lived in Kansas would rank Scott City or Hugoton higher than a city like Overland Park. There are a few cities in the top ten I agree with (Leawood, Mission Hills, Olathe, Lenexa) but I have no idea how several of the others even made the list. Admittedly, I am a little biased as I live in Olathe but it appears to me the “scientific” criteria is flawed.

    First, I would not base the quality of the schools on dollars spent per child/teacher, but rather on academic achievement and test scores.

    Second, quality of life, an extremely important criteria, is not even considered. Small towns in the middle of western Kansas certainly appeal to some, but communities in Johnson County like Olathe, Lenexa, Leawood, Mission Hills, Overland Park, and Fairway to name a few, are far superior in terms of public service.

    Third, unemployment is an important indicator but if you compare the types of jobs in the western part of the state to those in Johnson County there is a huge difference. Anyone with a professional degree would have difficulty finding a quality engineering position in many of the small western towns listed. Many jobs in these areas are blue collar (no offense intended to those folks)
    and do not pay substantially more than minimum wage, nor do they offer much opportunity for career advancement.

    I could on and on but I think I made my point. I have nothing against the folks who live in these small towns in the western part of the state and I am sure many of them enjoy their quality of life. However, the quality of schools, public services, and career opportunities simply cannot compete with that of the Johnson County area.

  4. Unemployment in Mission Hills ? How could a person even rent a guesthouse in Mission Hills on income only from unemployment? More importantly, who WORKS in that city who lives there? The mayor or a golf course employee who inherited a few million to pay for their house? Mission Hills has no real income from Mission Hills businesses since there are none.

  5. I live in Coffeyville, Ks We have a refinery that pays over$70,000.- $125,000 a year salary, We have John Deere MFG plant that Pays $60,000 plus, Our City is still union and pays in the $40,000 range, Most jobs in the area are low to med income. However our housing was washed away with a flood in 2007. We are within 35 minutes from Bartlesville, 45 minutes from Owasso , OK and Tulsa, OK or one hour from Joplin, MO. We have our highways lined with the US Flags and a highly ranked Community College in all sports. We don’t have to have bars on our windows or have prostitutes and gangs running our streets. WE have rodeos, music in the parks, over 75 churches, A casino ten minutes from our house, Grand Lake is 45 minutes to the south, all is not that wrong in our small town, I would not pay $350,000 for a home I would never own, then pay $3500. a month in taxes to just to act like I am something special. Life is what you make of it , a backdrop won’t fill the void. Love , Live and come to SE Kansas on second thought stay where you are at, we don’t need a change, I love my life and little home. Thank You Lord for SE Kansas.

  6. We moved to Andover 14 years ago because of this kind of hype. Then my grandkids were diagnosed with adhd and autism. Andover schools are great for most kids, but if your child has special needs expect that child to be bullied … by teachers and counselors. The six years it took for the school to admit they didn’t have a clue how to help my autistic granddaughter were a nightmare for us. Four years later with a great teacher in Douglas she still has great anxiety. The grandchild with adhd finally took matters into her own hands and asked to change to online school. I think that’s the only thing reason she was able to graduate.

  7. If Mulvane can get some more of their residents to work, things will look even rosier here. The unemployment rate (2.9% is the 6th highest in the state.)

    Meaning that almost everyone works in Mulvane. Your editor reversed the meaning of “High unemployment rate” and “High employment rate”. Duh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *