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 get opinions based on most likely, emotions.
That’s why we use science. 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. These are the places that are peachy keen. Where folks seem to have it all figured out, thank you very much.
Read on below to see how we calculated the results and where your home town ranked. Hint: If you live in Johnson County, consider yourself lucky.
The Top 10 Best Places to Live in Kansas
- Mission Hills
- Scott City
- Prairie Village
Small Towns vs. Big Cities. Which is Better?
In order to rank the best places to live in Kansas, we had to first determine if a bigger city should weigh heavier than a tiny town with 52 people. We firmly decided that yes, bigger cities should be given a bigger ranking factor because there are more things to do in a larger town.
After that, it was a matter of entering the data of cities with a population over 3,000 people in Kansas and asking the computer to tell us who is best.
Using FBI data, the government census, Sperling’s Best Places data and Bureau of Labor Statistics, we used the following criteria in the rankings:
- Population Density (The higher the better)
- Lower Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Low Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
- Short Commute Times
- Low Crime
- The Best Weather
If your city isn’t in the Top 10, scroll to the bottom of this post to see a complete list of the larger cities or click here for a chart with all cities and their data.
Unemployment rate: 3.5%
Median household income: $134,242
Crime: 4th lowest in KS
This probably isn’t a surprise to Leawood residents, but Leawood, an Overland Park suburb, is the best place you can live in Kansas, according to science. Let’s see why.
First of all, we’re not saying that money buys happiness, but the fact remains that Leawood residents are the wealthiest in the state. Home values are also 2nd highest in the state. So, things seem to be fine and dandy here, thank you very much.
Sure, not everyone likes the high cost of living. But crime is the 4th lowest in Kansas, too.
Surprisingly, the school systems that Leawood kids attend are in the bottom 30% for spending per student and student-teacher ratios. If they would have ranked even average, Leawood would have blown away every other city in the state.
2. Mission Hills
Unemployment rate: 4%
Home values: Highest in KS
Crime: 3rd lowest
Sure, the cost of homes is the highest in the state, which might deter some people. But there’s a reason for that: Demand. If you’re going to spend $859,000 on a home, you’d better be in a great place.
This is a wealthy suburb of Kansas City/Overland Park where families bring in lots of cash each year. In fact, Mission Hills is far, far, far wealthier than Leawood. It’s just butterflies and rainbows, that’s for sure.
Crime is even lower in Mission Hills as well, but the unemployment rate is slightly higher in Mission Hills.
The schools have essentially the same spending and student-teacher ratios.
Crime: Safest in the state
Home values: 3rd highest
Incomes: Third highest
In Fairway, it’s a lot more affordable. Homes are still really expensive, but at $289,000, it’s not all that bad. Incomes are still above $100,000. And there’s no safer place in the state than here.
Fact is, you could do a lot worse than Fairway if you make the state of Kansas your home. You can call Fairway the bomb diggity. They’d take that as a compliment.
4. Scott City
Unemployment rate: 2.4%
Schools: 2nd best
Crime: 6th lowest
Scott City is A-OK, where the ‘average Joes’ should move in Kansas if they value a great education, low crime, and most importantly, affordability. Homes here average under $84,000, so consider Scott City a steal.
The schools in Scott City rank 6th for student-teacher interaction, and the unemployment rate here is actually the 2nd lowest in Kansas as well.
Scott City is way out on Route 83, on the western side of the state. Your only downfall here might be sheer boredom.
School spending: Highest in KS
Adjusted incomes: 10th highest
Crime: 9th lowest
Hugoton is in the same boat as Scott City. Both are tiny, western Kansas cities with low crime and solid schools. Folks don’t earn huge salaries, but the cost of living adjustment makes it one of the most affordable places to live.
But again, you might be bored. You’re almost closer to Amarillo, Texas than you are to Dodge City.
Home values: 7th highest
Income: 13th highest
Crime: 22nd lowest
Back to the super duper Overland Park suburbs we go. Olathe is one of the most affordable suburbs in Johnson County, where crime is low, but not necessarily miniscule. And, while families are high earners, and the homes are large and beautiful, the schools are still much lower rated than they are in the boonies of western KS.
But there’s a lot more to do in this part of the state, obviously.
Unemployment rate: 2.9%
Schools: 3rd best
Crime: 15th lowest
Way out on Route 24 in Mitchell County is the teeny speck of a town, Beloit. If you like wide open spaces like many other Kansans, this place has it made. It has some of the best schools in the state, low crime, and practically everyone has a job.
Farming must be big here, because there isn’t much industry for miles in any direction.
Home values: 4th highest in the state
Crime: Bottom 20%
Lenexa is another Overland Park ‘burb that seems to be the bees knees. It’s pretty clear when you look at the data that you have two choices with ‘best’ places to live in Kansas. An Overland Park suburb where homes are expensive and the schools are more overcrowded, or miles away from everyone, where the schools are good.
If you choose the latter, this list gives you an indication of where low crime exists.
Incomes: 17th highest
Schools: Top 15%
Or, you can move to Eudora, which is just outside of Lawrence. Across the board, Eudora is pretty solid in all categories. Crime, schools and the cost of living are all in the top 15%. There isn’t one area that’s weak in Eudora, across the board.
Homes average about $157,000 each.
10. Prairie Village
Incomes: 6th highest
Home prices: 6th highest
We end this list back in the Overland Park area in Prairie Village. Here, families are high earners, and it’s relatively safe. The schools are slightly more crowded, and they receive a tad less spending than the other suburbs of Overland Park listed above.
A very hunky dory place to live, no doubt.
There You Have It
Looking at the data, you can tell that anything within a 15-minute drive of Overland Park is the most desirable, according to science and data. But as most Kansas residents would agree, almost every place here is awesome.
Other notable cities:
25. Overland Park
3rd worst: Kansas City
We also wrote about the 10 worst places to live in Kansas if you want to read that story.