The 10 Best Places To Live In Kansas For 2021


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

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh 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 2021 -- 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.

The 10 Best Places To Live In Kansas For 2021

  1. Leawood
  2. Bel Aire
  3. Lenexa
  4. Olathe
  5. Gardner
  6. Overland Park
  7. McPherson
  8. Tonganoxie
  9. Eudora
  10. Basehor

What city is the best place to live in Kansas for 2021? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, Leawood ranks as the best place to live in Kansas for 2021 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 2021

Leawood, KS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 34,670
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $463,200 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (9th 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 420 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 $463,200. On the flipside, the median household income here is $157,515/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: 7,858
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $161,000 (22nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.6% (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".

Lenexa, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 54,011
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $260,900 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.6% (6th best)
More on Lenexa: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Low crime and a low cost of living have transformed Kansas' 3rd 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 3rd most expensive in the state of Kansas, with the average home worth a whopping $260,900.

Other numbers that stand out: the combined median household income for Lenexa's residents is $87,102/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.

Olathe, KS

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 137,618
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $238,100 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (11th 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 4th 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 $90,435/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 11th at 2.8%.

Olathe is also crazy safe. The crime rate here is very low. And surprisingly, for a city of 137,618 residents, there were only 1,894 reported last year and a majority of them were property related--so lock your doors!

Gardner, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 21,528
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $189,100 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (2best)
More on Gardner: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Here's an update on why Gardner is the 5th 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 21,528 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 $189,100. They also know how to earn the city's median income of $78,180--the unemployment rate here is 3.4% and the poverty level is 6.7%.

Overland Park, KS

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 191,011
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $276,100 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (14th best)
More on Overland Park: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Overland Park is one of the biggest cities in Kansas with 191,011, so the fact that it is also the 6th 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 $86,487/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 14th best unemployment rate at 3.0%.

Mcpherson, KS

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 13,054
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $143,700 (24th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (3rd 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 7th 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 $143,700, and, folks, you only have to make household median income of $58,337 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.

Tonganoxie, KS

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 5,359
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $165,300 (20th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (18th best)
More on Tonganoxie: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Tonganoxie is just the place for those craving small-town living without sacrificing access to bigger cities. This community of 5,359 is only a 25-minute drive from downtown Kansas City and is near higher education institutions like the University of Kansas and Washburn University.

However, do not let notions of a slower pace of life fool you. A prime location is not all Tonganoxie has to offer. Your bank account benefits from you living here too, particularly if you are one of the households in the area that brings in over the median household income of $72,469, which is nothing to scoff at.

Either way, Tonganoxie's reasonable cost of living means you can reside here comfortably no matter where your income falls. Especially when you consider that the median home value of $165,300 is still a deal compared to other parts of the country or even the state.

Eudora, KS

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 6,602
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 15)
Median Home Value: $169,000 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (28th best)
More on Eudora: Real Estate | Cost Of Living

The birthplace of Hugh Beaumont, who famously played Ward Cleaver in "Leave It to Beaver," Eudora is a city where residents are thriving so much, you would think the economy boom of the 1950s was happening all over again.

People here are earning the 6th highest median household income in the state. And not only do residents make a good living, they also do not have to dish out lots of dough to support their lifestyle thanks to the area's affordable rates for housing, transportation, groceries and other everyday expenses.

With plenty of money left over after the necessities are covered, tastings at BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery could easily become a regular occurrence. And given that the median age of community members is 33, it is likely you will be surrounded by plenty of young professionals during the establishment's happy hours. A bonus for those looking to make friends on the younger side. If you want to mingle even more, Lawrence, one of the most populous cities in Kansas, is only a short drive away.

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 5,951
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $240,600 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (4best)
More on Basehor: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Not all suburbs live up to expectations but Basehor, which sits on the edge of Kansas City, surely does. And when your community is the one everyone wants to live in, you can expect home prices to reflect that. If you want to be part of this population of 5,951, make sure you are ready to cover the 4th highest median home value in the state, a cool $240,600.

But given that Basehor has the 5th lowest levels of total crime in Kansas and its fair share of good schools, it is safe to say the price is worth it.

That's especially true for parents. Whent little Jimmy or Jane leaves Basehor-Linwood High School, which gets a 7/10 rating from GreatSchools, for the day, they are probably heading to play a game of volleyball at Basehor City Park rather than getting into stereotypical teenage trouble that involves breaking the law.

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 126,397 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 2021.

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. Pittsburg (Pop. 20,171)
  2. Chanute (Pop. 9,102)
  3. Coffeyville (Pop. 9,457)

For more Kansas reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Kansas?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Leawood 34,670 2.7% $463,200
2 Bel Aire 7,858 0.6% $161,000
3 Lenexa 54,011 2.6% $260,900
4 Olathe 137,618 2.8% $238,100
5 Gardner 21,528 3.4% $189,100
6 Overland Park 191,011 3.0% $276,100
7 Mcpherson 13,054 2.2% $143,700
8 Tonganoxie 5,359 3.3% $165,300
9 Eudora 6,602 3.7% $169,000
10 Basehor 5,951 5.1% $240,600

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.