5 Reasons Millennials Should Give Kansas City a Second Look

Can we talk about how cool Kansas City is?

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Kansas City MO
iStock/Lorraine Boogich

Fans of the Netflix show “Queer Eye” recently got a fun look at Kansas City through the eyes of the Fab Five, who spent season three hanging out here. And Livability recently named KC one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019. One thing's for sure: Kansas City is carving out an exciting new reputation on the national stage.

When talking about Kansas City, it’s always best to start with a quick geography lesson: Kansas City is a metro area that spans both sides of the Missouri/Kansas border and is home to more than 2,000,000 people. But Kansas City, MO, is where you will find this city’s thriving center and much of the culture and entertainment that has been putting this affordable Midwestern city on the map.

Read on to see what all the fuss is about — and why you might want to add KC to your list of places to visit or call home.

A Strong Entrepreneurial Spirit

Boasting a long list of entrepreneurial initiatives and resources, Kansas City is a great place for millennials who feel the call to start their own business venture. A 2018 study by Thumbtack Journal named Kansas City as the top U.S. city for millennial entrepreneurs, and a recent Entrepreneur Magazine article on hot startup cities noted Kansas City’s strong “foodpreneurs” scene. Flavor Trade, a food consulting and product development incubator is a great local resource for people with delicious ideas.

H&R Block, Hallmark, and health information technology giant Cerner Corporation are just a few examples of successful entrepreneurial ventures that now keep Kansas City’s job market strong. In fact, Cerner is just one of many health care industry employers in Kansas City, where health care and social assistance jobs employ 14 percent of the population.

Thriving Urban Center and Strong Neighborhoods

Given the wide age range of millennials, it’s no surprise that their living needs and preferences vary. In Kansas City, millennials find that both the city center and surrounding suburban neighborhoods can meet their housing needs, and with a current median home price of $200,000 and a median rent rate of $1,050, Kansas City housing can meet their budgets as well.

The youthful vibe is strong here. According to a recent report from Kansas City’s Downtown Council, out of nearly 23,000 people who live in the city’s center, 41 percent are part of Generation Y, and high-rise condo developments such as One Light and Two Light mean that downtown housing options are plentiful. At the same time, there are plenty of young folks who are choosing to live in vibrant areas such as Waldo, Brookside and North Kansas City, which offer affordable starter homes as well as cool dining and beer scenes of their own.

About That Thriving Urban Center…

Kansas City has worked hard over the last few decades to create a downtown that that doesn’t shut down after 5 p.m., and on any given night, arts and entertainment options are easy to come by, with a free streetcar stretching from the River Market area north of downtown to historic Union Station approximately two miles to the south.

The Crossroads Arts District, located in the area north of Union Station, is the hip entertainment hub with monthly “First Friday” events celebrating the local art scene as well as a healthy concentration of micro-breweries, distilleries and dining options. The modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, named as one of the world’s most 15 most beautiful concert halls, is home to the Kansas City Ballet Company, Lyric Opera and Kansas City Symphony, and is the venue for a number of touring shows.

A bit farther to the north in the Power & Light District, where concerts and community celebrations take place at KC Live! — a block-long entertainment destination surrounded by dining and drinking options – and the 19,000-seat Sprint Center.  At the north end of the streetcar line, early birds will appreciate the Saturday morning farmers' market in the River Market area, which also has a good variety of international groceries and cafes.

Sports fans are in good company

Cheering for the home team is a great way to feel part of a community, and Kansas City has three professional teams for sports enthusiasts to get behind. Baseball fans love whiling away a summer afternoon or evening at Kauffman Stadium cheering for the 2015 World Series-winning Kansas City Royals.

Meanwhile, the fervor of Kansas City Chiefs football fans has earned Arrowhead Stadium the (somewhat dubious) distinction of being named world’s loudest stadium. The KC Cauldron, the official fan club of Sporting KC, Kansas City’s Major League Soccer team, has its own section at home games and thriving game-day traditions. Kansas City is also home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Authenticity Abounds

While Kansas City is mostly happy to be shedding its “cow town” reputation, there are still plenty of places to get an authentic taste of the city’s rich and varied cultural history. The American Jazz Museum in the 18th & Vine Historic District is a great place to get acquainted with the city’s rich jazz tradition, and the museum’s music venue the Blue Room features live jazz four nights a week. Just down the street from the jazz museum is Arthur Bryant’s, one of KC’s oldest and most beloved barbecue joints.

You can’t talk about the jazz age in Kansas City without mentioning notorious political boss Tom Pendergast, who controlled the city in the 1920s and 1930s and openly ignored prohibition. Tom’s Town Distillery in the Crossroad’s Arts District is a nod to Tom Pendergast’s legacy and features an Art Deco lounge and menu of stiff cocktails. After you’ve had a few, head over to the nearby Green Lady Lounge, an atmospheric jazz club with velvet-red walls, dim lighting and a Hammond B-3 Organ always at the ready.

Located to the west of downtown, Kansas City’s Historic West Bottoms area is filled with the old warehouses that now house a dizzying array of vintage and antique shops, and a few blocks south of this fun shopping spot is the original Stockyard District. You’re unlikely to find any livestock there today, but step into Stockyard’s Brewing Company for some fantastic throwback cowtown décor and solid beer options.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liz Weslander is a freelance writer based in Lawrence, KS. Learn more about her at www.lizweslander.net.  more

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Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:27