Benefits of Retiring In Kansas (Pros & Cons)

Congrats on hitting your retirement age! Ready to pack your bags and move? See if retiring in Kansas is a good choice for you!

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Congrats on hitting your retirement age! Ready to pack your bags and move? See if retiring in Kansas is a good choice for you!

As you near your retirement and feel the need to do something different, you wonder what could be better than moving to another state and spending your time exploring. Well, if that’s the case, then there’s an underrated choice that has benefits – and a few drawbacks – to offer – Kansas! From rural communities and small towns to big cities and suburbs, this state has a lot to offer!

Kansas offers a low cost of living, delicious food, affordable housing, and many activities for seniors to enjoy. On the other hand, the state has an average healthcare system, high taxes, high crime rates, a dull landscape, extreme weather, increased chances of tornadoes, and poor public transport.

Most people in the country associate Kansas with its mention in the “The Wizard of Oz.” While the state is immensely proud of its association with one of the best stories of all time, it’s time Kansas is acknowledged for everything else it has to offer. Kansas is the nation's heartland, in both a literal and figurative sense. Not only is the state the geographical center of the country, but it is also filled with joyous and welcoming people and farmlands that feed the country.

There are many factors that make Kansas great for most retirees. However, before you book your one-way ticket, it’s essential to acquaint yourself with the potential pitfalls of moving to Kansas. Having served as a retirement consultant for decades, I’ve put together this article to give you a clear picture of the pros and cons of retiring in Kansas.

Table of Contents

Pros of Retiring in Kansas

Kansas offers many things to its residents, including a low cost of living and affordable housing costs, which are enough reasons for retirees to want to seek a home here. But if you’re still on the fence about moving here, allow me to do a little more convincing by diving deeper into the benefits you can expect when retiring in Kansas.

Low Cost of Living

The urban areas of Kansas don’t have the lowest living costs, but the same applies to the metropolitan cities of almost all states. However, once you step outside the urban areas and move towards the rural ones in Kansas, living costs are fairly low. In fact, Kansas is rated as one of the cheapest states to live in.

According to a report, Kansas’s cost of living index is 87.9, making it the fourth-lowest cost of living in the country. This means that the living costs in the state are almost 12% lower than the national average, and a median household can survive on a wage of $48,000 per year. Furthermore, Kansas City is 34.18% less expensive or more affordable than New York, considering all factors except rent, while the rent in Kansas City is almost 67.98% lower than in New York.

Almost everyone in the state leads a fitter and happier lifestyle than the population of most states. The primary reason behind Kansas’s low living costs is the thriving local agricultural and manufacturing industry. To put it simply, the state does an excellent job of producing food and manufacturing consumer products for domestic use, lowering the cost of many items since there’s no shipping involved.

According to a report, Kansas residents spend a monthly average of $261 on groceries, making it the second-most affordable state in the U.S. in terms of groceries. Transportation is another major factor that determines a state’s cost of living. Luckily, owning a car in Kansas is pretty cheap due to the affordability of gas, insurance, and vehicle maintenance.

Affordable Housing

Besides the low cost of living, Kansas offers remarkably reasonable housing. In fact, the state’s housing cost index is particularly low at 71.8, with the average rent for a two-bedroom standing at about $752 per month. Moreover, Kansas’s median home cost is around 40% less than the national average, deeming its housing one of the cheapest in the United States.

A particularly interesting place in Kansas with perhaps the cheapest housing costs is Coffeyville. Tucked between Highways 166 and 169, a little north of the state line, Coffeyville’s homes are priced at an average of $53,000, making it possible for anyone to live here.

It is important to know that housing demand in Kansas has grown considerably over the years, but the availability of homes hasn’t grown as much. Therefore, due to the limited supply, the property prices in the state are nudging up. However, despite these factors, Kansas still easily ranks in the top 10 of all states for affordable housing.

Plentiful Fun Activities

Many people believe that Kansas is so rural that it lacks entertainment opportunities. However, that isn’t true at all. While it can be an adjustment to settle into a new, small town, especially if you were previously living in a metropolitan city, once you adjust, you’ll find plenty of things available within just an hour’s drive.

Kansas City has just as many entertainment options as any other big city in any state. For instance, Wichita has multiple theaters, a world-class zoo, over thirty museums, and a botanical garden for you to explore. In fact, the city also holds an annual film festival each year. One of the most interesting places to visit in Wichita is the Tanganyika Wildlife Park, an interactive location where you can feed giraffes or pet kangaroos.

Country Club Culture

Kansas has a country club culture, something that seniors can really enjoy. This culture developed locally because it was the easiest, most convenient way to find a place for your favorite whiskey, beer, or liquor. Passed on from generation to generation, you eventually had to become a part of a club to enjoy here. With over hundreds of years of history to them, there are numerous facilities in Kansas that offer activities such as a tennis court, swimming pools, pickleball area, golf course, and a fully-functional fitness facility.

Fortunately for most, many of these clubs have pretty affordable membership fees, so you can easily register yourself and enjoy the local facilities. Moreover, due to the lack of fine dining restaurants, country clubs might be your own option for miles around, so make sure to give them a look!

Less Time-Consuming Commutes

When you retire in Kansas, your commuting time will be less in most places. For instance, if you reside in one of the rural areas and need to drive to the next town, it might take you about an hour to get there. Although the distance may seem long, the minimal traffic on the roads will allow you to get there faster.

On the other hand, if you decide to build your home in the Kansas City metro area, the average commute will be less than 25 minutes, which given its size, is pretty great. You can go from the suburbs of Kansas City to the downtown metro area in less than 20 minutes. If you’ve spent most of your life taking lengthy commutes in busy cities, such as Los Angeles or Seattle, then the time you’ll save on your commute when living in Kansas will feel like a bonus.

Enjoyable Four-Season Living

Another incredibly enticing factor that will make you want to move to Kansas is the opportunity to enjoy all four weather seasons. Yes, Kansas witnesses summer, fall, winter, and spring in all their glory, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the season they love.

In summer, the conditions are typically warm and wet, but abundant sunshine prevails throughout, even during the rainy season. The temperatures, however, peak during July, so you might need an air conditioner. On the flip side, January is the coldest month, but snowfall is generally more prevalent in February and early March. When we talk about snow in Kansas, we mean snow that comes up to maybe a foot, just enough to make it feel like a real winter.

The second half of March marks rising temperatures and blooming flowers. September marks the start of the fall season, with dropping temperatures and the beautiful fall foliage.

With all that said, it’s essential to acknowledge that the weather can vary considerably depending on your location within the state.

Cons of Retiring in Kansas

If you’re planning to retire in Kansas, after the previous section, we’re sure you have more than a few reasons to do so. However, as with every other state, Kansas comes with its fair share of drawbacks that can make you rethink your decision.

Below Average Healthcare System

Healthcare is an important factor to consider before moving to a new state, especially for seniors. Unfortunately, Kansas doesn’t have the best state of affairs in terms of healthcare. According to the Commonwealth Fund, Kansas’s average is above the national average in terms of access and affordability. Besides this, considering factors such as prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and cost, healthy lives, and income disparity, the overall healthcare system in Kansas is below the national average.

High Crime Rates

Violent crimes, especially gun violence, are pretty prevalent in the country, particularly in the big cities. Besides that, you also want to steer clear of other types of crimes, including property crimes. Sadly, Kansas has high crime rates. The state’s crime index rate grew from 29.3 offenses per 1,000 people in 2019 to 29.7 in 2020.  

Violent offenses were almost 24.4% above the 10-year average, standing at 4.7 offenses per 1,000 people in 2020. In fact, in 2020, Kansas City reported the eighth-highest violent crime rate in the country, with 7919 reported violent crimes, marking a 9.2% increase from the previous year. Around 193 murders were also reported in 2020, almost 43% above the 10-year average. However, the property index crime rate in Kansas has been declining and now stands 7.4% below the 10-year average.

Majority Rural Areas

Most of Kansas is rural. Besides the few metropolitan cities here, the state has extensive rural areas. This isn’t exactly a con, especially for those looking for an open-country and relaxed lifestyle. However, it can be a deal-breaker for many. If you do end up choosing one of Kansas’s rural areas to live in, you will have to bear a few factors in mind.

First off, although traffic congestion will be virtually nonexistent, you will still have to spend long hours in your car driving from one place to another. Moreover, Kansas’s rural areas are deprived of many specialized services, such as events, theater, and fine dining restaurants. So, you’ll have to travel quite a bit for entertainment.

Moreover, if you aim to travel frequently to far-off destinations, living in the rural areas is a big no! With very limited air options in the rural regions, residents often have to travel to the main cities or neighboring states, such as Oklahoma, to get on a flight to their destination of choice.

Dull Flat Landscape

Kansas is known for its vast flat plains, prairie, or unforested grasslands – whatever you want to call it - that extend to the west and southwest. A study carried out included a scale from 1 to 10 (ten being the flattest) in determining the flattest area. As per the results, Kansas measured at 9.57.  

You may find some variations in the state’s northeastern part that features pastures, forests, and rolling hills. As you move towards the South, you’ll find the Southeastern Plains. Moreover, the western half of the state is covered by the Great Plains.

Kansas is landlocked, with no mountains to hike or beaches to enjoy. So, it’s only a good option to retire here if you like prairie land and rolling plains. If you’re looking for more landscape variety, look for another state to retire in.

High State & Local Taxes

Kansas doesn’t compare to states with the highest tax rates, but the tax burden you’ll have to bear here is important to consider.

Income Taxes

The state has a progressive income tax system, with the rate ranging from 3.1% to 5.7%. If you’re fully retired, then you’ll be glad to know that Kansas exempts all Social Security income for seniors. However, this exemption is given on the condition that a senior has an adjusted gross income (AGI) equal to or lower than $75,000. Moreover, Kansas also exempts public pension from taxes and doesn’t have any estate and inheritance tax either. However, besides this, the state doesn’t offer exemptions on other retirement incomes, such as a 401(k) plan.

Sales Taxes

Although Kansas has an overall low cost of living, the sales tax in the state is pretty high. Depending on where you settle in the state, sales taxes can range from 7-12%.

Complicated Climate

Although Kansas sees four different seasons every year, the climate can vary from place to place. For instance, the southern part of the state witnesses humid subtropical conditions, the west is semi-arid, and the central and eastern parts are humid. So, if you like hot and dry weather, the western part of the state is a great place to settle. However, you must remember that the winters here can be pretty chilly, too.

High Chances of Tornadoes

Kansas sits in a tornado alley, which means that it faces an increased risk of tornadoes. Given the destruction these natural disasters can cause and the financial, physical, mental, and emotional havoc they can wreak, you will constantly need to be alert and prepared for them.

Poor Public Transport System

Besides the Kansas City Metro Area, the public transport system of the rest of the state is terrible. There aren’t any trains, streetcars, or subways anywhere. However, Wichita does offer a few bus routes. So, if you do decide to move here, you will need to purchase a vehicle.

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