By Michael Baker, Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer
My wife and I have a couple of friends that currently live in a high priced city. Let’s call them Paul and Tricia. They have been looking for a house to buy in this high priced city for quite some time and they are struggling to get a home under contract, it’s just that competitive there.
We have been bugging our friends to consider a move to the Midwest, specifically here to the Kansas City area where we live. Ideally Paul and Tricia would come and live in our neighborhood! We’ve been making a case for them to move but we’ve been speaking in such generalities (good schools, low unemployment, up and coming startup scene), but it’s time to get down to specifics and use facts to make our case for why Paul and Tricia (and maybe you blog reader) should be making the move to Kansas City!
Currently the United States as of December of 2015 was sitting at 4.8% unemployment (we’ve come a long way since 2009). However the Kansas City metro area is currently sitting at 4.4% unemployment almost a half point below the national average. Specifically in Johnson County were I live the unemployment rate is almost two full points lower at 2.9%.
In comparison to other US Cities here is where the Kansas City area ranks (currently 13th out of 51 Major Metro areas):
|1||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|2||Austin-Round Rock, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|3||Salt Lake City, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|4||Oklahoma City, OK Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|5||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|5||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|7||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|8||Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|8||San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|8||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|11||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area||
|12||Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH Metropolitan NECTA||
|13||Kansas City, MO-KS Metropolitan Statistical Area||
http://www.bls.gov/web/metro/laulrgma.htm (see full list here)
I believe there is a case to be made as far as cost of living and work life balance for Kansas City.
Yes there are some great cities ahead of Kansas City in terms of unemployment like Denver, San Fransisco, San Jose (Silicon Valley), Washington DC and even Boston. However, I believe there is a case to be made as far as cost of living and work life balance for Kansas City.
Let’s breakdown the Median Sales Price of Existing Single-Family Homes in these same Top Metropolitan Areas to see where things get really juicy (all values given per 4th Qtr of 2015):
1. Denver Metro – $353,500 (+12.5% YOY)
2. Austin Metro – $265,000 (+8.7% YOY)
3. Salt Lake City Metro – $260,500 (+5.7% YOY)
4. Oklahoma City Metro – $148,300 (-3.0% YOY)
5. Nashville Metro – $207,300 (+10.7% YOY)
5. San Antonio Metro – $192,100 (+3.6% YOY)
7. Dallas-Fort Worth Metro – $206,200 (+8.8% YOY)
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro – $223,700 (+6.5% YOY)
8. San Francisco-Oakland Metro – $781,600 (+9.2% YOY)
8. San Jose Metro – $940,000 (+9.9% YOY)
11. Washington DC Metro – $371,600 (-.3% YOY)
12. Boston Metro – $393,600 (+2.7% YOY)
13. Kansas City Metro – $167,500 (+7.1% YOY)
As you can see above only Oklahoma City has a lower Median Sales Price as compared to Kansas City. Also Kansas City ranks currently 7th out of all Major Metropolitan areas with Year Over Year Median Sales Price Increase. We have a very vibrant housing scene currently while still maintaining rather low housing prices. A perfect combination of affordable housing while still gaining equity (I’d love for my investment portfolio to be gaining 7.1% annually).
A recent article on HealthcareITNews.com stated that thanks to the healthcare giant, Cerner, there are currently growth plans where they are expected to add nearly 16,000 new jobs to the area. Also just announced yesterday is that Amazon will occupy an 822,104 square foot fulfillment center in Edgerton (a southern suburb of Kansas City) which they expect will add 1,000 full time hourly jobs along with managerial and support roles as well.
While there has been quite a bit of debate as to the success of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s recent “Tax Experiment” there is no denying that if you were looking to start a small business what better time than now in Kansas given the current rate of a 0% state income tax rate for small businesses and LLC’s.
A recent search of the job site CareerBuilder.com shows currently 3,743 current job openings in Kansas City posted in the past 30 days. The same search in Denver for instance shows currently 3,949 job openings posted in the past 30 days. This is a 5.5% increase in jobs posted in Denver as compared to Kansas City. However, when you take in to account that the population of the Denver Metro area is 2,754,258 as compared to the population of the Kansas City Metro area of 2,071,133 (a 32% increase in population from Kansas City to Denver) I think you see that Kansas City is holding it’s own with the booming Denver economy in terms of job openings.
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. Kansas City has all four seasons, there is no denying that. Winters can get pretty cold and snowy (although the last two winters have been very mild) and Summers can spend a couple of weeks in the 100 degree range with some rather humid air, things get a little sticky. However, come visit in Spring and Fall and you will NOT be disappointed. The Spring and Fall Seasons in Kansas City are as good as any in the country. Temperatures are very mild which leaves for plenty of time for playing in the front yard with your kids or sitting on your back deck enjoying a glass of wine in the evenings.
Some would complain about our Thunderstorms or quite possibly a Tornado in the Spring time. However, I’d argue that you’ve never slept better until you’ve slept through a Kansas City Thunderstorm. As far as Tornadoes go, the last time I can even remember a Tornado in the Kansas City area was 2002 and that was about 30 miles north of downtown Kansas City.
As you can see below the average highs in the summer top out in the high 80’s. The average lows get down in the teens and 20’s in the winter months, but again Kansas City is a good representation of all four seasons.
Oh and for your skiing types, we have a ski mountain too! Snow Creek is a bit like skiing on a snow cone since much of the snow has to be made during the winter months. But there is skiing and tubing… I’ve been and it is fun!
Kansas City has many vibrant Performing Arts Centers with the crown jewel being the new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. Which is home to the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera.
If artwork is more of your thing then head on over to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. It has completely free admission and parking (donations are encouraged) and you can get lost for hours enjoying some absolutely stunning artwork. They even have an app for your phone where you can take self-guided audio tours of many of their exhibits, how cool is that?
Want to experience some of Kansas City’s famous Jazz? Head down to the 18th and Vine Jazz District to spend time at the American Jazz Museum learning about the rich culture that surrounds Kansas City Jazz.
While you are at 18th and Vine please don’t forget to also take time to stop in at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Here you can learn the rich history behind not only the Negro League itself but some of the great stars of that era like one of Kansas City’s best ambassador’s until his passing, the late Buck O’Neil.
Kansas City is known for it’s amazing Barbecue. There is Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que and their famous Z-Man sandwich, Arthur Bryant’s, established in 1908, which is probably best known for their brisket, Gates Bar-B-Q which is just all-around wonderful and Jack Stack Barbecue which has some of the best sides you can get to accompany any BBQ feast.
But Kansas City has become so much more than just BBQ these days. Just look around the Crossroads District and you’ll find some amazing food trucks just waiting to be discovered. Then of course there’s the beef! Kansas City, back in the day, was the crossroads for the cattle industry. Cattle was shipped in and out all over the country from the stockyards down in what is known as the West Bottoms. Where there’s beef you know there are going to be some good steak houses and Kansas City is full of great places to get some of the best cuts of meat in the country.
Hey it’s the Midwest. You better get used to some extremely nice people! You will catch some of our Southern roots with a well placed “Ya’ll”. We’re happy to hold open a door for you. We love our Churches and do lots of good charitable work (don’t forget about our Secret Santa). Come hang out with us at the ballpark watching our World Champion Kansas City Royals or just come play some yard games with us while we tailgate on any given Sunday waiting to watch our beloved Kansas City Chief’s!
But here’s the deal:
I read a quote recently by Jacob M. Braude that said:
“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others. ”
I understand that if you live in San Francisco or Denver or Oklahoma City and you love it there that more than likely I didn’t change your mind today. Perhaps though if you were on the fence about where to move to “slow things down” a bit, or if your company is offering you a job in Kansas City and your first thought was “KANSAS CITY!?!” maybe, just maybe, I helped you come to a better conclusion about what our great city has to offer.
If you ever want to grab a coffee at one of Kansas City’s finest Coffee Shops and discuss the merits of our wonderful city let me know! Call or text me at 913-735-5363. Say the word and I’m there ya’ll!