Tell me all about Kansas City - Mothering Forums
Missouri, Illinois, Iowa > Tell me all about Kansas City
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 12:51 AM 04-07-2009
Dh is being flown out next Monday for a job interview in Kansas City. He's had two phone interviews with them and this is the in-person, discuss compensation, have a realtor show you around the city interview.

We live in Baltimore, MD and I really love it. There's a big AP community. We go to a Mennonite Church. We homeschool and have a big homeschool co-op. There are lots of health food stores and farmer's markets. Living in the city means we're close to a lot, but we still have a good sized house with a big backyard.

But dh hates his job. So if he gets this, I want to go.

Tell me about Kansas City.

Health food stores?
Farmer's markets?
AP groups?
Good neighborhoods?

SunshineJ's Avatar SunshineJ 02:30 PM 04-07-2009
I've never been to Baltimore, but from what I understand there is one thing that may be a huge culture shock. You really can't walk anywhere in the KC area. Everything is very spread out over 2 states, and it's not uncommon to drive 30-45 min to get someplace on a regular basis (work, dr's, specific attractions or restaurants). Although the Missouri side has some good places to live (Blue Springs, Lee's Summit), the Kansas side tends to cater more to families with various attractions, the "hip" restaurants and shopping, etc.

Homeschooling: It's done here. There is a support network, and many local places (like Burr Oaks Nature Center) offer homeschooling activities. However, from what I've seen a lot of these programs are fairly new as the homeschool network isn't as extensively rooted here yet as it is in some other areas. We're not homeschooling at this time but have looked into it some, so it may be more in-depth than I've yet to discover.

Health food stores: I know of a few here and there. I believe there is a Whole Foods on the Kansas side as well. However, there are farmer's markets and a few of the grocery stores have a fair to limited selection of organic and additive free foods as well.

Parks: THis is one area we do well in. There are parks with various attractions just about everywhere. Granted not all are in areas you'd want to hang out in, but they're not difficult to find and are generally well equipped and cared for.

Farmer's Markets: In the downtown area by the old river key there is a decent farmer's market. It has some staple stores that are open daily but the place really hops on the weekend. Go early to get the best selection, but prices tend to be good and produce is terrific. Every town has it's own market as well, usually only open on Saturday mornings. Also, during the summer you'll often come across people who've set up stands by the side of the road selling tomatos or whatever they got to grow.

LLL: Not a lot of experience with this, though I know from a former friend they are active here.

AP groups: Not a lot of knowledge about this one.

Museums: We have the Nelson Atkins art gallery which is pretty cool. Ok I think it's pretty awesome actually, but I may be biased. We have a children's museum and a few others as well.

You mentioned that you go to a Mennonite church. There is a pretty large Mennonite community not too far out as well.

One of the biggest things about KC is that overall the people tend to be friendly - don't be surprised if a stranger strikes up a conversation in line at the grocery store or if the person you pass on the sidewalk downtown gives you a friendly wave. There's good shopping to be had, and if you've got the money for the higher end stores, the KC Plaza is the place to be. There is an annual lighting festival on Thanksgiving there, as well as horse drawn carriage rides. A few blocks over is the more funky part of town called Westport with the offbeat little boutiques. We have some great medical services here and Children's Mercy Hospital is one of the best. On the down side, right now the unemployment rate is pretty high and crime does exist, moreso than a few years ago. This is also a "red" area when it comes to allergies.

Overall KC isn't a bad place to be.
Engineering_Mama's Avatar Engineering_Mama 05:53 PM 04-07-2009
Hi! My DH lived in Baltimore while he was doing his undergrad. We lived in DC for 5 yrs and are pretty familiar with the area. We loved DC and Baltimore. But now we're in KCMO (been here just over a year) and we really like it here as well. SunshineJ was right about the lack of public transportation and everything being sooooo spread out.

Homeschooling: There's definitely a homeschooling population and resources here. I WOH and my DD is only 6 months, so I don't know much about it. But I do know a bunch of people who homeschool, including my MW and doula.

Health food stores: There's a few. Whole foods in Overland Park and Westport. Nature's Pantry in Independence. There are also a lot of CSAs, farmer's markets and things like that. I'm just getting hooked into the health food/locally grown market and I find new things every week.

Parks: Lots and lots of parks. Pretty much all over the city. Big ones, small ones. Well maintained for the most part. Here's a link to the city's parks and rec department:

Farmer's Markets: Lots of these as well. There's a big one at the River Market (downtown), one at Brookside, one in Independence, lots of smaller ones all over the city. I just found out about one a couple miles from my house!

LLL: Several groups on both the Missouri and the Kansas side. All fairly active. I attend the Plaza/Brookside group. A very nice bunch of women. Very helpful and friendly.

AP groups: A really great bunch of people. Many of them homeschool. Very supportive and social.

Museums: A bunch of museums. Unfortunately I haven't acutally been to any of them yet. But I've heard they're great.

There are a lot of cultural events/places in Kansas City. There are performance venues of all sizes, from the Sprint Center, which is huge, to small, intimate venues that have local and regional bands. Starlight theater has a great summer broadway theater series as well as concerts. The zoo. All sorts of things at UMKC and JCCC. There's the ballet, the symphony, an opera company (or two?). Lots and lots of things to do and most of it is really reasonably priced.

Kansas City is pretty diverse with a lot of different kinds of neighborhoods. If you want to post again (or PM me) with what you're looking for in a neighborhood I'll try and point you in the right direction. I'm not going to make suggestions since DH and I our neighborhood, but we hear "Oh my stars, you live there?!?" all the time. Yeah, we actually like living in a poor, "ethnic" neighborhood. So obviously what we think is a good neighborhood and what other people think is a good neighborhood aren't the same. But like I said, let me know what you're looking for and I'll give you some suggestions.

I hope your DH's interview goes well. It sounds like this could be a good opportunity for him.
SunshineJ's Avatar SunshineJ 06:12 PM 04-07-2009
CSA's? I haven't been able to find these! More info please!

LOL I get what you're saying about people's reaction to "you live WHERE?" We're in Independence and get that a lot, even though our area is a nice one!
smokeylo's Avatar smokeylo 10:14 AM 04-08-2009
My parents live in Independence and are very happy. I hope when I'm done with grad school I can land in KC! I would want to stick to the MO side, though. I spent part of my childhood in Kansas City and remember it very fondly - the weather is nice (4 seasons but not the extremes you get further north or south), the people are friendly, it's more cosmopolitan so there's a good mix of political views, etc.
Engineering_Mama's Avatar Engineering_Mama 03:10 PM 04-08-2009
Here's a link with Kansas City CSAs: If you want something this year you'd better pick quickly, most of the CSAs are filling up fast.

SunshineJ: That's too funny. We think Independence is really nice. We're just east of downtown. All the things we were looking for in a neighborhood. Easy access to the interstate and downtown. We bought a huge, 5 bdrm home built in 1905 for cheap. We can walk to restaurants and the grocery store. Multi-ethnic/racial neighborhood. A park less than 100 yds away for DD to play in when she gets bigger. I guess everybody's got their own idea of perfect. This is ours.
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 10:35 AM 04-09-2009
Neighborhood stuff:

I'd like a big house.

I want a neighborhood with a playground we can walk to, but also a backyard at my house big enough for a playground of our own.

I'd love a library within walking distance, but a short drive is ok.

I want to be within 20 minutes of a Mennonite church and a Whole Foods or Wild Oats.

I want a street that's low-traffic.
HydeParkB's Avatar HydeParkB 01:09 PM 04-09-2009
Depending on the company's location and the realtor, they may steer you to certain areas. I don't know where in Baltimore you are, but if you want good transit (at least the best KC has to offer), you may want to look at the Midtown, Plaza, Brookside areas.

I live near Troost Ave., which is one of those areas which 'scares' people. But we like it most of the time, there is good transit service, decent amount of house for the money, my commute is three miles. There are quite a few families in the surrounding blocks - we've had a bit of a baby boom.

We are part of a pick your own CSA, but there are quite a few CSAs out there.

As for museums, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is also a small but nice museum. They have frequent special exhibits that I used to go to.

If you wind up looking at urban neighborhoods and want further thoughts, ideas, details, I would be happy to help. I'm pretty lost in the suburbs, though.

Edited to add: You posted while I did. Johnson County has a reputation for good libraries, and I think our Kansas City library system is pretty good too! If the Mennonite church is important to you, I would start with that criteria, and go from there. We don't have many options in terms of Whole Foods/Wild Oats. Maybe 4 stores total?
kluella's Avatar kluella 05:16 PM 04-09-2009
Hi there, just throwing in my .02, I don't even live in KC but am in Columbia, about 2 hours to the east. I know you mentioned whole foods, etc is important to you. Please keep in mind that many grocery stores now also have decent sized health food sections, particularly the Hy-Vee chain that you should be able to find in many parts of KC. You might want to look into that as well, as they carry a pretty good selection of organics and natural foods at a reasonable (or at least, whole-foods comparable) price.
madsommer's Avatar madsommer 01:01 AM 04-10-2009
I just moved from the Brookside neighborhood and I soooo miss it! I loved it. Quiet streets, pretty homes, good people, some quaint shops and restaurants, and you have lots of options for little parks and there's also the Brookside trail. Where I lived I could take a 10 minute walk and get to the post office, the coffee shop, or one of the grocery stores. Wild Oats is just a short drive up Main St.

I also went to the Brookside LLL and really liked the ladies there. One of the leaders was super helpful in helping me get DS onto the breast at 5 months old.

I would move back in a heartbeat if I could. Plus you'll enjoy a much lower cost-of-living compared to Baltimore so you will have a lot more options than you think!
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 09:08 PM 04-10-2009
Is Brookside in Kansas City?
HydeParkB's Avatar HydeParkB 12:13 AM 04-11-2009
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
Is Brookside in Kansas City?
Yes, Brookside is a neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo. (There is also a Kansas City, KANSAS, to further confuse you.)
madsommer's Avatar madsommer 12:41 AM 04-11-2009
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 12:18 PM 04-11-2009
That website looks good. I'm going to ask dh to try and check out Brookside with the realtor. Is there anything else you can tell me about the neighborhood?
HydeParkB's Avatar HydeParkB 08:20 PM 04-11-2009
There's a decent range of house sizes/lot sizes for what I consider "city" living. There isn't a really close library, but the Plaza library (super nice and new) and the Waldo library are both about two miles away. It would be Kansas City, MO school district (not well-regarded, but I don't have first hand experience yet). However, is sounds like you homeschool - I've known a few homeschoolers here. I don't think there are unusual hoops in Missouri or Kansas.

There is a Costentino's Market that actually may be a bit like a Whole Foods. It's too expensive for my blood, but I understand they carry a lot of organic and possibly some local foods. There is also a Price Chopper grocery store that is w/in walking distance; it's your run-of-the-mill grocery. There are a couple banks, a pharmacy, lots of eateries. There is also a SMALL Wild Oats about 20-25 blocks north of Brookside. There are constant rumors of it closing, but it seems to hang on.

Loose Park is nearby - I'd drive with several kids, but it's got a spray park, playground, run/walk trails, formal gardens and lots of wide open space for kites or frisbee. There are also a few pocket parks in the area.

You would also be near the Trolley Track Trail - a pedestrian/bike path that goes from the Plaza south to Brookside to Waldo (another fine neighborhood around 75th Street) to 85th Street. The trail is well loved, and actually owned by my employer.

You would be close to UMKC, if you needed a university close by for some reason.

There are a few bus lines in the area MAX, which goes between downtown and Waldo (through the Plaza and Brookside), #163, which goes across 63rd Street, #57-South Oak, also going to Waldo and downtown, and stopping near the Waldo Library I think.

There is a Spring/Summer/Fall farmer's market at 63rd & Wornall on Saturdays. I think it might be all organic.

Brookside is a great area - just out of our price range.
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 10:09 PM 04-11-2009
Brookside is a great area - just out of our price range.
Can you tell me more about your area? We live in an urban area now and I like it better than when we lived in the 'burbs, but we do have a big house/yard here. If I live in the city, I want to still have that.
HydeParkB's Avatar HydeParkB 02:07 AM 04-12-2009
We live in South Hyde Park, part of the larger Hyde Park area. My mother-in-law lives in Brookside. Our house is on the smaller side for this area, two-story with three bedrooms. Our back yard is probably 20 x 80, maybe 20 x 100. We don't have off street parking.

We live on a corner, and there is a little more foot and car traffic than I would like. But the main thing I feel like I am missing are services I can walk to, like I did in my old St. Louis neighborhood. We have frequent bus services, but I'd rather just walk to dinner or the library or a mini-grocery.

I would guess that more than 1/2 of the houses don't have off-street parking in this neighborhood. I think most Brookside homes have off-street parking. You can get a larger house and lot in this neighborhood, there are a few houses with double lots (which I covet for the potential vegetable garden space). Our property taxes are around $1000/year. I think my MIL's are around $3000. I honestly don't know what houses are going for in Brookside these days, with real estate being down everywhere. I think a $100K-$150K range for a good condition house is the norm around here. (There's a horrible foreclosure across the street from me for 69K - bad foundation problems.) Central Hyde Park is the area with REALLY big houses.

As for groceries, I frequent the Sav-A-Lot for random items I need on the way home from work, or we have a couple of more robust stores in a few minutes' drive. I go to the Plaza Library or the Westport Library (small but charming and accessible by bus.) We are close (bike rather than walk) to the small Wild Oats. And there is a Farmer's Market on 39th Street on Wednesday nights in the summer. We usually just go to the City Market downtown on Saturdays.

We have several churches, one Catholic and possibly a couple Baptist. We also have a Quaker meeting house. We have a nice park a short walk away (about 4 blocks, but it's uphill coming home). It has a new playground, ball fields, walking paths, plenty of open areas, but also shade. There is a pool that is maybe 3 feet deep, but I don't know if that will remain or be in use with the City's budget issues. It is PACKED - wall to wall kids - in the summer.

We are on the Troost bus line, and that will be converted to a bus rapid transit MAX line next year. It goes to downtown and connects with all the east-west routes. Troost however is the racial dividing line - and this town is still rather segregated. Unfortunately, if you say "Oh, I live a couple blocks off of Troost," there are some people that will give you that crazy look. I have great love for Troost - it has a grand history and so much potential. But it's not for everyone and it has problems.

An area that might also appeal to you, and has some decent size lots and houses, is around 39th Street closer to State Line. They have a big restaurant row. It's by KU Medical Center, so I think there might be a lot of medical students around there. But it seems like the area north of 39th is a little bit quieter and less congested. There are some big old houses there too.

You might want to make sure DH has a desired minimum lot size. I suspect that KC's city lots compare favorably to Baltimore lots based on the age of the cities. I just am wondering if you would need something with a "double lot" or if just an average to large lot would do.

Oh, if you wanted to do a search in my area on, I would suggest searching the area around 4200 Holmes. (SHP is Troost to Gillham, 39th to 47th, I think). For Brookside, I'm less sure, but start with 61st & Wornall, maybe. And for 39th Street, try 39th & Wyoming as a starting point.

Did I leave any important areas out?
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 08:34 PM 04-12-2009
Dh is flying out right about now. His interview/salary negotiation is tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.
SunshineJ's Avatar SunshineJ 12:57 AM 04-13-2009
Good luck to him! What field is he in?
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 01:00 PM 04-13-2009
Lighting. He's interviewing to start a new division with Burns & McDonnell.
Engineering_Mama's Avatar Engineering_Mama 07:52 PM 04-15-2009
I said I'd respond with neighborhoods and now its taken me days. Sorry! Work is kicking my butt right now. If you want more info PM me. That will get my attention. I'm probably not going to be on Mothering much for awhile.

Just my thoughts on the neighborhoods other people have mentioned FWIW.

Brookside: Nice area, nice homes ranging from fairly small (1200 sf) to fairly large (2500+), homes typically built 1940 - 1950s, a little too suburban for my taste and definitely too pricey, but a good market that carries organic and local produce, some nice restaurants within walking distance

Hyde Park: Also a nice area, more urban that Brookside, nice homes mostly middle-to largeish (1800+ sf) typically built 1910 - 1930, you'll see a lot of what's called a midwest or Kansas City shirtwaist where the first floor is stone or brick and the upper floors are wooden siding usually with decorative trim, less expensive than Brookside

If you like Brookside, but its too expensive, you might look at Waldo which is just south of Brookside, around 70th and Main. Houses tend to be smaller although you can find larger ones. Some stores and restaurants within walking distance as well as a library branch.

We live in Historic Northeast, which is the area directly east of downtown, along Independence Ave. The entire neighborhood is east of Troost so its a "bad" neighborhood. Bad as in lots of blacks and other minorities. This is definitely an urban neighborhood. Homes are CHEAP and historic. Sizes vary a lot (1000 to 3000 sf is typical). Many homes have a decent size yard and there are parks sprinkled throughout the area. I don't think you could pick a house more than 4 blocks from a park. Downside is there aren't too many grocery stores and none of them carry much organic, but there is a lot of ethnic foods. There are lots of little restaurants within walking distance and a library branch. The area north of Independence is considered to be better than the area south and the areas closer to downtown/US-71 are as well. Here's my favorite listing in the area, by far. We looked at this house fall of 2007 when we were looking. Its still on the market and they've dropped the price about $70,000. If it had been the price it is now we would have bought it. Its really in good shape, its huge, and it has a big yard, one of the biggest in the area. That just gives you an idea of the bargains to be had in my neighborhood.

Anyway, best of luck. I hope everything went well for your husband on Monday.
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 05:00 PM 05-20-2009
So after all this waiting, we heard today that they're planning to make an offer!
HydeParkB's Avatar HydeParkB 06:42 PM 05-20-2009
I've been wondering about if your family was making the move. Good luck!
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 09:50 PM 05-20-2009
I'll update again when we get the actual offer.
CrunchyChristianMama's Avatar CrunchyChristianMama 06:15 PM 06-07-2009
Just wanted to say that we live just outside of Brookside, although people still consider where we live as being Brookside. It's just cheaper! Our home was built in the 40's and is a spacious 3 bedroom with a yard and driveway (no garage). We love where we live. My DH works on the Plaza, which is only 5 minutes away. We are able to get almost all of our food organic and a lot of it local. If you end up moving here I can give you my resources for grass-fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, raw milk, and a produce delivery service that delivers organic produce to your door once a week for less than grocery store prices.

There's a local chapter of the Holistic Mom's Network that is small, but a lot of fun. There's also a great natural baby and mama store in Lee's Summit.

If you end up making the move please PM me and I'd be happy to show you around!

Oh, and HydeParkB...I think we're practically neighbors!