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Cost of Living in Kansas City, MO 2021

By: Emily Kho
July 28, 2021

Kansas City, most famously known for its ironic name, is a booming city with multiple nicknames like the Gateway to the Southwest, the City of Fountains, the Heart of America, the Paris of the Plains, and even the Barbecue Capital. With so much to offer in one city, it's no wonder the biggest city and second-largest metropolitan area in the Sunflower State of Missouri is such a popular place to call home.

Today, the city is home to 200 fountains. The city planners and developers of Kansas City had Europe front of mind in the 1800s when they decided to establish all of the water features throughout the City of Fountains. However, that's not all Kansas City is known for. With baseball, BBQ, and jazz, to name a few. Essentially, there's something for everyone here.

So if you're thinking about diving in and experiencing Kansas City hands-on as your new home, you want to get a better idea of your potential costs. Keep reading for a closer look at the cost of living in Kansas City and to understand better how much you'll need to live there comfortably.

Kansas City Housing Costs

Most cities around the nation experienced significant drops in rent prices during the peak of the pandemic. Today, as things are opening up again, we see more normal trends regarding rent prices.

The median rent index in Kansas City is $940 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,200 for a two-bedroom. Although the beginning of 2021 saw significant increases once again, Kansas City rent prices have decreased slightly in the last month. Year over year, however, rent has increased at a 5% rate, proving that this city is still widely sought after in rentals.

In comparatively large cities throughout the rest of the country, rent increases have been a regular occurrence. Other popular cities like Boston have seen a 4.3% increase in rent prices year over year. Philadelphia saw a 3.5% increase and Chicago saw a 2.4% increase. Despite the significant increase in Kansas City year over year, the city's rent prices are still more affordable than these other popular US cities.

The Kansas City housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $198,267, an 18.8% increase year over year. Again, despite the significant increases, these prices still fall significantly below the other popular cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, with median home prices of $685,470, $221,996, and $296,603, respectively.

Kansas City Transportation

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) is the public transit agency in Kansas City's metropolitan areas. The KCATA operates throughout the city as the Metro Area Express (MAX) bus rapid transit service. It provides 78 local bus routes in counties throughout both Missouri and Kansas.

As of May 2020, KCATA launched the mobile app, Transit, for Apple and Android devices, making planning, tracking, and payment more effortless than ever for commuters. Thoughtfully plan out trips with step-by-step directions and notifications, track rides in real-time, and pay your fares paperless and remotely through the use of this new and improved app.

RideKC also provides users with a True Cost of Driving calculator to help you see more clearly what type of savings you can look forward to when utilizing the city’s public transportation system.

Otherwise, for those who prefer to get around with their vehicle, you can spend about $5,149 for transportation in Kansas City over a year as a single adult without children. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $13,993 for transportation in one year. Thankfully, gasoline prices are around $2.17 per gallon, much lower than the national average of $3.04.

Kansas City Food Costs

Kansas City didn't get the nickname the Barbecue Capital in jest. For the foodies out there who love a good barbeque meal, you've come to the right place. While any local might be willing to debate the best, you'll still want to check out some of the top favorites while living in Kansas City, like Gates Bar-B-Q, Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ, or Hayward's Pit BBQ.

Thankfully, you can check out some good eats relatively cheaply, with an average of $17.00 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. If you're looking for a three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant, you can expect to pay around $60.00 without alcohol or dessert.

In Kansas City, single adults without children can expect to spend at least $3,246 on food per year. However, if you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $9,505 per year for food.

You can anticipate costs similar or slightly below the national average for food items purchased from the local Cosentino's Downtown Market, Hy-Vee, or Sprouts Farmers Market. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $3.37 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.58.

Kansas City Healthcare Costs

A top priority of yours, regardless of where you are living, should be your health. Since you always want to ensure that you are staying healthy, when looking into the cost of living in a particular area, you'll want to find out how much proper healthcare will run you.

If you are the type of person who prefers to visit your doctor minimally, or if you have a medical condition that requires you to see them more regularly, having medical insurance in Kansas City will help keep your costs more manageable. Health insurance can help you afford the care you need should any unfortunate emergencies arise in your new hometown.

You will want to account for proper medical care when planning your budget in Kansas City, as healthcare should always be considered an essential cost. A single adult without children will pay around $2,681 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $8,511.

Kansas City Utilities

The climate in Kansas City varies throughout the year. The area is known for tornadoes, which are most common in May. Otherwise, August is warm with some rainstorms. Winters range from December through February and tend to bring snow. The coldest month in Kansas City is in January, with an average overnight low of 17.8°. The hottest month of summer is July, where the average daytime high is typically 88.8°.

Since the winters are so cold, with nights often below freezing, you'll need to account for higher utility bills, especially during these months. Kansas City's basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $181.67 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment. Adding on the Internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $60.65 for a total of $242.32 each month.

These costs can add up quickly over time, so rather than getting caught off guard, it's in your best interest to get a good idea of how much utilities will cost in an apartment before making your move. Having this information will help you to budget accordingly for this commonly overlooked expense.

Kansas City Fitness and Entertainment

The city of Kansas City has fitness and entertainment opportunities for everyone, especially those who like to be outdoors. However, winters will force you indoors, meaning you will likely need to join a local gym for workouts. Thankfully, these costs are relatively low, with a fitness club membership fee for one adult costing $43.96 monthly.

If you're looking for some entertainment, you can purchase a seat at the local cinema for $12.00 without snacks or drinks. Otherwise, you can hop on the KC Streetcar, which runs entirely free for over two miles through downtown Kansas City, including areas like the River Market, the Power and Light District, and the Crossroads Arts District.

Kansas City also has tons of other, more affordable entertainment options. You can visit museums, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National WWI Museum and Memorial, or the Kansas City Museum. The city also has several parks to enjoy for those who prefer to stay outdoors, including Penguin Park, Penn Valley Park, and the Jacob L. Loose Park.

Other Expenses to Consider in Kansas City

Missouri is known for its progressive income tax and statewide sales tax, which has additional rates per individual county and city. Missouri currently has a 4.225% sales tax, Jackson County adds another 3.25% on top of that, and Kansas City adds another 0.125% special tax making Kansas City's total sales tax rate 8.85%.

For anyone looking to move out of state to Kansas City, make sure to pay attention to additional costs that can also add up. Be on the lookout for extra expenses such as transportation, hotels, storage, and cross-country movers.

Extensive cross-country moves like this may also require more fees, like pet deposits, security deposits, apartment application fees, and other add-ons. Just be aware of these costs so you can prepare and adjust your budget as needed without having to tap into emergency funds.

You'll also need to furnish your new apartment, which is yet another often overlooked expense to consider. Thankfully, you can learn tips on how to decorate your apartment on a budget to help keep you in line.

If you know what type of lifestyle you plan to lead in Kansas City, you can begin figuring out your recommended salary. The living wage in Kansas City is $14.40 per hour, which is the basic wage required to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities. However, you'll have to remember that the living wage is based on life led pretty frugally and will not account for any extra costs like dining out or other forms of entertainment.

You can also look at the average salary index in Kansas City, which is $65,000 per year, roughly $18.40 per hour. As you look at these figures, keep in mind that the living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different things. For your recommended salary in Kansas City, take a look at the 30% rule for rent.

You should not be spending more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent to live comfortably, according to the 30% rule. For example, if your rent is close to the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Kansas City and costs $940, your monthly wages should be at least $2,820 per month or $33,840 annually.

This recommended salary might sound easily attainable to you, but it is a recommendation for those looking to lead a very basic lifestyle, much like the living wage. Any additional costs for entertainment will mean that you'll need to pursue a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or both.

Thankfully, the typical annual salaries for common professions in Kansas City are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Computer and Mathematical, and Architecture and Engineering, respectively.

Job Market in Kansas City

Kansas City has a healthier job market compared to similar-sized metro areas. Today, healthcare is the leading industry in the city. The city's largest employers include Saint Luke's Health System, Children's Mercy, Truman Medical Centers/University Health, and HCA Midwest Health. Other significant employers are Cerner Corp., Hallmark Cards, and Ford Motor Co.

The unemployment rate in Kansas City is 6.2%, 1.9% below the current national average. Not surprisingly, this rate took a significant hit as a direct result of the pandemic. Thankfully, Kansas City is seeing a steady recovery as businesses begin opening once again.

Final Thoughts

Kansas City might be the place for you if you're looking to move to a vibrant city with countless indoor and outdoor activities. Register with Apartment List today and start checking out the thousands of available apartments to rent in Kansas City!

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Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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