A Guide to Buying a House in: Kansas

( Because our guide's easier to follow than the Yellow Brick Road)

Sunset in the Flint Hills outside of Alma, Kansas

Rumor has it you're contemplating buying a house in Kansas. Luckily for you, we've already put together a brief guide to the housing market of The Sunflower State (one of their nicknames). We'll cover a few factors that could be super-helpful when mulling over your decision, and also throw in some of the more fun/less serious stuff as a bonus. Here we go.

The Most and Least Expensive Cities in Kansas

When trying to figure out exactly where you'll move in a new state, it's can help to know the most/least pricey areas. We've put together a list of a few of each category, for your benefit.

Most expensive cities:

  • Bel Aire
  • Andover
  • Salina
  • Derby
  • Valley Center

Least expensive cities:

  • Concordia
  • Abilene
  • Junction City
  • Coffeyville
  • Manhattan

And there you have it - a good springboard for narrowing down your many options for a potential new home. It's always good to keep your wallet/bank account in mind when it comes to major, life-altering decisions. No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

Kansas's Housing Market

We all know the story about Dorothy and Toto and Oz, but what do we know about the housing market in Kansas? We're guessing the answer's currently nada. But it's a good thing to consider before taking off, full steam ahead, toward a new state. So we'll check out the status of the housing market, next.

Currently the market in Kansas favors sellers - there are fewer homes on the market, so asking prices are on the rise. But never fear, prospective buyers, because the state's overall cost of housing is still WAY lower than the US average.

Those looking to get a house in Kansas might want to head to Overland Park, because apparently it's THE place to be these days. The city did quite well on the livability scale, ranking especially high in the category of affordability. But why else do people want to live here? 

CNN Money and Livability alike put Overland Park at the top of their lists of best cities to live in the country, stating that it's community-oriented and has a great art/shopping/music scene. The town's also into soccer and BBQ, as well as farmer's markets. Home values here average $301,300, and homes are listed on the market for around $379,925. Renting a house here will cost you about $1,700. 

But wait, there's more. The state's got some new construction underway a tad east of the south-central area, around Wichita - where you'll find most of it. The next hottest spot for new development is in the upper northeast corner, around Lawrence. So if you're looking to get a brand-new place once you move, you now know where to hunt.

Home Property Values and Costs in Kansas

Wonderful, now we've got a clearer picture of where in the state to find a new home, but we're still lacking the deets on the cost factor. We'll check into pricing and property values, next.

For starters, the average value of homes in Kansas is about $134,200, and that homes are currently listed on the market for around $182,000. The cost per square foot is about $117. Renting a house here will cost you about $1,075/month. As for home appreciation, home values rose 3.5% over the past year, and they're predicted to rise another 3.8% in 2019.

That's all great, but how about apartments/condos? Well, you can find a place in the state's capital, Wichita, for about $633/month. In Lawrence, places average $904/month. Lenexa has places going for around $990/month. In Abilene, you can find a place for about $503/month, or you can find one in Salina for about $545/month. Junction City has places listed for an average of $710/month.

Hold tight, townhouse seekers, we haven't forgotten you. Rent for a townhouse in Kansas ranges from the low end of about $400/month for a one-bed/one-bath place, and hits the high mark at about $2,650/month for a three-bed/three-bath joint.

You'll Want to Look into Tornado Insurance in Kansas

Take note of what happened to Dorothy and Toto, because tornadoes are a very real threat in Kansas. And while you might not get blown away to the whimsical Land of Oz, you could find yourself paying way more than you'd like to for home repairs if you're without adequate coverage, should a storm hit your area (which would be way less fun). Luckily most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for tornadoes, but you'll need to check out your specific policy to be extra-crazy sure.

Some policies may require you to get an additional, separate tornado insurance rider, or to specifically name tornadoes among events that you want them to cover. Damage to your actual home and personal possessions are typically covered by a regular homeowners policy. If you're a renter, your renters insurance should cover your personal property, while your landlord should cover building damage. 

Your policy is also likely to provide short-term housing in case the storm is extra-nasty and leaves you temporarily homeless, which wouldn't be cool. Basically, know all that is covered by your policy, cause it's super-important. Ask your insurance agent for clarification if you're even a little unsure. No one wants to find out that they weren't covered for a catastrophe after it's too late.

Quality of Schools in Kansas

Since knowledge is power and all, it's of interest to many to know about the quality of the school system in a new state before making a major move. So, we'll move right along to Kansas's schools.

Here are some WalletHub stats about how Idaho schools ranked in the country:

  • #15 overall for the US
  • #21 in quality
  • #6 in safety

Kansas's top-rated schools include Blue Valley North High, in Overland Park, and the University of Kansas, in Lawrence.

Reasons to Move to Kansas (...or not)

Excellent, we'll move right along from the important/less fun stuff to the more exciting portion of our guide. You might be wondering just why in the heck people even move to Kansas in the first place. But don't take our word for it, let's outline some pros and cons that came straight from the mouths of actual Kansas residents.

PROs (as voted by real-life Kansans):

  • Affordability: U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Kansas as the seventh-most affordable state in the country in terms of food, health care, transportation and utilities. The overall cost of living index for the state is 90 - 10 points below the national average.
  • Arts scene: Wichita has more than just a name that's super-fun to pronounce - it's also got a thriving arts scene. This place is chockablock with annual festivals and other events to celebrate all things artsy, including Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair, which features displays of local art, as well as music, food and other fun performances.
  • Lack of traffic: One nice side effect of the state's low population density is the lack of the kind of crazy traffic that plagues so many of the more people-packed states. You can actually take a nice, relaxing joyride through the countryside here, if that's your jam.
  • Friendly/welcoming people: Do you like nice people? So does Kansas. Kansans have a reputation for being nice and welcoming, friendly and hospitable. If you're in the market for new friends, you should have no trouble finding some good picks in Kansas.

CONs (also from the mouths of real Kansans):

  • Tornadoes: As we mentioned earlier, tornadoes in Kansas aren't just a major motion picture gimmick, they're a reality. In fact, the state averages 50 of these crazy windstorms per year. All the more reason to make sure you're covered.
  • Lack of amenities: The terrain of Kansas features lots of open plains and agricultural areas. There is a metropolitan area, Wichita, in the southern part of the state - but that's about it for "big" cities. In fact, the metro ranks 85th in the country - so it's kinda tiny. Anyway, this means that there's just not a lot of "stuff to do" here - at least compared to some other states. 
  • Extreme heat/dryness in summers: Kansas is one of the driest states in the country, and residents say that summers get CRAZY hot. Temperatures often pass the 100 degree (Fahrenheit) mark, and locals say you feel like you're baking in an oven. Depending on the area of the state you're in, you're also likely to be subject to some humidity. Also, the dryness of the state leads to extreme dustiness. Break out the dustcloth.
  • Lack of jobs: There aren't a whole lotta job opportunities in Kansas these days, aside from those in the agriculture industry. Residents say it's tough to find a job, especially if you're on the younger side. If those wheat fields aren't calling to you, you might be outta luck.

Stuff to Do in Kansas

Alright, so now that we know WHY people move to Kansas, it's time to find out WHAT people do, after they've settled in here. Kansas has more than just sunflowers, wheat and tornadoes, so we've compiled a little insider's guide to some fun things to do here, offered by locals.

Here are just a few of the state's coolest attractions:

  • Oz Museum: You probably saw this one coming. Opened in 2004, this museum in Wamego celebrates both the 1939 film and the story from the original children's book, which was published in 1900. This collection of Oz culture features more than 2,500 related artifacts and collectibles, and has rooms with displays from the film projected inside - such as a black and white farmhouse scene that transitions to the Yellow Brick Road. You'll be off to see the wizard in no time.
  • Monument Rocks: Located not far from Oakely, this is one of the "Eight Wonders of Kansas" and the first  National Natural Monument in the state. The giant chalk formations - standing more than 70 feet tall - look like a "natural version of Stonehenge" - though contrary to appearances, the formations weren't arranged by humans. The monument is the remnant of a long dried-up seaway that used to cover the area. Also referred to as "chalk pyramids," the giant rocks have been given nicknames, such as "Charlie the Dog." 
  • 1950s All-Electric House: In Overland Park you'll find a retro-future model home stocked with all the modern conveniences  ...of 1954. As many electrical features as could be packed into one house are included, like electric curtains, sliding walls (which reveal a dated TV set), and a fridge and coffee pot that open via a switch. This ranch-style "all-electric" house was created as a model home "with the greatest technological advancements," and is now more of a retro amusement. It's a fun way to get a glimpse into the past's vision of "the future."
  • World's Largest Ball of Twine: Because if you're in Kansas, how could you resist an attraction like this? In Cawker City, you'll find a continually growing ball of twine that started in 1953. Within a few years, the ball already weighed more than 5,000 pounds and stood eight feet tall. The city hosts an annual "Twine-a-Thon," in which participants can add their work to the ball. This town is serious about holding their world title - forever.
  • "They Also Ran" Gallery: Do you ever wonder about the famous losers of the American presidency race? So do people in Norton, Kansas. The museum chronicles the losers of American presidential history, featuring photographs and biographies of each person. The gallery opened in the '60s, and has since expanded to include an online gallery. If you ever wonder about "those who also ran," you can read all about 'em here - and then write one heck of a report for history class.

Settling in, Kansas Style

Well folks, there you have it - our little guide to Kansas's housing market and all  hings home-buying, with the added bonus of some fun stuff on the side. It probably goes without saying that it's impossible for us to cover EVERY little detail about a state you might wanna move to, but hopefully you're feeling more informed than when you arrived.

If Kansas seems like the place for you to make your next move, then we're wishing you good luck and godspeed. You've got this. Make sure your new home is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

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