Updated: Sep 8
So you’re thinking about taking an assignment in, but have never been to Kansas City, Missouri? Then you’ve come to the right place because we’re about to give you our Travel Nurse’s Review of Kansas City, written by our own Travel Nurse turned Recruiter: John Heymach, RN, BSN PCCN.
Travel Nurse Review of Kansas City, Missouri:
I once read: “Kansas City is just like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, without all the jerks.” I couldn’t agree or laugh more at just how true that statement is. Unlike our reputation for being a “cow town” with “endless open prairies,” Kansas City, with a population surpassing 490,000, is the largest city in Missouri and has this really cool mixture of “urban meets suburban” with all the amenities you’d expect of a big city, but with a like-minded, tight-knit and incredibly diverse community.
Straddling two states and two rivers, Kansas City often surprises people with its diversity and wide expanse of entertainment options. You can play a game of cards on a riverboat casino before heading off to enjoy the Kansas City Symphony, or you can check out the famous American Jazz Museum, before heading out for some mind-blowing BBQ. From the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to the three professional theatres to the various professional sports teams (Super Bowl Champs 2020 !!!) to the nearby Kansas Speedway to Legoland, the Sea Life Aquarium and the National World War I Museum, the options for “fun” in KC are endless
What you’ll like the most: The Cost of Living in KC
A lot of people move here simply for the lower cost of living, some of the lowest costs in the country and about 15% lower than the national average. Regardless if you live downtown or midtown costs are simply lower for housing, food, transportation, entertainment and more!
What you’ll like even more: The People Living in KC
Not only will you not find a lot of traffic in Kansas City (see “Pros” below) but you won’t find a lot of jerks either. This is the Midwest after all and people are generally super friendly, will open doors for you, offer directions if you seem lost, or buy that cup of coffee for you in the Starbucks drive-through. Don’t believe us? KC even has its own Random Acts of Kindness Facebook page.
The Pros: No City is all “Pros” but KC Comes Close
Pro: Virtually no traffic
Unlike other equally sized cities, in KC you’ll hardly ever find yourself stuck in traffic. Due in part to the highway systems infrastructure, the U.S. Census Bureau states that KC has some of the quickest commutes in the country, averaging around 23 minutes.
Pro: Some of the best hospitals in the country
Kansas City has several Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 trauma centers. According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the country’s medical centers:
The University of Kansas Hospital was ranked as the number one hospital in the Kansas City metro area and No. 1 in the state of Kansas
Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City ranked number 2 in the metro area and number 2 in the state of Missouri.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital, in St. Louis, ranked number 18 in the nation and was number 1 in Missouri
North Kansas City Hospital, ranked third locally and tied for fourth in Missouri
AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam, ranked fourth in the metro and placed third in Kansas
Pro: Tons of Shopping
Lenexa Market, amongst other shopping areas is an incredible local experience filled with boutique stores, fresh produce and a ton of great restaurants. I’ve spent many days just wandering through this little market and can’t argue with its charm. In nearby Lenexa Market you’ll find “The Legends” which is a gigantic outdoor shopping experience where you’ll find even more restaurants, a sporting park and some of the most beautiful homes in all of Kansas City.
Pro: The best BBQ on either side of the Mississippi
It should come as no surprise, I’m a man who likes my BBQ, and while cities like Austin and Memphis “claim” to have the best BBQ in the world – I can tell you for a fact – they do not.
I would argue the best BBQ in Kansas City can be found at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que where you’ll find pork sandwiches, ribs, burnt ends, and smoked chicken. Don’t worry about leftovers, there won’t be any. Other honorable mentions for BBQ are the award winning Jack Stack Barbecue, Gates BBQ and Hawg Jaw Que & Brew.
Not a BBQ Guy or Gal? No problem.
Anyone can hop on line to find award winning cuisine in KC, but here are my personal recommendations: A sweet brunch spot called Succotash where you can find vegan/veggie options, La Bodega where you can find delicious creamy croquetas de pollo, an upscale steakhouse called Pierpont’s, the best ramen I’ve ever had at Boru Ramen Bar, and of course an old-school southern joint called Peachtree Cafe’Teria where you’ll definitely get your fill of fried chicken, catfish and some creamy mac n’ cheese that you might as well order two servings of, because you’re definitely going to want seconds later.
What can I say? I like my food.
Pro: Beer. The Cause and the Solution to All Life’s Problems
You know, I’ll be honest with you, I like my Coors Light, but when I go out, either with my friends or family, or just stopping by the bar for a quick drink on my way home from a long day – I do enjoy the occasional craft beer. The most popular brewery around here is called Boulevard Brewing Co and I happen to like it because it’s on my way home from work (not gonna lie) and they have a HUGE selection of beers to choose from. If a giant brewery is not your thing, a couple smaller local spots I can recommend are: Torn Label with an awesome ‘House Brew Coffee Stout’ that’s more like a meal and Border Brewing Company with a light crisp ‘Patio Pale Ale’. And that’s all I got. Hey, I’m married, with 3 kids, so I don’t get out much (hence my beer of choice).
Pro & Con: The Good, The Bad, The Weather If you’ve ever lived in the Midwest you will all know what I mean when I say: we often have periods of unseasonable weather.
Sometimes it’ll get into the 80s in April, and then the next day we’ll have snow. Sometimes it’ll drop to the 60s in August and pour straight rain for a week. I can’t say you should move here FOR the weather, but when it’s good. It’s so good. I’m talking hot summer nights, sitting on your porch with a cold glass of wine, crickets in the background and lightening bugs doing their rendition of the Nutcracker right in your front yard. Or blissfully quiet mornings, watching the snowfall gently, with a cup of warm hot cocoa keeping your hands warm.
When it’s magic. It’s magic. And it’s magic often.
Pro: Current World Champions of the most popular sport in the US
I’d be remiss to not mention that our football team, the Kansas City Chiefs, had their best year in decades this past January when they won the Super Bowl! There is no better feeling in the world than to be out at a bar rooting for the same team and watching them win game after game after game. That level of camaraderie is insurmountable and basically just good old fashioned fun. Even if you’re not a football fan, the energy is contagious.
The Cons: There's Only One!
Con: You’ll def need a car
Yeah, we’d love to say we have the world’s best public transportation system, but we’d be lying if we did. While the bus system downtown is pretty good – it literally doesn’t go anywhere else. So, you're sort of stuck driving everywhere. If you’re going to do an assignment here – bring your car – or plan on renting one for the duration of your contract.
Where to live: A neighborhood guide of KC
There’s a really good urban/suburban mix going on in Kansas City so you can easily choose a spot to be in the center of it all or a spot that offers the quiet and solitude you might be looking for. Whichever you choose, you’ll feel instantly at home. Below I'll give you my review of some of the more popular neighborhoods to live in Kansas City, Missouri
If riverfront living has always been a dream of yours, dream no more and welcome to River Market, located just south of the Missouri River. Here you’ll find the Midwest’s largest Farmer’s Market and an eclectic neighborhood full of young professionals who all have one thing in common: they want to be within walking distance of everything. From public transportation, to coffee shops, to the world’s best BBQ, everything in River Market is just a stone’s throw away.
If you’re looking for a little diversity in a hugely multicultural area, look no further than “Westside." An area with a huge Latino and Mexican American influence, the Westside is abound with cute little shops, farm-to-table restaurants, incredible sweet and savory bistros, classic coffee shops and an extensive selection of cocktail bars all within one square mile.
The Country Club Plaza
If strolling through a quiet neighborhood with a Spanish influence of hand-painted mosaic tiles, fountains and gorgeous custom-made ironwork are more your thing, you won’t want to miss out on ‘The Country Club Plaza’. Here you’ll find gorgeous, refurbished (yet modern) condos, apartments and single-family homes set a bit apart from all the restaurants and shops. The neighborhood is mostly an influx of folks in their 30s with an even mixture of singles and couples without children.
Much like ‘The Country Club Plaza’ neighborhood, Westport is also a quiet little corridor in a busy metropolitan area. Filled with some of the oldest entertainment and shopping districts in all of Kansas City, Westport has a healthy mixture of old-time residents and a younger population all desiring some of the convenience without all the noise of the hustle and bustle.
One of the larger neighborhoods in Kansas City, with 110,000 residents, Brookside is a working-class neighborhood filled with folks who enjoy living in older homes, but within walking distance of shopping and dining at a huge plethora of grocery stores, markets, restaurants, shops and coffee houses.
Power & Light District
Home to the Sprint Center, where you’ll find basketball games and concerts, the Power & Light District is alive and buzzing with cocktail bars, steakhouses, upscale clubs for late night dancing and live music along with a sublime shopping scene that offers upscale and chic boutiques. This area has a huge walkability score with easy access to everything.
For a listing of short-term, furnished rentals in Kansas City, Missouri, check out our partner Kopa.co
That's All I Got Folks!