From Kansas - The State Of Unexpected

There’s No Place Like Kansas

The Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail at Wilson State Park.
Photo courtesy of Kansas Tourism

by Lindsay Lopp

hether it’s housing, utilities, transportation or groceries, in today’s economic climate, the prices of life’s essentials can be high. Luckily for Kansans, the Sunflower State is on the brighter side of this national issue. 

Ranked by Forbes as the second Cheapest State to Live in 2023, Kansas simultaneously boasts affordable housing, a low cost of living and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

With its economy soaring to new heights and thousands of new jobs opening across the state, Kansas is a place where affordability continues to reign supreme.

Home Sweet Home 

While housing costs have skyrocketed everywhere else in America, in Kansas it sits at 27.4% below the national average. Topeka, the state capital, is the No.1 emerging affordable housing market, according to The Wall Street Journal and Relator.com’s Emerging Housing Markets Index. 

The index reached this verdict by comparing 300 of the largest metropolitans in the U.S., ranking the areas based on the housing market, cost of living and if the local economy is thriving. With multiple large employers in government, healthcare, and manufacturing, as well as a variety of dining and entertainment options located in the area, Topeka is a hub of opportunity for both work and play. 

In a similar vein, sitting on the state border, Overland Park, one of the largest suburbs of Kansas City, was listed among the top five best cities to live in in the U.S. by Livability. Home to a diverse selection of restaurants, parks, art museums and locally owned boutiques, Overland Park is bustling with young professionals, drawn in by the vibrant job market the region presents. 

Increasing Opportunities for Employment 

For the last two consecutive years, Kansas has received the most private investment projects per capita, winning Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup. This ever-growing list of expansion projects has impacted the state’s unemployment rate, which dropped from 6.2% in 2020 to 2.9% as of 2022. 




According to a report released by Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, by the end of 2023, Kansas was projected to add over 25,000 jobs, a 1.8% growth rate.

This success is only expected to increase as we enter 2024. With the state securing a handful of major investments in semiconductor and electric battery production, its durable manufacturing industry is projected to grow by 4.1% in the coming year. The report also stated that with demand increasing for IT consulting, system integration and cybersecurity, Kansas’ professional and business services sector is expected to grow by 1.2%. 

As job opportunities in a variety of industries and skillsets continue to become increasingly available, those located or looking to relocate to the Sunflower State can rest easy when it comes to employment. Not only are people able to find jobs, but the life the landscape offers allows them to make the most out of their money. 

Prepare to Be Entertained 

Kansas’ rolling plains hold more than houses and office buildings. With 25 state parks, spanning 32,000 acres of land, 500 miles of trail, 10,000 campsites and access to more than 130,000 surface acres of water, many come to the Sunflower State to engage in outdoor adventure. 

From biking and hiking to canoeing and sailing, there are a variety of ways to explore Kansas’ diverse landscape. Some even choose to do it on horseback. With more than 300 miles of equestrian trails, guests can gallop through woodlands, open prairie, on shorelines and across streams at locations such as Perry Lake State Park, El Dorado State Park and Eisenhower State Park, to name a few.

If hooves aren’t your forte, at Wilson State Park’s Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail, visitors can race down more than 20 miles of scenic paths, featuring towering red rock formations, native wildlife and breathtaking views. This park is a far cry from the thick fields Kansas is known for. Outdoor enthusiasts come to this oasis not only to bike, but to sail, water-ski and kayak along the rocky shoreline and shallow canyons. 

Beyond the great outdoors, cities throughout Kansas boast lively options for entertainment. Wichita, Kansas City, Overland Park, Olathe, Topeka, Salina, Lawrence and so many more are all brimming with live-music venues, museums, annual festivals, breweries and of course, Kansas City BBQ, with every city and small town offering a taste of what the region is famous for. 

Much like the state’s economic climate, it’s a flavor you won’t find anywhere else. 

The region is famous for its finger-licking-good Kansas City BBQ.
Photo courtesy of Kansas Tourism

Lindsay Lopp
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Lindsay Lopp joined Conway Data in 2023. She is the assistant editor of the company's Custom Content division and regularly contributes to Site Selection magazine. In 2021, she graduated from Pratt Institute with her BFA in Creative Writing and is currently completing her MFA in Popular Fiction and Publishing at Emerson College.

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