Those looking for a friendly, welcoming state to retire should look at places to retire in Kansas. The Sunflower State, located in the southern half of the Midwest, is proud to be part of the bible belt. Those who reside in Kansas are a unique blend of Midwest friendliness and southern hospitality, making it appealing to many looking to relocate here.
Kansas has several large cities like Wichita, Kansas City, and Olathe. Still, it also has an abundance of quieter rural areas for those looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Though it is not considered a tax-friendly state, Kansas does have a lower cost of living, especially when it comes to the price of homes. The median cost of housing in Kansas is far less than the national average, allowing retirees to own their homes without breaking the bank.
While the property taxes in the Sunflower State are some of the highest in the country, Kansas does offer a homestead refund for those 55+ years old and a Safe Senior property tax refund for seniors 65+ who fall into a low-income bracket.
Kansas does not tax social security or public pensions for those whose annual income less than $75,000. All other retirement income such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and private pensions are all taxed as standard income. Additionally, Kansas’ sales tax is another tax that is higher than the national average, and unlike other states, Kansas taxes groceries too.
Though the taxes are unappealing for retirees, the reality is Kansas is still far less expensive than several other states in the country. But, people don’t choose Kansas as their place to call home because of its taxes; instead, retirees are drawn to the state for its relaxed culture, Kansas BBQ, and outdoor adventures.
What many don’t know about Kansas is that it is home to a couple of mountain ranges Mount Sunflower and Castle Rock. Plus, Kansas has 28 state parks ideal for those who like camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and bike riding.
In addition to the outdoors, Kansas has many museums, art venues, and an amazing culinary scene, especially when it comes to BBQ. Kansas City BBQ includes a variety of proteins such as pork, chicken, beef, and turkey. And you don’t need to live in Kansas City to enjoy BBQ either the state is full of BBQ restaurants.
Where to Retire in Kansas
- Overland Park
- Percent of Senior Population: 14%
- Overall Population: 389,938
Wichita is the largest city in the state and is home to several universities such as Wichita State University, Franklin University, Friends Universities, and Newman University. The various universities add to the cities art and culture scene.
Some of the city’s best art venues include:
- Wichita Art Museum – Founded in 1915 and offers discounted admission to seniors
- Museum of World Treasures – Has displays from various eras
- Street Art Walk – Self-guided tour of the city’s many murals
In addition to the museums and art walk, Wichita has more than 20 golf courses, both public and private. Some of the city’s best courses are Reflection Ridge, Rolling Hills Country Club, and Arthur B Sim Golf Course. And if you are looking to spend time outdoors but not on the golf course, there are several outdoor parks to enjoy, such as The Wichita Gardens, Sedgwick County Park, and Central Riverside Park.
The restaurant scene here is nothing to scoff about either. Culinary options are in abundance, including everything from the high-end like Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar to casual dining like the Doo-Dah Diner. And you can find an array of global food options, too, like Hawaiian, Japanese, Indian, and Mediterranean.
Plus if you are looking to take in dinner and a show, Wichita has a variety venues that offer dining and a show:
- Mosley Street Melodrama – An audience participation theater
- Roxy’s Downtown – Musicals, concerts, and shows
- Prairie Pines Playhouse – Mystery dinner theater
Although Wichita is a large metropolitan area, the cost of living is significantly lower than other cities of this size, which adds to the city’s appeal. And since it is a large urban area, there are several medical center options, including multiple full-service hospitals.
- Percent of Senior Population: 14.9%
- Overall Population: 195,494
Overland Park is a suburb of Kansas City and sits along the Missouri border. It is one of the larger cities in the state and is made up of historical and modern architecture, which gives Overland its unique charm. Overland Park also has several colleges and universities that add to the local culture. Some of the colleges offer programs for seniors, including events and classes.
The city is home to more than 70 parks giving the residents plenty of options to stay active outdoors. Some of the top parks include:
- Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
- Heritage Park
- Antioch Park
- Indian Creek Hike and Bike Trail
- Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park
- Nall Hills Park
Plus, Overland Park boasts multiple golf courses and Topgolf. Topgolf offers a state-of-the-art golfing experience, including balls with microchips that measure speed, accuracy, and distance.
For those looking for indoor activities, Overland Park features the Museum at Prairiefire: American Museum of Natural History Exhibits, American Jazz Museum, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Plus, sports enthusiasts will love being close to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, which hosts college basketball games.
Though the cost of housing is slightly higher in Overland Park than in other areas of the state, this city’s crime rate is lower than the national average. Plus, the city offers an abundance of health care options and hospitals.
- Percent of Senior Population: 11%
- Overall Population: 98,193
Lawrence is just west of Overland Park and Kansas City. Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas, which helps add to the cultural amenities available to the residents. Lawrence is one of the most liberal cities in the state and works hard at embracing and supporting diversity.
Retirees looking for a fun and active community will be drawn to Lawrence. The downtown area is full of bars, coffee shops, boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and live performance venues. And being a college town, Lawrence has more than its fair share of breweries.
Plus, thanks in part to the local colleges there are several interesting museums like:
- Spencer Museum of Art
- Museum of Anthropology
- Clinton Lake Museum
- Natural History Museum
- University of Kansas Natural History Museum
And when you want to spend time outdoors, Lawrence has several parks and trails to explore. The Lawrence Loop is a multi-use paved trail that will span 22-miles once it is finished. And for a more scenic route, the Lawrence Levee Trail runs along the Kansas River. Plus, the city hosts fun summer festivals like the North vs. South Music Festival.
The city is bicycle-friendly, so retirees looking to stay active will enjoy the many trails and safety efforts the city has in place for cyclists.
Unfortunately, Lawrence’s crime rate is higher than the national average, which is not uncommon for college towns. However, the city hosts the Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
- Percent of Senior Population: 8.6%
- Overall Population: 54,604
Manhattan hosts Fort Riley, one of the largest military bases in the US. The city sits along both the Kansas River and the Big Blue River, adding to the city’s beauty. Manhattan’s culture and outdoor opportunities are what make the city appealing to seniors.
Retirees looking to stay active will love how easy it is to get around town on bike or foot. Plus, there are numerous city parks and trails like:
- Turtle Creek State Park
- Kansas State University Gardens
- Manhattan City Park
- Linear Park Trail
- Manhattan River Trail
For retirees who enjoy the arts, the Manhattan Arts Center, Wolf House Museum, Strecker-Nelson W Gallery, and the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art will add to the city’s attractiveness. It isn’t just art and museums that retirees can enjoy here; Manhattan also has more than 140 restaurants, galleries, shops, breweries, and boutiques.
The crime rate is higher than the national average, but the majority of crime is theft, rather than violent crime. Though it is a smaller town, it still has a substantial health care system, which supports the local community, and even includes the Via Christi Hospital.
- Percent of Senior Population: 19.7%
- Overall Population: 8,505
Retirees looking for a small town with affordable housing need to put Independence on their list. The median home value, according to Realtor.com, is $85,500, well below the national average.
Independence has recently gained some fame around their library, which was recently voted the best small-town library in the country. The Independence library is far more than just books; it also offers various events, including book clubs, Ladies Night Out, and Senior Day. Plus, there are rotating exhibits like Beerology, Crossroads, Americans, and the Holocaust.
And the library isn’t the only thing that brings notoriety to this town; Laura Ingalls Wilder once called this city home too. Though it is not the set of the famous TV show Little House on the Prairie, the books were based on her experiences growing up in Independence and her former home is now a museum open to the public.
Plus, Independence is a great place for retirees who enjoy the outdoors. The city is a walkable community, so active retirees will be able to keep the car at home and comfortably take advantage of the town’s amenities. Some local parks like Riverside Park and Elk City State Park are ideal for fishing and watching wildlife.
Independence has several casual dining opportunities, including a brewery. And the downtown area has a few shops and boutiques.
The town has a lower than average crime rate and hosts a local hospital which you can find in downtown Independence.