Lifestyles: Quality of Life

THERE’S A REASON SO MANY PEOPLE REFER TO KANSAS CITY AS THE MOST EASTERN WESTERN CITY, THE MOST WESTERN EASTERN CITY, THE BIGGEST SMALL TOWN, THE SMALLEST BIG TOWN, AND SEVERAL OTHER CATCHPHRASES.



All of them are meant to sum up that Kansas City has the amenities of that of a larger metropolis without being overwhelming, both in size and cost. And legend has it, the people are pretty nice. 

Zia Lohrasbi found all of that out when he started at Hallmark about a year ago. A week into the job, the Washington State native who was
totally unfamiliar with the area when hired, had a disaster at his new apartment. On one of his first days at work, Lohrasbi found out that a fire had broken out at his new place.

But this major problem turned out to be a blessing. Hallmark office workers found out what had happened, pulled together $700 for him to purchase  new necessities, helped him find a new home, and the event led to a network of co-worker friends. 

Lohrasbi’s experience, though very personal,  encapsulates what so many people say when they visit the area: “The people are so friendly. Kansas City is a great city, and I’m not sure that most people know that.”

The area’s quality of life might have something to do with that, rubbing off on residents’ overall demeanors. High housing costs can put anyone in a disagreeable mood, and compared to other cities with as much to offer in the way of great schools and entertainment, the prices in the Kansas City area are very low. It’s not uncommon for visitors from one of the coasts to experience reverse sticker shock when finding out a monthly mortgage or rent payment of a local, exclaiming: “You pay that for this!?”

The housing stock is varied with a variety of price points, architectural styles in varied urban and suburban settings, offering something for nearly every taste, as long as it doesn’t call for an ocean or mountain view. A lack of a life-sucking commute time can also make for a kinder resident, and Kansas Citians, for the most part, have it good in this category. The metro area consistently ranks among the best in the country compared to other large cities when it comes to daily travel times to work.

Sure, there are construction projects that can cause headaches, but it’s not the same kind of nightmare one can face in California’s big cities, East Coast hubs or Chicago or Dallas. But it’s easy to get to those places. Being in the center of the country, most major U.S. cities are short flights from Kansas City International Airport, which has a reputation for its easy access and is undergoing a nearly $2-billion facelift.

In the health-care realm, there are strong nationally ranked hospital organizations on either side of the Kansas-Missouri state line, including the University of Kansas Health System, Saint Luke’s Health System, HCA Health Midwest, Prime Healthcare and numerous specialty and community hospitals. The widespread availability of those facilities throughout the metro area give it high marks on several national health-care index ratings.

There are high-ranked schools, public and private, on either side of the border. Though the public-school system in Kansas City, Mo., proper is going through a long-winded overhaul, several of the surrounding districts have very strong reputations, and there are plenty of  well-regarded private institutions around the metro. Past high school, there are many  universities and colleges in the area in addition to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which is the largest higher-education facility in the metro area and includes medical and law schools.
Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains due to its 48 publicly operated spouts in the municipality and “Paris of the Plains” for its 148 miles of boulevards and parkways that meander through the region.

There is also much natural beauty, with countless city and suburban parks, including Swope Park, which totals more than 1,800 acres with several recreational options, including the Kansas City Zoo; Starlight Theatre, an outdoor venue that brings international acts; and several
sports fields.

Mix all of these elements with vibrant arts, entertainment, food and sports scenes, and many residents don’t think Hallmark’s Lohrasbi is exaggerating when he simply describes Kansas City as . . . “great.”