Kansas Living: Residents Form Strong Ties to the Sunflower State
That famous Kansan, Dorothy, knew why she wanted to get home so badly. Beyond its highly advantageous cost of living and nationally ranked schools, Kansas is the true heartland, offering an authentic American experience, from the hometown feel of small communities to the cosmopolitan amenities of urban areas that rival those in any large city.
The state’s quality of life is gaining national notice. Forbes named Johnson County the third-best place in the nation to raise a family, citing its affordability and accessibility. Overland Park and Shawnee were ranked No. 7 and 17, respectively, on CNNmoney.com’s Best Places to Live list for 2010.
RelocateAmerica.com named Overland Park among its Top 100 Places to Live for 2010. The community excelled in categories such as employment opportunities, quality of K-12 education, crime rates, median housing costs and real estate appreciation. Topeka made Kiplinger magazine’s Top 10 Cities for the Next Decade list for 2010. The report cited quality schools and hospitals, a stable job market, municipal university and low housing costs.
The state is a leader in quality health care, offering a variety of services that typically cost below national averages. The state boasts 4.9 community hospitals per 100,000 residents, which is nearly three times the national average.
“The only way we know that people get truly healthy is by having more family physicians, and Kansas is really a leader in that area” says Dr. Robyn Liu, a family physician in Tribune. “I just found the perfect practice opportunity here.”
One of the state’s major quality of life attributes is its highly rated education system. Kansas boasts an impressive roster of higher education institutions that include seven major universities, 19 community colleges and 11 technical schools.
The state devotes 37 percent of its annual budget allocation to education, and nearly 90 percent of Kansas adults have earned at least a high school diploma. ACT scores for Kansas students are above the national average and pupil-teacher ratios at Kansas schools are in the top 10 among states.
Pretty As a Picture
It is a hometown flavor that gives Kansas such appeal, but it is also a state that offers cosmopolitan cultural amenities in abundance.
Wichita is a center of art that includes the recently refurbished Wichita Art Museum with its highly regarded collection of American works and the breathtaking Dale Chihuly Persian Seafoam Installation hanging in its lobby.
In Lawrence, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, which counts among its collection works by Chihuly, Claude Monet, Jean Fragonard, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, is considered one of the best university art museums in the country. The Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby includes an international collection of porcelain, rare dolls, antique furniture and textiles.
And Kansas is a state with of unspoiled natural beauty and boundless outdoor possibilities, from hiking, camping and wildlife watching to horseback riding and hunting. The Sunflower State includes 14 state parks, 24 major reservoirs and 40 public fishing lakes.
David Toland, an outdoor enthusiast and executive director for Thrive Allen County-Iola, used to live in Washington, D.C.
“The best things in Kansas are access to the outdoors and the ability to experience small-town life, but yet be close to larger cities,” he says. “I’m interested in having the chance to live my life and thrive – not spend my time pushing onto the last subway car at midnight after a 14-hour day.”