Prior to the addition of Alaska and Hawaii, Kansas was considered the geographical center of the United States. Even today, many people consider the state to be part of America’s “Heartland.” With nearly 3 million people living within its boundaries, Kansas ranks 35th for the total population in the United States even though it has the 15th largest area. Most people probably know Kansas from its appearances in popular children’s novels, such as “Little House on the Prairie” or “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Best Places To Live in Kansas

Kansas ranks 40th for population density in the United States, with 34.9 people per square mile. Up until the middle of the 20th century, most Kansas residents dwelled in rural areas. However, as of the year 2000, approximately 75 percent of Kansans live in cities, and Kansas has five cities with a population of more than 100,000. However, whether you prefer to dwell in a large city or consider yourself more of a country mouse, there’s a community in Kansas well suited to you. Examples include the following:

1. Overland Park
Overland Park is one of the largest cities in Kansas with a population of over 180,000. Located in the eastern portion of the state, it is actually considered a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. The crime rate in Overland Park is 31 percent lower than throughout the U.S. and 41 percent lower than the statewide average. The unemployment rate is 3 percent, and the median household income is nearly $75,000 per year. Ninety-five percent of students graduate from high school, and Overland Park offers lots of amenities.
2. Hays
Hays is located in northern Kansas along Interstate 70. It is a medium-sized city with a population of 21,073 and ranks among the top ten for education compared with cities of similar size across the state with a 90 percent graduation rate. The median home value in Hays is $161,800, and the cost of living index is 90, which is 10 percent lower than the national average.
3. Mission
Mission is a top-10 small city in Kansas with a population of approximately 9,500. The median home value is $154,100 and the median household income is $53,655. Year-over-year crime is down 57 percent in Mission, with a 26 percent lower crime rate than the statewide average, and the high school graduation rate is 93 percent.

Economy

Among the top 10 employers in Kansas are Tyson Foods, the Sprint Corporation, and Spirit AeroSystems. In 2014, Kansas’ gross domestic product was estimated at over $140 billion according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Kansas ranks eighth in the nation for petroleum and natural gas production, and almost 90 percent of the land is devoted to agriculture.

See also Kansas City, MO