Des Moines to Kansas City Relocation help

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cyclonesurveyor

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Jan 26, 2009
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Fort Collins, CO
So recently found out my wife's job is most likely relocating to Kansas City (actually Overland Park). Luckily I will be able to work "remotely" from home but we are struggling on where to live in KC. We have been living on the west side of Des Moines proper since moving from the Twin Cities in 2006 and love the old charm and character of the neighborhoods, access to trails and the ease of getting downtown.

We have 3 kids (2nd grader, Kindergartener and a 3 year old) so schools are our #1 priority. But we want the same type of neighborhood that we are in now (pre 1930 house). After some research and talking to some people, we keyed in on the neighborhoods Waldo and Brookside and surrrounding area.

But they are all in the KC public school system and everything I've read says that the school district sucks. And I understand most inner city public schools do, but there always seems to be a pocket where the actual schools are good. (EG: Des Moines Public overall has a bad rep compared to the 'burbs but have highly rated schools like Hubbell, Hanawalt and Greenwood Elementaries)

So am I missing something on the KC schools or do they all suck?

What other cities/towns have the older neighborhoods that I am looking for?

We have little desire to live in a newer subdivision or rambler style neighborhoods.

TIA
 

dabears32

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Nov 23, 2009
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KC Mo's schools are not even accredited at the moment, so you definitely want to stay away from that.

How far south is OP is your wifes workplace? Kansas City is a very easy town to get around. I can get from my apartment in OP to pretty much anywhere in KC(Plaza, sport stadiums, etc) in 20 mins.

Maybe the downtown Overland Park area is an option for you. I think it would be far enough from the Leawood/south OP area. A ton of money if there and I wouldnt want my kids to be around the sense of entitlement some of them have/
 
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jsb

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Everything I've heard is that the Kansas City public schools are to be avoided. I have friends that lived in Brookside and loved it, but ended up moving to Overland Park when they had kids.
 
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aeroclone

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Oct 30, 2006
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Agreed with what has been said about KCMO schools. As others have suggested, I would look across the state line to Johnson county. Close to work in OP, and great schools. If you are looking for something older and not the cookie cutter subdivisions going up these days, look at the older suburbs in the northeast part of the county like Mission, Merriam, Fairway, Prairie Village.
 

cyclonesurveyor

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Jan 26, 2009
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Agreed with what has been said about KCMO schools. As others have suggested, I would look across the state line to Johnson county. Close to work in OP, and great schools. If you are looking for something older and not the cookie cutter subdivisions going up these days, look at the older suburbs in the northeast part of the county like Mission, Merriam, Fairway, Prairie Village.
i have seen some places in these areas that we would consider.

the relocation won't happen until June so there should be a lot more options in a couple of months.
 

twistedredbird

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Apr 26, 2008
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I lived in Kansas City metro half my life, 1/2 of it in Overland Park, the other half in South Kansas City.

I went to UMKC, and loved that area near the plaza/UMKC/Brookfield/Westport, etc. IMO - if you want culture, lots of walking to things, best area to live. Consider Brookside area, but private schools.

If you want the culture and good public schools, you might consider Mission, KS or old Overland Park(north of 1-435). Most homes in this area are updated, but are mid-century moderns, bi-levels, and depending on your budget, one car garages more common.

You might also visit Shawnee. Has more of a town feeling, old shawnee is nice and often overlooked, has more affordable housing:

Best Places to Live 2010 - Top 100: City details: Shawnee, KS - from MONEY Magazine


South of 1 435 is pure mass suburbia.

I will be brutally honest. Overland Park/Johnson County traffic is like driving in the west burbs of Chicago. It can be brutal.
 
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clonehenge

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Apr 14, 2006
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Agreed with what has been said about KCMO schools. As others have suggested, I would look across the state line to Johnson county. Close to work in OP, and great schools. If you are looking for something older and not the cookie cutter subdivisions going up these days, look at the older suburbs in the northeast part of the county like Mission, Merriam, Fairway, Prairie Village.
When you mentioned the neighborhood you wanted I immediately thought of Prairie Village...I had some friends w/kids who lived there (ironically they moved to Des Moines) and loved it...

Older homes with beautiful tree lined streets and some neat restaurants and shops close by...pretty charming really...and a good family area...
 
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clonehenge

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Apr 14, 2006
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I lived in Kansas City metro half my life, 1/2 of it in Overland Park, the other half in South Kansas City.

I went to UMKC, and loved that area near the plaza/UMKC/Brookfield/Westport, etc. IMO - if you want culture, lots of walking to things, best area to live. Consider Brookside area, but private schools.

If you want the culture and good public schools, you might consider Mission, KS or old Overland Park(north of 1-435). Most homes in this area are updated, but are mid-century moderns, bi-levels, and depending on your budget, one car garages more common.

You might also visit Shawnee. Has more of a town feeling, old shawnee is nice and often overlooked, has more affordable housing:

Best Places to Live 2010 - Top 100: City details: Shawnee, KS - from MONEY Magazine


South of 1 435 is pure mass suburbia.

I will be brutally honest. Overland Park/Johnson County traffic is like driving in the west burbs of Chicago. It can be brutal.
Sweet...I live in Shawnee and I didn't know it was a top 100 city...a lot of Shawnee is comprised of newer homes on the West side...I live in a neighborhood built in the '70s...but there are some nicer older homes off Johnson Dr South of Nieman...

Shawnee really is a great place to live...it's convenient because you're in between I-35 and I-435 so it's easy access to pretty much anywhere in KC...

And I don't think traffic is really that bad...I drive South for work everyday and I would in no way compare it to Chicago...now if you lived in the SE suburbs in MO and had to drive through the Grandview triangle every day, then that's comparable to Chicago...I hear horror stories about that all the time from co-workers.
 

twistedredbird

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Sweet...I live in Shawnee and I didn't know it was a top 100 city...a lot of Shawnee is comprised of newer homes on the West side...I live in a neighborhood built in the '70s...but there are some nicer older homes off Johnson Dr South of Nieman...

Shawnee really is a great place to live...it's convenient because you're in between I-35 and I-435 so it's easy access to pretty much anywhere in KC...

And I don't think traffic is really that bad...I drive South for work everyday and I would in no way compare it to Chicago...now if you lived in the SE suburbs in MO and had to drive through the Grandview triangle every day, then that's comparable to Chicago...I hear horror stories about that all the time from co-workers.
I lived off of Metcalf and 1-435. That is brutal, and ironically, high demand for housing. Now, commuting to that area maybe not so bad, but driving "in" that area is, and is much like Schaumburg, west burbs, is what I meant.
 

cyclonesurveyor

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Jan 26, 2009
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Fort Collins, CO
thanks for the help everyone, I'll start checking out some of those other areas. In regards to the traffic, i have heard its a lot better than Minneapolis. My wife doesn't know where her office would be but I think it maybe just south of I-35 and west of Metcalf. does that interchange area suck too?
 

Cloner97

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Apr 11, 2006
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Look at Prairie Village, it's basically right across the street from KCMO but you get all the benefits of Kansas. Other little pockets around there are Fairway, Leawood
 
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Brookcyde

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Aug 29, 2012
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We have lived in Brookside/Waldo for 25+ years(note my user name....) and raised two kids. In the city of Kansas City, private schools are really your only option. There is a very strong Catholic school system that functions as a de facto set of neighborhood schools in the plaza/brookside/waldo corridor. There are three catholic high schools(one boys and two girls). Not everyone at the school is catholic, but religion is emphasized. There are also a couple of very good, but more expensive, non-catholic private grade schools and a very good(but very expensive)private high school in the area. We have had our kids in both the catholic and non-catholic schools at various times and have mostly been very pleased.
On the Kansas side, the older parts of Prairie Village, Leawood, Fairway, etc. have some neighborhoods with character. Basically just on the west side of state line road down to about 75th street. The public schools are better than the KCMO public schools, but that's not really the comparison you should be making. I know lots of people who are happy with the Kansas schools, but I know others who live in Kansas and send their kids to the Missouri Catholic high schools(even though there are two Catholic high schools on the Kansas side.
I think(at least there used to be)a little discount in KCMO home prices compared to Johnson county, Kansas because of the school issues, so if you look at amount of home for the money, property taxes(generally higher in Kansas), and even factoring in the school costs, it might not be that different. (Also there is a one percent earnings tax if you live in KCMO that you would not pay, I don't think, if you live in Kansas and do not work in KCMO). I would be worth talking to the schools on the KCMO side to find out costs, etc. so you can make an informed choice.
Good luck, and welcome to KC.
 
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Wesley

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Apr 12, 2006
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Really sounds like would you rather live in North Omaha, Bellevue, midtown Omaha, or west Omaha.

Overland Park area is west Omaha. People fight to live in that area. Easy choice.

The KCMO high schools were so bad with lots of poor students, the locals were court directed to spend millions on swimming pool and other facilities to bring them up to snuff. That did not help the education much. Fail. When your kids go to college, then move to your anitbellum mansion in KCMO.

KC is like the south. Your acceptable schools are private with tuition.
 

Cyclophile1

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Dec 14, 2009
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Overland Park, KS
Lots of good information from Brookcyde there. I would recommend you avoid KCMO as the public schools aren't an option PERIOD and the city tax is an avoidable pain. Kansas public schools are just better all around. I would suggest you look at Johnson County on the Kansas side near State Line and just west in the twenty or so blocks around Shawnee Mission Parkway and 75th street. This is basically Prairie Village, Fairway and north Leawood area in Kansas. You'll have good access north to downtown and pretty good access south.

My kids are teens and tweens now, and we're out in south Overland Park, suburbs of SUVs, soccer fields, strip malls and swimming pools. It's a bit cookie cutter and there are a fair amount of cell phone jockeys, corporate jackwagons and barbies who think they crap rose petals, but it's really a great place to live, quite low cost and a lot of amenities. When me moved to St. Louis, we missed Johnson county so much it almost hurt by comparison.

Cheers
 
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kcclones

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Mar 23, 2006
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Live in Shawnee as well...great schools out this way. I would look at Shawnee, Lenexa, Overland Park on the KS side.
 

aeroclone

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Oct 30, 2006
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thanks for the help everyone, I'll start checking out some of those other areas. In regards to the traffic, i have heard its a lot better than Minneapolis. My wife doesn't know where her office would be but I think it maybe just south of I-35 and west of Metcalf. does that interchange area suck too?
Metcalf and 435 is a major interchange, so that can be pretty busy at rush hour. That said, I would agree that traffic is much better than the twin cities. I commute to the 119th and Metcalf area, it is about 20 minutes from my house. Traffic rarely affects my drive time, but coming from the south I only spend a couple miles on 69 and never have to deal with the larger highways. I think the worst traffic in the AM is westbound 70 from Independence and Blue Springs to downtown, and 435 westbound from the triangle to Metcalf. Living in northeast Johnson County and commuting to your wife's office, you shouldn't have to deal with either if those areas.