Ten years ago, I packed up my belongings, said “see ya” to my Craigslist roommates, and moved across the country. I grew up in the Midwest (Nebraska, to be exact), but after graduating from K-State, I moved out to Washington, D.C. and had the time of my life for a large chunk of my 20s. It was certainly exciting to live and work in our nation’s capital, but I knew in my heart that I needed to get back to my Midwest roots.
I have spent the past 10 years making Kansas City my home (including some big stuff like finding my husband, adopting our dog, buying our house and having our daughter), and now it’s hard to imagine ever living somewhere else. There’s something special about this place – well a lot of somethings – and whether you’re a native, a boomerang, or a newbie, there’s always something new to eat, see, do, or enjoy.
Because my brain largely works via lists, I am sharing three lists that that I created while reflecting on my last decade.
10 Ways I Made Kansas City My Home
- Took the long way when driving home. I love taking the scenic route and turning down different streets to check out the stores, restaurants, parks and houses. Getting lost, whether on purpose or by accident, has led me to discover some really great places. I still do this.
- Got involved in organizations. Joining everything from volunteer groups to triathlon clubs has allowed me to meet so many different people in this area of all ages and backgrounds. I have also learned about needs in our community and found different pockets where I could belong.
- Went to lunch with co-workers. Sometimes saying “yes” to lunch with new co-workers can be a little intimidating, but I tried countless new restaurants(at lunch prices!) and explored lots of new neighborhoods when working in an office downtown.
- Supported local businesses. OK, one thing I have noticed about KC that isn’t the case in every city, is that people LOVE to wear things that say “Kansas City” on them – even if it’s not about sports. I love seeing local makers and how they interpret the town. There’s a lot of pride about living here, and I kind of love it!
- Joined community Facebook groups. If you haven’t joined your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook, stop reading this, and go join. (And, then come back.) Between that, some local mom groups, etc. I have felt connected to the area, even when I’m sitting inside my house.
- Tried a new hobby. Another place that lent itself to meeting new people (without a long-term commitment) is taking a class in something that interests you. There are so many options – cooking, sewing, gardening, pottery, painting, fitness, etc. – that offer one-time courses.
- Volunteered. Shopping, eating, working, playing are all ways to explore, but viewing our town through a different lens and seeing the areas of need and helping to meet those needs is something near and dear to my heart. Harvesters, Happy Bottoms, Rose Brooks, Wayside Waifs, and so many more organizations are helping to meet the needs of our fellow Kansas Citians every day.
- Invited out-of-town guests. Being able to host out-of-town guests and showing them around tourist style allowed me to continue touring my own city.
- Went on dates. I showed up to this town single and now I’m married with a dog and toddler. I dated around a bit before meeting my husband (online!)and honestly that’s probably another whole blog post. But, it was another way to get out of my comfort zone and meet people.
- Became a regular (bar, gym, grocery, church, theater). You know you’re an adult when you start having your favorite parking spot at the grocery store or routine when getting season tickets to the theater. But, those little things make thetown feel more like yours – where you exist and do the daily things.
10 Favorite Things About Kansas City
- Insanely good food and drink options.
- Out-of-this-world creative and art scene.
- Nice people. Like, the drive thru employee actually says “thank you” nice.
- Low cost of living.
- Free stuff, and it’s actually good. (Abundance of libraries, parks, walking trails, etc.)
- Family friendly.
- A wild and fascinating history.
- Always something going on – a fest, palooza, market, show.
- It’s not trying to be something it’s not. It’s not NYC, D.C., L.A. or Denver, but it’s also not trying to be.
- The sports teams.
10 Items Still On My KC Bucket List
- American Jazz Museum
- Live music and barbeque at BB’s Lawnside BBQ
- Pick fresh strawberries
- Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
- A day of going to garage sales
- Attend a culture fest (Irish, Greek, Italian, etc.)
- Do more kid things with my daughter (born right before the pandemic)
- American Royal World Series of Barbeque (two barbeque items on the list is not too many in KC!)
- Attend Big Slick
- Get enough courage to make it through a West Bottoms haunted house (I actually don’t mind if this is never checked off the list)
Whether you’re a new or seasoned resident of the area, I hope you continually take the time to explore a new block, try a new restaurant, volunteer for a non-profit, shop at a local boutique and truly take in all that this town has to offer. Maybe I’ll see you out and about!