What are the areas around Olathe, KS like?
October 30, 2009 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Posting on behalf of my parents: they're moving to the Kansas City area and are looking for some information about what some of the areas around there are like.

"We are moving to the Olathe, Kansas area. Can you tell me the character of the different areas around there? We are looking to buy a 3 bedroom house in the 150,000-250,000 range within a 20 minute commute to Garmin [near I-35 and 151st in Oleth]. Overland Park is out due to their pit bull regulation."
posted by The Pusher Robot to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I was considering a relocation after graduation I found city-data to be a great site. They have all the demographic data and then there is also a bunch of forums for each state. Here is on for Kansas.
posted by ian1977 at 3:56 PM on October 30, 2009

Olathe is what I'd consider a far-south suburb of Kansas City. It's in Johnson County, KS, and is primarily recently built-up suburbia - lots of strip malls and supermarkets, with the exception of old downtown Olathe. It would help to know a little bit about what they're looking for in an area, but I can probably fill you in on a fair amount of info about the area. Are there specific areas they're looking at, or are they looking for a specific kind of area? What attributes are important to them in an area, etc.

Feel free to MeMail me, I live in and have recently been shopping for houses in KC (though not in Olathe specifically) and have a pretty good idea what's what and what you can expect in various areas.
posted by jferg at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

They will be looking more towards the $250k. I'm sure they could go cheaper, but then you're playing a game of how far from Kansas City they are willing to live. I don't know what you're parents are into, but if they live a quiet life and are content with keeping to themselves, Olathe will be fine. Kansas City runs on a north-south line that is pretty much centered on State Line, which is also a road and makes a convenient reference point. To put it simply the wealth more or less centers on this line (from say the Plaza at 55th street all the way south to 155th where it abruptly turns into pasture). The further out east and west you get the more boring and suburban it becomes.

Garmin at 155th and I-35 sort of puts it in the southwest corner of the KC metro area box. There's nothing really there and you're sort of equidistant to the Plaza where things start becoming more urban and the nexus of South Johnson County at 119th and Nall in the Town Center area. Personally, if you're going to do the suburban thing I would get as close to the Town Center area as I could get. I realize that cuts into large swaths of Overland Park but there's also Lenexa, Roeland Park, Mission and Prairie Village. I would spend time looking at the last two. Areas around Shawnee Mission Parkway will dump them into I-35 in no time. You could even go in Westwood or West Plaza and still make a reasonable, 20 minute commute to Garmin. Traffic is fairly light and I-35 traffic will always be going into the city so you'd be going against the flow of things.

Given all that this is Johnson County and they can't really go bad, there are no really bad parts of Johnson County. And to just cut to the point: Olathe does sort of have a trashy reputation whether it is deserved or not. It says that you moved to the suburbs and didn't even move to the interesting ones. You won't find new restaurants opening up there or significant book/art fairs. This is probably classist as all hell, and the rest of JoCo isn't exactly Park Slope, but it does say something when other suburbanites consider you too suburban.
posted by geoff. at 6:16 PM on October 30, 2009

I'm probably not being helpful here, but my sister and my father live in Olathe and I absolutely loathe Olathe (and most of Johnson County, although there are some better parts.)

Olathe is the most suburban, boring, white-bread, bland area I have ever had the pleasure of spending time in. There is not one store there that you can't find in any other strip mall in America. There is no public transportation worth anything, it is all strip malls and beige track houses and people who look like cookie cutter white suburbans. Lots and lots of khaki. Nothing wrong with khaki, mind you...there is just so...MUCH of it at one time!

I suppose it depends on what you are looking for. You can get a nice McMansion in Olathe for around 300,000K that is just filled with a lot of nice places to...SIT. (hearth room, den, master retreat, loft, family room, great room...) I suppose it is because there is nothing much else to do there so you might as well have a really nice house to sit in.

Kansas City will never be my favorite place, but there are much better neighborhoods than Olathe if you go closer in. Again, I know I sound snooty and it is a personal preference thing, I just dread any time I ever have to haul myself to Olathe and be trapped there. The bland! It kills me, the Bland!
posted by Bueller at 6:41 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since Bueller said it, I'll follow up and agree - the thing that comes to mind when I think of Olathe is 'Generica'. (Which may be fine with your parents; there's absolutely nothing wrong with anything about it, except it's boring and safe.) It's very much car-required-land, you won't be walking to your neighborhood grocery store in Olathe.
If I were going to work at Garmin, and wanted to be within a 20-minute drive from there, I'd probably head south towards Gardner or Spring Hill or straight east towards Martin City, MO and find someplace on a few acres where I could enjoy the nature (despite it putting me further from downtown KCMO), or head up I-35 towards northern Overland Park, Leawood, Prairie Village, or even Lenexa, where things are a bit older and have a bit more character, or You really can't go too wrong with anyplace in Johnson County, KS, and most of Jackson County, MO is pretty reasonable as long as you stay in the areas that are within 20 minutes of Olathe. Again, if I had a better idea what sort of area they were looking for, or if they had specific questions about specific areas, I could probably do a better job answering.
posted by jferg at 7:33 PM on October 30, 2009

Thanks for the feedback. I'm the mother of the original poster. We would like to avoid generic surburbia, but a short commute is a priority, and looking at the layout of the land that just may not be possible. We'd prefer to avoid the more conservative, intolerant areas as much as possible, and hope to find a house that is not too cookie cutter. Gardner is on our list to consider, but I read some negative feedbak on another forum (conservative, intolerant, with a freight shipping hub going in) which made me a bit more wary. I'm a little afraid that with sprawl Spring Hill ir Gardner will be the next Olathe, not something I would want surrounding me if we chose those places because we want to live a little further out. We do have a little bit of time before we have to have a house, so we have time to look around a bit and see what comes on the market. Thanks
posted by Lost at 8:10 PM on October 30, 2009

If you're looking to avoid suburbia Garmin is probably in the worst possible place for that. I always felt their decision to locate themselves so far away was really strange. Even Sprint pays lip service to urban living.

I do not have much experience with Spring Hill or Gardner except that they are suburbs with bigger yards. What do you mean by short commute? I would look at Westwood, West Plaza. You might be able to swing some areas west of Ward Parkway that aren't Mission Hills. The problem really is that you have some very, very expensive property right where things get interesting, at least in regard to your commute. If you stick to areas just west of the Plaza and off Shawnee Mission Parkway. There are very few stops on Shawnee Mission Parkway and it is basically designed to slingshot you to the Plaza from off of I-35. The distance probably seems intimidating as you're going from around 65th street to 155th street, but really your commute will probably end up around 20 minutes. It is a good autopilot drive too.

I recommend this site for browsing homes. They have a nice Google Map interface so you can zoom into an area, draw a box and see what pops up.

Ideally you'd want to be looking at Brookside, midtown and some other areas that will add that extra 10 minutes onto your commute that makes it sort of annoying. Most people in your position end up just dealing with it and going with the longer commute. I've done rush hour commutes in cities like LA, Dallas, etc., you'll really be surprised how there is practically no traffic here.
posted by geoff. at 9:07 PM on October 30, 2009

Currently living in Olathe, and N-thing the bland suburban feel of the area.

I am not going to lie, I'm not planning on living here longer than I have to.
posted by hellojed at 12:00 AM on October 31, 2009

You should be able to find something that isn't "Generica" within a 20-minute commute from Garmin. There are some nice neighborhoods straight up I-35 (we thought strongly about buying this house and this house, for example, both of which would be right around 20-minute commutes from Garmin, since you'd be going against the general rush. There are also some nice houses in the area around this one (we loved that house, but needed more yard and less pool), and around this one. Those would probably be the areas I'd focus on if I were going to work at Garmin.
PS> If you need a referral for a buyer's agent, let me know, we've been really happy with the one we've been working with.
posted by jferg at 5:37 AM on October 31, 2009

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