Kansas City Living for a Baltimore Transplant
January 22, 2013 1:01 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I relocated from Baltimore to KC last month and are rather homesick. We are looking for a house with some architectural value like Prairie Village Drummonds or some of the moderns in KCK. We would do anything to avoid the soulless reaches of Leawood.

I have searched the ye olde Ask archives for help about living in Kansas City to no avail so I thought I would ask anew.

We recently found a great house on Eaton Street in Plaza West listed in the low 300s. I have read about the proposed Westwood redevelopment plan and was wondering if anyone could shed come light on the area around 45th and State Line. It looks like a great house but we are worried about resale.

We are a late 30's couple with a 9 month old. I understands the KCK schools are a non-starter. Any help on the area we are looking or any other area with unique housing would be greatly appreciated.
posted by extraheavymarcellus to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a Kansas City native who's now in the DC area. I can't speak for Westwood, but I lived in Prairie Village for the last few years I was in Kansas City. It's not a bad area if you have kids - as you probably know, Shawnee Mission is considered one of the best school districts in the area. Prairie Village Shops are nearby, as are the restaurants/bars in Waldo. Most of the houses are 50s-era cookie-cutter ranches and cape cods, although as you mentioned there are plenty of Drummonds as well. Only complaint I had was that the area seemed a little too quiet - if I could do it all over again, I probably would've moved to Brookside or maybe Westport (but then again I don't have kids).

If you haven't already checked it out, the City Data forum for Kansas City might be a good spot for learning about neighborhoods and schools. I used the site quite a bit while looking for a place in DC and found it very helpful.
posted by photo guy at 3:14 PM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: Up until recently, I rented a house right around 45th & State Line. It's a really lovely, neighborhood-oriented area with a lot of small businesses. I'm at a different point in my life than you (26 and childless) but I appreciated how available night life was to me. I don't mean partying so much as fabulous restaurants and patios, block parties (common in that area, neighborhoods will just shut down their street with their own cars) shopping, community gardens, and a great athletic community. Overall, the area is "cute." Antique shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants right outside your doorstep. For a nicer experience, you take the 3/4 mile walk to the Plaza.

Obviously, the care your potential neighbors would take with their houses is hit or miss. There are quite a few rental properties and un-renovated homes in that area that are in dire need of work. These are juxtaposed to incredibly nice houses. I have known a few couples searching for houses who were shown properties in that area-- a lot of people express general displeasure with the lack of a garage and small yard for the money they're paying, and they start searching further out.

In terms of safety, I felt safe in this area, but there is petty crime. I had no garage, I parked on the street, my car got broken into once. I've seen a few questionable characters. After crossing Rainbow (a few block away from State Line on the Kansas side) I would argue things appear to get a little more worrisome. I've never had a bad experience, that's just from looking around that area.

I can't tell you anything definitive about resale. The area is getting older, but I don't think it's a dying neighborhood.

I second the previous poster's mention of Brookside. It sounds like if you can't find what you're looking for in Plaza West, that would be the next best place to look. Brookside has some absolutely beautiful, architecturally unique houses. It's definitely pricier. I'd say Brookside area reminds me the most of the East coast (well, as much as you could find it in the middle of an agriculturally based town.) There are also nice houses around Waldo as you move closer to Ward Parkway. This is where I live now, and I love the shops, restaurants, and neighbors. If you lived in West Plaza, you'd still be a stone's throw away from the Brookside/Waldo area, which is a little more active than West Plaza with local businesses and things to do. Food for thought.
posted by unmouton88 at 8:55 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I grew up in Rhode Island and also lived in Delaware (Newark) for a year. Now I am a (Prairie) Village Person. FWIW, I love my neighborhood.

I doubt you will be able to recreate the life you had before in Baltimore, before your child, and possibly before you were a homeowner. You are absolutely correct to be worried about resale value of a 300K+ house around 45th and State Line, mostly due to lousy public schools, a highish crime rate, and spotty home upkeep. That spot will get Google Fiber before I do, so there's a plus.

If you really like the location, check out Westwood Hills, KS. It does have some nifty housing stock. Crossing into the JoCo will alleviate a lot of the resale and quality of life doubts. There's a decent variety of houses in Fairway and PV too, although the neighborhoods trend towards standard suburban fare. But seriously, living with a kid in Kansas City, you're probably going to be driving to most places you go in this town.

If you're really craving walkability, Brookside and Waldo are good, and a step up from the West Plaza for your circumstances. I have friends with kids who live in both. I wouldn't worry about resale value in Brookside or the nicer parts of Waldo. Also going to get Google Fiber before I do. The public schools still suck there, though.

TL;DR: No on 45th and State Line, Brookside/Waldo ok if you don't care about using public school. Else, Westwood Hills/Fairway/Prairie Village.
posted by eelgrassman at 9:46 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I live in that area in KCK. I like the area and have really great neighbors.

300k seems pretty high since a lot of the houses are older, small bungalows, so I'd really follow up with the real estate agent about resale for a house in that price range and location.

If you are concerned about the school system, I'd probably head a few blocks south to Johnson County. Westwood is really not far from what you are looking at but with much better schools. Prairie Village and Fairway are a little bit farther but also nice.

As far as Brookside and Waldo go, they are great neighborhoods but KCMO schools are as bad if not worse than KCK. KCMO parents have to hope their kids get into the right charter schools or often decide to send them to a private or parochial school. With any location in Johnson County, you're going to have a good school system.
posted by bubonicpeg at 6:00 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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