KC knowledge for an STL resident
March 29, 2016 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I have lived in Saint Louis for over 10 years; my wife for 11. Neither of us are natives (so That Question has no bearing on our lives). She is in the running for a job in Independence, MO, and yes, I am gun-jumping here, but I think it's worthwhile to start gathering information about potentially living in KC.

In the 10-11 years we've lived in STL, we have made exactly two visits to Kansas City. My family is in the Chicago area, and my wife and I moved here from Oak Park and Chicago (Lincoln Square), respectively. Her family lived in New Hampshire, but now they have largely moved to Florida. Our travel focus has naturally been eastward. Furthermore, I've picked up over the decade here that KC and STL may as well be on separate coasts, as cross-communication is often limited to sports and food. I'm embarrassed that my KC knowledge is limited, and even if my wife's potential job falls through, I think it's time to make amends and know more about Missouri's western neighbor.

What I'd like to find out, if possible, are some comparative statements along the lines of "If you recognize X from STL (or Y from Chicago), then Z in KC would be familiar to you." I have started to recognize neighborhood names, and highway names/directions, so that can give me some context. Yes, there are plenty of places to go online for research, and I'm doing that, but contextual information is often better than listicles and the like. Thank you in advance.
posted by stannate to Travel & Transportation around Kansas City, MO (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
On my phone but need more info. Do you have kids? What are your interests? KC is actually on an upswing and fairly indie/hipster depending on the neighborhood. Probably very much like STL. I've lived around the country and don't mind KC, but I'm bias I grew up there. Feel free to memail me.
posted by geoff. at 4:28 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hey, like geoff, I am on phone, but am lifelong KC area resident currently living in Independence, who is familiar with StL as well, so feel free to shoot me any questions in memail. I will try to post more tonight.
posted by jferg at 4:44 PM on March 29, 2016

Response by poster: OK, more detail. Sorry for being so skint earlier.

I'm in my early-mid 40s. My wife is in her mid 30s. No kids. I'm in IT; she is in libraries.

We live very close to Washington University in STL, though to be honest, we probably spend more time in Maplewood than Richmond Heights due to the stores and restaurants and coffee shops and bars there. I personally spend too much time at Side Project Cellar. We both enjoy museums, parks, birdwatching, trail hikes, biking, and the occasional antique shop. She attends Orthodox churches (mainly Russian, but that's not a requirement; Antiochian or OCA churches would work just fine for her). I fall in and out of love of photography; right now it's "out," but a change of scenery certainly could bring back the love.

We know that there will probably be more driving around KC than STL, but that's fine. On past visits, we have made it to Lawrence and the Flint Hills district, and also spent time at some of the wineries in eastern Kansas. My wife eats a vegan diet about half of the time, owing to religious fasts, but has very few restrictions when it's not fasting time. Interestingly, she's not a fan of pork but loves BBQ.
posted by stannate at 5:59 PM on March 29, 2016

Wherever you live the commute won't be that bad. I think the standard recommendation would be the midtown area. Think north of the plaza. Without kids I'd rent and live in Missouri. I don't know much about churches, so I can't help you there. Uber here is ubiquitous and very cheap if you don't like driving.

There's a lot of antiquing and vintage things, first Saturday In the west bottoms etc. I'm on vacation now doing nothing so if you are in town within the week feel free to contact me and I'll show you around.
posted by geoff. at 8:06 PM on March 29, 2016

I've been living in Kansas City for about a year and have taken a few trips out to STL. I'm originally from the East Coast, so this may color my judgement, but the two cities seem very similar to me. The Westport and Waldo neighborhoods have the same kind of vibes as Maplewood. The River Market area is really nice, too. This place has tons of cool museums and a couple of really decent vegan restaurants. I'm a librarian, too, so feel free to hit me up if you end up heading this way.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 7:27 AM on March 30, 2016

It sounds like KC could be a good fit for you. I've never been to St. Louis, so I can't give the kind of comparative statements you asked for. But I concur with a couple of the previous commenters that Midtown sounds like the place for you. (Making the assumption that you are not planning on having kids --- if you are, the school district issues might make KCMO a non-starter for you.) I live just north of Westport and hardly drive at all except to work and to Costco --- most of what we need is within walking or biking distance.

I have lived here since 2008 and it gets better every year. The city has its share of problems but it also has a sense of rising energy, enthusiasm, and investment that's very exciting. Feel free to MeMail me if you have other questions.
posted by slenderloris at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2016

Forgot to mention --- Independence is kind of a haul from the city center, but it would at least be a reverse commute for her. If I were you, I'd definitely prefer to live in the city so you're already around the cool stuff in your leisure time. Independence has a little bit of a "historic downtown" area, but it's mostly strip malls and suburban neighborhoods otherwise.
posted by slenderloris at 10:44 AM on March 30, 2016

Response by poster: I saw downtown Independence during Santa-Cali-Gon a couple years ago, and my abiding memory of it was of dueling Mormon factions and lots of storefront churches.

I've heard quite a bit about Waldo (and Brookside), so if it comes to it, these can be areas to look at for relocation. If the job offer doesn't materialize, then we will have new-to-us neighborhoods to visit during our next time in KC.
posted by stannate at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2016

Best answer: Ok, so going to try to do a brain dump here but will probably leave some things out. It sounds like you guys are roughly the same age as my wife and I, but without kids, so hopefully this will be relevant.
Let’s start with neighborhoods. These are pretty broad brushes, but should give you a rough idea: Downtown KC and Downtown StL aren’t too much different at this point, though I suspect Downtown KC may have a little more residential area than StL - there are a lot of lofts and condos in DTKC these days. Blue Springs, Independence, Kansas City North, Raytown =~ Fenton, Arnold, South County. Overland Park, Shawnee, Lenexa, Lee’s Summit =~ Chesterfield, West County, St. Charles, St. Peters, O’Fallon. Plaza, South Plaza, Ward Parkway, Prairie Village =~ Town & Country, Clayton, Brentwood, Ladue. Brookside, Waldo, Valentine, Westport, Crossroads =~ Maplewood, Richmond Heights, Kirkwood. East of Troost within 435 loop =~ Ferguson, Jennings. North Kansas City, Gladstone =~ Florissant

Again, very high level, and my knowledge of the more middle-of-the-road StL neighborhoods is a little limited, but should give you some idea. Since you mentioned Side Project (jealous, I am!), KC has a decent craft brew scene - lots of good beer bars - The Belfry, Beer Kitchen, and Beer Station are all good - and several decent breweries - nothing of Side Project caliber, but Crane Brewing in Raytown recently launched their own taproom and is doing some really nice stuff, and there are several different breweries that have popped up in the Crossroads and Waldo and NKC. Coffee also - Oddly Correct and Thou Mayest are great, plus the Roasterie, Parisi, and Kaldis (which you have there, as Kaldis took over another local chain).

I’m not much help when it comes to churches, as I’m not a religious type. Food-wise, contrary to popular belief, there are a good number of vegan and vegetarian options - Eden Alley, Cafe Gratitude, Fud, Bluebird Cafe, just to name a few. There is also a thriving independent restaurant scene, though once you get into the eastern and northern burbs, it’s chains as far as the eye can see. :-(

The mentioned leisure activities are all pretty common - lots of antique places in the West bottoms and in some of the smaller surrounding towns that are good for day trips. Burr Oak Woods, George Owens Nature Center, Loose Park, etc, are all good for birding and hiking. Cliff Drive, Little Blue Trace and Indian Creek are good for trail biking, and there are mountain bike trails in Blue Springs and Swope Park. Probably others I don't know of.

Our music and performing arts scene is on the uptick, with the Kauffman Center and Sprint Center being the focal point. There are some good small venues as well. Our art museums are excellent, as is the WWI memorial and museum. Our zoo pales in comparison with Forest Park Zoo, and Science City is...disappointing compared to the StL Science Center, but those are both things primarily for folks with kids.

Job and commute-wise, the bulk of the tech jobs in KC are in Johnson county or Downtown, but there are a few in other areas. I have probably one of the longer commutes in the area right now, about 40 minutes from Independence to Shawnee, KS, but 90% of the time it’s not a bad drive, just long. The worst commutes would involve the I-35 corridor, and even that depends on direction.

Phew. I think that should answer the bulk of your questions, feel free to post or MeMail about anything I didn't answer. And hit me up if you come into town and want to grab a beer.
posted by jferg at 2:24 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Stannate, maybe you should visit so we have an excuse for a meetup!
posted by slenderloris at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Jferg, thank you for your response. This will go a great way for either relocation or tourism purposes!

(Side note: I currently live exactly 1.9 miles from Side Project Cellar, and will be 1.5 miles from their relocated brewery; both of which are in Maplewood. If the move to KC occurs, I will be somewhat saddened by the increased distance I'll be from them.)
posted by stannate at 12:43 PM on March 31, 2016

Response by poster: And yes, slenderloris, I like that idea!
posted by stannate at 9:27 AM on April 1, 2016

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