While it may not be on many people’s lists of retirement destinations, Kansas actually offers a reasonable cost of living and tax structure, a strong economy, and good standard of living. These are important factors to many retirees. The median home cost was $128,000 in 2015, significantly below the U.S. average, the cost of living is over 10% below average, and assisted living and nursing home costs are lower than average. The total tax burden in Kansas is the 19th highest in the US. The state has a 6.45% income tax on the top bracket that starts at $30,000. Military retirement and Kansas state and local pension incomes are exempt. Social Security benefits are exempt for individuals whose total adjusted gross income under $75,000. The state sales tax is 6.3%.
Although Kansas is known for plains, prairies, and wide open spaces, the eastern part of the state has dense forests and rolling hills, and there are 250 lakes and over 100 miles of rivers and streams. The Sunflower State offers many places for hiking and biking and there are many clubs throughout the state for those interested in running, mountain biking, canoeing and whitewater rafting, skiing, and other outdoor activities. Those interested in sports will also find an active professional and college sports community.
If you’re thinking of retiring in Kansas, here are a few places to consider.
Lawrence is a college town set among the forests and rolling hills in the eastern section of the state. With a population of about 90,000 it is the sixth largest city in Kansas and is 40 miles west of Kansas City. The temperatures range from the low 90s in the summer to the 20s in the winter.
The University of Kansas sponsors many sporting and cultural events. The Lied Center on campus gives live performances, there are art exhibits at the Spencer Museum of Art, and the Robert J. Dole Institute invites speakers from around the world. The university has major college sports teams, including a perennial powerhouse in men’s basketball. There are several museums in town, as well as parks and live performance theaters.
The town also has an active music and art community. Local bar and music venue The Replay Lounge was listed one of Esquire magazine’s top 25 bars/venues in the U.S. in 2007. Lawrence hosts many bands and record labels. The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival is an annual music festival that also features disc golf, hiking, and swimming.
Manhattan is a small town of 50,000 in the northeastern section of Kansas, among the Flint Hills, with rolling hills covered with tall grass. The downtown area is on a broad, flat floodplain where the Kansas and Big Blue Rivers meet. Nearby is the Tuttle Creek Reservoir, which is a state park that has many opportunities for outdoor and water recreation. The Konza Prairie is a tallgrass prairie owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University.
Manhattan typically has hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. Local attractions include the Flint Hills Discovery Center, a local history and science center that features exhibits and educational outreach programs about the Flint Hills area. Kansas State University in town sponsors sporting events, performing arts, lecture series, and museums including the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art and the Kansas State University Gardens.
Adjacent to the campus is Aggieville, a shopping, dining, and nightlife center. Other attractions include the Sunset Zoo and Colbert Hills Golf Course, which is regularly ranked among the best in the state by Golf Digest. Manhattan is the site of the annual Country Stampede Music Festival, the largest music festival in Kansas.
Located in southeastern Kansas, Pittsburg has a population of about 20,000. It has a low crime rate and a wide range of retiree-friendly amenities such as restaurants, libraries, healthcare facilities, and shopping centers.
It has a rich cultural history because of the European mine workers who settled in the area in the Nineteenth Century when the town was active in coal mining. Little Balkans Days is a unique annual event held around Labor Day that celebrates the area’s European heritage and features games, live entertainment, competitions, and arts and crafts. Other points of interest include the Miners’ Memorial & Immigrant Park, Crawford County Historical Museum, and Kiddieland Amusement Park.
Newton is favored for its mild climate and many amenities. Newton has an average summer temperature of 75 degrees and generally mild to cool winters. Attractions in the area include the Kansas Sports Museum, the Harvey County Historical Society Library and Museum, the Kauffman Museum, and the Carriage Factory Art Gallery which has works by well-known national and regional artists. There is also the Sand Creek Station Golf Course, an 18-hole public course ranked among 2006’s best new public courses in America by Golf Digest.
This is a small town of 11,000 that is a suburb of Wichita. Despite its proximity to the big city, it has a low crime rate of 2,800 crimes per 100,000 people. It has good air quality and comfortable weather, with an average summer temperature in the mid-70s. The proximity to Wichita gives residents access to the amenities of the big city including the international airport.
The town sponsors several annual events including the Haysville Fall Festival, a three-day event in a local park, the Fall Festival, and Village Christmas, which is held each year in the beginning of December in the historic district of Haysville and features carriage rides, choir performances, hot cocoa, Santa, and more. There is also the Community Expo which is held in April at the Haysville Community Library or Haysville Activity Center, and Springnanigans, a festival for kids held in May in the Haysville Historic District.
El Dorado is in the eastern part of Kansas. Its population of 13,000 takes pride in its local attractions and sense of community. Located in at the foot of the Flint Hills, El Dorado has beautiful natural scenery and, with 14 parks, many opportunities to enjoy it. There is also an 18 hole golf course, two spray parks, two community pools, a baseball field, and a 6.3 mile bike path. An athletic complex was built in 2012 with facilities for football, soccer, track, and other sports.
Just outside town is El Dorado State Park which offers hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and archery. In town there are also many restaurants and shops. Healthcare is readily available as there are many physicians in town.
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