The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire To In Kansas

These 10 places will make your retirement seem like a vacation—or at least make it easier to go on one.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

155 articles, 0 comments

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If you are at that stage in your life where you are finally ready to leave the workforce behind and retire, well, congratulations. You’ve worked hard, perhaps for your whole life, and now that it’s time to retire, that’s exactly what you’ll have plenty of: time. Time to travel, to take up that hobby you always wanted to, or perhaps just kick back and relax with a book. With all of these options available to you now, there is one question left unanswered: Where is the best place to do it?

The Movoto Real Estate Blog has been on a mission to answer that question. Today, we’re looking at you, Kansas. Here are the 10 best places in the Sunflower State to retire to, starting with our winner, Pittsburg.

1. City of Pittsburg
2. City of Newton
3. Arkansas City
4. City of Haysville
5. El Dorado City (tie)
5. City of Wichita (tie)
7. City of Leawood
8. City of Derby (tie)
8. City of Parsons (tie)
10. City of Overland Park

Kansas locals can probably see that these results are as varied as can be; but for retirees, there are a few commonalities that all of these places share. Keep reading to find out the method behind this list, plus just why each of these 10 places ranked so well.

How We Created This Ranking

Whether we’re ranking the best college towns or the best places to retire, we start out each of our lists by coming up with certain measurable criteria. Now, as you may or may not have gathered by now, we aren’t exactly retirement aged ourselves, so rather than come up with a bunch of criteria that we might want for ourselves in 30 years, we went straight to our target audience and asked several retirement-aged individuals what they thought. We ended up with the following criteria:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime rate
  • Weather (average summer temperature and air quality)
  • Ease of travel (distance to nearest international airport)
  • Retiree amenities per capita (healthcare, adult education, dining, shopping, libraries, arts & entertainment)

From there, we used the U.S. Census to gather up all of the places in Kansas with populations over 10,000, and ended up with a total of 36 cities, towns, and Census Designated Places. We used the above criteria to rank each of our places from one to 36, with one being the best possible score. We then averaged these rankings into one Big Deal Score for each city; the lower the score, the better.

For a complete list of how all 36 places ranked, mosey on down to the bottom of the post, otherwise, keep reading for a closer look at each of our 10 winners.

1. Pittsburg

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Pittsburg, KS

Source: Flickr user Eje Gustafsson

Perhaps fittingly, this Crawford County city was once a productive place for coal mining, but has retired into a community based around education and government-related employment. As our analysis shows, it is also the best place for those lucky Kansas residents who are finished with employment altogether. That’s because Pittsburg scored well in all of our criteria; specifically for its low crime rate and high number of retiree amenities, like libraries, restaurants, physicians, and places to shop—places like the Meadowbrook Mall.

If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous than shopping, though, Pittsburg is also a great place to head outdoors, with some of the best weather in the state. Or better yet, why not head outdoors… in Fiji? Pittsburg is just 27 miles from the nearest international airport, so really, you could.

2. Newton

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Newton, KS

Source: Flickr user Les_stockton

This Harvey County city, just north of Wichita, is a Kansas retiree’s dream. Not only are there tons of amenities—places like Reba’s Restaurant, the Newton Public Library, Homespun Crafts, and the Harvey County Historical Society—the weather is also among some of the nicest in the state, with an average summer temperature of 75 degrees and an air quality score of 30 (the lower, the better).

Newton also ranked well for its low crime rate, just 2,680 crimes per 100,000 people, and for its low cost of living; a score of 80, where the national average is 100. To put that into perspective for you, just take a look at Hays, a city with roughly the same sized population, but with a cost of living of 85 and a crime rate of 3,018 crimes per 100,000. Not exactly the place you’d want to spend your free time, eh?

3. Arkansas City

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Arkansas City, KS

Source: Wikipedia user Jeffrey Beall

Whether you call it Arkansas City with an S, without an S, or just Ark City for short; this Cowley County city of just over 12,000 has as much to offer retirees as it does options for names.

First of all, with a cost of living of just 79, Arkansas City is one of the least expensive places on our entire list. It also came in with the best weather in the state, tied with Winfield, with a warm average summer temperature of 77 and an air quality score of 30.

While it isn’t exactly a quick drive away from an international airport (the closest is nearly 130 miles away), the city itself is ripe with shopping and restaurant options, like some of the best barbecue in the area at Big N’ Small’s. You know what goes great with retirement? Ribs.

4. Haysville

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Haysville, KS

Source: Flickr user Ty Nigh

This suburb of Wichita has all of the benefits of being near a big city, without any of the drawbacks, which is why it ranked just above its neighbor to the north. For example, Haysville has a crime rate of just 2,799 crimes per 100,000 people, whereas Wichita, a much larger city, didn’t exactly excel in that department.

Speaking of departments, Haysville may have been a bit lacking as far as shopping and amenities go, but it more than makes up for this with some of the most ideal weather around, with an average summer temperature of 76 and an air quality of 30. Besides, it’s just a short drive from the amenities in Wichita—and the Wichita International Airport.

Here’s the cherry on top: for those retirees looking to plant some roots someplace, Haysville may be the perfect option, with the “Build Haysville” new home initiative, offering property tax rebates for new home construction.

5. El Dorado (tie)

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - El Dorado, KS

Source: Flickr user Clinton Steeds

This progressive city of nearly 13,000 residents prides itself on its close-knit community feel, good school systems, tons of recreational options, and some of the finest art museums, galleries, and antique stores in the area. Oh, and its beautiful location at the edge of the Flint Hills doesn’t hurt either.

In our analysis, El Dorado ranked well for its high number of amenities per capita—restaurants like Fiesta Mexicana, Susie’s Chili Parlor, and other Fine Foods, and Daylight Donuts, more physicians than they know what to do with, and plenty of shopping options. It was also ranked among the best in the state for its weather, with an average summer temperature of 76 and air quality score of 30.

Unfortunately, El Dorado is quite a ways from the nearest international airport, 183 miles to be exact; but with weather like this, 14 parks, museums, and a well-stocked public library, who needs to go anywhere else?

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5. Wichita (tie)

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Wichita, KS

Source: Flickr user Garett Gabriel

With a population of 385,577, Wichita is easily the largest city in our top 10—which, at first, may not seem like the ideal place for a nice, quiet retirement. Consider this, however: it’s the home of the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, so even if you do get tired of the beautiful 76 degree summers, you are just a quick drive away from hopping on a plane to Mexico. Considering the city’s size, Wichita also has a relatively low cost of living: an 82, compared to the national average of 100.

Unfortunately for the capital city, we gave points for retiree amenities per capita, rather than total amenities, which lowered its rank in this category. Even so, with thousands of of options for restaurants, shops, physicians, libraries, and the arts, retiring in Wichita sounds downright eventful. You just might have to share the space with a few others.

7. Leawood

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Leawood, KS

Source: Flickr user Cameron Nordholm

Leawood may be known as a wonderful place to raise a family, with its picturesque residential neighborhoods, good schools, and beautiful parks; but, as our analysis clearly shows, it is also an ideal community in which to retire, specifically for its high number of retiree amenities.

For those foodies out there, this place is stuffed with restaurants, like Oklahoma Joe’s and Parisi Cafe; for readers, it’s brimming with books, with lots of options for libraries; and for those who are into shopping, there are plenty of options for that as well. Leawood was also ranked one of the safest places in the state, with a crime rate of just 1,444 crimes per 100,000 people.

8. Derby (tie)

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Derby, KS

Source: City of Derby

As Derby’s website will proudly tell you, it is “the place to be.” Clearly, it’s the place to be for retirees. Not only are there more than 25 miles of hike and bike trails and recreational options like disc golf, bowling, and movies; but the weather here is also postcard-perfect, with an average summer temperature of 76 degrees and air quality of 30.

With a cost of living of 85, it isn’t exactly the lowest in the state; but for you out-of-staters thinking about moving to Kansas, it is a good 15 percent lower than the national average. It is also just a short drive away from the nearest international airport, which means that if, for some reason, you can’t find what you’re looking for in Derby, you can always hop on a plane and head to Bali. Which, let’s be honest, has what everyone is looking for.

8. Parsons (tie)

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Parsons, KS

Source: Flickr user Doug_Wertman

This idyllic community among the flat plains and rolling hills of Labette County started out as a sleepy railroad town, and today maintains the same sense of community and tradition as it did way back when—plus the nice addition of a top notch medical center, a community college, two museums, and a wonderful park system. In fact, Parsons ranks among the best when it came to retiree amenities per capita.

Even though Parsons is a bit of a drive from the closest international airport, it more than makes up for the commute with a cost of living of just 78—the lowest on our list.

10. Overland Park

Best Places to Retire to in Kansas - Overland Park, KS

Source: Flickr user CoffeePartyUSA

With a population of over 178,000 residents, Overland Park is the second-largest place in the state, which, just like Wichita before it, may not sound entirely conducive to a quiet retirement. With neighborhoods like Nall Avenue, West 135th Street, and the Morse area, however, you’ll feel more like you’re vacationing someplace than in the hustle and bustle of a city.

At the same time, some of the most retiree amenities per capita are just a short drive away in Overland Park; places like the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Central Resource Library, the Oak Park Mall, and, of course, some of the best Indian food your mouth has ever known at Korma Sutra. Plus, with an international airport just a quick 28 miles away, you can just hop in a plane and travel to India for the real deal.

Overland Park also knocked it, well, out of the park, with a crime rate of just 2,467 crimes per 100,000 residents. Considering the city’s size, this is impressive, not just for retirees, but for anyone lucky enough to live here.

Where To Avoid

At the bottom of our list were Kansas City, Gardner, Hutchinson, Dodge City, and, the very worst, Junction City. So. if you’re in one of these Kansas places and getting ready to retire, your first move might be to, well, to move. We hear Pittsburg is just lovely.

10 Best Places to Retire to in Kansas

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posted on: April 8, 2014
[views], 4 comments


  1. Charity

    Did you not learn states and capitols in grade school? Wichita is not the “capital city.” Neither does it have an international airport, however El Dorado and Arkansas City are not 183 or 130 miles from an airport. You’ve obviously never been to Pittsburg’s “mall” or Joplin’s “international airport,” either.

  2. Jerry

    Are you serious? Pittsburg is NOT the best place to retire. Why don’t you ask retirees that live here? You did not do your research thoroughly. Taxes are high, there are no jobs to speak of. No restaurants but maybe 2-the rest are college bars on every corner. No downtown as Walmart chased the businesses out. Food prices are high for low wage earners as that is all we have here is minimum wage. Historic landmarks are either torn down or moved out. The town looks depressing. 55% of homes in disrepair and are rentals. Low home ownership. No city services to property owners. No curbside trash or recycling. If it were not for the university, this place would be a ghost town. I truly wish that Pittsburg were a great place to retire because I would stay here but I am not.

  3. DoeJohnson

    Wow…you do realize that the vast majority of towns in Kansas are less than 10,000 people, right? This list virtually excludes the small towns that many people in Kansas prefer. I could swear that Ellis made the top of a nation-wide best cities to live list before. And how did Hays, which ranked #1 for retiree amenities, rank so low in the total score? Are people really that obsessed with being close to a major airport? I don’t think so. Besides, Hays has an airport. The fact that it is tiny is actually nice. There is virtually no wait time and you can stand there at the window to watch as your loved ones fly off.

    As a final note – Wichita is not the capital of Kansas.

  4. VGordon

    Guess if you take all those below zero winter days (wind chill factor here) and all the summer highs (100-105) maybe an average temp of 76 :). No where does the author mention the wind… weather…. fact that Kansas (with all those water pictures) has no natural lakes…. but truly, Kansas can be beautiful, especially the people. They are the greatest!


Leave a Reply for Charity