Kansas City vs Indianapolis vs St Louis

So I’ve narrowed down the placed I want to settle down to these three. Which one would you say is best based on the following criteria:


  • Housing (I plan to buy. I know all three of these areas have cheap real estate, but which one provides the best value?)

  • Urbanity/walkability

  • Employment opportunities (I plan to get into aviation mechanic training, as well as electrical training).

  • Outdoor recreation such as parks. I really like outdoor basketball, so an abundance of outdoor basketball courts would be nice.

  • Urban neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that are interesting, as well as somewhat ’ gritty’ with lots of natural plant growth. Cookie cutter suburban style neighborhoods absolutely repulse me.

  • Climate. I like a 4 season climate- warm to hot summers, cool to cold winters. I don’t like a Texas- summer/not quite summer climate or a Minnesota cold 8 months out of the year climate.

  • General livability. Things like traffic, crime, etc.

I’m an Indianapolis resident. I can give you my input.

There are lots of neighborhood parks that should have basketball courts. But if you want a true outdoors experience, there is really only fort harrison and eagle creek. Other than that you need to go south to monroe and brown county if you want to do outdoors stuff that is more than a 20-30 minute hike.

Indy has a low population density, so unless you live and work right downtown its not super walkable. Most of the city requires a car, and the public transit sucks here.

Climate here is that its too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

Traffic isn’t bad due to the low population density. Even rush hour traffic on the interstate isn’t horrible. However the northeast side interstate can become congested.

Indy has a variety of interesting neighborhoods. Irvington, Broad ripple, fountain square, mass ave, etc.

I can only comment on Indianapolis and St. Louis as places I have lived, and that over 20 years ago, but:


There are sites that can give you better comparisons, but in my view Indianapolis will be cheaper for the same footage.

I haven’t been to Indy in many years, but I’ve heard they’ve done a lot of improvements there. St. Louis has places like that, but nothing of a planned nature (see below).

St. Louis is probably the better bet here, although they have stagnated some while Indy is a growing market.

Probably more in St. Louis, IMHO.

The St. Louis region has a lot of small towns/cities surrounding it, some rather dull, others with their own life (St. Charles). Indianapolis is part of a city/country government IIRC and has only a couple of small and rather nondescript towns around it.

St. Louis is scorching in the summer, 90F+ and humid. Indiy not so much. Both have relatively mild winters and 4 definite seasons.

St Louis has a lot more to do and see than Indianapolis, but a lot more crime and traffic too. depends what is important to you.

Marcus, if you want our advice, you have to narrow it down for us.

Here’s your thread from June aboutKansas City vs. St. Louis.

Here’s your thread from May when you asked about 10 different cities, including Kansas City and Indianapolis.

And here’s a thread from March when you asked about Detroit.

Is there some specific characteristic you absolutely must have, or something specific that’s a deal-breaker for you? All of the cities you’ve talked about have everything you mention in some degree or another. Which item on your list would you say is most important? Which one are you most willing to compromise on? Do you expect to live in this city long-term, or just until you complete your training?

What sort of “aviation mechanic training” are you looking for (like, do you want to repair airframes or program navigational computers)? Have you checked out the schools in those area? Which one has the best courses, the best tuition, the best reputation in the industry? Do any of them have dormitories or student apartments, or would you rather find your own accommodations? What’s more important - where you’ll live, or where you’ll go to school?

OP, why are you so dead-set on Midwestern cities?

Ok. Not so much hiking, but more like running/exercising/bike riding.

I’ve heard it’s a car dependent city. I know Indy’s annexed a lot of land over the decade, much like KC, and that much of that land is suburban or even quasi rural. How densely populated would you say the original ‘city core’ is?


Don’t like the south, West cost is unaffordable for a man of my means, the only affordable metro areas on the east coast are Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and both have higher taxes than I’m willing to pay.

I would say the most important qualities are housing and employment opportunities for the fields I wish to get into. It’s hard to pick which one I’d be most willing to compromise because they’re all important to me. But if I had to choose, it’d probably be the last criteria. I plan to live in the area semi-permanently or permanently.

I’ve checked out the schools in all of the areas- as far as quality goes it seems to be a toss up between St Louis and Indy. I’m not worried about tuition or room/board.

Well, KC is going to have a Super Bowl team for a few years now, if that means anything to you. :smiley:

Yeah you can run and bike, that isn’t an issue. But if you enjoy hiking, you have to go down south about an hour.

Here is a population density map.


Indy itself is only about 2200 people per square mile, but certain parts are closer to 20k per square mile. A lot of the city is basically not an urban area, its just a giant midsize town if that makes sense. But I assume KC & St Louis are the same.

Yeah weather is a bother here. In summer getting over 90 with the heat index is common. Winter is bad, but it usually doesn’t get really horrible here in winter compared to further up north. I wouldn’t call our winters mild, but summer is more bothersome than winter. Winter can be dealt with with a decent coat.

KC - unless you live downtown (which is apparently becoming the in thing for the young folks), it is not particularly walkable.

You’d probably be good with the weather, kind of a good in-between. Will have hot summer days and cold winter ones, but generally not for extended periods.

Housing costs - like any city, depends on where you live. You should probably use a web-site to compare that. But much more reasonable than the coasts.

Lots of green space, don’t know about outdoor basketball, etc (I’m old).

Crime might be a little above average? But that is neighborhood dependent.

When TWA had their repair base here, you would have been golden. Of course, there isn’t even a TWA any more.

Like any reasonably old city (by US standards), you can find interesting old neighborhoods and suburban sprawl.

The BBQ makes it worthwhile, if you are a carnivore.

St. Louis has more history. That means more old, interesting neighborhoods, more places to explore, and Forest Park, one of America’s great urban greenscapes.

Kansas City and Indianapolis have more urban sprawl. They’re also growing faster than the St. Louis area. St. Louis is the only one of the three with anything resembling urban transit (light rail), but you’ll still need a car to get just about anywhere. St. Louis does have a growing network of biking/running trails, though.

KC and StL can both be brutal in summer, and the problem is more humidity than heat. KC has a tendency for more severe weather - thunderstorms, occasional tornadoes, and some extremely bitter winter days. I wouldn’t call Indianapolis exactly balmy, but it doesn’t seem to have quite the extremes of KC.

The cost of living in all three cities is moderate, especially compared to Chicago, which is the benchmark for everything in middle America.

KC has great barbecue. St. Louis has very good barbecue and great Italian food. St. Louis also has excellent microbreweries, since Anheuser-Busch is a great training ground.

If we’re talking about the aircraft/airline industry, I’d guess Indy has the best growth prospects right now, thanks to FedEx. BUT 20 years ago I would have said St. Louis, and 30 years ago it would have been KC. Things change.

Both Kansas City and St. Louis have major league baseball, while Indianapolis has Triple A.

Indianapolis has quirky neighborhoods with lots of green space (at least when I lived there). Make sure you have GPS when driving into Rocky Ripple or you might never emerge again. :eek:

as ex-native St Louisan, posters are correct about HOT summers, fairly mild winters. Downtown is mostly deserted, high crime. Has Cards and Blues. Cheap housing, excellent colleges (Wash U and STL Univ), suburbs would be better for shopping, safety, mass transit mostly accessible. Not as much diversity compared to Chicago, but more than KC or Indy. KC airport in middle of farm country, while lambert is rail accessible. excellent cultural amenities. Low cost of living.

I flew into KC for an interview in 1982, and seriously thought for a bit that the plane might be doing an emergency landing, since there was no sign of a city as we were making our final approach.

The city has finally grown out to the airport a bit (whether that sprawl is a good thing is disputable of course).