The 10 Worst Kansas City, MO Suburbs

The worst Kansas City, MO suburbs are Sugar Creek and Kansas City based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Kansas City to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Kansas City are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Kansas City ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Kansas City area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Kansas City proper, although Fairway certainly tries.

We examined the 47 biggest suburbs of Kansas City to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Missouri lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Kansas City in terms of quality of life.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 worst suburbs around Kansas City for 2023

  1. Sugar Creek
  2. Kansas City
  3. Harrisonville
  4. Grandview
  5. Independence
  6. Excelsior Springs
  7. Pleasant Hill
  8. Riverside
  9. Oak Grove
  10. Leavenworth

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Kansas City? Sugar Creek ranks as the worst suburb of Kansas City for 2023 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Missouri check out the best places in Missouri overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Kansas City too.

The 10 Worst Kansas City Suburbs To Live For 2023

1. Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek, MO

Source: Wikipedia User Robert Huffstutter | CC BY 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,268
Median Income: $51,860 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (10th highest)
Median Home Value: $76,500 (lowest)
More on Sugar Creek: Crime

We’ll get the ball rolling with Sugar Creek, the absolute worst place to live around Kansas City according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Sugar Creek beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 5th worst in the Kansas City area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Sugar Creek.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area. There aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Kansas City, KS

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 2.5
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Population: 155,745
Median Income: $50,707 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $112,500 (2nd lowest)
More on Kansas City: Data | Cost Of Living

Welcome to Kansas City. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 0.0 miles to Kansas City. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $50,707 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Harrisonville, MO

Source: Flickr User David Reber’s Hammer Photography | CC BY-SA 2.0
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Population: 10,070
Median Income: $51,460 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $155,400 (11th lowest)
More on Harrisonville: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Kansas City suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Harrisonville on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school dropout rate is poor compared to other Kansas City suburbs.

But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.

Grandview, MO

Source: Wikipedia User Nationalparks | CC BY-SA 2.5
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Population: 25,931
Median Income: $48,233 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $127,200 (4th lowest)
More on Grandview: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you live in Grandview, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 2nd lowest Kansas City suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 8th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Kansas City. Remember, we looked at 47 cities for this study.

Grandview is about 9.6 miles to downtown.

Independence, MO

Source: Wikipedia User TheCatalyst31 with modifications by Kbh3rd | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 122,230
Median Income: $53,996 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $130,400 (5th lowest)
More on Independence: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Independence has the distinction of being a Kansas City suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Independence has the 5th lowest home values in the metro Kansas City area, where the median price is $130,400. The median income is $250,001.

Independence has an unemployment rate of 6.08% which ranks 7th worst.

Excelsior Springs, MO

Source: Wikipedia User Americasroof | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Population: 10,595
Median Income: $68,679 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (19th highest)
Median Home Value: $147,200 (8th lowest)
More on Excelsior Springs: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Excelsior Springs has 10,595 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom, and the poverty rate sits at 10.673234811165845%.

Pleasant Hill, MO

Source: Flickr User MoBikeFed | CC BY 2.0
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Population: 8,673
Median Income: $76,593 (20th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $186,400 (18th lowest)
More on Pleasant Hill: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Ah, Pleasant Hill. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Kansas City.

It’s the place with the 2nd most out of work residents in the Kansas City metro area (8.48%).

Riverside, MO

Source: Public domain
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Population: 3,866
Median Income: $42,703 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $245,500 (33rd lowest)
More on Riverside: Data | Crime

Riverside is a city about 11.4 miles from Kansas City, but Kansas City probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a worse place to live. Riverside has the 4th most uninsured people, worst incomes, and has the 12th highest unemployment rate (5.33%) in the entire Kansas City metro area.

Homes only cost $245,500 for a reason. That’s cheap for Kansas City standards.

Oak Grove, MO

Source: Flickr User pasa47 | CC BY 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,228
Median Income: $66,923 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (14th highest)
Median Home Value: $155,700 (12th lowest)
More on Oak Grove: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you absolutely have to live near Kansas City, then Oak Grove might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Kansas City suburb.

About 5.26% of residents are out of work.

Leavenworth, KS

Source: Wikipedia User Melissa Bower | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 37,216
Median Income: $63,260 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (15th highest)
Median Home Value: $142,300 (7th lowest)
More on Leavenworth: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Rounding out the ten worst Kansas City suburbs to call home is Leavenworth.

Located 28.6 miles outside the city, Leavenworths is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 15th highest unemployment rate (4.99%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Kansas City for 2023

To figure out how bad a Kansas City suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

It’s Saturday Night Science.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Kansas City.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 47 suburbs to evaluate around Kansas City.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 47 in each category, where 1 was the “worst.”

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality-of-life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index, the “Worst Suburb near Kansas City.” We’re looking at you, Sugar Creek.

We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Kansas City.

Summary: The areas around Kansas City where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Kansas City with Sugar Creek casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Kansas City aren’t all bad. Fairway takes the cake as the best place to live around Kansas City.

  • Fairway
  • Mission Hills
  • Leawood

For more Missouri reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Kansas City Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Sugar Creek 3,268 $51,860 $76,500
2 Kansas City 155,745 $50,707 $112,500
3 Harrisonville 10,070 $51,460 $155,400
4 Grandview 25,931 $48,233 $127,200
5 Independence 122,230 $53,996 $130,400
6 Excelsior Springs 10,595 $68,679 $147,200
7 Pleasant Hill 8,673 $76,593 $186,400
8 Riverside 3,866 $42,703 $245,500
9 Oak Grove 8,228 $66,923 $155,700
10 Leavenworth 37,216 $63,260 $142,300
11 Buckner 2,963 $77,412 $140,600
12 Raytown 29,893 $59,049 $124,300
13 Belton 23,832 $67,213 $153,700
14 Bonner Springs 7,858 $75,168 $178,200
15 Peculiar 5,559 $81,528 $166,400
16 Gladstone 26,825 $65,477 $163,700
17 Edwardsville 4,690 $80,151 $149,300
18 Pleasant Valley 2,757 $61,633 $157,700
19 De Soto 6,160 $92,889 $279,900
20 Tonganoxie 5,383 $72,623 $168,800
21 Merriam 11,110 $64,703 $196,100
22 Louisburg 4,865 $63,920 $204,300
23 Basehor 6,717 $91,649 $261,500
24 Lansing 11,321 $98,413 $193,100
25 Blue Springs 58,265 $78,516 $189,100
26 Liberty 30,129 $81,352 $206,800
27 Eudora 6,457 $99,615 $188,500
28 Roeland Park 6,871 $73,984 $211,900
29 Spring Hill 7,883 $89,250 $243,000
30 Gardner 23,065 $83,284 $213,800
31 Mission 9,884 $68,859 $225,200
32 Smithville 10,211 $90,909 $217,800
33 Shawnee 67,021 $93,835 $266,800
34 Raymore 22,722 $90,362 $245,900
35 Grain Valley 15,435 $81,429 $198,400
36 Olathe 140,339 $100,849 $273,600
37 Greenwood 6,008 $94,069 $214,000
38 Kearney 10,260 $92,462 $219,400
39 Lee’s Summit 100,772 $98,960 $248,800
40 Lenexa 56,755 $96,477 $299,400
41 Lake Lotawana 3,084 $143,306 $492,100
42 Parkville 7,153 $173,047 $456,600
43 Overland Park 195,249 $92,769 $314,500
44 Weatherby Lake 2,408 $162,188 $430,100
45 Leawood 33,748 $159,540 $498,900
46 Mission Hills 3,579 $250,001 $963,400
47 Fairway 4,147 $136,579 $459,600
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

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