Moving to Topeka? A Complete Guide to Top City, KS
Why on earth would anyone want to move to Topeka?
I’ll start off by saying I’ve lived in Topeka for the past 20 years of my life so if you sense some bias towards Topeka, that’s because there is. I won’t even hide how much I love Topeka, but for this article I will do my best to just stick to the facts and keep my pro Top City bias aside. When it comes down to it, there are a handful of reasons as to why I think moving to Topeka could be one of the best decisions you will ever make. Read for yourself, but I think I can present a pretty convincing case.
Moving to Topeka? If you are moving to Topeka there are some things that you need to know. To be honest, I don’t really think you need to know them but it’s a given that these semi boring facts need to be presented.
Semi-Boring Facts about Topeka
- Population: 125,904 (2018)
- Unemployment rate: 3.1% (June 2019)
- Median Home Price: $130,000
- Median Household Income: $46,087
- Average Commute Time: 16 minutes
1. Cost of Living
Compared to other cities across the country, the cost of living in Topeka looks like a dream. Obviously living in Topeka, Kansas is going to be a lot cheaper than living on the Coasts, but what I want to do is show you the cost of living in comparison to neighboring cities such a Kansas City and Lawrence. You might be surprised to find Topeka’s cost of living is something Topeka natives take for granted.
Topeka is not only below the national average in all but one category, but overall Topeka’s cost of living is 17% less. This graph speaks volume when comparing the affordability of cities in Kansas. What also sets Topeka apart when comparing it to other cities is the cost of homes. Topeka’s Median Home Cost is $130,000 while Kansas City’s is $140,100 and Lawrence’s is $190,800. Topeka is the perfect place to buy your first home and if you’re looking to do just that, you should check out our FREE Guide to Buying a Home In Topeka. We’d love to help you buy/sell a home here in Topeka! You can check out more information on the data presented above HERE.
2. Low Unemployment Rate
If you are moving to Topeka and are looking for employment then you are in luck. According to Glassdoor there are 5,820 jobs available right now and new ones being added everyday. Topeka is known for it’s consistent low unemployment rate, sitting just above 3%. Some of the top employers in Topeka include The State of Kansas who employs 6000 people, Stormont-Vail HealthCare who employs 4500, Topeka Unified School District #501 (2400), Goodyear (1500), and BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas (1400). Outside of the big corporations, drive around Topeka for 5 minutes and you’ll see all sorts of help wanted signs. Jobs in Topeka are popping up everywhere and having security of a job is a huge factor when considering where you and your family will be wanting to move.
3. Friendly Community
One of the biggest factors when we think of moving to Topeka is the community of people. A common phrase I’ve heard tossed around over the years is, “Topeka is the biggest small town you’ll ever live in.” It has the perfect balance between knowing everyone and living in a big city. It is super easy to get involved in the community and find your niche of people. While at the same time if you choose not to, Topeka can feel like a massive metro city. There are lots of way to get involved from: Topeka Chamber, Young life, SENT, and The Topeka Civic Theatre. The list is endless! Check out all of the different organizations in Topeka and see where you could get involved!
4. Lake Shawnee
Lake Shawnee is one of the top travel destinations in Kansas with more than 1 million people visiting the lake each year for a variety of reasons. Some of these attractions include: Bettis Family Sports Complex, Lake Shawnee Golf Course, Adventure Cove, Fishing Docks, and Camp Grounds. There are also numerous of shelter houses available for rent with playgrounds, tennis courts and sand volleyball. You can check out the full map of Lake Shawnee and see everything it has to offer. But to top off this attraction, the view of Lake Shawnee is breath taking, if you don’t believe it, just take a look! If you’re thinking about moving to Topeka, let Lake Shawnee be one of the first thing you check out.
5. Great Food
I already know what you’re thinking… “Every city has great food.” I am just going to be straight forward and say that you’re wrong. Every other city has good food…. Topeka has great food! Topeka is loaded with different unique options when it comes to restaurants and dining. Not only does Topeka have all of the standard big chains, but the locally owned restaurants are a big hit for us Topeka natives. The list is endless: Bobo’s, The Pennant, Iron Rail Brewery, Pizza Pub, PT’s Coffee, The Shack, Taco Villa, Speck’s, North Star Steakhouse, and The Burger Stand. These are all locally owned places that everyone needs to try. Just in making this list I didn’t realize how many of these places are locally owned. I have gotten so used to them that they have become part of my norm.
Top City Favorites:
If you live anywhere long enough you’ll hear people complain that there’s “nothing to do” or that their city is “boring.” I personally have never thought that about Topeka, but there might be some who do. So what do I mean by location? Well if you are moving to Topeka, you get the best of both worlds. Kansas City, Manhattan, and Lawrence are all just a short drive away and you can reap all the benefits of those cities while not having to live there. Because of how close you are, driving up to catch a college basketball game in Lawrence or watch a concert in Kansas City is always an option. You can do everything the city offers without having to deal with the traffic, crowding, cost of living, etc.. if you were living there instead. This is something that many people who live in Topeka take for granted.
7. Very Light Traffic
Another thing Topeka natives don’t appreciate enough is the lack of traffic. Just like all cities, Topeka has it’s fair share of construction traffic but that just means the city is being improved! What I’m talking about is the 5 o’clock rush hour traffic. It really doesn’t exist in Topeka. In any other city if you want to take the highway during 5 o’clock rush hour, you better leave 20-30 minutes early in order to get somewhere on time. There is nothing more frustrating than being at a stand still in the middle of the highway. Not in Topeka! If you have lived in a big city before you’ll see this as a huge plus when moving to Topeka.
8. Downtown Topeka
Downtown Topeka has changed so much in the past decade. New restaurants have been added, walkways and streets have been redone, and there is even a new plaza that arrived in March of 2020! Some of the newest restaurants include The Pennant which opened up in March of 2018 and Iron Rail Brewery in November 2018. The Pennant is one of the best places to get a burger in Topeka and definitely a place to check out if you haven’t already. Iron Rail Brewery is known for their home crafted beers to go with their loaded menu of food. These two places have quickly made their presence known in Topeka.
Evergy Plaza is now in the heart of downtown Topeka. It features choreographed fountains, a fire pit, 30-foot-tall digital screen, and a 50-foot performance stage complete with production sound and lighting. This addition to Downtown is a HUGE win for Topeka. Whether you’re moving to Topeka or just want to visit, Evergy Plaza is something to check out!
9. Public School Districts
If you are moving to Topeka with your family or maybe even a future family, your child’s education is definitely something you’ll take into consideration. K-12 years are the most important years of your life and you need to know that where you send your child is nothing short of excellent. Fortunately for you, Topeka has some of the top ranked schools in all of Kansas. I’d encourage you to ask around and do your research when it comes to exploring what school district you want to move into. Every school has their pros and cons but the common theme about schools in Topeka is the love that all students have for their district. All of the students in Topeka take pride in their school and think their school is the best. To make it easy for you when moving to Topeka, I have created pages on every school district in Topeka. These include lists of all the homes for sale in their districts and information about the schools. Check them out if you think they could be of some value to you.
10. Washburn University
Washburn University has been a part of Topeka since 1865 when it first was founded as Lincoln College. Washburn is a huge attraction in the Topeka community and is home to hundreds of events every year. From athletics to music, plays and lectures, Washburn’s impact on the community cannot be overstated. Not only is Washburn loved by the Topeka community, but is the reason thousands of new students are moving to Topeka every year. Students all across the country come to Washburn because of their tuition prices, athletics, degrees, and of course their beautiful campus. If you have a student considering college, check out our article.
I could go on and on about Washburn University, but I’ll save you the time and hope you take my word when I say it’s great! If you haven’t had the chance to check out Washburn’s campus, take a look for yourself. Washburn University is a hidden gem among NCAA schools!
11. Bike/Walking Trails
When it comes to outdoor trails and nature areas, it’s hard to beat what Topeka has to offer. With over 20 different options to choose from, Topeka provides a variety of places to go on a bike ride or walk. There are more than 30 miles of paved trails and nearly 28 miles of natural surface trails that go through all sorts of terrain and natural areas. My personal favorite is the Lake Shawnee Trail because of the amazing scenery you get. Hard to beat the sight of the lake and flower garden while going for a bike ride. Check out Shawnee County’s trail guide and website to find the specifics of all of the different trail options in Topeka!
12. Lots of Events
Topeka is home to hundreds of events every year and if you’re moving to Topeka these events need to be added to your calendar. Some of these events include the Fiesta Mexicana of Topeka and Huff n Puff Air Balloon Rally. The Fiesta Mexicana is a week-long celebration in July that celebrates the Hispanic culture and tradition in Topeka. The festival includes food, carnival games, rides, a parade and more food! It is has been a huge hit in Topeka for decades. Huff n Puff Air Balloon Rally has been a free event in Topeka since 1976 where friends and families come together to enjoy all of the hot air balloons. To go with the event, there are a variety of vendors on site with food, drinks, and more. These events make the decision on moving to Topeka very easy!
As of 2019 Topeka is now the official home of the Heartland Stampede! The Country Stampede Music Festival is an outdoor country music and camping festival held at Heartland Motorsports Park every summer. The festival was formally known as the Kicker Country Stampede and had been located in Manhattan from 1996-2018. But organizers had announced Topeka as the new official home for the event. With the new location, they have changed the name of the event to Heartland Stampede. Thousands of people travel to Topeka to watch artists such as Jason Aldean, Old Dominion, and Jake Owens. This event is a huge hit and is a big win for the city of Topeka! Whether you’re moving to Topeka permanently or just for these 3 days, you don’t want to miss this event!
13. Topeka Attractions
Not only does Topeka have some great events every year, there are some great attractions year round! Topeka is constantly adding to the list of things to do. Some of these include the Topeka Zoo and Gage Park. These two are located just across the street from each other, so if you’re checking one out, might as well check out the other. The Topeka Zoo has been around for just over 85 years while the park was established in 1899. The park has over 160 acres of land and is one of the largest parks in Topeka. It is known for it’s mini-train that rides throughout the park and let’s you see everything the park has to offer. While the zoo is home to hundreds of different animals. Check out the map to the whole park and see if something they offer spikes your interest!
Topeka is also home to the NOTO Arts District. The North Topeka Arts District is a huge attraction for many people who live in Topeka. The downtown arts scene is thriving with more than 3000+ people visiting each month for the Artsconnect First Friday Artwalk. NOTO has a wide range of different business that are flourishing and bringing life to the North Topeka area. From restaurants to arts, NOTO has it! If you’re moving to Topeka definitely give NOTO a look into.
Another big attraction in Topeka is the Kansas Capital Building. This piece of architecture is the signature building of Topeka. They offer both historic and dome tours Monday – Saturday all year long. The place is filled with all sorts of murals and glass panels that highlight the rich history of Topeka, but the dome tour is breathtaking. The tour consist of 296 steps up and ends with a beautiful view of Topeka at the top! Moving to Topeka or if you’ve lived here your whole life, this tour is something everyone has to do at least one time….or five! Schedule your tour today and see it for yourself.
Other Great Topeka Attraction:
14. Professional Sports
Looking for sports entertainment? Topeka is home to a couple of different options. The Topeka Pilots hockey team and professional drag racing at Heartland Park. There are also 3 professional sports teams within an hour drive of Topeka! Not many cities can say that. Professional baseball, football, and soccer are all just a short drive to Kansas City. You get all the perks of Kansas City without having to deal with the drawbacks. If you and your family are moving to Topeka, you can watch the 2019 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs play in person every Sunday! If you’re a big NCAA Football or Basketball fan, Kansas State and KU games are always an option. Topeka is crazy about their sports so you see lots of people with season tickets to both professional and college games. Despite being located just outside of Topeka, we treat these teams as our own.
15. Library of the Year
The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library is something I think Topeka natives take for granted. Every year the Library Journal looks for role model libraries to be named the Library Journal / Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year. Just under 10,000 libraries are eligible to enter for this award and in 2016 the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library won! If you’re a book worm, having one of the best libraries in the nation is a pretty convincing reason why moving to Topeka could be in your best interest. You can even download their app and borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your phone. Check out the library and see for yourself.
If you’re thinking about moving to Topeka and you want to know more, contact us. We’d love to talk to you in deeper depth about why we love where we live. Just like any city, Topeka isn’t perfect, but if you decide this is the place you want to call home, you’ll quickly feel the sense of pride us Topekans have about our city. Topeka is growing and improving every year and it’s evident to everyone who lives here. We love where we live and hope you will decide to come and join us!
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About the Photographer: Dave Mathias
Dave Mathias has been a long time photographer in Topeka and has generously donated his pictures for the use of this article “Moving to Topeka? 15 Reasons Why You Should” We are very thankful for his donations and if you’d like to contact Dave, you can reach him at 785-231-8498 or at [email protected]
About the Author:
The above article Moving To Topeka? 15 Reasons Why You Should was written by Justin Armbruster of the Armbruster Team at RE/MAX Associates of Topeka, local leaders in Topeka Real Estate, Marketing, and Social Media. You can contact the Armbruster Team at (785) 554-3997 or through this form. They have helped hundreds of people buy and sell homes in the Topeka area for years, and would love the opportunity to help you as well.
Are you thinking about selling your home? They have a passion for listing and selling homes in Topeka and would love the chance to use their expertise in Real Estate, Marketing, and Social Media to help you sell or buy yours! Are you interested in buying a home? Give the Armbruster Team a call. They have helped people buy and sell real estate in the all of the following Topeka School Districts: