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Illinois Sisters Discover Hidden Gems and Vibrant Lifestyle in Wichita

By Emily Barnwell (Younger) 

When Kari Slagel first announced her decision to move to Wichita, Kansas in May 2022, her friends and family were taken aback. “Kansas? What’s in Kansas?” they asked, confused by her choice. Little did they know Kari had stumbled upon a hidden gem.

Fresh out of Purdue University and armed with a job as a global communications specialist at Cargill, Kari, 22, packed her bags and embarked on an exciting personal and professional journey in the Air Capital.

“I was surprised when I moved here. The city is bigger than I expected, but still more of a smaller-town feel. I really like the relaxed and easygoing vibe mixed with the personality of Old Town,” Kari said.

The Illinois native was immediately immersed in the “vibe” of downtown having secured an apartment in the core of the city, nestled amongst performing arts centers, dining and nightlife.

“I wanted to be close to all the action and be able to easily walk to go do things,” Kari explained.

Kari’s commute to Cargill is a mere six minutes by foot, an unthinkable luxury in most metropolitan areas. She quickly learned that so-called “traffic” is a breeze throughout the Wichita region.

“I really like the small-town feel that comes with the city perks in Wichita. I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to get to a mall or Walmart, and I don’t have to sit in backed-up traffic either,” she said.

However, it wasn’t just the city’s amenities and convenient lifestyle that captured Kari’s heart – it was the people. A trip to the local tag office provided an eye-opening experience.

“The team there was so friendly,” she recalled. “You wouldn’t get that kind of treatment back in Illinois, and I think that little story is a good illustration of Wichita and the people you’ll find here.”

Kari’s enthusiasm for Wichita soon spread to her older sister, Megan. After a couple of visits, Megan, 24, decided to relocate to Wichita in January 2023.

“We went to coffee shops, different stores, bars, and restaurants on both the east and west sides of town and I immediately loved the ease of travel even though things seemed to be spread out,” said Megan.

“My dad joked and fake scolded me and said, ‘I needed to stop convincing my sister to come move here with me.’ I clearly didn’t listen,” Kari laughed.

While Kari initially paved the way for Megan’s decision, Megan found her own reasons to fall in love with the city, marveling at the rich culture, vibrant atmosphere and easy access to an abundance of amenities not to mention her new role as an intervention specialist with Wichita Public Schools.  

“Whether its restaurants, events, local shops and stores, or other attractions, Wichita seems to offer something for people of all ages and interests,” Megan said.

Together, the sisters discovered a haven in Wichita. Their journey showcases that sometimes, the most unexpected or new places can hold the most delightful surprises.

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