The center of Iowa’s culture and economic activity, Des Moines, is the perfect city where you can relocate. It is famous for cornfields, rolling plains, and beautiful scenery. It is a small Midwest city but offers a considerable city life experience.
Des Moines is an exciting city surrounded by sophisticated colonial Tudor-style neighborhoods, bustling downtown, and popping urban development. Given its affordable living expenses and access to Iowa’s best culture and entertainment, you can build a happy and comfortable life here.
You can experience the ultimate Midwest life, so read more about what it is like to live in Des Moines, Iowa:
List of Contents
Is Des Moines an excellent place to live in? A Small City with a Touch of Fun
The Good Side
An Education Powerhouse
Des Moines has a nearly perfect literacy rate of 99%.
It obtains the highest literacy rate in the whole of America, too.
Even its high school has the most successful graduation rate of around 90%. The various school district’s ACT and SAT scores are also impressive.
With this exemplary record, moving to Des Moines with your school-aged children can significantly benefit them. Studying here builds a strong foundation for their future careers. When they get to college or university, world-class universities are within arm’s reach.
You can tell your child to The University of Iowa, Northern Iowa, or Iowa State. Here you can choose different programs and degrees that suit your interests. Smaller institutions are also available such as Mount Mercy and Luther.
Des Moines is never boring.
Iowa’s capital, the city, is the center of cultural and commercial activity in the state. It is the ultimate cultural hub, with great sites, events, activities, and attractions. The city has significant performing art centers demonstrating regular performances and musical plays.
For instance, the Des Moines Art Center harnesses local and regional talents and promotes seasonal exhibits. You have something to watch here and anticipate national touring musicals and shows.
Even the Capitol Building draws thousands of visitors and tourists. You can learn more about the city’s historical background when you visit the Capitol. Then, there are parks, gardens, and zoos you can see on the weekend.
The Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Des Moines River, and the Blank Park Zoo offer natural attractions and gorgeous city landscapes. Some offer free admission, while others have reasonable admission rates. The Blank Park Zoo, for instance, is an affordable animal park where you see lions, giraffes, penguins, and other wild animals.
Unlimited Festivals and Cultural Events
The most anticipated event in Des Moines is the Iowa State Fair. The state fair is the largest single event in Iowa, with overflowing food, drinks, and activities. It is the best state fair in the United States, attended by millions worldwide.
Other handfuls of events and celebrations are the Music Festival, Des Moines Arts Festival, World Food & Music Festival, and the celebration. They are full of entertainment and always draw large community gatherings.
Parks and the Great Outdoors
There are many destinations where you can spend more time with nature here in Des Moines. The city is full of expansive natural parks. It has more than 4,000 environmental spaces across the city under the operation of Parks and Recreation.
Gray’s Lake is an ideal place for boating. It has several boat rentals and hosts competitive boating activities every year. On the other hand, the Greenwood-Ashworth is a great place to see rose gardens and ponds. You can also bring your family here with dedicated playgrounds for your children.
Warm and Welcoming People
People are naturally warm and friendly in Des Moines. The locals here are known for being remarkably friendly, and starting a conversation with strangers would not be complicated. You can easily make friendships and build lasting relationships in this city.
Another good side of this city is getting the freshest and organically produced goods straight from the farm. You will love the city’s farmer’s market because it offers almost everything you need for your kitchen and pantry.
The Des Moines Farmer’s Market has more than 300 vendors offering different products. They are city farmers, crafters, bakers, restaurant owners, artists, and gardeners. The goods you can buy here are highly diverse; most are locally produced and homemade.
The Bad Side
You will more likely get frustrated when you get around the city. It lacks reliable transportation, and traffic can go very badly. The time you spend in your vehicle can take a long, even for a short-distance ride.
Winter is also a significant concern, especially for those coming from warm cities like Texas. The temperate can go below zero degrees during the winter season. The lowest temperature recorded in Des Moines went down to -47 Fahrenheit. It is beyond the freezing point, and people will entirely rely on a heater to keep them comfortable and warm.
Above average crime
Crime is also an issue in this city. It has always been on the rise, even though the city is recording a low unemployment rate. The property and violence recorded here are above the US median rate.
What is the cost of living in Des Moines? – Cheaper Expenses Means More Savings
The Good Side
Top City with Affordable Living Expenses
If there is one thing every mover is considering, it is the city’s cost of living. When you choose to relocate to Des Moines, you will be living in a city with a very affordable cost of living. For three years, the city has been regarded as one of the cheapest metros in America.
You can live comfortably here without spending too much from your paycheck. It means you have a higher chance of saving money, investing in real estate, and paying your monthly debt. Only 20% of the median annual household income is allotted to living expenses.
Lower Utility Cost
You can save a lot on utilities in Des Moines compared to other cities in the United States. Statistically speaking, the cost of utilities is 6.8% less than the national average.
You will be paying less in terms of internet, heating, water, and electricity in this part of Iowa.
For a 900 sq ft apartment, the internet is also reasonably priced. The monthly bill for the internet is only around $40.
Reasonable Housing Options
It is a breeze being a homeowner in Des Moines. You can easily find a single-family house priced at $200,000. If you are willing to live in a more remote community, the cost is 50% less, and it is already a 2,000-square-foot house.
Most properties here have a vast lot you can use for gardening or a children’s playground. Rent also has competitive prices, and it is normal to find a 2-bedroom apartment below $1,000.
Cheaper food and groceries
You will love that food and grocery prices are also affordable here. The rate is almost 7% lower than the national average. You can go to a grocery store and buy your basic needs without spending too much and breaking your monthly budget. Around 10% of your regular income is allotted to food alone.
More fun and entertainment, but less spending
People in Des Moines love to work hard and play hard. As a cultural and entertainment hub in Iowa, you can visit plenty of attractions. These attractions offer free admission, and you can entertain without spending a dime.
Eating out is also affordable here. A basic lunch can cost you around $10, and a dinner for two costs $30. If you want to try midrange restaurants, you can enjoy a 3-course meal for $50. For those who love seeing a movie, you only pay $9.9. It is less costly compared to other cities like NYC or SF.
The Bad Side
Income Tax Rate
Living in Des Moines, Iowa, means you are subject to a higher state income tax. It is not a tax-friendly state, and you have to pay a marginal tax rate of 9%, which is considerably higher than in other cities in America.
Iowa ranks top among the states with a high-income tax rate, similar to New York and New Jersey. You are subject to a higher income tax if you make a lot of money.
Another thing that can eat up your budget is the healthcare cost in this city. You will be paying slightly above the national average for healthcare insurance premiums.
It is around $429, which is way more than the national average of $375. It is also a huge consideration, especially if you frequently visit the hospital for medical attention.
Why work in Des Moines? Job Creation is Promising
The Good Side
Economy and Job Market
There is positive growth when it comes to Des Moine’s economy. Over the past year, it exhibited an increase of around 2.7%. The rate is very promising and is still following an upward trend in the future.
With its thriving economy, employment will also grow with a forecast of 37.4%. It is significantly higher than the US average growth of 33.5%. The unemployment rate is also meager and in a better state than the whole country. The rate is 3% lower than the US median rate of 3.9%.
Jobs in the financial sector and insurance policy
The insurance industry is a booming sector in Des Moines. More than 80 insurance companies in the city provide massive employment opportunities to the residents. If you are into banking or finance, you will easily land a job in this sector. Plus, the average annual salary of the city is nearing the US median rate of $50,000.
More Big Industries and Sectors
Aside from the insurance industries, big companies also employ people. The city’s leading employers are UPS, Drake University, UnityPoint Health, The Meredith Corporation, Mercy Medical Center, and Wells Fargo.
The economy is also diversifying with manufacturing, agriculture, renewable energy, and retail businesses.
It also promotes sustainable farming, a great advantage to the state’s overall agriculture industry.
The city has massive production of corn and soybeans for the agriculture sector.
Iowa also depends on the city’s hogs, eggs, chicken, and beef milk produce.
Then the manufacturing sector also plays a significant role. Companies like Mitra, Pigott, and Kemin established businesses here. Since it has an excellent agricultural industry, food manufacturing comes next.
The Bad Side
Slow commuting time
Certainly, Des Moines is not a commuter-friendly city. It has a poor public transportation system, and you might rely heavily on cars daily. If you work and commute in Des Moines, you need to adjust your schedule because you will spend more time in the car going to work.
Des Moines is an ideal place to live and retire because of its affordability. The great outdoors, numerous entertainment offerings, and cultural events are also factors you can consider when relocating here.
Have more thoughts about your relocation? Comment them below. It would be fantastic to hear from you soon!