Updated: Nov 21
When it comes to choosing the ideal place to live, we're often faced with a myriad of factors to consider, each competing for our attention. Des Moines, Iowa, may not be the first city that comes to your mind when you think of living in the United States. You may have heard of it as the capital of Iowa, the home of the Iowa caucuses, or the setting of the musical The Music Man. But did you know that Des Moines is also a city that offers many benefits and opportunities for its residents and visitors?
Nestled in the heart of America's heartland, Des Moines, Iowa, often referred to as the "Hartford of the West," is a city that's been making waves in recent years. With its picturesque landscapes, burgeoning economy, and an unwavering commitment to community values, the city offers a lifestyle that's both inviting and fulfilling. But as with any destination, there are always two sides to the coin. So, if you're considering a move to the Hawkeye State's capital, it's important to explore the pros and cons of living in Des Moines.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the pros and cons of living in Des Moines, such as the cost of living, the job market, the population growth, the bike trails, the pace of life, and many more. Let’s get started!
PROS AND CONS OF LIVING IN DES MOINES, IOWA
1. Affordable Cost of Living
Picture this - a city where the average home costs nearly $86,000 less than the national average. In Des Moines, the median monthly rent is a refreshing $228 lower than the national norm. From groceries to transportation, Des Moines offers a budget-friendly environment, making it a haven for those who value financial stability.
2. Thriving Job Market
With a diverse job market that spans industries like insurance, finance, manufacturing, health care, education, and leisure, Des Moines offers competitive opportunities. While the average annual salary is slightly lower than the national average, the city boasts a lower unemployment rate and a high job growth forecast over the next decade.
3. Population Growth
Des Moines is a city on the move, attracting individuals from various backgrounds and cultures. With a population increase of 1.25 % since 2022, the city's moderate population density reflects a growing and diverse community, adding to its vibrant tapestry.
4. Bike-Friendly Bliss
For fitness enthusiasts and eco-conscious folks, Des Moines beckons with over 77 trails covering 4,217 miles, perfect for cyclists and pedestrians. It's not just a healthy activity but a convenient way to explore the city's charming corners. Some of the most popular trails, like the Clive Greenbelt Trail, High Trestle Trail, Walnut Creek Trail, Meredith Trail, and Kruidenier Trail around Gray's Lake, promise not only fun and fitness but also a convenient and eco-friendly way to explore the city. Check out this guide from Catch Des Moines to know more about these hiking trails.
5. Relaxed Pace of Life
In a world where the fast-paced life often takes center stage, Des Moines offers a refreshing change. Life here is marked by a relaxed pace that prioritizes quality living and work-life balance. The city values simple pleasures, such as spending time with family and friends, enjoying nature and culture, and volunteering for causes that matter. This slower rhythm of life allows residents to truly savor every moment, whether it's a leisurely bike ride along the city's trails, a weekend gathering at the park, or a peaceful evening at home.
6. Financial Stability
Iowa, in which Des Moines is nestled, shines as one of the most financially stable states in the country. A strong economy, low debt-to-GDP ratio, and high credit ratings translate into low tax rates and a high standard of living. Iowa's financial stability directly translates into a robust local economy, where businesses thrive and job opportunities abound. Des Moines, as the state's capital and economic hub, benefits from this stability, offering a secure and prosperous environment for both residents and businesses alike.
7. Unique Attractions
Des Moines isn't just your average city; it boasts the largest skate park in the nation and an ambitious plan to transform its riverfront into a downtown attraction. From skateboarding to water adventures, there's always something exciting happening in the city. One of Des Moines' crowning achievements is the Lauridsen Skatepark, which stands as the largest open skate park in the nation and one of the largest in the world. The city is also on a journey to revitalize its downtown riverfront, and the ambitious 10-year plan promises to transform the Des Moines River into a vibrant hub of recreation and tourism.
8. Safety First
With lower crime rates compared to its peers, Des Moines is a city where safety is a top priority. Whether you're walking the trails or enjoying a night out, you can breathe easily. The lower violent crime rate, at 336.5 per 100,000 people, and property crime rate of 2,007.8 per 100,000 people, showcase the city's dedication to maintaining law and order. For families, this peace of mind is especially reassuring, allowing children to grow up in a secure and nurturing environment.
9. Healthcare Excellence
When it comes to healthcare, Des Moines delivers with quality and accessibility. The city is home to four major hospitals, including MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, UnityPoint Health - Iowa Lutheran Hospital, UnityPoint Health - Iowa Methodist Medical Center, and Broadlawns Medical Center. These facilities offer a wide range of services and specialties, ensuring that the healthcare needs of residents are met with excellence and care.
10. Easy Commute
With shorter commute times, Des Moines makes every minute count. Whether you drive to work or prefer cycling, you can get around the city with ease. With an average one-way commute time of just 20.7 minutes, Des Moines beats the national average by a considerable margin, allowing residents to reclaim precious time for other pursuits. The city's well-maintained road networks, efficient public transportation system, and a growing network of biking trails contribute to this ease of getting around.
11. Welcoming Community
The residents of Des Moines take pride in their diverse and friendly community, making it a place where you can feel right at home. The diverse population, with a 9.4% increase since 2010, includes people from various backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. The growing racial and ethnic diversity creates a melting pot of perspectives and experiences, fostering an inclusive and open-minded environment.
12. Embracing Agriculture
Des Moines acknowledges its agricultural roots and supports local food production through innovative projects like Middlebrook Farms, where farming becomes a part of everyday life.
These are some of the pros of living in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course, there are also some cons that you should consider before moving to this city. While Des Moines offers a lot, it's not without its drawbacks. However, these challenges, when weighed against the city's many benefits, are relatively minor.
1. No Pro Sports Teams
Des Moines, while charming and full of character, does not have any major professional sports teams to call its own. For sports enthusiasts who relish the thrill of cheering for their hometown heroes, this might be a downside. While it's true that you won't find a Des Moines-based NFL, NBA, or MLB team, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy sports through minor league teams and college sports events. But for die-hard fans of the big leagues, it might be a tad disappointing not to have a local team to rally behind.
2. Political Overload
Being the capital of Iowa, Des Moines often becomes a hub of political activity, especially during election seasons. While this can be an exciting experience for political junkies, it might feel like information overload for those who aren't as politically inclined. With political rallies, campaign events, and media frenzy taking center stage, the city can sometimes be inundated with politics, which could be a con for those who prefer a quieter and more apolitical environment.
3. Cultural Diversity
While Des Moines is steadily becoming more diverse, it may not match the cultural richness of larger, more cosmopolitan cities. The city is making strides in embracing different cultures, but if you're looking for a bustling melting pot of global traditions and cuisines, you might find the cultural diversity somewhat limited compared to more prominent urban centers. However, this is changing over time, and Des Moines continues to become more inclusive and welcoming to people from various backgrounds.
4. Limited Nightlife
Des Moines offers a comfortable and relaxed pace of life, which, while appealing to many, might not be suitable for those who seek a bustling and vibrant nightlife. The city's entertainment options tend to wind down early, with a limited selection of nightclubs, bars, and late-night eateries. For night owls and partygoers who thrive in cities that never sleep, Des Moines' nightlife might feel somewhat subdued. But, for many residents, the quieter evenings provide a perfect backdrop for enjoying quality time with friends and family or unwinding in peaceful surroundings.
So, whether you're considering a move to Des Moines, planning a visit, or just curious about life in this Midwest gem, it's a place that invites you to experience its unique blend of warmth, opportunity, and community. As you weigh the pros and cons, remember that every city, like every person, has its own story to tell, and it's your story that will truly define your experience here.
Ultimately, Des Moines stands as a testament to the idea that what a city lacks in grandeur, it makes up for with heart, character, and a down-to-earth spirit that truly make it a city unlike any other.
We hope you've found this article helpful in understanding the various aspects of living in Des Moines. To make your decision-making process even more convenient, we've created a downloadable PDF document that summarizes the pros and cons discussed here. This PDF guide will be an invaluable resource for anyone considering life in Des Moines.
Feel free to save, share, or revisit it whenever you need a quick reference about Des Moines. We wish you the best in your journey towards making the right choice for your future home.
If you're considering making Des Moines your home, we're here to assist you in finding your dream house. The Grantham group is ready to guide you through the process and help you discover the perfect property tailored to your needs and preferences.
To start your journey to homeownership in Des Moines, feel free to book a call with me. I am passionate about helping individuals and families make Des Moines their ideal home, and I am just a call or email away to answer your questions and kickstart your real estate adventure.