Des Moines is the most populous city in Iowa with a population of more than 216,853. Moving to Des Moines is a worthwhile consideration because the city has a clean environment, good housing options, and great business freedom. As the capital of Iowa, the city plays host to presidential politics.
Is Des Moines Iowa a good place to live? Des Moines is a great city to live in and raise a family. There is so much to do and see in the area coupled with numerous cultural events, festivals, unique shops, restaurants, and posh bars. Another key point is the fact that the city has a special know-your-neighbor feel to it, despite being relatively large.
Whether you are moving to Iowa State for a fresh start or simply moving to Des Moines to start a new career, you must be wondering about how life is in Des Moines.
- What is the cost of living?
- How much do homes cost in the area?
- Are the schools reliable?
- What transport modes do the people use?
This article explains everything you need to know.
Is Des Moines a good place to Live? Prons & Cons.
Constantly ranked as one of the best cities in the United States to live in, Des Moines is a very desirable place. The best neighborhoods in the area are Waterbury, Downtown Des Moines, Waveland Park, Ingersoll Park, Bloomfield-Allen, Greenwood, Lower Beaver, Salisbury Oaks, Meredith, and Waveland Woods.
However, there are some neighborhoods that are not that great in terms of high unemployment rates, low median incomes, low home values, and high crime. Such neighborhoods include Capital East, New Vision, Capital View South, Cheatom Park, Somerset, and River Bend. The overall crime rate in Des Moines is 85% higher than the USA average.
Schools in Des Moines are generally good. Excellent examples include Eason Elementary School, Shuler Elementary School, Maple Grove Elementary School, Henry A. Wallace Elementary School and Woodland Hills Elementary.
In addition to that, Des Moines is home to many colleges and universities that offer degree programs. Drake University, Grand View College, Iowa State University, University of Iowa School of Work, and Des Moines Area Community College are great examples.
Any expat looking to move to Des Moines will be glad to know that this city enjoys extremely short commute times. Rush hour here lasts for minutes rather than hours. The Greater Des Moines metro area is located at the crossroads of two major interstates (35 and 80). Furthermore, there are climate-controlled skywalks in the area connecting Downtown Des Moines buildings, commercial centers and restaurants.
Des Moines residents also have easy access to air travel via Des Moines International Airport, Ankeny Regional Airport, Ames Municipal Airport, Boone Municipal Airport, Newton Municipal Airport, Winterset-Madison County Airport and Marion Airport.
Home to over 70 parks, multiple golf course, aquatic centers, community centers and other recreational amenities, Des Moines’ social life is lively. It is not easy to get bored while living here.
Is Des Moines a good place to Work?
The economy of Des Moines is made up of a balance among insurance, manufacturing services, wholesale and retail trade, financial services, government, health care, agribusiness, printing, and publishing sectors.
Major employers in Des Moines are Wells Fargo & Co., Mercy Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, Principal Financial Group, Nationwide/Allied Insurance, United Parcel Service, Bridgestone, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and YMCA of Greater Des Moines.
The general unemployment rate in Des Moines is 2.3%, which is noticeably lower than the USA rate of 3.6%. Job opportunities are clearly in plenty here. Furthermore, the average salary of workers living in Des Moines is $51,631.
Is Des Moines a good place to buy a House?
Des Moines is among the best cities in the country to buy a home for the first time based on affordability, availability of jobs and the real estate market. The median price in this city is $286,622 (June 2019) while the median rent is $897.86 per month.
Elegant colonial style and Tudor homes constructed in the early 1900s are concealed in quiet neighborhoods a few minutes from the buzzy downtown, where attractive lofts and condominiums draw millennials. Many families living with children choose to move to suburban neighborhoods where new housing developments continue to pop up.
Homebuyers of a one-bedroom property might have to part with $140,000; those buying a three-bedroom home might have to pay $174,900 while buyers of a five-bedroomed property may have to sacrifice $340,000.
The average rent of a home in Des Moines is $660 per month, while bigger properties with at least three bedrooms have an average rent of $1,101 per month.
Homebuyers looking to get home on loan, a fixed mortgage plan for 20 years has an interest rate of 4.45%. To qualify for a loan, it is important for one to have a good credit score.
Is Des Moines a good place to Retire?
There are many perks that come with living in Iowa, especially for families. The state’s capital, Des Moines is a fast-growing city showcasing unique culture, great educational structure, friendly neighbors, and very minimal traffic.
Many people choose to retire in Des Moines for several reasons such as low cost of living, ease of staying socially active, chance to enjoy all four seasons, healthier environment, and many places to explore.
Another great reason for choosing Des Moines as a retirement spot is the abundance of retirement homes. The average cost of assisted living services in this city is $3,679 a month. Popular retirement homes include 3801 Grand, Ramsey Village, Edencrest at Beaverdale, Prairie Hills Des Moines, Village Assisted Living and The Gardens Assisted Living.
Is Des Moines a good place to visit?
Des Moines has a very vibrant cultural landscape with botanical gardens, stunning sculpture parks and booming shops and restaurants. A popular attraction at this city is the State Capitol, which has a golden dome that can be seen clearly from different vantage points throughout Des Moines. The State Capitol houses the governor’s office and other branches of the Iowa government.
While it is especially entertaining for kids of all ages, the Science Center of Iowa also draws in adults. The center contains dozens of hands-on exhibits for promoting experiential learning and a fascinating planetarium where visitors can gaze upon the stars. There is also an IMAX Theater at the venue.
The John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is centrally nestled in downtown Des Moines. The 4.4-acre landscaped area has more than twenty sculptured art displays and has been entertaining the locals since 2009. It is an excellent place for visitors, families and anybody on their lunch break to get a quick glance at the exceptional artworks.
In addition to that, the Salisbury House & Gardens also attracts tourists. It rests quietly south of Grand Avenue and holds a rich history. Visitors to this place pay a small admission fee, which is used to fund the Salisbury House Foundation.
East Village is a residential neighborhood in Des Moines featuring special eateries such as Tacopocalypse, which serves up some of the best burritos in the Iowa state; fashion influencers such as the ever trending Raygun; and many galleries and specialty shops. On a daily basis, the excitement buzz for the East Village continues to grow, and visitors have easy access to delicious food, great fashion and entertainment.
The Water Works Park has almost 15,000 acres of greenery and offers visitors and locals a chance to engage in different outdoor activities such as running, fishing, biking, intramural athletics, bird-watching and catch special events. There are many ways to have fun in Water Works Park including just placing a blanket down on the grass to relax under the sun.
Other wonderful attractions in Des Moines are Hoyt Sherman Place, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Principal Park, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa State Fair, Blank Park Zoo, and Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens.
To stay close to some of the primary attractions in Des Moines, it is best to book a place of accommodation in the downtown area. There are many luxury hotels, mid-range hotels and budget hotels in the area that visitors can choose from according to their pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost of living in Des Moines, Iowa?
In general Des Moines’ cost of living is 10% below the United States average. Housing expenses are 17% cheaper, utility costs are 1% lower and the cost of groceries is also 8% cheaper than the nationwide average. Energy bills cost 165.15 per month, phone bills come at a price of $176.04 per month and gas costs $2.58 a gallon.
Is Des Moines a good place to invest in property?
The housing market in Des Moines is a hot place for real estate investing. The area continues to attract investors because of its affordability. New developments in the downtown area and the suburbs continue to make Des Moines a great value place to purchase a home or invest in property. The real estate market is also strengthened by the rich and developing economy.
Is Des Moines a good place to raise a family?
Many families choose to relocate to Des Moines because the area has an excellent job market, and also offers a good quality of life. The residents are really friendly too and opportunities for participating in outdoor activities are in plenty.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.