Best Places to Live

Des Moines, IA

Population: 208,020
LIV
SCORE
571
iStock/Davel5957

The fastest growing city in the Midwest, Des Moines offers the amenities, both cultural and recreational, that rival its much larger cousins. With short commutes, nationally renowned farmers’ markets and a booming millennial population, Des Moines is a surprisingly cool city smack in the middle of the heartland.

Do you like baseball? The Iowa Cubs call Des Moines home, and locals’ allegiance to the team rivals many major league cities. The Cubs play in Principal Park, which has a prime spot in the city along the Des Moines River.

If you work in finance or insurance, Des Moines is the place to be. Large companies like Principal, Nationwide, Mercer, Wells Fargo, Athene and more hang their hats in Iowa’s capital city. The bottom line? There’s money to be made in Des Moines, and entertaining, creative and unique ways to spend it. But rest assured you won’t spend it all on your home: the median home value in Des Moines is just $130k. It’s no wonder many native Iowans who moved to bigger, more expensive cities are finding their way back to Des Moines.

Local Obsession: Raygun, the irreverent t-shirt and gift shop that has coined hilarious slogans such as “Des Moines: French for The Moines” and “Iowa: 75% Vowels, 100% Awesome.”

Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Not as cold as Minnesota.

Top Industries and Employers: The top industries here are finance and insurance (including companies like Principal, Nationwide, Mercer, Wells Fargo, Athene), as well as data centers, agbioscience and advanced manufacturing.

Local Dream Job: Social Media Strategist at Happy Medium, a super cool marketing agency based in Des Moines.

Quintessential Meal: Velvet Elvis Dip at The High Life Lounge. The restaurant is right next to Principal Park, so check it out right before or after an Iowa Cubs game.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Enjoying one of the countless unique events that crowd Des Moines' social calendar. Our favorite? Bacon Fest.

After-Work Meetup Spot: MALO, a great Mexican restaurant with half-price Sangria during happy hour.

Best Brewery/Local Beer: Exile Brewing

Beloved Bookstore: Beaverdale Books

Free Way to Have Fun: Spend the day appreciating art (without having to spend a dime!) at the Des Moines Art Center and Papajohn Sculpture Park.

Hidden Gem: Fong’s Pizza, a Chinese/pizza fusion restaurant that offers delicacies like crab rangoon pizza and pepperoni-stuffed egg rolls. Eating here is an experience everyone needs to have at least once in their lives.

- Tim Carty

Read More:

Heartland Hotspot: Why Millennials Are Flocking to Des Moines

Beyond Silicon Valley: 5 Up-and-Coming Tech Hotspots

The Best Places to Live in Iowa

Why Everyone Is Moving (Back) to Iowa — And You Might Want to Join Them

5 Presidential Campaign Stops That Are Also Awesome Places to Live

“Des Moines has grown a lot in the past five years in terms of restaurants, cultural amenities, and housing options, but it is still an easy-to-navigate and friendly city. I love that we get national tours of sought after Broadway shows such as Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen before a lot of larger cities. And there are fantastic new restaurants and breweries constantly popping up.”

Whitney Tucker
Director of Public Relations, Technology Association of Iowa

Des Moines, IA Ranking Data

Civic
32
Demographics
60
Economy
55
Education
49
Health
62
Housing
54
Infrastructure
81