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The Cost of Living Diaries: Des Moines, IA

Get the inside scoop on what it's like to be a local in Iowa's capital city.

By Lindsey Hyde on March 31, 2023

Des Moines
Des Moines / Courtesy of Michael Leland under a CC 2.0 license.

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Des Moines, IA? What’s it like to own a business here? Keep reading because we asked a Des Moines local to tell us all about the cost of living in the capital city of Iowa!

The state’s capital city is fun, fresh and humming with excitement. Residents can’t get enough of its inviting amenities, from its lively arts scene and trendy eateries to its diverse festivals, vast trails and walkable neighborhoods. It’s a space where people put down roots and then discover they never want to leave.

Sammy Mila was born and raised in the area and now owns Crème, an Asian-inspired bakery near downtown that she took ownership of in 2022.

Sammy Mila of Des Moines, IA

Sammy Mila

How would you describe the community and its residents?
We have a term here called “Iowa Nice,” where it’s like everyone in Iowa is overly nice, and so it’s kind of quirky, but also kind of true. People are very open and accepting of everything that’s happening, so everyone is very chill.

What has kept you in Des Moines?
Family, for one – that’s a big one for me. Des Moines is definitely growing. It’s a big-little city. It has kind of your favorite things about a big city, where there is always something to do, whether you are someone who gravitates toward nature, likes to go bird-watching, go on walks through nature trails, or go biking. We have some cool bars and breweries for those who want to get a little crazier, (and we have) a lot of dog-friendly places. It’s home for me.

What’s it like to run a business in Des Moines?
The sense of community is huge, and Des Moines loves to support Des Moines. That is probably one of my most favorite things about being a business owner – I can always rely on my family, my friends and my neighbors to just be there to support me, and it’s a very secure feeling that I feel like a lot of bigger cities may not have.

What’s your favorite restaurant, and how much would dinner and drinks cost for two?
Harbinger is probably one of my favorites. They do a lot of Asian-inspired dishes but with a very fine-dining manner. It’s super creative, and it’s a 10 out of 10 every time I go. Harbinger is definitely on the higher end … I wouldn’t be surprised if your bill was $150.

What’s your favorite coffee shop, and how much is your go-to drink?
Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. They roast their beans in-house. The owner and all the staff there are super knowledgeable. I get my oat milk latte and go about my day. A medium would cost $5.

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Array ( )
Array ( )
Array ( [0] => 158429 [1] => 158423 [2] => 151576 [3] => 151084 [4] => 152206 [5] => 152199 [6] => 150561 [7] => 106673 [8] => 106663 [9] => 106641 [10] => 102374 [11] => 19581 [12] => 19568 )

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