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City Spotlight: Why Des Moines Is One of America’s Best Places to Live

Des Moines is one of the best places to live in America. We asked a local to tell us why.

By Samantha Brisch on October 22, 2020

Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines Iowa
Kathryn Gamble

Ranking number 83 on Livability’s 2020 Top 100 Best Places to Live list, Des Moines offers something for everyone, from the local foodie, craft beer expert, art fanatic, families with kids of all ages, the outdoorsy type and so much more. Greg Edwards is the president and CEO of Catch Des Moines, an accredited Destinations International Organization whose goal is to enhance the economic vitality and share the vibrant energy of all that is Des Moines. Dream job, right? A Des Moines native for 20 years, we asked Greg four key questions about what makes his city so special for visitors and residents alike. 

Why is Des Moines a great place to live?

Greater Des Moines has a proud tradition of investing in quality of life for residents. As an arts and culture destination in the Midwest, Greater Des Moines is known for accessible public art (located along the six-mile Art Route), world-class performing arts and festivals almost every weekend. There are countless ways to experience arts and culture in Greater Des Moines, from the world-renowned Des Moines Arts Festival, to the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park which features over 30 works of art, and even music festivals hosted year-round.

Heartland Hotspot: Why Millennials Are Flocking to Des Moines

This community highly values cultural experiences and beautiful spaces. Featuring attractions like the Iowa State Fair, the most beautiful capitol building in the country, the Drake Relays and National Balloon Classic, Des Moines has something for everyone. You can also experience 800 miles of connected trails, making it easy to get around Greater Des Moines and see all that the community has to offer. Home of the famous Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), the biking community in Greater Des Moines is warm and welcoming and embodies the ubiquitous “Iowa Nice†culture. No matter where you decide to plug in, it doesn’t take long to find your crowd.

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

How would you describe the opportunities in Des Moines?

Greater Des Moines is bursting with opportunities and is often named at the top of rankings such as the best place to raise a family, the best place to retire, the best city for young professionals and millennial homebuyers, the best city for high salaries and low cost of living, and the lists go on and on.

Read more: Why Des Moines is one of America’s most recession-proof cities in America

Major employers such as Principal Financial Group, Wells Fargo and Meredith Corporation call Des Moines home. Greater Des Moines is a leader in innovation, boasting several startup accelerators supporting booming industries like agriculture, financial services and insurance. With an unemployment rate well below the national average, you can count on finding a great career doing something you love.

What’s the energy of the city like?

Des Moines: The S’s are silent, but the city is buzzing. With an incredible food and drink scene, Des Moines boasts an impressive craft beer culture, over 1,000 locally-owned restaurants, and the cocktail culture is regularly highlighted by the likes of Food & Wine and Thrillist. The origin of the farm-to-table food movement, Greater Des Moines is home to several James Beard-nominated chefs and local delicacies like Steak de Burgo and Crab Rangoon Pizza.

Foodies, Don’t Sleep on the Des Moines Food Scene

The city is busy year-round! With a multitude of cultural and music festivals, one of the top-rated farmers’ markets in the country, and an energetic fan base for minor league and collegiate sports, exciting events are always happening. The Greater Des Moines region is becoming the premier central location in the U.S. for professional tournaments and competitions spanning the sporting world.

This year, Des Moines will welcome the IRONMAN 70.3 race and celebrate the opening of the new Lauridsen Skatepark along with the notoriety of becoming the largest skatepark in the country. Additionally, visitors and residents will begin to see the Central Iowa Water Trails project taking shape. Openings for 86 new access points and improvement sites throughout the region will invite recreation on the waterways and create better access to our natural resources.

13 Questions About Living in Iowa, Answered by a Brutally Honest Iowan

Why should people think about relocating to Des Moines?

You can build the life you want in Greater Des Moines. Ample opportunities and resources exist to help newcomers get settled and integrated into the community. Business and community leaders are readily available and want to see the region and its residents thrive.


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

The city is on the move, and big ideas are encouraged. Currently, there’s a group of avid soccer fans advocating and building community support to bring professional soccer to Des Moines. With a little bit of enthusiasm and a strong work ethic, it’s easy to get involved by joining boards or commissions or whatever cause interests you. The Greater Des Moines community supports each other and believes in the power of collaboration and lifting each other up. Greater Des Moines is a great place to build a life, have fun and make a difference.

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