10 Pros & Cons of Living in Des Moines, IA

Known as the Capital city of Iowa, Des Moines offers the perfect mixture of urban convenience and natural beauty. 

Is Des Moines a Good Place To Live?

From nature lovers to history buffs, Des Moines is an exciting city full of possibilities for its residents. The city feels small, can be easily accessed on bikes, has various mesmerizing nature trails, and is home to a diverse population with a knack for delicious food. 

We are sure you have only heard good things about the place. But is Des Moines a good place to live? 

Stay tuned as we discuss the good and bad of Des Moines and whether you should consider moving here. 

So, let us get into it!

Is Des Moines A Good Place To Live?

Des Moines, often seen as a hidden Midwestern gem, is steadily gaining recognition.

Unlike the sprawling metropolises, it’s a city with a genuine hometown feel, yet it doesn’t compromise on urban amenities.

It’s a place that intertwines family values with fun, and practicality with pizzazz.

Right off the bat, Des Moines stands out as an ideal place for family life. Its reasonable cost of living means households can find comfort without the looming weight of excessive bills.

And if you’re someone who values the great outdoors, Des Moines is pretty much a dream.

Whether it’s the expansive 300-mile trail network, canoeing down its serene waters, or the energizing vibe of the largest skate park in the US, there’s something for every adventurer here.

Foodies won’t be disappointed either. From gimmicky spots like a wine bar adorned with hanging plants to quirky cat-filled cafes, the city keeps dining intriguing.

And let’s not forget the 6-block-long farmers market – it’s a nod to the city’s farming roots and a hotspot for fresh local goodies.

Des Moines isn’t just about leisure, though. Its economic scene is robust, particularly driven by the insurance sector.

The city is home to a bunch of big insurance companies, which means there are lots of job openings in that industry.

And for those who place sustainability high on their list, you’d be pleased to know a portion of Des Moines’ waste is responsibly recycled in nearby Ames.

While it might lack in multiple walkable city centers, areas like the East Village and Beaverdale do provide that sought-after pedestrian-friendly environment.

The option to rent city bikes makes it even more conducive to explore the city’s nooks and crannies.

Sure, Des Moines doesn’t have the round-the-clock hustle of some larger cities, but its magic is in the mix – the perfect cocktail of city perks and outdoor splendor, old-school charm and today’s vibes.

It’s a place where life isn’t just lived, but celebrated.

But every city has its own beat. And while a lot of folks easily jive with what Des Moines brings to the table, you’ve got to spend some time here to see if it’s the soundtrack you want for your life.

Let’s dive deeper.

Pros of Living in Des Moines

Affordable Living Costs

Before you decide to move somewhere, you should first confirm whether you can afford to live there.

When it comes to Des Moines, residents seem delighted with the living costs, meaning that this city is very affordable! 

The average cost for buying a home in Des Moines is around $180K. Comparing this amount to housing prices in other cities of the country sounds very reasonable!

Similarly, renting in Des Moines is relatively inexpensive too.

RentCafe suggests that grocery and utility prices in Des Moines are approximately 12% less pricey than the national average!

Hence, you can easily manage to live in this town by making around $70K, or $55,000 a year if you’re single. 

Rich in Employment Opportunities

Considering the current economic meltdown, a good number of people in the United States are striving to secure a sound income.

Luckily for you, Des Moines is full of employment opportunities! 

Des Moines has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

This city has a significantly strong job market, with an expected 37.4% job growth over the next decade. 

Des Moines has something available for everyone in their respective industries. If you decide to move to Des Moines, finding a job should be the least of your worries. 

According to DSM USA, the prominent industries in Des Moines include: 

  • Data Centers
  • Logistics
  • Insurance and Financial Services

Fantastic Outdoor Living

If you love the outdoors, Des Moines is the place to be. 

The town is full of huge parks, allowing you to wander on amazing trails and experience the breathtaking scenes of nature.

The town is full of various camping spots nearby too. Planning a family vacation or a getaway has never been easier. 

Living in Des Moines lets you experience nature in full force, and you enjoy the city’s amenities.

To sum up, Des Moines is a city full of culture, art, and engaging activities to draw you in. 

According to BusyTourist, some of the top attractions in Des Moines include: 

  • Des Moines Art Center
  • Downtown Farmers’ Market
  • Des Moines Civic Center 

Friendly People

Normally, people living in the city are standoffish and like to keep things to themselves.

However, Des Moines feels entirely different, as the locals are remarkably friendly and warmly welcome newcomers. 

Having a conversation with locals is significantly easier, and most people you will come across will appear charming.

Their charm will help you settle into the town’s life quickly. You can also count on locals to help you find your way around the town and explore the good bits of the town. 

Wind Energy

Des Moines experiences intense winds, and the government took a great initiative to make the most of these winds by investing significantly in wind energy. 

With half of the buildings powered by the city’s wind turbines, Des Moines has managed to stay ahead of the curve from the country’s other cities. 

The sufficient supply of energy results in the industry’s fast progression and helps provide a convenient lifestyle for the city’s residents. 

Great Exposure to Art and a Vibrant Nightlife

The beauty of this town lies in the consideration and investment of its arts sector.

Des Moines has made impressive progress in the arts sector. Expect to see a wide range of modern and historic art pieces, including many historic landmarks and attractions.

Apart from its investment in art, the restaurants and landmarks of the city also account for lively nightlife. 

Des Moines enjoys an active restaurant with many new places to try daily.

Apart from restaurants, you can also enjoy a variety of food from food trucks, including Mexican, French, or any delicacy that suits your appetite. 

Read more:

Cons of Living in Des Moines

Taxes and More Taxes! 

The one thing where Des Moines lags behind other cities is the highly imposed taxes. 

The sales tax in the city lies at 7% higher, and property taxes remain 2% higher than the national average. 

However, the government tries to make the most of the imposed taxes by providing its residents with quality services and a good lifestyle. 


The occurrence of crime all around the country is a common endeavor. Unfortunately, the crime rate in Des Moines is slightly higher than in other cities.

According to Neighborhood Scout, you have a 1 in 31 chance of falling prey to property crime in Des Moines. 

Before you move to Des Moines, consider doing due diligence about the safe neighborhoods to move into as Des Moines isn’t among safest cities in Iowa.

Some of the safest neighborhoods in Des Moines include: 

  • Waterbury
  • Brook Run 
  • Linden Heights 

Lack of Public Transportation

Before you move to Des Moines, you must own a car. Public Transportation in Des Moines is not a big hit. 

The way of life in Des Moines for the locals is by arranging their transportation.

The town’s Public Transportation doesn’t have an adequate train or subway system to get you around the town, and residents without transportation find it difficult to commute around the town. 


During January or February, the temperature can drop below zero, causing a lack of moisture that affects the skin and lips.

The cold air can make it difficult to breathe, making it feel as though you are not getting enough air into your lungs.

In the summer, the climate is also harsh, with high temperatures and humidity. If you are used to live in Tennessee, you may not find the summers challenging.

What do Des Moines Residents Say?

If you look at the different Iowa dedicated subreddits, you will see that people are generally happy with their quality of life, especially in big cities like Des Moines.

RebelliousSoup said: “I had similar questions very recently so I have a bit of insight even though I don’t live there (yet).

Bout a month or two I came down for a wedding from Wisconsin and I fell in love.

The traffic is an absolute treasure, it was so slow I was literally dancing in the street lol. During my stay I ate at a bunch of places and visited a ton of spots and it was cool. I was then at this place called Zombie Burger (I love that cryptid, spooky shit) and I heard my favorite band playing over the speaker which gets absolutely no radio play (Slothrust) and it was like a sign for me.

So I looked into Des Moines. Compared to Madison, WI, the populations are about the same (200,000). Rent is much more affordable in Des Moines and pay is higher. My fiancé is an assisted living nurse (no degree) and makes $12 up here; in Des Moines they make $17-25. Same with my roommate, he makes $9 for a deli and in Des Moines they make $15-17. For me, I work as a custodian making $18.50 which is pretty good for the position, in Des Moines they pay $20

Also in comparison to Madison, traffic is much easier. The demographics of Des Moines are largely 28 – 55 yr olds so everyone basically just works. Madison is full to the damn brim with college kids.

In comparison to NYC, wages are lower but so is cost of living. My friend lives in Brooklyn and works camera on Sesame St (yes that Sesame St) and still needs to work a second job at $30 an hour at Starbucks to make rent. In terms of amenities, nothing beats NYC and I’m sure you know that already.

In Des Moines, crime is average nationally, they regularly rank in the top 15 cities to live and is easily one of the most affordable.

Des Moines has 300 miles in trails, have minor league sports, a few gimick restaurants like a wine bar with hanging plants, or a restaurant with cats everywhere. My fiancé loves the architecture of the city. They have like Japanese “temples” out and about even.

I move down there in two weeks, I found a 3 bedroom for $1,100 with all utilities included and I already landed a management position. There is a lot of available housing to sift through, even with all my filters, (washer/dryer, 3 bed, cats and dogs ok) I still had about 90 choices.

Job search wise, I found a lot of high paying jobs with little to no experience necessary.

Des Moines has basically all the stores. So if you want anything you don’t have to go far unless you want to. Farmers market is 6 blocks long and there is a lot biking, canoeing and whatnot in city. Des Moines also has the largest skate park in the US.

Des Moines is also much cleaner than NYC, much less bodily fluids out and about. Iowa is also very very flat. You can see everything from everywhere. I have family that live in the country there and you don’t have to go far to see the night sky full of stars. Iowa does alot of tornadoes and it can be very windy because of how flat it is. Des Moines doesn’t get alot of tornadoes though apparently. In terms of winter and summer, you should have a pretty good idea of that already being in NYC.

This post is long enough, but hopefully I gave you some useful info. Hope to see you around”.

bparker727 said: “I love Des Moines and as a young person, downtown may be just the vibe you need… but if you’re looking for a more neighborhood vibe, check out the Beaverdale neighborhood in Des Moines. The homes are old and beautiful. The trees are mature. The yards are plentiful and the people are kind, open and welcoming.

I don’t understand when people crap on Des Moines. I’ve been all over the country and nothing feels the way Des Moines feels… to me, anyway. I hope you give it a shot!

P.S. Bored people are generally boring people.”

As you can see, if you are looking for a good place to live in Iowa, Des Moines might be the right choice for you.

Final Words

With its strong job market, highly educated population, and scenic beauty, Des Moines sounds like a perfect place to get a fresh start. 

However, moving to Des Moines has significant downsides too. In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about Des Moines before moving there.

Before you decide to move to the Iowan capital, thoroughly consider the factors mentioned here to make an informed decision. 

We hope that you found the information in this guide helpful!

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