Moving to Des Moines, IA

Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa, an energetic city with vision and big plans. The metropolitan area is home to about 616,000 people; as of the 2014 U.S. census estimates, about 209,000 lived inside the city limits.  According to Gallup, Des Moines ranked as the number one metro for community pride in 2015. It is also a center of operations for several major insurance companies. 

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Des Moines History

The city originated as a military outpost, Fort Des Moines, at the juncture of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. How the river got its name is a mystery. Some believe it is an Indian reference to “moingona,” the word for burial mounds (several were located along the banks). Another school of thought sees the name derived from “Moines de la Trappe,” (Monks from Trappe) a reference to the Trappist Monks who at one time lived at the mouth of the river.

Des Moines Weather

Des Moines is “the city of seasons,” and you’ll see the changes: lovely colors of foliage in the fall, snow during the winter, and heat and humidity in the summer.  The extremes are notable. Summers can be quite hot and winters can be even colder than Chicago.  The average high temperatures range from 31°F in January to 86°F in July; average lows run from 14°F in January to 67°F in July. 

Des Moines Transportation

Des Moines is served by an International Airport as well as a cluster of regional and municipal airports across central Iowa. Bus lines provide regular and chartered ground transportation: Burlington Trailways, DART, Greyhound, and Jefferson Bus Lines. There are several limousine and taxi operators as well. The average travel time to work is 19 minutes. 

Cost of Living in Des Moines

The cost of living in Des Moines is well below the national average, with savings in housing, food, healthcare, and utilities. The per capita income of the Des Moines MSA in 2015 was $31,436, while the average household income was $79,801. Use the following resources to estimate the impact living in Des Moines may have on your pocketbook from.

Des Moines Schools

Des Moines Public Schools serves an enrollment of 32,000+ students in 38 elementary schools, ten middle schools, and five high schools.  The Catholic Diocese of Des Moines operates ten grade schools and a high school in the metro area. For higher education, you have about a dozen options within fifteen miles, including Drake University and Des Moines Area Community College. Iowa State University is located in Ames, Iowa, 30 miles away.  

Des Moines Hospitals

The largest and oldest heatlh care provider is Mercy Medical Center, a Catholic Hospital with 802 beds and operations on three campuses. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893 and operates with more than 7100 employees. Other major health care providers include: Broadlawns Medical Center, an acute care, community hospital with a network of 20 specialty clinics; UnityPoint Health Des Moines; Methodist Medical Center; Iowa Lutheran Hospital; Blank Children’s Hospital; and Methodist West Hospital.

Des Moines Real Estate

Inside the city, there are 81,239 households (2010-2014) with an owner-occupied housing rate rate of 63 percent. The median home price is 118,600, about two-thirds of the national average.   NerdWallet named Des Moines the “Best Medium Sized Metro Area” for home ownership in 2014. From 2013 through 2015, the greater Des Moines area saw 6,453 new home building permits issued. Renting is also a bargain—about 19 percent lower than the national average.

Des Moines Hotels

For a lodge-like stay, check out the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in Johnston or the Wildwood Lodge in Clive. Each is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Des Moines. If you’re flying, there’s a Holiday Inn and a Quality Inn & Suites near the airport.  Among the four-star options downtown are the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel and DesLux Hotel. 

Restaurants in Des Moines

If farm fresh food is your thing, you’ll love Des Moines, named top farmer’s market in the country in 2014 by Shape Magazine. There is no shortage of delicious eateries, either. In 2014, Des Moines was named Best Up-and-Coming City For Foodies by Women’s Health Magazine. For a “manly” gourmand experience, check out Jethro’s BBQ in West Des Moines. Or visit Tumea & Sons for Italian dishes and enjoy a game of Bocce Ball with your meal. 

Things to Do in Des Moines

Boredom is seldom a problem in Des Moines. There’s always something going on, from festivals to concerts to brew tours. Seven Oaks Recreation offers year-round outdoor fun with snow skiing, canoeing and tubing, paintball games, camping, biking/hiking, and and more. Visit the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and spend a morning or afternoon wandering and breathing in the fresh air of ten lovely gardens. If you can swing a visit in August, don’t miss the Iowa State Fair.