7 Reasons Why DSM USA Beats New York City. Every Time.
Once I graduated from Iowa State University in 2010, I was elated to move to New York City for my dream job. Said job turned out to be a dream, yes, but living in New York was far from it. After two years of trying to fit my "Bettendorf native" piece into the city puzzle, I made the scary choice to raise my white flag. "Where to next?" my parents asked. "Why not try Greater Des Moines (DSM)?" I reasoned.
I had never lived in my home state's capital, but knew my company, Meredith, had an office there. So, I packed my boxes and tried my hand at fitting my piece into a different puzzle. Best decision ever. I was well aware tasks like getting groceries and commuting might be simpler and more affordable. Other features were remarkably pleasant surprises and I, for one, can't stop shouting that fact from the rooftops.
Happily snug in my puzzle slot, here are my top seven reasons why Iowa's biggest city will always take #1 over the Big Apple.
1. The living is easy.
Even when it's not summertime. From affordable, ample housing to easy-to-navigate interstates with little traffic, "easy" is the best way I can explain DSM life to residents of Chicago, Los Angeles and other hustle-bustle metro areas. Even in winter, thanks to amenities like the skywalk and a Downtown that now has all the essentials including a Brooklyn-like coffee shop to warm you up with a Saigon Tea.
2. Warm weather begs you to be outdoors.
Speaking of warm, summer in DSM is pretty unbeatable. Not once in New York did I slurp noodles at an outdoor food festival or think, "Wow, that air is refreshing, crisp and clean!" while doing free yoga near a lake. All that can happen (and has happened) in a day in this great town.
3. Buying a home is totally doable.
Each month of my East Coast life, I cried a little inside as I wrote my $1,400 rent check for a 413-square-foot studio in Jamaica, Queens, an hour commute away from my Midtown East office. I never would have guessed that within three years of moving back to the Midwest I'd have enough savings to put a down payment on an adorable Beaverdale brick fixer upper. The same amount of space would cost millions in Manhattan! The cost of living in Iowa is reasonable, leaving enough to squirrel away for leisure pursuits or investments unlike in many larger cities.
4. The restaurant scene is flourishing — and getting better by the day.
Grab a date and dig in to a Second Saturday 10-course tasting menu at Proof. Go fork-for-fork with your BFF at The Cheese Shop's fondue night. Meet new fellow foodies at a Cooking with Alessandra class. DSM has James Beard Award nominees. DSM has oh-so-Instagrammable cocktail bars. DSM has a dive bar-esque restaurant with a rotating ramen menu. You won't regret exploring this city through its food (and, as you can probably tell by my never-ending recommendation list, I'm always happy to be your +1 if you need a buddy).
5. New pals are simply a conversation away.
Restaurants, in fact, are where I've met some of my closest and best confidants. During happy hour three years ago, I struck up conversation with a couple celebrating their 25th anniversary that have since become some of my greatest friends. A fellow young professional connected me with his business owner mom who, upon discovering I was a level one sommelier, invited me to host a series of wine education classes at her new café. Say "yes" to new meetings and you never know when you'll end up dancing up a storm with someone who was a stranger weeks ago.
6. You're a few clicks and mere minutes from an adventure.
Bookmark this page. Refer to it often. When I was new to town and only had one friend, I was ignorant to all DSM had to offer. No longer! If you're bored here, I challenge you to spend five minutes looking for something new to try. Ice skating. A concert along the river. Skydiving. Be bold and make the most of the rich opportunities. You won't regret it!
7. The residents might just be the most genuinely kind people you'll ever meet.
One of the most DSM-y thing you can do is say "yes" to a coffee or lunch with a stranger. Contrary to my fellow subway rider who commented, "You must be a tourist, because you smile way too much to live in New York," Iowans are accepting, welcoming and more than willing to stick their neck out to help you reach your goals.
None of us needed U.S. News & World Report to tell us how accurate #7 truly is. But we'll take the hat tip (and will probably be sending a thank you and a batch of cookies to the Best States selection committee, so please watch the mail).
Are you interested in moving to Greater Des Moines (DSM)? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods to shopping, parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!