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All Roads Lead to Iowa

Moving to Iowa

March 23, 2022

How does a girl from a North Carolina mountain-town land in Iowa’s capital city? Perhaps a better question to ask, how is she doing five months later?

In September 2021, I packed a tiny apartment on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. into a U-Haul trailer, and set out for Greater Des Moines (DSM). After almost half a year, I can honestly say that I’ve never been happier. The journey has been everything I could have ever imagined and more.

Born and raised in Boone (not the one you’re thinking of), Iowa was never a destination for my family’s annual vacation. In fact, before 2018, I had never traveled to Iowa, or anywhere else in the Midwest for that matter. Little did I know, that while living in our nation’s capital after graduating Pfeiffer University near Charlotte, I would meet a nice fella from Villisca, Iowa. Are you familiar with the (in)famous axe murder house? Yeah, that’s his hometown.

Knowing that and reflecting on my first ever trip to Iowa when his truck broke down, another visit when that same truck’s wheel popped completely off, and a 10-day stretch when I didn’t go outside because temperatures plummeted to -40° windchill … let’s just say most would’ve high-tailed it out of town and never looked back. But alas, you know that can’t be true as a reader of this blog. Despite some detours, all roads have led this southern girl to Iowa, and I plan to stay.Sunset

Southern Charm vs. Iowa Nice

Moving is intimidating, let alone to an entirely new state. No matter how many people you may know there, or how many times you have visited, it still feels foreign. In the south, hospitality is something that folks pride themselves on. Neighbors, strangers too, are like family. Southerners love welcoming people into their homes — a ‘southern charm,’ if you will. Iowans might refer to it as something else, but there’s little difference in my opinion. The term “Iowa nice” really reigns true here. From the smiles in every aisle at Hy-Vee to the yoga mats of PowerLife studios and the halls of the Iowa Capitol, people are genuinely Iowa nice. Temperatures may be colder in DSM, but the blanket of support and heartfelt welcome I have received are undeniable.

Fried Pickles vs. Cheese Curds

I love food. I am a self-proclaimed foodie that doesn’t care for cooking all that much. I really enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants and dishes. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about leaving the east coast when considering Midwest food options and how my diet would change. To my surprise, though, DSM is home to some of the best restaurants, bars and coffee shops that I have ever experienced. St. Kilda, Eatery A, El Bait Shop, just to name a few, rival any establishment in North Carolina or D.C. It’s not just the case for DSM either. Adventurous road trips have always been one of my favorite activities. Since moving here, I’ve driven hundreds of miles to experience all the fine cuisine that Iowa has to offer, including Casey’s breakfast pizza. I have never been disappointed.

NC Mountains vs. Iowa Bluffs

If you conducted a poll, most people would likely say the esthetic beauty of North Carolina would beat Iowa’s gently rolling landscape. However, I would argue that they’re both uniquely different and beautiful in their own right. I grew up hiking and skiing in the Appalachian Mountains, swimming and fishing along the Atlantic coastline and everything in between. Iowa might not have the picturesque peaks and coastal shores that rival North Carolina, but have you ever hiked the ledges or experienced a late summer Iowa sunset over a soybean field? The definition of “God’s Country” in the dictionary should contain such a photo. My proposed entry is a backdrop of the Dolch Bros. Farms near Villisca pictured below.

The decision to leave the comfort of friends and family and move to DSM was without a doubt the biggest decision I have ever made. A decision that spanned many sleepless nights and hours of serious thought and consideration, but one that I do not regret, even for a split second. The people I’ve met, the food and hidden gems I’ve discovered and the breathtaking countryside views have made the transition easier than I could have imagined. Y’all have such a wonderful state to call home, and I am thrilled to now call it mine, too.

Are you interested in moving to Greater Des Moines (DSM)? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods and shopping to parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!

Named the #1 Best Place to Live in the Midwest and #2 Safest Place to Live, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a city where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.

Lillie Jenkins Brady

Lillie Brady is a senior associate at Cornerstone Government Affairs in Des Moines, Iowa. She joined the firm after moving to the area from Washington, D.C. While in D.C. she worked for Corteva Agriscience, The U.S. Department of Agriculture and on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress.