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How DSM USA Captured My Heart

Cindu Hughes Anliker's family

August 7, 2018

My love for Greater Des Moines (DSM) started with an unexpected love story. When I moved to this area in July 2004, I was looking for a fresh start and a community closer to my loved ones — not necessarily a love connection. However, I’ve learned that life happens when you’re making plans, including plans on being single in a new city that I wasn’t sure would be a long-term stay.

Living out of state

Let me preface my love story by sharing that I didn’t intend to come back to Iowa when I transferred from University of Northern Iowa to University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW) in 1997 (Go Seahawks!). I was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, and by the time I was 20, I needed a change of scenery. I wanted to see different parts of the country, I wanted to try new things and I wanted to be near the ocean. After graduating from UNCW and staying in the South for a couple years, I moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where I worked in the marketing department for a local casino. Although living out of state for several years was an invaluable experience, by the time I turned 27, it was time to be closer to my family and friends, many of whom lived in Chicago, DSM or the Quad Cities. I set my sites on Chicago or DSM since I wanted to live in a bigger metro area that was just a short drive from the Quad Cities. In full disclosure, Chicago was my top choice because I always loved visiting the city. 

Choosing DSM

In the end, DSM won my decision. Thanks to a referral from my dear friend Shannon, I was offered a communications job at the American Heart Association shortly after I decided to leave Wisconsin. In the months leading up to my move back to Iowa, Shannon kept telling me that I should “move to DSM” and that “you would really like it here.” Once it was determined DSM was going to be my new community, things quickly fell into place. In less than one week, I started my new job, moved into my apartment and met my now husband.

I didn’t realize how much of a love story my move to DSM was going to be. If you told me in the weeks leading up to my move that I was going to meet my future husband the same day I moved into my new apartment, I would have laughed in your face. But, it really happened! My friend and I celebrated my first official night in my new city. We went to Mickey’s in Clive to watch her friend play guitar. I was introduced to a friend of Shannon’s husband’s and we hit it off immediately. Clark and I went on our first date a few days later.

Falling in love with DSM

As Clark and I fell in love, I also fell in love with DSM. Because I was so new to the area, he took me on dates at well-known metro landmarks so I could get to know my new city. We went to Prairie Meadows to bet on horses and to Wells Fargo Arena to watch a concert. We went to Gray’s Lake for a picnic and Iowa Cubs games. We went to beloved metro restaurants like Barratta’s, Café Su and Centro. Plus, countless other places where I met a lot of fantastic people along the way. I’ll always look back to this time fondly because it was more than a courtship with Clark — it was a courtship with DSM, as well as those who are part of this wonderful community. I quickly realized I was meant to be here and it was a perfect place to establish roots for my life, my home and my career.

It’s funny how an unexpected love story transforms your life and how a community can capture your heart. It’s been 14 years since I’ve moved to DSM and I’m grateful to be part of a community that keeps getting better. It’s given me so much opportunity and changed my life for the better. Clark and I just celebrated our 11th year of a happy marriage and we continue to build our lives, dreams and connections here. My love story is still going strong and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in DSM in the years to come.

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! 

Cindy Hughes Anliker

Cindy Hughes Anliker lives in Greater Des Moines (DSM) with her husband, Clark Anliker, and their two dogs, Lex and Mickey. In 2004, she started living, working and being active in the DSM community. Hughes Anliker is a Marketing Manager for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Iowa.