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Taking a Professional Risk and Moving from New York City to DSM

Benefits of Moving to DSM

June 24, 2021

I am a lifelong East Coaster; I grew up in Florida, spent a decade+ in Washington, D.C. (where my two kids were born) and 10 years living and raising my family in the New York City metro area. I admit I had never thought about living in the Midwest, and I wasn’t job hunting. So, when I learned that the head of marketing job was open at F&G, a growing annuities and life insurance company led by my former boss CEO Chris Blunt, I had to make some quick decisions.

For me, this was the job of a lifetime where I would have the opportunity to build a marketing function in my area of expertise at a growing company with amazing leaders. It wasn’t lost on me that Greater Des Moines (DSM) has become the insurance capital of the U.S., so opportunity abounds.Renee Hamlen Family

But the decision to move belonged to my entire family — my husband of 20 years (a New York native) and my two teenagers. So, we very much focused on the lifestyle we wanted moving forward as we worked through our decision process.

Before DSM, my husband and I had jobs in New York City and spent three and a half hours a day commuting to work. We hardly ever got to see our kids or have dinner as a family during the week. We may not have realized this in our busy routines, but we were ready for a change and for a more balanced healthy, family-oriented lifestyle.

I’d only visited Iowa once to interview for my job, but my supportive husband agreed to move to DSM sight unseen.

While we made the decision as a family, it was challenging for all of us as we left behind friends, family, built-in networks all mixed with a little bit of culture shock and doing this all with two teenagers! While it certainly had its challenges and took time to adjust, we leaned on each other and the community that embraced us with open arms.

Why I Love Des Moines

Ok first of all, there is no traffic! Even during rush hour, driving is easy.

Seriously though, DSM offers far more flexibility and affordability that allows my husband and me to be more involved in our kids’ lives. While I spend the same amount of time working, moving to the region has given me my time back; time for family dinners, school activities, road-trips, new hobbies and getting involved in the community. While my work does take priority at times, I’m able, on a regular basis, to be a much more engaged parent and spouse here.Renee Hamlen Daughter

We were also fortunate to be able to have had the time prior to the pandemic to begin to embrace and discover the DSM community, making friends and finding things to love about our new home. I love my job; F&G is an incredible place to work where I feel like I add value and the focus is as much on the people as it is on the work. I get to have dinner with my family almost every night. The schools are excellent and my kids have made great friends.

Outside of work and family, DSM is an active community and offers a lot of opportunities for community involvement. I recently joined the board of EveryStep, a local nonprofit health care and human services organization. In terms of hobbies, I have a newfound love for golf and continue to work on my game when I get a chance. I have also been pleasantly surprised by the local lakes and rivers as I had the impression DSM was waterless. And the water means my daughter can keep up her sport, rowing, as a member of the Des Moines Rowing club.

Another thing I love about DSM is the vibrant downtown life, especially the Historic East Village with its diverse, eclectic feeling and great restaurants. As former New Yorkers, it took us awhile to find our favorite pizza and bagel joints, but we eventually discovered Taste of New York pizza and Brueggers Bagels — and I would gladly send Hurts Donuts to my friends back east.

While the last year put a pause on exploring new places in the area, my family and I are excited to get back out there and discover more to love in DSM!

I’m so grateful to F&G for this opportunity, and it’s a good reminder that sometimes you need to be bold. Have the courage to take professional risks that may seem hard or unconventional. They may seem a little overwhelming at the time, but these risks can often turn out to be the most rewarding professionally and personally. Thank you, DSM, for welcoming me and my family!

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.

Renee Hamlen

Renee Hamlen is SVP, Chief Human Capital and Brand Officer at F&G Annuities & Life.