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The Grass Really is Greener in DSM

Moving to DSM from D.C.

June 28, 2021

The decision to move to Greater Des Moines (DSM) was an easy one. After six years of living in the nation’s capital, I couldn’t be happier to be starting a new life here in Iowa’s. I met my husband — possibly the proudest Iowan I know — while living and working in Washington, D.C. At the time I believed he was just exceptionally proud of being from Iowa, and have only recently learned by living here that most native Iowans are (rightfully) just as proud. I think he knew from the very beginning that if he could get me to visit DSM that I’d fall in love with the region and understand his pride. He was right!

I had actually briefly passed through DSM many years earlier on a trip to Ames to visit a friend from studying abroad who went to Iowa State. As soon as I stepped off the plane, she took me downtown to eat lunch at the Royal Mile, where we reminisced about our semester in London. I spent the rest of my weekend as an honorary Cyclone on campus, enjoying the beautiful fall colors and exciting football culture. But as I left, I knew I’d need to come back someday to at least go sightsee the gorgeous golden-domed state capitol building I saw from

Visiting the Iowa State Fair

Fast forward to the summer of 2019, when my husband suggested we travel from D.C. to meet up with his family in Des Moines for a vacation he promised would be unlike any other: a trip to the Iowa State Fair. Having grown up in the desert southwest I didn’t have much experience with fairs, so I was curious and excited to experience something new. His suggestion was even further sweetened by the gift of a RAYGUN shirt that read, “Iowa: 75% Vowels, 100% Awesome.” I laughed too hard when I read it. How can you not instantly fall in love with Iowa with a shirt like that? I proudly put it on, and we got on a plane. On that trip I had my first pork belly on a stick, ate my way through the Historic East Village, played ‘bags’ at Smash Park in West Des Moines (still getting used to that one — I grew up calling it cornhole!), experienced the genuine kindness of Iowans and finally got my tour of the beautiful Iowa State Capitol building. It was the perfect trip.

Making the Decision to Move to DSMNew Puppy

That trip was part of the reason why it didn’t take much convincing when my husband and I first discussed the idea of leaving behind the crazy city life of D.C. and moving to DSM to be closer to family. In fact, it didn’t take any convincing at all. From just a few visits to DSM, I knew it would be an amazing place to have a fulfilling career, raise a family and have all the wide-open space we would need. During the pandemic we got a puppy in D.C., and training her from the 12th floor of a high-rise building with no outdoor space (in a busy part of town near the U.S. Capitol) was quite an interesting adventure. We started feeling like the grass would be greener on the other side, and that even having grass and a backyard would be a good place to start! We ultimately wanted to live somewhere we could afford to have a house with a yard and space to eventually grow our family.

Living in West Des Moines

Fast forward to now, and you’ve got two proud new West Des Moines residents. DSM is everything I hoped it would be and more. By moving here, I haven’t had to give up any of the things I loved about D.C. and was afraid I’d miss. I still get to explore trendy new restaurants, visit breweries and vineyards, go to baseball games, attend outdoor concert series, explore walking trails, take part in the energetic nightlife, play unlimited golf, and by working in the Historic East Village, I even get the full of experience of being in a walking city. The only big differences from our life before are positive ones — everything’s more affordable, and we have a ton more space! Our dog might even be the one with the biggest life upgrade, as she now has unlimited luscious green grass to play around in and a 12-acre dog park with a beach.

Many of my friends and family have already planned their first trips out to see us, and most of them have never been to Iowa before. I’ve actually become a little overwhelmed with planning their visits because there are so many places I want to show off. It’s practically impossible to narrow it down, and I think that’s a pretty good problem to have. I’m so excited to continue exploring DSM and feel thankful that I now get to call it home. I’m proud to be an Iowa transplant living in such a vibrant and growing city.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but here it really is.

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.

Melanie Brown

Melanie Brown is communications and events manager for the Iowa Biotechnology Association.