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Des Moines, Iowa

A top spot for young professionals and other millennials.

What do you know about Des Moines, Iowa?

If you’ve been following news about trending cities, you may have heard that it made the top ten best purchase markets for millennials in a report by the National Association of Realtors earlier this year. Or maybe you heard that Forbes gave Des Moines the #1 spot on its list of best cities for young professionals. In October, the National Journal referred to Des Moines as the hipster “place to be.” And last April, Paste magazine featured one of the city’s neighborhoods on its list of “Ten Undercover Stylish Neighborhoods in the U.S.”

So, yeah, people are talking about Des Moines. We thought we’d gather some of what they’re saying and present it to you here in a pretty little nutshell:


–       Millennials make up 15% of the total population

–       Millennials account for 29% of those who moved into the metro area between 2010 and 2012

–       Median value of owner-occupied homes: $118,600

–       Median salary for 24- to 34-year-old college graduates: $51,200

–       Unemployment rate: 4.5%

–       Projected yearly job growth rate (2014-2016): 2.9%

–       Key industries: finance, insurance, publishing, manufacturing.

(Des Moines is also one of a handful of Midwest cities that are home to many tech start-ups  – and together are known as “Silicon Prairie.”)


Two Des Moines neighborhoods that get a lot of love from hipsters, history buffs, and architecture lovers are East Village and Sherman Hill. The revitalization of historic buildings has played a large role in the lives of both neighborhoods.

In the East Village, buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are currently home to hip boutiques, restaurants, and music venues.  Known for it’s eclectic, bohemian vibe, it appeals to artists and urbanites.

Currently, right next door to the historic Hohberger Building on East Locust, a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1427-square-foot condo is on the market for $235K. Although the building it’s in is not on the Historic Register, its history goes back 1900, and it’s right downtown, within walking distance of great shopping, a farmers’ market, and an outdoor theater.

Sherman Hill doesn’t have quite the hipster scene that East Village is known for, but the downtown residential hub provides easy access to urban amenities. The neighborhood was also named the first local historic district in 1982 and boasts beautiful Victorian, row, and craftsman style homes.

We found an adorable turn of the century, three-bedroom, two-bath home with 1519 square feet on the market for $170,000. We also found a 2100 square foot home with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a solarium, and gorgeous outdoor spaces – built in 1880. The list price is $229,000.


 For art lovers:

Des Moines Art Center and Pappajohn Sculpture Park:  4.4 acres of sculptures

 For garden lovers:

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden:  mini gardens grown for the magazine

 For outdoorsy types:

Clive Greenbelt Trail: an 11.3-mile urban scenic pathway

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  1. Unofficial guide to “hip(ster)hoods” of the Rust Belt | Panethos

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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