Friday, January 4, 2013

Why Move to Des Moines?

Why Move to Des Moines?
By Rabbi David Kaufman

Young adults seem to have this idea that living on the coasts in big cities is the thing to do. They flock to New York, where they pay $3,000-5,000 per month for a small apartment or pay $1,000-1,500 a month for a share of one. Often, they have to commute for an hour or more each way to and from work by train. Do you realize that that is 520 hours of commuting time or more during the course of a year. 260 work days times 2 hours a day equals 520 hours. That comes out to almost 22 full days and if you subtract eight hours of sleep per night and look at 16 hour functional days, it comes out to over 32. You are spending a full month commuting! If I were to simply say that this was true in New York, I would be mistaken. Hour plus commutes are the norm for many young adults in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and many of those other “highly desirable” coastal cities.

In the Des Moines Metro area, a commute of under ten minutes is the norm. For quite a bit less than half of the rent payment in one of those coastal cities you could get a $200,000 house , 3000 plus square feet with a two car garage and in an excellent neighborhood with great public schools, some of the best in the nation. Take a look at Central Academy, a Des Moines Public School which is an international baccalaureate world school and ranked one of the best schools in the nation. Sending your kids to good public schools can save you tens of thousands of dollars each year.

Your yard, yes you can have one here, may even have a multitude of trees! For you New Yorkers, trees are those green things that you see in Central Park. Even young couples starting out their careers can afford a nice house here! $40,000-60,000 salary in Des Moines will get you a nice place to live, some spending money, and pay off your student loans quicker than $80,000-100,000 in New York. For those of you who are working 80-100 hours a week to get that $80,000-100,000 salary, not including your 10 hours per week of commuting time, what good is it living in a place where you can do so much in your free time. What free time? And can you afford all the things you could do?

In Des Moines, you can go to business breakfasts and lunches with friends and associates. Why? Because it takes less than ten minutes to get just about anywhere and while we do not have thousands of restaurants for you to choose from, those we do have are quite good. We have Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Tex-Mex and numerous other ethnic food restaurants. Here you can get a superb meal for less than $10, even for dinner. Urbanspoon lists just a few of the best places to go.

Of course, our meals are better because we have the best meat, Iowa raised, and extremely fresh farm produce. There are also wonderful vegetarian and sea food restaurants in town. Plus, we have some coffee houses that would easily rival the best on the coasts. Check out Zanzibars and Java Joes among others.

The Des Moines Arts Festival downtown is ranked in the top ten nationally. The Des Moines Metro Opera is renowned for its excellence and we have a great civic center housing our symphony orchestra and hosting numerous Broadway Plays as well as concerts. Drake University, Simpson College, Grandview College and Des Moines University are based in Des Moines and Iowa State, in Ames, is only 25 minutes away so for those of you who like a collegiate atmosphere, you can get it here.

We have some of the best air quality in the nation, many long and beautiful bicycle trails not to mention one of the best public long distance rides anywhere, Ragbrai, great parks and hiking trails, the Iowa State Fair, one of the nation’s best, a top notch art museum, Blank Park Zoo, the Botanical Center, a superb science center, the Des Moines Playhouse and a real downtown that you can actually walk around in and not feel afraid. There is even a skywalk, cooled in the summer and heated in the winter, connecting almost all of the buildings. For those who like mall shopping, we’ve got Jordan Creek Towne Center and Valley West Mall. We even have a Trader Joes and a Whole Foods Market within a five minute drive from anywhere on the west side of town.

Others have noticed that this is a pretty good place to live too.

Des Moines ranks #1 "Best Cities for Families" - Kiplinger, July 2012

Des Moines ranks #4 "Best Places for Business and Careers." - 
Forbes, June 2012

Des Moines-West Des Moines ranks #2 " Best Cities for Jobs this Summer." - 
Forbes, June 2012

Des Moines #2 strongest local economy. - 
Tech Journal, June 2012

Des Moines ranks #10 "Most Educated Young Workforce." - 
The Business Journals, May 2012

Des Moines ranks #2 for "Best Cities for Jobs." - Forbes, March 2012

Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market recognized as "One of America's Best." - Country Living Magazine, March 2012. 

Greater Des Moines Ranks #1 Best City for Young Professionals - 
Forbes, July 2011

Des Moines is the #1 Richest Metro in the Nation. - 
US News & World Report, June 2011

Des Moines is the #1 City in the US for Home Renters. - 
Time Magazine, June 2011

Iowa ranks #9 for Best State for Business. - CNBC, June 2011

Des Moines is the #3 Best City for Business. - MarketWatch

Des Moines ranks in the top 10 "Best Cities for the Next Decade." - Kiplinger

Des Moines ranks #5 for best cities for families. Based on great schools, affordable homes, low crime rates, jobs, and parkland. - Parenting Magazine, June 2011
Des Moines is one of the 20 strongest-performing metro areas. - Brookings

Des Moines living costs are 10 percent below the national average. 
- The Council for Community and Economic Research

Des Moines ranks #1 Best Cities for Clean Drinking Water - Forbes 

If you’re Jewish, there is Jewish life here too. The Des Moines Metro Area has Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Congregations, including my own, Temple B’nai Jeshurun which has one of the most beautiful sanctuaries of any synagogue anywhere.

You’re right though, if you want to live in a hovel and travel for an hour to get to your job, much less to your social life, somewhere on the coast “where everyone is,” you’re not going to like living here. Here your life is only a few minutes away and it’s a great life.

Come to Des Moines.

-Rabbi David Jay Kaufman