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Old 02-18-2009, 06:40 AM
177 posts, read 447,903 times
Reputation: 175



I welcome your advice!

I want to live:

1. car free
2. near cafes/restaurants
3. nice place but not pricey
4. safe area but has charm
5. near the public library

I am 63 but I don't think typical. I still want to have fun, go to the cinema, theater, etc.

Unfortunately, I am not rich.

Where should I live?

And, do you think it's better in Des Moines or Iowa City??

Thanks very much
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:57 AM
14 posts, read 52,085 times
Reputation: 15
I've never lived in Iowa City, so I can't comment on the differences between Des Moines and Iowa City. A lot depends on your price range and whether you want to rent or buy. I could see living near the Franklin library. Its sort of on the northwest side of town. I like the library, but I'm not terribly familiar with the neighborhood. Otherwise you could live Downtown or one of the west side neighborhoods that is reasonably near downtown (you can take the bus to the Downtown library easily). I really like the neighborhoods surrounding Ingersoll. I would say there is a wide range in prices of both homes and to a lesser extent apartments. This area has different restaurants and coffee shops and is also close to the Downtown restaurants. You can definitely live in this area without a car. You can walk to the grocery store and take the bus downtown or out to a mall. The Art Center (a local art museum that also has classes for adults and children) is also pretty convenient to these neighborhoods. There is also a nice park (Greenwood) that has access to several trails.
The Drake neighborhood would be another option especially the southwest part of Drake. It is also close to a few shops and a few restaurants. You can take a bus to downtown or out west to one of the malls. I think both the bus that goes by Ingersoll and the bus that goes down University by Drake go by movie theaters. The Varsity theater is a one screen theater in the Drake neighborhood.

Last edited by annalyta; 02-18-2009 at 12:07 PM..
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:01 PM
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
267 posts, read 1,062,966 times
Reputation: 161
Originally Posted by megonow View Post
1. car free
2. near cafes/restaurants
3. nice place but not pricey
4. safe area but has charm
5. near the public library
All of these requirements could be met in downtown Iowa City. I wouldn't say that one is nicer than the other, but they are different. Iowa City is a college town. That comes with advantages (we get a lot of entertainment here in Iowa City due to the students' patronage, comparable to considerably larger Des Moines) and disadvantages (drunk students, especially on game days). Iowa City is younger and smaller than Des Moines.

I think the Northside neighborhood in Iowa City fits all of those, except it would be a ways to the library. However, there is a free shuttle that could take you from the Northside to the Old Capitol Town Center, which is only about 3 blocks away from the library. Northside has some of Iowa City's most iconic restaurants (Hamburg Inn No. 2, Pagliai's, Linn St. Cafe), a couple little stores, a fairly large independent book market and record store, and is only about 2 blocks from the rest of downtown. If you like independent film, the Bijou at the Memorial Union (also on the shuttle route) plays some interesting movies, or you can take a bus out to a mall theater. As for theater, the Englert does get some nice shows here and there and Hancher will too when it is restored after the flood. Cost of living, including housing, should be pretty much comparable to Des Moines.

I'm sure there are also neighborhoods in Des Moines that would work well for you. If you can visit, I think that would really help you get a feel for these cities and help you make a decision.
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:37 PM
3,381 posts, read 11,608,170 times
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I would say that although Iowa City is completely walkable near the downtown area, it's also almost all college students. Drunk students, partying til all hours. The further out you go, the fewer students...but then you're not as walkable. Plus when it's -30 degrees out... Just something to consider. IC is a college town thru and thru.

Des Moines is very, very nice. Last I saw, and what I've read on here, the East Village area downtown is nice and the main library is downtown, but I can't say that you wouldn't need a car for anything. There are very few cities, period, where a car is un-necessary (NYC for example). Even in the best downtowns, if you ever need to visit a Target, Walmart, etc...you'll need a car. Unless you can take a bus and then haul bags or a huge item along with you.

IMO - I love IC but I wouldn't want to live there beyond college years. It's a great city, don't get me wrong (lots to do, lots of culture, etc). DSM is much more family-oriented though, instead of student-oriented. I'd get tired of dealing with the students in IC, especially if I wanted to live close enough to downtown to walk.
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Old 02-19-2009, 06:02 AM
120 posts, read 261,538 times
Reputation: 88
I lived on the east side of Iowa City (near City High and Hickory Hill Park) and currently live in Beaverdale in Des Moines.

I love Iowa City, but tend to agree that the Ingersoll area in DM may be a better bet for you if you want to be car free. Iowa City's downtown area is almost exclusively student-oriented (read: party central); you would need to live further out on the east side to get into the more residential areas, which would be about a 30 minute walk to downtown. Definitely do-able, but probably further than you have in mind. That said, Iowa City has a decent public transportation system, so it would be easy to hop on a bus to downtown.

The Beaverdale area in Des Moines is nice, but not as centrally located as Ingersoll. You wouldn't have the access to shops that you would have in the Ingersoll area. Depending on what area of Beaverdale you lived in, you would be able to walk to some limited shops, e.g. market or library, but the area isn't as centralized as Ingersoll, so you would need either a car or public transportation as well.

One last note, I believe the cost of living is slightly lower in Des Moines than Iowa City.
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Old 02-19-2009, 06:19 PM
Location: Johnston, IA
70 posts, read 241,812 times
Reputation: 30
In Des Moines, I would agree with Ingersoll area and the East Village. The East Village has the free trolley going by, multiple resturants, a few bars (relatively tame bars) shops, & State Historical Building.

You might want to check out Westglenn in West Des Moines. Suburban, but you have multiple shops and resturants, and a Super Target for your grocery needs. Maybe be on the higher end of your budget though. Lacks true urbanity, and public library is about 2 miles away.
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Old 02-20-2009, 08:03 PM
41 posts, read 147,936 times
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Also, don't forget that Dahl's is going to be opening a new 70,000 sq ft grocery store on Ingersoll in March! You will be able to get there easily via bus from anywhere on Ingersoll or Downtown.
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:45 AM
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Des Moines has the nicest downtown of any city I've ever lived in or visited. It has all the benefits (music, art, theater, restaurants, things to do, pretty places to walk, one of the best Farmers' Markets in the US) without any downside of being rundown, crazy traffic or dangerous like many larger cities. It seems to be improving more and more every year. The new sculpture park in Western Gateway will be remarkable. I would add that you have the skywalk system that connects almost every downtown buliding and makes it walkable in all weather.

Interestingly, short of the lack of library, West Glen does have just about every amenity you requested and seems to be growing really fast. However, without any vehicle, you would be somewhat cutoff from the rest of the area.

Hope this helps! If you are fine with the winter weather, Des Moines is a wonderful city.
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