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Moved here in 99 from CA. Have lived in L.A. (technically in CA, but somewhat a nation to itself), Oregon, Idaho, and LIttle Rock during the Clinton years. WE get around, trying to find something better than the depressing scene in the San Joquin valley in CA.
Some thoughts: CA has some wonders. San Francisco, for all it's problems, is a wonder, and I would live there- if I could live in style. Otherwise, it loses it's advantages. Some of the coast is nice- I loved San Louis Obispo and that area. The rest of it is like a third-world country. The average person is poor. What the other poor people don't steal from you, the government will to keep up it's social programs and services. No place to raise kids!!!!
Oregon and Idaho- great place to raise kids. No work. No stay.
LIttle Rock- went back to visit after being in IA for about 5 years. I used to love the Sherwood area, suburb of Little Rock. It looked dingy, everything was overpriced, the people arent't as friendly- that southern charm is wearing thin, as the new influx of imigrants and the general tendency for people to be 'edgy'- or, a self-absorbed, arogant twits- leaves no room for manners.
Iowa folks are farm-based. They smoke. They drink. They curse a bit. They are behind the times. Yet, they are good people, and will usually help you. Most are still polite, and some of the family values thing is still intact. If you want peace and quiet, move to a rural area like me- Richland, Pop. 587. (I checked the stats online- 584. Did Earl move?) Near me, Iowa City has it all- I would live there, but my work keeps me near Ottumwa, a city that I haven't grown to like, but lots of people love the place and defend it to the bitter end. 12 miles away from me is Fairfield, home to the Maharishi University of Management- they incorporated, have a city 4 miles out of town- Vedic city. Yes, they are 'floaters'- what they call people who meditate here. So you can mingle with the average 'hillbilly' farmer type and also rub elbows with the mystical folks. Where else can you do this?
Des Moines is just another city that got out of hand. Too much crime, slums and poverty. I haven't been here long enough to investigate other locations, but I would say that if you have a definate job offer, move here. AFter getting settled, look around and you will find a place to live within driving distance of work. I drive 30 miles to work, and I think that it is worth it to live in the sticks. Others may enjoy an urban setting. (I used to, but as I get older I have no desire to live with that manny people)
I hope this helps. Basically, I believe my experiences here are pretty typical. We have few metropolitan areas, surrounded by smaller, farm-based communitites. I think you won't be dissapointed.
Been here my whole life (almost). Lived in many areas of the country during my life and came back here for the obvious reasons.
One thing I do want to follow up on is the comment about Des Moines. It is right on target, but if you are interested in living here check out the suburban areas around DSM. Clive, Urbandale, West Des Moines, Ankeny, Pleasant Hill. A little further out - Indianola, Waukee, Adel, etc.
These areas are separate from DSM and they have more intelligent (honest) council members and supervisors (insert grain of salt here). DSM is a mess. The best thing that could happen there is to fire/unelect (sic) every official in the city and replace them.
A quick (not nearly complete) run down. Multi-multi million dollar projects with little money for schools. They are fixing the buildings but forgetting students and teachers. West (read money) end of town getting big bucks for questionable projects (a new library that is an architectural blob - with NO parking - duh), a "park" that's nice, I guess, but not big enough to be of real use, tearing down beautiful buildings (old) and replacing them with steel boxes that, to be honest, look like crap. East (read poor folk in the attitude of city officials) end of town is being rejuvenated by private money for the most part - Lord help us if the city has to pitch in to improve what they consider to be a slum. East-side sewers are, and have been since I can remember, a joke. They will continue so since the city won't help the scum that lives "over there".
The funniest part of all this is that the State Capital is on the east side, right in the middle of the lack of rejuvenation. What little they are doing has nothing to do with business or building improvement – it’s all for the capital area or state government buildings. Those little creeps that actually live and work there can help themselves – our friends on the better side of town desperately need our help to make more money.
The majority of DSM is a slum. Every once in a while I go back to the areas where I used to live. The same thing goes through my mind every time. “What happened to this neighborhood? This used to be a nice area. Doesn’t anyone take care of their houses anymore?”
Des Moines is a lost cause.
Visit the 'burbs if you're thinking of moving here.
Which is exactly why I live in NorthWest Iowa... 5 miles from the closest town (if you consider 85 people a town... maybe I should call it a village!)
the biggest 'city' is Sioux Falls or Sioux City (both an 1-1/2 hour drive).
Otherwise there is Spencer (pop 14K) which is a descent town, but they are losing their business' to Mexico, and have only one bridge going across the river in the entire town. But they host the Clay County Fair, which some year, I believe will surpass the Iowa State Fair in numbers. Even though it's the same old ---- every year, its still a huge draw for folks all over.
A bit north of that is the 'Iowa Great Lakes' area. A group of lakes (Big & Little Spirit, East & West Okoboji, Center lake, and a few others) all somewhat connected (either by a short drive, or a passage under a bridge) Business is booming there if you're a contractor or into landscaping, but due to our harsh winters, most of that slows down during the winter months. Land is outreagous around the Lakes area. BUT, I live 30 miles from there, and it's less than half price, but still within driving distance to 'chill' for the day.
Worthington, MN is closeby, but is so overrun by the packing plant workers that the mall is nearly shut down, and the rest of the town is so run down that no one else wants to live there.
Head down Highway 60 (which will be great in a few years once the bi-pass is done) to Sheldon, a small community (about 5K) which was pretty much stuck in a rut for the past 20 years, but the bi-pass is finally bringing new life into town.
All over up here (as well as the rest of Iowa) we have GREAT schools, when I talk to other people from outside the state and tell them I went to school in Iowa, they automatically believe I'm smart, right before they curse Iowa for the invention of ITED's (Iowa Basic Skills for you older folks)
Unfortunately manufacturing isn't very big where I live, which is why I will most likely be moving (no more than 100 miles though) some of the smaller towns (Sanborn, Hartley, Sibley, etc) welcome new businesses into their towns, but the others (Sheldon, Spirit Lake, Spencer, etc) shun them away because they dont want the existing businesses to have to compete with wages
That is just my $.02 on the subject. And I will continue to live in Iowa as long as possible!
Des Moines schools are real bad small towns are ok in smaller towns it is safe just like other town u will find some do help and some dont des moines area is a mess and they wait to fix things intell its really bad i lived in des moines for 3 years i hated it now i live in altoona the schools there are good if you want to raise a family in iowa you want to stay away from des moines.
The comment about Des Moines should be disputed. It is not a city with crime problems, poor neighborhoods, etc.
I live and work in this Metro Area and have traveled extensively throughout this country. This is a unique, safe, cheap place to live with very low unemployment and inexpensive cost of living.
Small town Iowa is where I grew up and we have that still within a 25 minute commute of down town Des Moines.
Frankly, people who move here and land in Ottumwa would deal with culture shock if they came for any metro area.
I would be happy to discuss this further if you like.
Des Moines rated 195 out of 371 on the safest cities list. Best to worst. Do not confuse Des Moines with the Des Moines Metro area. Des Moines is a good place to work not live. If you think there are no slums or crime spend some time on the east side. The surrounding cities seem to be fine. My wife lived for years in WDM and Indianola, great places...
I grew up in DM, planned on leaving ever since I first saw the Pacific Ocean at age 3. Went to grad school in Iowa City (the "Berkeley" of IA), lived there for three years and loved it. I meandered my way out to the SF Bay Area, survived a year and a half in Oakland, then skeedaddled west to Pt Reyes Station, where I was happy in a small town for 9 years until I was priced out. Crawled back to DM, bought a house, sold it and left to go back to CA after 4 years. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree? I lived in Ft Bragg, CA for 2 years and watched it go crazy with prices like the Bay Area, didn't want to pay every penny I had for the "privilege" of living indoors in NorCal, came back to IA to be near my elderly parents and the remnants of my immediate family. After nearly 2 years, am ready to leave again. In my comings and goings from IA, especially DM, I can say only that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, there are slums and poverty and crime and losers here, like any other city. The yuppies move to the western burbs and complain about dogs peeing on their landscaping, just like in Marin County, CA. It's all relative. But what I know for sure is that I do NOT want to grow old and die in DM, IA. I have to make the agonizing choice between living near my relatives or living somewhere that I enjoy. Once I move back to the west coast (I'm probably going to OR), it's painfully real that my sister and brother and mother and various nieces/nephews won't be out to visit me. Iowa is the whole world to them, and the rest of the country is somehow less desirable or worthy of their presence. So I will have to make the efforts to return to IA when I want to see them. That's mostly what I hate about IA -- that so many of the people living there think that it's just great to drink water from rivers brimming with hog confinement effluent, and that clean air means whatever stench we're forced to breathe today. And the homeless people here are incredible, in that they will stay in boxes and tents in our subzero winters and swelter in the hot/humid summers outdoors! One thing about Iowans -- they're a hearty folk. But short-sighted and stiffnecked as anyone I've ever met. When I move away this time, I'm NOT moving back. But sad that I have to leave my family...
DSM tries hard to separate itself from the rest of Iowa but you are so obviously in stereotypical Iowa when you are in DSM, most people there are from small-town Iowa originally and don't seem to know it
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