On its surface, the city of Des Moines may not seem like the most attractive place in which to settle down. It’s located in the middle of the state, surrounded in all directions by a buffer of cornfields. The city has also come to be known as a major center of the US insurance industry. These factors don’t exactly paint the most exciting picture for young millennials when deciding where to live and launch their career. Despite this, Des Moines was recently named by Forbes as the top city for young professionals. This ranking was based off of economic factors such as cost of living and unemployment rate, but, at the same time, Des Moines has become more attractive to young professionals because of increasing cultural capital.
A city’s cultural capital is cultivated through arts venues and programs, as well as through institutions such as museums and zoos. These factors are what draw people to live in cities, and is what keeps them there despite high costs of living and congestion. While young professionals are initially drawn to Des Moines because of factors such as a cost of living that is six percentage points below the national average, it is the cultural opportunities that will continue to draw people to the city in the future. The population of the Des Moines metropolitan area grew 15.2% between the years of 2000 and 2010, and is expected to increase another 5% between 2014 and 2019. This growth has led to an explosion of cultural capital, giving the city an edge in quality of life.
In 2008, Des Moines became home to the 80/35 music festival, drawing in bigger acts to the region than had previously been possible. The Wells Fargo arena, a venue for concerts and sporting events, was opened in 2005. The newly redeveloped East Village neighborhood of Des Moines has recently become home to several art galleries as well as a new botanical garden and new state historical museum. Des Moines is defying its reputation, becoming anything but boring. This up-and-coming city will continue to attract people who want the cultural opportunities of a big city without an astronomical cost of living.
What is your city doing to boost its cultural capital? Has your city recently increased access to public facilities, art or recreation? Share your experiences and your city's stories in the comments below.
Credits: Images by Molly Carpenter. Data linked to sources.