Written by Susan Hatten
When I turned 30, I spent my birthday in a place where my heart always feels full–New York City. Two of my dearest friends live there, and I knew that being with them and in my sister city would be the perfect way to ring in my 30th.
After spending several days wandering the parks, shops, delicatessens, wine bars and flea markets, I made a decision that I would put pen to paper and evaluate whether or not a move to New York could be in the cards for me.
Once home, I hopped on the CNNMoney Cost of Living calculator. (One of my guilty online pleasures on a night when I have some downtime is to pour a glass of wine and compare living costs among various cities. You should try it. It’s really a refreshing exercise.) After my return from New York, I encountered these numbers:
Home in Des Moines (Beaverdale): 1800 square feet (in addition to a front/back yard, fire pit, etc.), $135,000.
Home in Manhattan: 1800 square feet (comparable amenities/character), $3.7 million (that is not a typing error).
Price Difference in cost of living (Des Moines vs. Manhattan):
Groceries: 64% more
Housing: 424% more
Utilities: 48% more
Transportation: 29% more
Health Care: 32% more
Following a long gasp and thoughtful consideration, I made the decision that Iowa was home for me–and that I did not need to leave to prove a point or to find a locale where there may be greener grass. That realization also was a factor in my later decision to sell my Beaverdale home and move to a downtown condo.
I’ve discovered that I can live in a New York state of mind, every day, and that I don’t need a Zip code to affix to my name to do so. Des Moines is a city built on solid business infrastructure, vibrant arts and culture, strong governance, breathtaking neighborhoods, and so much more.
We just have it better here: shorter commutes, greater opportunities for up and-coming professionals, easier access to community involvement, and a significantly lower cost of living, to boot.
I’ve found I can live my life with a New York City flavor, right in the heart of our gorgeous Midwestern city.