Des Moines
  • $400   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $664   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1049   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  midwest US)

73% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
driving in a snowstorm, allergic to corn
few traffic jams, bicycle friendly 6
white saviors love it here, drakeland, east village, establishment liberals, white collar stoners, yuppies, and good pizza are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Des Moines roommate rundown:

Many describe Des Moines as warm and welcoming. While many Des Moinesians really are warm and welcoming, the relatively small size also makes it easier. It's literally more likely you could end up as neighbors here.

So really, why not? Neighborly vibes!

Agriculture is so huge, this whole capital city also turns into a farmer's market every spring and summer.

And all your neighbors know they better farm stall while they can, because winter is definitely coming.

Transportation, particularly during a snowstorm, can be challenging to anyone accustomed to more public transport and less dramatic weather. Many roommates new to Des Moines were surprised by the severity of seasonal contrast and the possibility of intense weather year round.

Des Moines features a skywalk system with four miles of enclosed walkway residents love . . . but it's only downtown. There is also a bus system operated by DART (Des Moines Area Regional Transit) . . . but it's only buses so it's slow, and it doesn't serve all suburbs.

There's over 800 miles of bike trail including an iconic decommissioned railway line and another iconic 13-story bridge . . . but they all frequently feature freezing winds about half the year.

SO: Most residents drive.

Upside? Despite most residents driving, traffic jams are a no!

In addition to low traffic congestion, Des Moines also boasts low unemployment, low rent, and a low cost of living.

And everything low here . . . is leading to higher population growth?

This home of the presidential primary is growing faster than any other Midwest metro, including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.

The rest of the Des Moines roommate lowdown:

  • Des Moines is Iowa's most populous city and capital, located near its center. That's about 210,000 in the city, and about 700,000 in their six-county metro area.
  • Marked seasonal contrast, with warm and extremely humid summers, and winters with frequent snowstorms and drifting snow. Thunderstorms are most common in spring and summer, but possible year round. Heavy snows (possibly up to 40 inches per season!) that close roads are common in winter.
  • extensive skywalk system downtown featuring four miles of enclosed walkway
  • home of several colleges and universities and their satellites, including Des Moines University, Drake University, Grand View University, Iowa State University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Simpson College, University of Iowa, Upper Iowa University, and William Penn University
  • home to several art and history museums and performing arts groups, including the Des Moines Performing Arts, Des Moines Playhouse, Des Moines Symphony, State of Iowa Historical Museum, and the Metro Arts Alliance
  • a lot of agriculture, a lot of corn
  • More than 75 insurance companies are headquartered and/or have larger operations here. Des Moines is a major center for the insurance industry in the United States, and has been nicknamed "insurance capital of the world" overall. Iowa doesn't charge premium taxes on health insurance plans, making itself more attractive to insurance companies.
  • ethnic diversity is low
  • cost of living and rents are very low, along with unemployment
  • growing faster than any other Midwest metro
  • Des Moines hosts the first caucuses of the US presidential primary cycle, with many candidates setting up their campaign headquarters here reliably. Many describe Des Moines as the "perfect place to watch politics."
  • In winter, attention to parking rules to avoid being "snowed in" by trucks, plus general attention to possible snow emergency conditions could be crucial. Natives recommend roommates new to the area avoid driving during snow hazards. They also recommend a brush, ice scraper, a shovel and some sand or road salt in your car in case you drive right into a snow hazard anyway.

After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Des Moines':

  • Des Moines Art Center: Large collection from the 19th and 20th centuries. Also features a 5-star restaurant, a wing designed by architect I. M. Pei, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
  • Des Moines Botanical Garden: Indoor conservatory with over 15,000 exotic plants, including large collections of tropical, subtropical, and desert-growing plants from the rest of the Midwest. Since it blooms year round it's extra popular in winter, and with a membership, you and your roommates could hang out perpetually! It's also conveniently connected to the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens via a parking lot.
  • Iowa State Fair: 10 days in August, about 1 million people, and more than 70 items served on a stick. Also more than you can imagine to do with art plus food plus agriculture. Preferably all together and near a beer tent!
  • West End Architectural Salvage: 4-story warehouse with a coffee shop, filled with salvage from around the world. Do you and your roommates need something special for your house? Inventory rotates regularly.
  • The Blazing Saddle: The oldest gay bar in Des Moines, serving gay men since 1983.
  • Adventureland Amusement Park and Adventure Bay Water Park: Over 100 rides including six rollercoasters. If you and your roommates think this one's mostly for kids you could be right BUT there is a bar where you can swim up, order a cocktail, then float away on the longest "lazy river" in Iowa.

Here's the city of Des Moines' official .gov for community services, including city maps, parks, volunteering, and emergency hotlines.


1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.

2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.

3.   From zumper.com.

4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.

5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.

6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.

7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.