Des Moines is More Affordable than Other Major Cities

Affordable housing is a key point for college students when deciding where to go to school, and where to live after graduation

Matt: Coming into Des Moines as a Chicagoland native, my standard of living was very different than what I had expected to living in a major city like Des Moines. Growing up around Chicago, the standard of living is much higher and I had expected something similar, especially living closer to downtown Des Moines than I did to Chicago back home. From my personal experience, the closer you are to downtown, the more expensive life is to live and usually the further you stray from the city, depending on the area, the cheaper it is and more affordable it is to live. When picking where I went to school, a bunch of different factors went into play. After learning about the average price of things like gas, or rent, or even food in the Des Moines metro area, and comparing that to what it was for me back home, I knew this would be a very easy choice, on top of the awesome education from a very accredited school in Drake.

Parker: Coming into Des Moines from the Twin Cities I learned very quickly just how cheap everything was when compared to back home. Everything from gas prices to groceries. When I started looking at rent prices in the area, I was amazed at the overall standard price many places had. You could get a nice two bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Des Moines for the same cost of a barely livable apartment in Minneapolis. 

Des Moines when compared to other major metro areas ranks among the lowest for overall cost of living

Matt: According to and their cost of living calculator, the cost of living in Des Moines compared to Chicago is as high as 30% cheaper, especially when comparing things like rent. The cost of rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in Chicago sits at around $2,754 per month, versus in Des Moines it sits around $735 per month. The median cost to purchase a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house in Chicago costs over $556k versus Des Moines’ $338k.

Parker: Also in accordance to and using their cost of living calculator, the cost of living in Des Moines compared to Minneapolis is about 14% cheaper to live in Des Moines. Comparing the costs of renting a 2 bedroom apartment in Minneapolis is around $1,291 compared to the $735 it costs in Des Moines per month. On top of that, housing costs in Minneapolis for a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house is about $400k versus the $338k for Des Moines.

Drake University students come from all around the midwest, hosting cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, and Kansas City, all of which have a higher cost of living making it easier on the “Broke College Student Lifestyle”

Matt: I myself don’t work a ton during school, so coming across money to continue to support my everyday lifestyle that I’d love to live or could live with the financial support of my family back in Chicago. The lesser cost of living makes it easier for me to be able to support myself by going to buy food or wanting to go out to entertain myself in someway like going to a movie or going to a semi professional baseball game. This way I can continue to spend my money conservatively and help foster that similar lifestyle of what I may experience back home in Chicago with the higher prices.

Parker: Talking to friends I have made while here who are from different areas of the country, all have said they agree that it is nice that a decent city like Des Moines — a capital city at that — is so cheap when compared to any other major metro area. I love the Twin Cities; Minnesota will always be my home. But I cannot deny that it is easier to afford Des Moines than the Twin Cities. 

Housing is just one cost among others like school, groceries/food, entertainment, etc.

Matt: Some of my personal biggest expenses would probably just be groceries. I love to cook and I love the idea of feeding myself some quality meal everyday that the average college student wouldn’t take the time to prepare. When people are buying $1 ramen packets, I will prioritize something like making chicken, rice, and broccoli. Being able to comfortably afford spending more money on food out here versus what would probably cost around double back home in Chicago while still not having to worry about having leftover money is a big plus, and another reason as to why I came to school out here compared to some of my other college choices.

Parker: My biggest expenses so far are my fraternity on campus and groceries, as I have been getting more into cooking. So actually, being able to afford food, rent, activities, and still have money left for fun is important; and Des Moines allows me to do that given the point I am at in my life.