Des Moines is a top 20 place to live. Why is it slipping in the ranks?

Once ranked the fourth best place to live in the United States, Des Moines has fallen to number 19 on U.S. News & World Report's 2023 Best Places to Live list.

To compile its annual Best Places to Live list, U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the U.S. based on quality of life, job market, value of living and people's desire to live in the area. Iowa was also ranked number 95 for best places to retire.

How did Des Moines score in the Best Places to Live categories?

Des Moines which had a 6.6 overall rating, scored 6.8 for quality of life and earned a 7.6 total value ranking.

U.S. News called Iowa a "flyover state," but said Des Moines is a great place to raise a family. The city was complimented on its elegant homes and busy downtown. The report also said Des Moines has some of the "nicest people you'll ever meet."

The cost of living in Des Moines is lower than the national average, according to U.S. News, and housing prices are "well below the national median."

How does Des Moines compare to other cities on U.S. News' Best Places to Live list?

Eighteen cities outranked Des Moines in best places to live this year, many because of their higher desirability.

Here are the top 10 places to live in the U.S. this year:

  • Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Huntsville, Alabama

  • Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

  • Boulder, Colorado

  • Sarasota, Florida

  • Naples, Florida

  • Portland, Maine

  • Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Fayetteville, Arkansas

Des Moines outranked seven of the top 10 cities in value rating — only Green Bay, Huntsville and Fayetteville scored higher than Des Moines' 7.6 rating. Des Moines has a better housing affordability index than most metro areas its size, which contributed to its high ranking.

While Des Moines has high a value rating, it is difficult to surpass cities with higher desirability. The desirability index is determined by reader polling, net migration rates, weather and establishments-to-population ratio. All of the top 10 cities surpassed Des Moines' desirability rating besides Huntsville, which tied at 5.3.

Des Moines also ranked higher than two of the top 10 cities for quality of life. Colorado Springs came in with a score of 6.5 and Charlotte with a 6.4, slightly lower than Des Moines' 6.8. Quality of life index includes crime rates, quality of education, well-being, commuter index, quality and availability of healthcare, air quality index, and FEMA national risk index.

Where has Des Moines' ranking slipped?

Des Moines has consistently been a cheaper place to live, with housing prices that remain below the national median. However, its value score has been declining since 2018. The net migration score has declined in recent years but saw a rebound in 2023. Migration rates measure how many people are moving to or from a given city. The amount of Des Moines residents moving in from outside the metro area is declining yearly.

While Des Moines has a lower violent crime rate than the national rate from 2020, its rate of property crime is higher, according to the report. Des Moines also has a higher crime rate than other similarly sized metro areas. Des Moines also ranks lower than similarly sized metros in the college readiness index.

What activities in Des Moines got compliments from U.S. News' Best Places to Live?

Activities and events in Des Moines that stood out to U.S. News include performing arts venues, including the Civic Center and Wells Fargo Arena. The article also mentioned the 600 miles of biking and walking trails housed in the metro, as well as state parks Ledges and Jester Parkare.

Des Moines is also known for its minor league sports entertainment, including the Iowa Cubs baseball team. U.S. News complimented the eight-block Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market, which runs May to October, and of course, the Iowa State Fair butter cow.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Des Moines, Iowa ranked 19th best place to live in 2023 by U.S. News