PopulationMetro: 645,911
Art and commerce blend seamlessly in one of the fastest-growing cities in the midwest.

Set on the Des Moines River among the state’s famous rolling cornfields, Iowa’s capital is a business mecca with an artsy side, bustling late into the evening with a blend of funky culture and heartland hospitality.

Add in the low, low cost of living, and is it any wonder prairie-cool Des Moines, which earns our #6 ranking for Prosperity, is one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest?

Des Moines earns an impressive #5 ranking for its number of Fortune 500 headquarters (three). Major outposts of Nationwide and Wells Fargo round out the thriving finance and insurance sector, which boasts a $3 billion annual payroll. And in the golden-domed State Capitol, lawmakers are working to ensure a friendly business climate, with temptingly low corporate taxes.

CITY PERFORMANCE
Place
Place 36
Product
Product 41
Programming
Programming 35
People
People 45
Prosperity
Prosperity 66
Promotion
Promotion 31

The Des Moines Social Club, a nonprofit arts center housed in a historic firehouse, is emblematic of the city’s hip cultural scene, with its black box theater, classrooms, gallery space, bar, coffee shop and restaurant. With multiple events scheduled every night of the week, it hosts more than 25,000 visitors a month. Add the bustling craft beer scene and live music venues like Downtown’s Vaudeville Mews, and you get a #13 ranking for Nightlife.

Business might be booming, but that doesn’t mean cost of living is: Des Moines remains affordable, with housing costs at about two-thirds the national average. Add in the burgeoning cultural scene and friendly Midwest attitude, and you get a combination that is attracting increasing numbers of millennials, who appreciate the feeling that—in the words of one 20-something—all of Des Moines is one “large living room”