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Palm Springs

Sunny Spots Beckon as Winter Homes
for Iowans


Johnny Danos and Teresa Van Vleet-Danos didn’t just wander into Rancho Mirage, California, and decide to spend the winter there. The couple spent years testing warmer, sunnier-than-Iowa spots, such as Palm Beach, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Phoenix.

Johnny Danos
After these tryouts they settled into Rancho Mirage, part of California’s Coachella Valley, which also includes Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

“The weather is more consistent than anyplace else I have been in the U.S.,” said Johnny, fresh from a weeklong visit to a condominium the couple bought last year and is now decorating.

Teresa, president and former owner of Rowat Cut Stone & Marble, and Johnny, director of strategic initiatives at LWBJ Financial and a former president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, join a number of Des Moines-area residents who call the Palm Springs area home for the winter. Among them is Robert “Bob” Maddox III, chairman of Allied Construction Services, who likewise tested out various venues before settling on nearby La Quinta, California.

Maddox said he found Phoenix to be too congested, and several other spots turned out to be too humid for his liking. He and his wife, LaRue, eventually zeroed in on the Coachella Valley.

“No humidity, very few bugs, gorgeous weather and flora. Tons of palm trees, golf courses and great restaurants. No high-rises, nor traffic jams. Easily navigable.

“And we like the crowd,” he added, ticking off the names of half a dozen other Des Moines-area couples who spend time there during the winter.

Of course, the Coachella Valley does not have an exclusive claim on the Des Moines crowd. Phoenix remains popular with Central Iowans, and is an easy reach with nonstop air service from Des Moines.

If a beach and water are on your must-have list, Gulf Coast Florida communities such as Sanibel Island and Sarasota are big draws. Naples might be the most popular destination for wintertime homebuyers, judging by John A. Fisher, CEO of First American Bank (the Iowa-based bank has branches in Naples, and he lives there). He joked that people travel “between the Oaks” – the Glen Oaks Country Club and its surrounding homes in West Des Moines, and the Grey Oaks Country Club and resort community in North Naples.

These sun-seekers tend to be buyers or renters of homes and condos, and not so much overnight guests. For shorter periods, Dean Burtch, president of Allied Travel, said Hawaii and Mexico, in particular the all-inclusive resorts there, are big draws. In the Caribbean, he said Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica are popular with Central Iowans.
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Legacy Bridge

Snowbirds Find Iowa Banks Down South

Banks, it seems, are snowbirds, too.

If you run low on cash in Phoenix during your wintertime sojourn there, feel free to swing by any of the area branches of Des Moines-based Bankers Trust Co. to talk about replenishment. Eyeing the annual defection of so many clients to Arizona, as well as growth opportunities there, Bankers Trust opened its first branch in Phoenix in 2008. You can do most anything at a Phoenix branch that you can at a branch in Iowa.

On Florida’s Gulf Coast, First American Bank (Fort Dodge-based, with six offices in and around Des Moines), has a sizable presence in the Naples-Fort Myers area. It well could add another branch in Boca Raton, said CEO John A. Fisher, who acknowledged that the high number of Iowa snowbirds in Florida was a big draw.

“Our bank parking lot is full of Polk County and Dallas County license plates” until mid-April, Fisher said. Some of those clients might be there to arrange video conferences with their bankers back in Iowa, as First American has even rigged up video sets between Iowa and Florida branches.

Also making their sun-and-warmth marks are Dubuque-based Heartland Financial USA Inc., which operates Arizona Bank & Trust in Phoenix, and Iowa City-based MidWestOne Financial Group, with offices in Fort Myers and Naples.
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Whitfield & Eddy Law
801 Chophouse

dsmWealth's Picks on What You Need to Know

  • This time of year thoughts turn to giving. Both the Business Record and dsm magazine publish special profiles that tell the stories of local nonprofits making a difference in Greater Des Moines. To learn more about these organizations as well as the opportunities available to make a positive impact on the community and the lives of others, look through Pillars of Philanthropy and the dsm Wish List here.

  • The demise of QPRs is greatly exaggerated, says Bob Miller, CEO and Vice Chairman of Private Client Resources, in this opinion piece warning investors to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Bloomberg report: Americans' Nest Eggs Have Never Been Bigger as U.S. Stocks Climb. Read more here.


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