10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in Iowa have the best set up for children: a lot to do, good schools, and no crime.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our second time ranking the best cities for families in Iowa.

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If you’re like the rest of us, you’re looking for the perfect place for your family. But you have a strict criteria; the city has to be safe, affordable, and stimulating. Basically, the place you move – or even visit – has to be outright perfect.

Is that attainable? Perhaps not, but we’ll get you as close as we can.

Promise.

According to the United States Census, the number of American families who move is trending downwards Why is that? Perhaps it has to do with the ‘safety net’ factor: We get comfortable where we live, and we’re afraid to try a new move. What if the schools are bad? What if it’s dangerous?

Well, we can pretty much guarantee that if you choose the cities we’re mentioning below, you won’t lose any sleep whatsoever.

So, where are the best cities for families in Iowa? We’ve got the answers here.

If you’re thinking of making a move to Iowa, and want a family-friendly place, we’ve got you covered. And if you already have kids, we’re surprised you made it this far into the article and hope your little ones give you a couple of more minutes of free time.

Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out some more reading about Iowa and the best places for families in the country:

The 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa For 2019

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 10,243
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 43
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 27.2%
More on Pella: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Pella is a city in Marion County, Iowa, United States, with a population of 10,352 at the time of the 2010 U.S. Census. Founded by immigrants from the Netherlands, it is forty miles southeast of Des Moines. Pella is the home of Central College, as well as several manufacturing companies, including Pella Corporation and Vermeer Manufacturing Company.

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,179
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 57
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 38.9%
More on Norwalk: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Norwalk is a city in Warren County, with some small portions extending into Polk County, in the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 8,945 at the 2010 census. The city is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area and is located just south of the Des Moines International Airport.

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 17,134
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 42
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 37.7%
More on Clive: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Clive is a city in Dallas and Polk counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 Census the population is at 15,447. It is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. Clive is known for its Greenbelt Park and trail system running through the entire community. Clive serves as the axis of the western Des Moines suburbs, being located between Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines along the major transportation corridors of I-35, I-80 and I-235. The City of Urbandale is to the north to northwest, the City of West Des Moines is to the southeast to southwest, the City of Waukee in Dallas County is to the west.

Oskaloosa, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,531
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 40
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 28.5%
More on Oskaloosa: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Oskaloosa is a city in and the county seat of Mahaska County, Iowa, United States. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was a national center of bituminous coal mining. The population was 11,463 in the 2010 census, an increase from 10,938 in the 2000 census.

Fairfield, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,125
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 41
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 19.4%
More on Fairfield: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Fairfield is a city in, and the county seat of, Jefferson County, Iowa, United States. It has a population totaling 9,464 people according to the 2010 census. It is a Midwestern city surrounded by rolling farmlands filled with corn, soybean, cattle, and hogs with a median family income of $46,138. The city became the county seat in 1839 with 110 residents and grew to 650 by 1847. Its library was established in 1853, and it held its first fair in 1854. Early architecture includes work by George Franklin Barber and Barry Byrne, who trained under Frank Lloyd Wright.

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 20,172
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 36
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 36.3%
More on Johnston: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Johnston is a city in Polk County, Iowa, United States. The population was 17,278 in the 2010 census, an increase of almost 100% from the 8,649 population in the 2000 census. It is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Waukee, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 17,980
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 35
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 44.9%
More on Waukee: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Waukee is a city in Dallas County, Iowa, United States. The population was 13,790 at the 2010 Census; a fast growth has been measured since as it is estimated there were 19,284 people living in Waukee in 2016. It is part of the Des Moines – West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Indianola, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 15,489
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 57
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 31.7%
More on Indianola: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Indianola is a city in Warren County, Iowa, United States, 18 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa. The population was 14,782 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Warren County.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 56,237
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 65
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 36.9%
More on Ankeny: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Ankeny is a city in Polk County, Iowa, United States and home to Des Moines Area Community College. The population was 45,562 in the 2010 census, an increase of 68% from the 27,117 population in the 2000 census. It is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is one of the most affluent cities in all of Iowa.

Storm Lake, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,738
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 59
Closest Major City: Omaha
Households with kids: 40.2%
More on Storm Lake: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Storm Lake is a city in Buena Vista County, Iowa, United States. The population was 10,600 in the 2010 census, an increase from 10,076 in the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Buena Vista County. Storm Lake is home to Buena Vista University, originally Buena Vista College. Tyson Foods operates a large hog slaughterhouse, meat packing plant, and turkey processing plant in Storm Lake.

How do you determine which place is best for families in Iowa anyways?

To give you the places in Iowa which are best for families, we have to look at a handful of metrics. Of course, we want to measure the type of people who live in each city, and make some assumptions about what’s family-friendly and what isn’t.

So we researched the internet for a database that contains all that information.

How we crunched the family friendly numbers for the Hawkeye State

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using U.S. Census data produced for the state of Iowa, we looked at every single city in the state. We paid particular attention to:

  • Crime (Both violent and property)
  • Quality of local schools
  • Distance to a major city without necessarily being in it
  • % of households with children
  • Family-friendly amenities nearby (museums, libraries and colleges)

We then gave each city a Family Score.

The higher the score, the better the city is for families. We also limited our results to cities with populations over 10,000 people. For Iowa, that meant a total of 34 cities.

There You Have It – The Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa

If you’re looking for a breakdown of cities in Iowa ranked by criteria that most would agree make a place a great spot for families, this is an accurate list.

Here’s a look at the best cities for singles Iowa according to the data:

  1. Davenport
  2. Burlington
  3. Clinton

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places For Families In Iowa?

Rank City Population Amenities Score
1 Pella, IA 10,243 48
2 Norwalk, IA 10,179 40
3 Clive, IA 17,134 40
4 Oskaloosa, IA 11,531 58
5 Fairfield, IA 10,125 60
6 Johnston, IA 20,172 36
7 Waukee, IA 17,980 39
8 Indianola, IA 15,489 55
9 Ankeny, IA 56,237 38
10 Storm Lake, IA 10,738 63

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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