Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best cities for families in Iowa.

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.

Iowa is 75 percent vowels, 100 percent awesome, and 110 percent the best place to raise a family in the country.

According to HomeSnacks, the Hawkeye State is one of the top ten best states in the country to raise a family, and we couldn't agree more. The state has some of the safest, most friendly places in the Midwest to call home. And that's why we set out to determine the most family friendly places in Iowa to call home for 2020. With many cities in Iowa experiencing exponential growth, it's no wonder that the state is starting to move away from the agriculture stigma into the venture capital game. And, folks, that's great news for families just starting out, for families needing a change, and for everyone's overall bottom line.

Incidentally, Iowa is the 26th biggest state, but the 33rd least populous state. We think that's all the more reason to raise your family in this flyover state: there's plenty of room for your kids to run and there's plenty of opportunity to make a difference. And if you want boatloads of good, wholesome, family friendly fun at your fingertips, Iowa is your state. Heck, you can take your family to play in Cedar Rapids' Palisades-Kepler State Park and Iowa City's Devonian Fossil Gorge all in the same weekend.

So, have we peaked your interest? If so, keep reading to see how we determined the most family friendly places to live in Iowa.

How did we determine Iowa's most family friendly places? We consulted the US Census on places in the Hawkeye State with more than 10,000 residents. We looked at several factors: crime, education, family friendly activities, and the percent of households that currently have children. We ended up with 34 family friendly Iowa places that any family would be lucky to call home.

But, there can only be one number one best place to raise your family in Iowa, and that would be Pella.

To see how your favorite place in Iowa compared, take a look at the list below; and if you don't see it there, head to the bottom.

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 2020

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 10,273
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 35
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 27.4%
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.

Oskaloosa, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,505
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 44
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 32.3%
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.

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,568
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 45
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 38.1%
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: 17,195
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 52
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 38.2%
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.

Fairfield, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,216
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 50
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 21.3%
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: 20,767
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 49
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

9.5
/10

Population: 19,344
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 36
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 43.1%
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.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 59,152
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 58
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 37.1%
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

4
/10

Population: 10,672
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 58
Closest Major City: Omaha
Households with kids: 44.7%
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.

Indianola, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 15,653
Family Friendly Amenities Score: 47
Closest Major City: Des Moines
Households with kids: 32.1%
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.

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. You can download the data here.

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. Burlington
  2. Davenport
  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 10,273 44
2 Oskaloosa, IA 11,505 60
3 Norwalk, IA 10,568 33
4 Clive, IA 17,195 59
5 Fairfield, IA 10,216 64
6 Johnston, IA 20,767 33
7 Waukee, IA 19,344 60
8 Ankeny, IA 59,152 46
9 Storm Lake, IA 10,672 58
10 Indianola, IA 15,653 52

How Is The Area In ?

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *