These Are The 10 Best Des Moines Suburbs For 2018

We analyzed over 19 places around Des Moines to identify the most in demand places to live.

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Big city living isn’t for everyone–but at the same time, urban areas certainly have their perks.

There’s the culture, the food, the arts, the food, the energy, and you know, the food. But there are drawbacks. There’s traffic, expensive parking, expensive housing–pretty much, expensive everything, depending on which big city you’re looking at.

But that’s where the suburbs come in–they have all of the benefits of being near big cities, without actually having to be big cities.

Of course, not all suburbs of Des Moines are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…

Here are the 10 best suburbs around Des Moines for 2018:

  1. Waukee (Photos | Homes)
  2. Grimes (Photos | Homes)
  3. Clive (Photos | Homes)
  4. Johnston (Photos | Homes)
  5. West Des Moines (Photos | Homes)
  6. Ankeny (Photos | Homes)
  7. Urbandale (Photos | Homes)
  8. Norwalk (Photos | Homes)
  9. Pleasant Hill (Photos | Homes)
  10. Bondurant (Homes)

If you happen to be a resident of Waukee, you’re probably not too surprised to find it on the top our list.

We’ll tell you what makes each of these 10 Des Moines ‘burbs better than the rest–but first, a bit about our methodology.

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the best in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Des Moines for 2018

Figuring out the best ‘burbs around Des Moines was pretty simple; we just needed to list several things that people like, and then find out which cities have the most of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High Median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

Then we used the newest American Community Survey data (2012-2016) to research each suburb.

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Des Moines.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 19 suburbs to evaluate around Des Moines.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 19 in each category, where 1 was the “best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the best quality of life index the “Best Suburb near Des Moines.” We’re lookin’ at you, Waukee.

Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the best of the best. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from best to worst.

1. Waukee

Waukee, Iowa

Population: 16,955
Unemployment Rate: 1.0%
Median Home Price: $191,900
Median Income: $81,250
More on Waukee: Real Estate | Data

Waukee is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Des Moines area. We’ll tell you the good about “Awesome Waukee.”

Everyone here is rich; families average $81,250 a year, which is the 5th highest in the Des Moines region. And only 1.0% are out of work. Homes average more than $191,900 each.

2. Grimes

Grimes, Iowa

Population: 10,422
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Median Home Price: $188,900
Median Income: $83,125
More on Grimes: Real Estate | Data

Grimes is the second best ‘burb we looked at near Des Moines for 2018.

It ranks 3rd for incomes in the area and only 1.2% of residents lack insurance, good for 1st best.

3. Clive

Clive, Iowa

Source: Public domain

Population: 17,022
Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
Median Home Price: $237,200
Median Income: $90,502
More on Clive: Real Estate | Data

Here in Clive, it’s really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you’ll see in the Des Moines metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Clive.

4. Johnston

Johnston, Iowa

Population: 19,491
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Median Home Price: $237,600
Median Income: $95,565
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data

Johnston ranks as the 4th best suburb of Des Moines for 2018.

You won’t find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in Johnston and the schools are some of the best around.

5. West Des Moines

West Des Moines, Iowa

Population: 61,624
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
Median Home Price: $195,500
Median Income: $70,906
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data

Coming in as the fifth best is West Des Moines.

West Des Moines gets kudos for having the 4th most expensive homes in the Des Moines area, where houses sell for an average of $195,500. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

6. Ankeny

Ankeny, Iowa

Population: 53,413
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Median Home Price: $186,200
Median Income: $76,760
More on Ankeny: Real Estate | Data

Ankeny is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here’s why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 3.2% which is 7th best in the area.

According to online reports, Ankeny is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the Des Moines area, meaning you need to get in soon.

7. Urbandale

Urbandale, Iowa

Source: Public domain

Population: 41,578
Unemployment Rate: 4.0%
Median Home Price: $204,700
Median Income: $81,862
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Urbandale.

Urbandale schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it’s only 9.8 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

8. Norwalk

Norwalk, Iowa

Population: 9,944
Unemployment Rate: 5.4%
Median Home Price: $169,900
Median Income: $80,675
More on Norwalk: Real Estate | Data

Norwalk is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 3.1% of people lack insurance, good for 5th in the area.

9. Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Population: 9,406
Unemployment Rate: 2.0%
Median Home Price: $186,400
Median Income: $75,373
More on Pleasant Hill: Real Estate | Data

Is ‘Everything Better In Pleasant Hill?’


It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it’s really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

10. Bondurant

Population: 5,079
Unemployment Rate: 1.1%
Median Home Price: $170,700
Median Income: $73,073
More on Bondurant: Real Estate | Data

And rounding out the top ten for 2018 is Bondurant.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It’s far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

Welcome to the Best Des Moines ‘Burbs of 2018

We said it once and we’ll say it again–life in the big city isn’t for everyone. At least not all the time.

So if you’re hankering for some of the amenities of a larger city like Des Moines, but don’t want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might just be for you.

For more Iowa reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Des Moines Suburbs

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Median Home Price Median Income
1 Waukee 16,955 1.0% $191,900 $81,250
2 Grimes 10,422 3.2% $188,900 $83,125
3 Clive 17,022 3.3% $237,200 $90,502
4 Johnston 19,491 3.8% $237,600 $95,565
5 West Des Moines 61,624 2.7% $195,500 $70,906
6 Ankeny 53,413 3.2% $186,200 $76,760
7 Urbandale 41,578 4.0% $204,700 $81,862
8 Norwalk 9,944 5.4% $169,900 $80,675
9 Pleasant Hill 9,406 2.0% $186,400 $75,373
10 Bondurant 5,079 1.1% $170,700 $73,073
11 Altoona 16,692 4.7% $168,100 $72,398
12 Carlisle 4,031 3.3% $149,700 $58,299
13 Huxley 3,474 7.5% $164,700 $65,471
14 Madrid 2,585 2.6% $122,200 $60,457
15 Adel 4,030 3.1% $157,900 $58,321
16 Windsor Heights 4,980 6.4% $180,300 $53,482
17 Indianola 15,343 7.5% $151,400 $51,414
18 Mitchellville 2,271 6.1% $127,800 $57,391
19 Winterset 5,158 7.6% $139,500 $45,046

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