These Are The 10 Best Des Moines Suburbs For 2019


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

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the best Des Moines suburbs.

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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 2019:

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

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.

Or feel free to check out some more reading about Iowa:

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 2019

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 (2013-2017) 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.

Waukee, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 17,980
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $91,875
Unemployment Rate: 0.9%
Poverty Rate: 3.5%
More on Waukee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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 $91,875 a year, which is the 4th highest in the Des Moines region. And only 90.0% are out of work. Homes average more than $211,100 each.

Grimes, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 11,139
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $92,250
Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
Poverty Rate: 3.9%
More on Grimes: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Grimes is the second best ‘burb we looked at near Des Moines for 2019.

It ranks 3rd for incomes in the area and only 0.5% of residents lack insurance, good for 1st best.

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 17,134
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $94,907
Unemployment Rate: 2.5%
Poverty Rate: 5.9%
More on Clive: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 20,172
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $94,539
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Poverty Rate: 4.3%
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Johnston ranks as the 4th best suburb of Des Moines for 2019.

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.

Urbandale, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 42,222
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $85,432
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
Poverty Rate: 5.7%
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Urbandale.

Urbandale gets kudos for having the 3rd most expensive homes in the Des Moines area, where houses sell for an average of $216,100. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 56,237
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $79,536
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 6.3%
More on Ankeny: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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 280.0% 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.

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,179
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $82,566
Unemployment Rate: 4.4%
Poverty Rate: 3.0%
More on Norwalk: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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

Norwalk 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 7.3 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 62,999
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $73,764
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 6.2%
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

West Des Moines 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 3.4% of people lack insurance, good for 10th in the area.

Pleasant Hill, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,608
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $74,356
Unemployment Rate: 2.0%
Poverty Rate: 4.9%
More on Pleasant Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Is ‘Everything Better In Pleasant Hill?’

Almost.

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.

Altoona, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 17,354
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $77,801
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Poverty Rate: 6.1%
More on Altoona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2019 is Altoona.

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 2019

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 Median Income
1 Waukee 17,980 $91,875
2 Grimes 11,139 $92,250
3 Clive 17,134 $94,907
4 Johnston 20,172 $94,539
5 Urbandale 42,222 $85,432
6 Ankeny 56,237 $79,536
7 Norwalk 10,179 $82,566
8 West Des Moines 62,999 $73,764
9 Pleasant Hill 9,608 $74,356
10 Altoona 17,354 $77,801
11 Bondurant 5,457 $75,357
12 Huxley 3,575 $65,357
13 Carlisle 4,069 $68,568
14 Madrid 2,577 $64,135
15 Adel 4,103 $60,701
16 Indianola 15,489 $55,634
17 Windsor Heights 4,990 $59,148
18 Mitchellville 2,258 $59,957
19 Winterset 5,157 $48,194

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