Best Des Moines Suburbs To Live For 2020

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

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth 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...

What's the best suburb of Des Moines? Johnston ranks as the best suburb of Des Moines for 2020 based on the most recent Census and FBI data. If you happen to be a resident of Johnston, 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.

Note: This result may differ from our state wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a larger selection of suburbs.
Or feel free to check out some more reading about Iowa:

The 10 Best Des Moines Suburbs To Live For 2020

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,767
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Income: $98,552
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
Poverty Rate: 3.9%
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Johnston is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the Des Moines area. We'll tell you the good about "Awesome Johnston."

Everyone here is rich; families average $98,552 a year, which is the 2nd highest in the Des Moines region. And only 2.74% are out of work. Homes average more than $249,200 each.

Waukee, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,344
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $87,433
Unemployment Rate: 0.7%
Poverty Rate: 4.5%
More on Waukee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Waukee is the second best 'burb we looked at near Des Moines for 2020.

It ranks 5th for incomes in the area and only 2.45% of residents lack insurance, good for 9th best.

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,195
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $101,616
Unemployment Rate: 2.7%
Poverty Rate: 4.3%
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.

Urbandale, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 42,881
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $89,569
Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
Poverty Rate: 5.6%
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Urbandale ranks as the 4th best suburb of Des Moines for 2020.

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

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,568
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $82,289
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 3.6%
More on Norwalk: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coming in as the fifth best is Norwalk.

Norwalk gets kudos for having the 10th most expensive homes in the Des Moines area, where houses sell for an average of $189,500. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 59,152
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $81,627
Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
Poverty Rate: 6.1%
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 2.8% which is 8th 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.

Grimes, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,930
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 5)
Median Income: $86,018
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
Poverty Rate: 2.7%
More on Grimes: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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

Grimes 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 12.4 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,672
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Income: $90,393
Unemployment Rate: 3.9%
Poverty Rate: 5.4%
More on Huxley: Real Estate | Data

Huxley 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 1.17% of people lack insurance, good for 1st in the area.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,826
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Income: $82,332
Unemployment Rate: 0.0%
Poverty Rate: 5.2%
More on Bondurant: Real Estate | Data

Is 'Everything Better In Bondurant?'


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


Population: 17,936
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $77,444
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Poverty Rate: 7.2%
More on Altoona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2020 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.

Review Of Altoona by HomeSnacks User

I live in Altoona and pretty much all the suburbs on the west side of Dsm are snobs just saying

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Des Moines for 2020

Figuring out the best suburbs 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 for 2014-2018 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, Johnston. You can download the data here.

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.

Welcome to the Best Des Moines 'Burbs of 2020

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 Johnston, IA 20,767 $98,552
2 Waukee, IA 19,344 $87,433
3 Clive, IA 17,195 $101,616
4 Urbandale, IA 42,881 $89,569
5 Norwalk, IA 10,568 $82,289
6 Ankeny, IA 59,152 $81,627
7 Grimes, IA 11,930 $86,018
8 Huxley, IA 3,672 $90,393
9 Bondurant, IA 5,826 $82,332
10 Altoona, IA 17,936 $77,444
11 West Des Moines, IA 64,400 $74,787
12 Madrid, IA 2,584 $64,046
13 Pleasant Hill, IA 9,736 $78,406
14 Adel, IA 4,316 $61,250
15 Mitchellville, IA 2,304 $64,423
16 Windsor Heights, IA 4,990 $64,337
17 Carlisle, IA 4,134 $67,009
18 Indianola, IA 15,653 $59,077
19 Winterset, IA 5,203 $52,636

How Is Your Town 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.

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