The 10 Best Des Moines Suburbs To Live For 2021

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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best Des Moines suburbs.

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 to live around Des Moines for 2021:

  1. Johnston
  2. Waukee
  3. Bondurant
  4. Clive
  5. Huxley
  6. Ankeny
  7. Norwalk
  8. Altoona
  9. Urbandale
  10. West Des Moines

What's the best suburb of Des Moines? Johnston ranks as the best suburb of Des Moines for 2021 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.

Feel free to check out some more reading about Iowa:

The 10 Best Des Moines Suburbs To Live For 2021

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,406
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $96,948
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Poverty Rate: 4.1%
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 $96,948 a year, which is the 4th highest in the Des Moines region. And only 2.37% are out of work. Homes average more than $268,300 each.

Waukee, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,785
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $94,580
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
Poverty Rate: 3.2%
More on Waukee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Waukee is the second best 'burb we looked at near Des Moines for 2021.

It ranks 5th for incomes in the area and only 2.29% of residents lack insurance, good for 7th best.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,191
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Median Income: $97,786
Unemployment Rate: 0.0%
Poverty Rate: 1.8%
More on Bondurant: Real Estate | Data

Here in Bondurant, 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 Bondurant.

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,167
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $104,839
Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Poverty Rate: 4.8%
More on Clive: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Clive ranks as the 4th best suburb of Des Moines for 2021.

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

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,769
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $104,457
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Poverty Rate: 4.7%
More on Huxley: Real Estate | Data

Coming in as the fifth best is Huxley.

Huxley gets kudos for having the 11th most expensive homes in the Des Moines area, where houses sell for an average of $197,700. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 61,938
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $86,486
Unemployment Rate: 3.0%
Poverty Rate: 5.3%
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 2.99% which is 9th 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


Population: 10,978
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $83,403
Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Poverty Rate: 4.5%
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.

Altoona, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 18,458
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $77,581
Unemployment Rate: 1.5%
Poverty Rate: 5.8%
More on Altoona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Altoona 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 2.29% of people lack insurance, good for 8th in the area.

Urbandale, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 43,441
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 5)
Median Income: $90,858
Unemployment Rate: 3.1%
Poverty Rate: 5.5%
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Is 'Everything Better In Urbandale?'


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.

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 65,606
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $76,368
Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
Poverty Rate: 5.9%
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten for 2021 is West Des Moines.

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.

How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around Des Moines for 2021

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 2015-2019 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 2021

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 21,406 $96,948
2 Waukee, IA 20,785 $94,580
3 Bondurant, IA 6,191 $97,786
4 Clive, IA 17,167 $104,839
5 Huxley, IA 3,769 $104,457
6 Ankeny, IA 61,938 $86,486
7 Norwalk, IA 10,978 $83,403
8 Altoona, IA 18,458 $77,581
9 Urbandale, IA 43,441 $90,858
10 West Des Moines, IA 65,606 $76,368
11 Grimes, IA 12,839 $81,950
12 Adel, IA 4,588 $65,000
13 Madrid, IA 2,578 $63,895
14 Windsor Heights, IA 4,953 $64,230
15 Mitchellville, IA 2,365 $65,417
16 Pleasant Hill, IA 9,871 $78,818
17 Indianola, IA 15,802 $60,854
18 Winterset, IA 5,260 $52,835
19 Carlisle, IA 4,162 $73,380

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.