JOHNSTON, Iowa – It’s good to live in Iowa, according to a new list of the nation’s top 50 suburbs from Business Insider: three of the metro’s suburbs made the list.
Waukee comes in at #37, recognized for its cost of living, proximity to Des Moines, and variety of community organizations located in town.
“The cost of living is pretty good in Waukee, where the median annual household income is $78,102,” the report said. “This suburb is just a short 20.3-minute commute from Des Moines, but it makes a number of community organizations, from the Waukee Area Arts Council to the Historical Society, available right there in town.”
Just ahead of Waukee comes Ankeny – praised for similar attributes, including a comfortable median household income, at #36.
“Also a suburb of Des Moines, Ankeny is a large town about 21.1 minutes away,” the report said. “It even has a logo. Residents take home a median household income of $73,622.”
Johnston topped the list in central Iowa coming in at #25.
“Residents of Johnston, which has doubled its population over the past 10 years, have low costs of living and a median household income of $94,014,” the report said. “The Iowa suburb is home to the military training site Camp Dodge and is a quick 17.8-minute commute to the cities of Des Moines and West Des Moines.”
Mayor of Johnston, Paula Dierenfeld, says it’s easy to overlook a fly-over state when there are larger metropolitan areas on either coast with attractive suburbs, but that this study focused on the right factors.
“I think we’re paying attention to the things that really matter, the things that people are looking for in communities that they want to live in,” she said. “And that is, they’re looking for good schools, they’re looking for low crime-rates, they’re looking for high-income levels, quality of life – those kinds of factors.”
All three suburbs were given high ranks in a category called the “Great Schools Ranking”, giving cities a score between one and ten; Waukee and Johnston were scored at 9, and Ankeny scored a 10.
“One of the reasons that Johnston has continued to grow as a community, and one of the reasons people continue to want to live there, is the quality of our schools that we have in Johnston,” Dierenfeld said. “That really has been the attraction for people wanting to bring their families to live in Johnston.”
The study analyzed nearly 300 suburbs, with criteria for consideration as a “suburb” consisting of a population anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 people, and a proximity to the nearest metropolitan area of just under 30 miles or less. Factors considered included public school ratings, poverty and crime rates, cost of living, median household income, and average commute times.