Three suburbs of Des Moines named to "50 Best" list

Business Insider put three central Iowa suburbs on its new list of 50 “best suburbs in America.” Business Insider cited schools, short commutes, and low costs of living among the reasons Waukee ranked 37th, Ankeny 36th, and Johnston 25th. On all of those counts, and more, I favor Windsor Heights, Iowa’s only “inner ring suburb.”

1. Windsor Heights residences feed into either the Des Moines or West Des Moines school districts. Both contain good high schools and a more diverse student body than the growing-too-fast Waukee, Ankeny, or Johnston schools.

2. Homes in Windsor Heights have more character than the cookie-cutter housing developments in “taupetown.” Moreover, a lot of these older brick homes were built to last, in contrast to the cheap construction that’s gone up lately in outlying suburbs.

3. Commutes are even shorter in Windsor Heights, only 10-15 minute drive from most places in the Des Moines metro area (more like 20 minutes to the airport or State Fairgrounds).

4. Windsor Heights is better-served for bike trails than the suburbs mentioned by Business Insider.

5. Most lots in Windsor Heights have mature trees.

Incidentally, I reject the premise that suburbs always offer a higher quality of life. My dozen or so favorite Des Moines neighborhoods are in my book nicer places to live than Ankeny, Waukee, or Johnston as well. Not even close.

  • Windsor Heights?

    Windsor Heights really has no reason to exist. West Des Moines, Urbandale and Des Moines ought to divide it up. For one thing, it’s landlocked, no room for expansion. There isn’t much in the way of retail unless you count that sad and aging strip mall west of Bankers Trust, or of course, WalMart. The speed traps on 73rd Street and University give the cops something to do. Oh and there’s these ribbons of concrete next to busy streets. Elsewhere they are called sidewalks but they haven’t heard about them in The Heights. Its lucky it has a zip code. The one thing WH does have going for it is that voters there vote against Chris Hagenow. Criswell predicts if Susan Judkins runs in 2014, she will take him out this time.

    • parts of Windsor Heights have sidewalks

      but it is an uphill battle.

      Being land-locked is not a bad thing. It has forced local leaders to focus on redevelopment rather than endless sprawl while older neighborhoods deteriorate (a problem for Urbandale, Johnston, and West Des Moines).

  • Ankeny??!

    DSD’s Points:

    1) Ankeny is getting more diverse as time goes by. Kicking and screaming, but it’s there in the elementary schools. I heard real estate scion (and lucky farmer’s boy) Danny Elwell moved his kids to North Polk in order to escape Ankeny’s “changes”. I’m giving that opinion wide berth because I’ve found Ankeny’s school system not at all as cracked up as it’s reputed – I have a mentally ill child and the school faculty embarrassingly resistant to adaptation and accommodation. These schools only want the Stepford Children.

    2) No argument.

    3) No argument. My wife and I are in Ankeny as the best compromise between my job in Ames and hers in Prairie City. We don’t care for commuting abd our carbon footprint, but it’s not the 2007 job market any longer.

    4) Access to High Trestle (my house lays right on it) Trail and Neal Smith Des Moines River Trail.

    5) The older parts of Ankeny have mature trees, those 60’s and 70’s developments initially driven by the John Deere blucollar middle-class.

    I’m here, in a split-level house (God, please help us buy another house), and we’re not moving my kid around again. We’re in a community full of aging John Deere bluecollar conservatives more than happy to pull the ladder up behind them, middle & low-middle class white flighters, Biz & Finance grads from the public universities who rabidly hate taxes, Stepfords . . and a small intrepid band of Democrats who are very proud to support and promote Christine Sherrod

    for state House 38. (I just wish I could vote for her, I’m in 37)

    Last of all – yes, it’s a dumb logo.

  • Democrats will not win against Chris Hagenow in 2014

    Criswell you are dreaming.

    Sunday morning 9am and the democrat canvasser is ringing

    door bells. Absolutely no class!  

    • My bad, SE.

      Meant  2016 for Susan to take out the Hagmeister. If  she runs. He is very very lucky to have won his seat by 22 votes in 2012. The demos  of that  House district  are changing literally by the day,  By 2016 he’ll be the odd man out.

      • 2016?

        My folks live across the street from Hagenow. (Conspicuously without a yard sign, unlike everyone else) Rumor on the street was CH wasn’t thrilled with the idea of running again, and then he was brought in to the leadership.

    • I don't know who that would be

      I have not heard of any field organizers encouraging volunteers to go out before noon on a weekend.

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