Best Places To Live Near DSM?

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BWRhasnoAC

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My wife and I are planning a move back to the Des Moines area next summer. We have been browsing real estate listings for a few months now and one thing we are trying to pin down are towns/areas that we should be focusing on.

What are some of the best towns to live in around the Des Moines metro? What are some of the ones to avoid?

Here is our criteria:

1) We are old house lovers. So, we are looking for a home from 1900-1930. We are not interested in a new development or new house. Living in town (in a smaller town) or in the country is fine by us.

2) Needs to be within about a 45 minute drive (max) from West DSM/Urbandale, which is where extended family is.

3) Size of the town is not as critical. However, we are looking for a town that is healthy/vibrant. A town that holds events within itself or with neighboring towns would be nice. We love DSM, but don't want to have to drive into the metro anytime we want to do something fun. Fairs, festivals, etc in said small town would be preferred.

4) I will be working from home so no need to focus location on place of work. Proximity to the airport would be a plus, though.

5) We have kids that are just entering school age. While we don't need to have them in the best schools possible, we would like to be aware of any towns/areas that have notoriously bad schools. We are both products of the Iowa public school system, so that's where our kids will attend.

Winterset and Indianola are the two we've identified so far. What others should we be looking at?
Marshalltown has beautiful old homes that I'm sure are going for cheap. Only problem is living in Marshalltown.
 

cysmiley

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CON: The Dutch. Enjoy your mayonnaise and marshmallow salad with peaches in it.
Dutch influence has waned over the years, although I get grief for mowing my lawn with a Tractor (sometimes on Sunday). Also use it for plowing snow! Work ethic says ought to be out pushing a snow blower and/or a mower! Even my ISU retired friends think I ought to get the "exercise". Now I consider walking to the stadium from A3 to my seats legitimate exercise, but running a snowblower is an emergency activity (or lawn mower). I do walk to my neighborhood bridge game!! And walk a little with my wife (have to save energy for her). My son grduated this year from ISU, but attended Pella HS and Churches, and was an avid Bernie supporter, the anathema of Dutch culture LOL.

PS. We live near the square and my wife let him place a Bernie sign in yard. No broken windows or burning crosses were threatened. :rolleyes::rolleyes:In fact several ISU friends caucused for Bernie who live here
 
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BWRhasnoAC

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Dutch influence has waned over the years, although I get grief for mowing my lawn with a Tractor (sometimes on Sunday). Also use it for plowing snow! Work ethic says ought to be out pushing a snow blower and/or a mower! Even my ISU retired friends think I ought to get the "exercise". Now I consider walking to the stadium from A3 to my seats legitimate exercise, but running a snowblower is an emergency activity (or lawn mower). I do walk to my neighborhood bridge game!! And walk a little with my wife (have to save energy for her). My son grduated this year from ISU, but attended Pella HS and Churches, and was an avid Bernie supporter, the anathema of Dutch culture LOL.
Had a football coach get the cops called on him for washing his car on a Sunday in Pella. The cop was like 'what are you doing?' He says, 'washing my car?' Cop just stairs at him and said 'alright, just close the door please.' Friggin' Dutch.
 

AuH2O

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I would swap Cambridge and Huxley, though I'm not sure I'd consider either as standing on their own for amenities.
Guess it's been a few years since I've been there but Cambridge didn't seem nice at all. Huxley is alright but not much for old houses and neighborhoods.
 

discydisc

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Guess it's been a few years since I've been there but Cambridge didn't seem nice at all. Huxley is alright but not much for old houses and neighborhoods.
I'd agree, for Cambridge there's a bar, a bike trail (Heart of Iowa, eventually will be part of a coast to coast paved bike trail), and a car wash. That being said it's 15 minutes from Ames, 25 mins to downtown DSM and part of the Ballard School district. Huxley is coming around, they've got a new Brewpub that's been a great addition. Its only 10 minutes from Ames so I think its a good 'buy' right now with Ames seemingly expanding southward.
 
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throwittoblythe

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I'd agree, for Cambridge there's a bar, a bike trail (Heart of Iowa, eventually will be part of a coast to coast paved bike trail), and a car wash. That being said it's 15 minutes from Ames, 25 mins to downtown DSM and part of the Ballard School district. Huxley is coming around, they've got a new Brewpub that's been a great addition. Its only 10 minutes from Ames so I think its a good 'buy' right now with Ames seemingly expanding southward.
And that's not to say we have to ONLY live in a place where everything is within walking distance. In living in a small town, you're accepting that they won't have everything. If we're within 30 minutes of DSM metro or the outlying suburbs, there would be frequent trips to get items we couldn't otherwise get in our location. Driving 10-15 minutes to Ames or any other larger town for dinner is no big deal. We just want a town that has a little going on by itself and isn't a hollowed out shell.
 

CyFamilyMom

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Did not attend Norwalk schools but I have watched them for years. Very progressive. State and nationally recognized teachers and administration .

Not a lot of houses in Norwalk are older with character. Most were built in the 50's and 60's.


I grew up around Indianola. And there are some really interesting older homes. Simpson is making a lot of changes right now and there may be some homes in that area coming on the market.
What changes are happening at Simpson? They are currently on my son’s short list.
 
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If you are open to living in city limits, my brother is planning to put his place in the Terrace Hill/Ingersoll area on the market relatively soon. It's at tops a 15-minute drive to the airport and 15-20 to WDM. He's done some work to it, but mostly exterior and landscaping, so it still has the old house feel to it.

Do I get a commission now?
 
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cysmiley

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I've heard great things about Pella, but I've also heard it's tough to be an outsider in Pella. Menaing, the community so so strong that if you come from elsewhere and are not already part of the Dutch/E-Free culture, you struggle to get connected. Was that true in your experience?
It was not, just the opposite, and I'm not Dutch; nor am I conservative. In fact I was born and raised in a large metropolitan area, although my career had taken me to some small towns for ten years or so. I came to town at towards the end of my career as a consultant, got invited to dinners, parties, church gathreings (I don't attend often but have good friends that do). ISU was often an ice breaker, as was my volunteer work at the local high school (had some expertise in areas they needed help), and my passion for Bridge. Have a good buddy who was a fraternity brother who is an avid cyclist and he runs in that community and we both have exchanged friends in our various circles. Another ISU grad here is a retired attorney, who got his teaching license and substitute teaches, so that is another avenue. I met my wife here, a widow who taught at Central, and that also has created friendships (my stepson's Mom). So I have had advantages, but ISU has been a strong connector for my circle of friends, which I think is fairly substantial. Now I do have a back yard neighbor, who my wife is close friends with. She has an MFA from that school out east on I80. And she thinks Kimmy is doing a fantastic job with the corona, so there is substantial debate over the fence when we get to talking about the 23 million testing boondoggle, and the PPE prep and sitting in the White house next to Donald. She is the stringest Kimmie supporter in the neighborhood, and with an MFA from Iowa City!! Go figure.:eek::eek::eek:
 

cyclonpediaJoe

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Did not attend Norwalk schools but I have watched them for years. Very progressive. State and nationally recognized teachers and administration .

Not a lot of houses in Norwalk are older with character. Most were built in the 50's and 60's.


I grew up around Indianola. And there are some really interesting older homes. Simpson is making a lot of changes right now and there may be some homes in that area coming on the market.
We just moved to Norwalk with a new construction and love the neighborhood. People have been super friendly and it is going to be easy to get settled.
 

cysmiley

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Had a football coach get the cops called on him for washing his car on a Sunday in Pella. The cop was like 'what are you doing?' He says, 'washing my car?' Cop just stairs at him and said 'alright, just close the door please.' Friggin' Dutch.
Yea, can happen, depends on neighbors and whether they feel you're disrespecting the local culture. Pellans are very proud of their town, and the culture. I won't mow on Sunday morning, but if I need to get the grass cause I'm leaving town; then I do Sunday afternoon. Have a good friend, 85 years young, who has lived in Pella her whole life, and states the Sunday thing is BS, as long as you don't live within a block of a church. But I guess if working people can abstain from Sunday morning; than I can. I have never had a cop come for weeding, or working on the house; but I am sensitive to noise generation on Sunday morning. Its more of a church thing than a Dutch thing.
 

throwittoblythe

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Yea, can happen, depends on neighbors and whether they feel you're disrespecting the local culture. Pellans are very proud of their town, and the culture. I won't mow on Sunday morning, but if I need to get the grass cause I'm leaving town; then I do Sunday afternoon. Have a good friend, 85 years young, who has lived in Pella her whole life, and states the Sunday thing is BS, as long as you don't live within a block of a church. But I guess if working people can abstain from Sunday morning; than I can. I have never had a cop come for weeding, or working on the house; but I am sensitive to noise generation on Sunday morning. Its more of a church thing than a Dutch thing.
Help me understand what's being said here. They're super anal about keeping your lawn maintained? But you can't do it on Sundays to respect the Sabbath? I'm not judging, I'm really quite intrigued. I know my friend in Sioux Center said that they've gotten a lot better there, but people will still hassle you about your lawn getting too long. So is the lawn a point of pride for reformed Dutch folks?

I will say, when I went to Sioux Center, it was very idyllic. One thing my friend pointed out that I did not notice right away....no fences in town. No one puts up a fence. I don't think it's outlawed, but there's lots of social pressure not to have a fence.
 

BWRhasnoAC

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Yea, can happen, depends on neighbors and whether they feel you're disrespecting the local culture. Pellans are very proud of their town, and the culture. I won't mow on Sunday morning, but if I need to get the grass cause I'm leaving town; then I do Sunday afternoon. Have a good friend, 85 years young, who has lived in Pella her whole life, and states the Sunday thing is BS, as long as you don't live within a block of a church. But I guess if working people can abstain from Sunday morning; than I can. I have never had a cop come for weeding, or working on the house; but I am sensitive to noise generation on Sunday morning. Its more of a church thing than a Dutch thing.
Ya screw that, this is a free country.
 

cysmiley

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Help me understand what's being said here. They're super anal about keeping your lawn maintained? But you can't do it on Sundays to respect the Sabbath? I'm not judging, I'm really quite intrigued. I know my friend in Sioux Center said that they've gotten a lot better there, but people will still hassle you about your lawn getting too long. So is the lawn a point of pride for reformed Dutch folks?

I will say, when I went to Sioux Center, it was very idyllic. One thing my friend pointed out that I did not notice right away....no fences in town. No one puts up a fence. I don't think it's outlawed, but there's lots of social pressure not to have a fence.
People do maintain lawns, but the cop thing that was posted (coach was washing car) was what I tried to addressed. On the other hand, there are some lawns next block north that have more dandelions than grass. I think they have an ordinance that refers to lawns getting overgrown, but i am not familiar with the details. I was referring to the Sunday thing, and since I am not a regular at church, I do enjoy getting out on Sunday morning and doing some yard work, but nothing that would produce noise that could be heard beyond my immediate neighbors in the summer, just out of community respect. In the winter, it is ideal time to go out to HYVEE and surprise my wife with a cysmiley creation for the dinner table; as few people are there, most have been dragged to church by one spouse or the other, which is fine. Most, who know me, know I am not a regular at church, but other than an occasional mention years ago that I ought to choose one, never heard a negative word about it. My wife's congregation even prayed for me when I had my heart attack, and I went to her church the SUnday after I got home and thanked them for their concern. Also got hugs from the high school teacher and kids at there performance I was working with at the time as a volunteer. :):)

To BWRhasnoac:

yep, its a free country, you can be respectful of others or you can s**t on them; up to you. I got some hugs for being respectful of the effort the kids I was working with; when I made the effort to do what I said I was going to do; even tho I had the heart thing the previous week. All's well; that was 6 years ago!:)
 
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Sparkplug

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What changes are happening at Simpson? They are currently on my son’s short list.
Some departments have been eliminated. Financial troubles. With no Metro Opera this summer financial problems may get worse
 
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