Friendly neighbors and small town charm abound in Granger, a community of about 1,700 people located roughly 20 miles northwest of Des Moines. Though the town may be small in size (the city limits cover less than two square miles), its population is rapidly expanding; the number of residents grew by an impressive 113 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Granger, Iowa.
Overview of the City & Neighborhoods
Like many of the surrounding communities, Granger’s roots lie in the railroad business. The fledgling town was surveyed and recorded in 1885, the namesake of a railroad man named C.T. Granger.
In 1886, the town got its first big break when locals persuaded the railroad company to build a depot in town. The railroad complied and for the next 70 years, the town was served by a line running between Des Moines and nearby Perry.
Today Granger is divided between Dallas and Polk Counties, with Beaver Creek running just beneath the town’s southern boundary. The Beaver Creek watershed and the surrounding areas are popular destinations for walking, hiking and wildlife spotting.
Perhaps the best known landmarks in Granger are the duo of water towers marked ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’. They were given the labels some 30 years ago as a tongue-in-cheek explanation for why the town has two such towers rather than one. Though in reality the labels on the towers have nothing to do with the water inside them, residents recently voted to keep them despite a city rebrand because they’re so well known.
Another central point of interest is the Community Center and park, which features an event center, picnic shelter, and sporting fields. The center hosts many free and paid programs for residents of all ages throughout the year, including youth sports, adult fitness classes, yoga, craft nights and more.
Granger is a great place to live for outdoor enthusiasts; the town is located in close proximity to a fantastic network of recreational trails for hiking and biking, including the Neal Smith Trail and the High Trestle Trail. In recent years the town formed an advisory board that is currently working to establish a recreational trail in Granger itself.
Jester Park and the adjacent Saylorville Lake are less than 5 minutes away; here, you’ll find opportunities for camping, boating, kayaking, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. Finally, golf enthusiasts will find themselves at home at the Jester Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship course that’s open 12 months a year.
Granger is part of the Woodward-Granger School District. Two of the district’s schools lie within Granger city limits: the Early Learning Center on State Street and the Elementary School on Oak Street. The combined Middle and High School is located in nearby Woodward.
The district has a graduation rate of 93 percent, slightly outperforming the state average graduation rate of 91 percent. Students in the district exceed state averages for reading and math proficiency. 87 percent of students in the Woodward-Granger School District demonstrate proficiency in both reading and math, compared with 77 percent in reading and 78 percent in math at the state level.
There are 12 colleges and universities within a 50 mile radius of Granger, the nearest being Purdue Global’s Des Moines area campus in Urbandale.
Shopping & Eating
For pub grub and cold beer, stop by Bud’s Pub. This laid back watering hole has pool tables, live music acts and popular lunch specials during the week.
If you’re in the mood for a hot pie, head to Papa’s Pizzeria in neighboring Polk City, which has been a favorite dining destination for locals for more than two decades. Be sure to keep an eye out around town for the Big Red Food Truck, a mobile eatery known for its modern twists on comfort food favorites like loaded baked potato tots and a bloody mary Maid-Rite basket.
For shopping, many Granger residents make the short drive down Highway 141 to Valley West Mall or Jordan Creek Town Center. Valley West Mall’s department stores include JC Penney and Von Maur, while Jordan Creek Town Center is home to Dillard’s, Scheels and Costco. Each shopping center also offers several dozen additional apparel and specialty retailers.
In town, Casey’s General Store is quick place to grab essentials like snacks, drinks and sundries.
Crime in Granger is nearly a non-issue. On a national ranking scale of 1 to 100, where 1 is the lowest and 100 is the highest in terms of crime rates, Granger scores an 11 for violent crime and a 13 for property crime. In fact, for the major categories of violent crime--murder, rape, robbery and assault--a popular online crime tracking platform returns no available data.
Granger has its own police department and is served by a volunteer-based fire and rescue department.
One of the main draws of living in Granger is iits convenience for commuters. Highway 141 runs along the town’s southernmost border and spits commuters out neatly onto Interstates 35 and 80. Highway 17, which provides easy access to destinations to the north, runs along the town’s eastern border.
The majority of Granger residents drive to work, with an average commute time of 27 minutes. The commute into downtown Des Moines typically takes between 30 and 40 minutes by car, while the trip to West Des Moines takes just over 20 minutes.
Granger, Iowa ranks higher than its neighbors in terms of real estate prices, with a median home price of $269,000. For comparison, the median home price in nearby Grimes is $234,000 and $231,000 in Adel. According to Zillow, home values have been on the rise here, with numbers increasing 4.6 percent in the past year alone.
The median income for workers in Granger is $76,806, which means the cost of living index is slightly higher here, too, with housing accounting for the biggest difference in affordability. Average costs for groceries, utilities and transportation, on the other hand, are lower in Granger than national averages for the same categories.