Norwalk is a community of nearly 12,000 residents located in Warren and Polk Counties in central Iowa. Situated just south of the Des Moines International Airport, the city is a popular suburb among professionals who work in Des Moines. The median age is a relatively young 36 years old.
This article will help you learn more about livability in Norwalk, Iowa and homes for sale here.
Overview of the City & Neighborhoods
The first settlers arrived in the area of present-day Norwalk in the 1840’s, putting down roots and constructing log cabins near the North River. Though originally known as Pyra, the town was eventually renamed Norwalk by settler George W. Swan, who christened it after his hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut.
By 1900 the town was incorporated, despite its small size of just one square mile. The town grew via a series of annexations throughout the 20th century, eventually reaching its current size of just under 11 square miles. The city continues efforts to annex additional land from the surrounding region to this day.
Golfers will find themselves right at home in Norwalk. The city is home to three courses: Warrior Run Golf Course, The Legacy Golf Club and Echo Valley Country Club. There are also a number of public parks, along with the man-made Lake Colechester, which is a great spot for boating and fishing of largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike and other species.
The Norwalk-McAninch Sports Complex is a popular gathering point for community members. This 40 acre recreational center has adult and youth softball fields, youth baseball and soccer fields, and picnic areas. It’s the headquarters of the Norwalk Soccer Club, a recreational youth soccer league whose players compete against other teams from around the state.
If you’re a theatre lover, you’ll have your pick of shows to enjoy at the Norwalk Performing Arts Center. The center hosts numerous cultural attractions every season, including community theater productions, musical acts and children’s performances.
Norwalk’s city leaders have a mind for development, with a strategic plan in the works focused on growing the economy and tax base. Upcoming initiatives include increasing staffing to the police and fire department, increasing redevelopment along the Highway 28 corridor, growing parks and recreation programs and continuing to attract new businesses and jobs.
Children in Norwalk attend school in the Norwalk Community School District, which has a highly positive reputation among schools in the Des Moines area. The district is comprised of two elementary schools, a middle school serving 6th and 7th graders, Eastview School serving 8th and 9th graders, and a high school.
All five schools in the district recently achieved Level 1 certification as Marzano High Reliability Schools. The system assesses schools on their performance and effectiveness and ranks them accordingly among five tiers, with Level 1 being the highest rung of achievement.
The district as a whole maintains a graduation rate of 96 percent, outpacing the state average graduation rate of 91 percent. Students here considerably outperform state averages for math and reading proficiency, with a proficiency rate of 87 percent in math and 85 percent in reading (compared with 78 percent and 77 percent at the state level, respectively).
There are 13 colleges and universities within a 50 miles radius of Norwalk, the largest being Iowa State University about 37 miles away. About 40 percent of Norwalk residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 97 percent hold a high school diploma.
Shopping & Eating
You’ll quickly feel at home in Norwalk when you walk into 804 Main Bar & Grill, a laid-back local watering hole loved by locals. Think pool, darts, arcade games, burgers and 40 different kinds of beer.
If it’s pizza you’re in the mood for, head to the newly opened Pyra Pizzeria, which is quickly making a name for itself with its Neapolitan style pies. El Maya Mexican Restaurant is another popular choice among residents.
As for shopping, your best bet is to head into Des Moines proper, where you’ll find everything from big box stores to shopping malls to one-of-a-kind boutiques. Popular shopping destinations in Des Moines include the Shops At Roosevelt, a historic cultural district with a selection of walkable stores, and downtown Des Moines, with a variety of apparel, home goods and specialty retailers to choose from. The downtown shopping district is served by a convenient free shuttle.
According to a trusted crime tracking website, Norwalk is safer than 71 percent of U.S. neighborhood based on available crime statistics. Chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime in Norwalk are one in 1,211, compared to 1 in 341 for the state of Iowa as a whole. For property crime, that number is 1 in 121, compared to 1 in 47 for Iowa.
For those interested in keeping an eye on crime in the community, the Norwalk Police Department makes weekly activity reports available on its website.
The majority of the workforce in Norwalk gets to work via car, with an average commute time of 21 minutes. The city of Des Moines is an easy trip up county road 63, which runs straight into downtown.
The city has identified transportation as one of the top public concerns within its comprehensive plan. Future city plans involving transportation in Norwalk include improving and broadening existing thoroughfares and making public transportation more accessible to connect the town with the greater Des Moines metropolitan area.
In 2010, Norwalk was voted the Best Affordable Suburb in Iowa by the publication Businessweek. Key selling points for the title included a strong local economy, business friendly atmosphere and ample new housing supply.
According to a comparison among U.S. cities, the cost of living on a whole in Norwalk is slightly lower than the national average. Groceries, utilities and transportation are notably lower than the nationwide average, while healthcare is the biggest factor that’s more expensive here.