Pleasant Hill, Iowa is a suburb of about 10,000 people located six miles due east of central Des Moines. Incorporated in 1956, the city has experienced rapid growth thanks to its convenient location, affordable real estate and forward-thinking community development programs. Read on to learn more about living in Pleasant Hill, including its neighborhood features, schools, affordability and more.
Overview of the City & Neighborhoods
Parks, golf, and proximity to a major city: if any of these things are important to you, you’ll feel right at home in Pleasant Hill.
One of the city’s most unique features is its location along the Gay Lea Wilson Trail, a mixed-use trail that connects East Des Moines with the surrounding communities via a network of woodland paths and rural roadways. Residents can use the trail for recreational purposes like hiking, biking, birding, and cross-country skiing, as well as accessing city amenities without a motor vehicle.
Currently, the Gay Lea Wilson Trail links the towns of Pleasant Hill, Ankeny, Berwick and Altoona to Des Moines, with plans to eventually include 35 miles of trailway. It also connects to several other major in-state and inter-state trail networks, including the Chichaqua Valley Trail and the Oralabor Gateway Trail.
The city has its eyes on future development, with more than 500 acres of land reserved along the Highway 163 corridor for commercial and mixed-use projects. In November of 2015, the city council approved a Comprehensive Plan for development, which includes a downtown-style ‘Town Center Core’ with retail shops and decorative streetscapes as well as a plan for revitalizing dated neighborhoods.
Students in Pleasant Hill attend schools that are part of either the Des Moines Public School District or the Southeast Polk County Community School District. Four Mile Elementary School, Southeast Polk Junior High School and Southeast Polk Senior High School of the Polk district are located within the city limits, as is Pleasant Hill Elementary School of the Des Moines district.
Four Mile Elementary is a ‘Project Lead The Way’ school. The program aims to reinvent the classroom experience through hands-on learning, with a special focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. Southeast Polk Senior High has graduated 22 presidential scholars, one of the highest national honors for high school students.
There are 15 colleges within a 50-mile radius of Pleasant Hill, including the University of Iowa about an hour and forty minutes away via car.
Shopping & Eating
Shoppers in Pleasant Hill can find a little bit of everything at Beez Rustic Treasures. The shop features an eclectic mix of vintage fashion, refurbished furniture, handmade decor and accessories. It also hosts a full schedule of classes covering various DIY projects, like canvas art and charm jewelry making.
About seven miles north of Pleasant Hill are the Outlets of Des Moines, home to more than 40 retail discount stores like the Nike Factory Store, Levi’s Outlet Store, and Rack Room Shoes. In between snagging the best deals, grab a quick bite at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Charley’s Philly Steaks or Teriyaki Boys, all available without leaving the premises.
Pleasant Hill offers an array of dining options, from tacos and fajitas at La Feria Mexican Restaurant to French bread pizza at Breadeaux Pizza. Families and large groups will love Social Eats & Crafts, a comfort food and craft beer establishment with an in-house bowling alley. Scooter’s Coffee is the go-to local spot for your morning cup of joe.
After dinner, catch a movie on one of the nine screens at Fridley Theatres Copper Creek 9.
Pleasant Hill ranks higher than the state and national averages for the incident rate of property crimes and overall crime. The incidence of burglary is 8 per 1,000 residents (compared to 4 per 1,000 residents nationally), 22 per 1,000 residents for theft (compared to 17 out of 1,000 nationally) and 4 per 1,000 residents for motor vehicle theft (compared to about 2.5 out of 1,000 at the national level).
Its overall crime index is 12, which means Pleasant Hill is considered safer on the whole than 12 percent of U.S. cities.
The city council has consulted with various experts to analyze areas for improvement to public safety. One resulting study concluded that “the police department is severely suffering from lack of adequate space.” As a result, plans are in the works for a new Public Safety Facility which would house the police department and serve as a future auxiliary location for fire and EMS response teams.
Pleasant Hill is very much a bedroom community, with most employed residents commuting elsewhere to get to work. There are 22 jobs per 100 residents in the geographic limits of Pleasant Hill.
The city’s location at the intersection of U.S. Highway 65 bypass and Iowa Highway 163 makes it a convenient option for commuters, many of whom work in Des Moines and other adjacent cities. Nearby Interstates 80 and 35 offer easy access to the rest of central Iowa.
The average commute time for Pleasant Hill residents is a manageable 23 minutes. Wells Fargo, Hy-Vee and Mercy Medical are among the top area employers.
For those who prefer to take advantage of public transit, the Des Moines Area Regional Transit System, or DART, is a reliable and affordable option. Pleasant Hill is served by the #1 route, which operates between the DART Central Terminal, Iowa State Fairgrounds and Hubbell Avenue, and the #10 route, which runs from the McDonald’s Park and Ride on NE 56th Street along East University Avenue to Central Terminal. The fare is $1.75.
One of Pleasant Hill’s biggest draws is its affordable real estate. According to latest figures the median home value here is about $189,000. This is about 16 percent lower than the national median home value of $226,000.
The median rent is $910, while the median household income is $74,000.