West Des Moines Homes for Sale
As its name suggests, West Des Moines is the westerly suburban neighbor of Iowa’s capital city. Situated on about 40 square miles, West Des Moines lies primarily in Polk County, with smaller parts extending into Dallas and Warren Counties. It’s home to some 66,000 people.
West Des Moines has been named to a number of ‘best places’ lists for living and working, most notably ranking number four in the nation on Money Magazine’s 2016 Best Places To Live list. Affordable housing, good schools and a thriving arts and business scene make it a desirable destination for young professionals, families and folks moving back to the suburbs after spending time in larger cities.
Overview of the City & Neighborhoods
Originally named Valley Junction, the city we now know as West Des Moines was incorporated in 1893, about 50 years after the U.S. War Department established Fort Des Moines to the east and kicked off the settlement of the surrounding region. In 1938, the powers that be changed the city’s name from Valley Junction to West Des Moines in an effort to rebrand as a more modern, forward-thinking community like its big-city neighbors to the east.
Today, the historic portion of downtown West Des Moines is known as Valley Junction and serves as a hub for community activities. Its architecture bridges the gap between old and new, offering unique shops and fun events alongside notable landmarks like the old city hall and historic Railroad Park. Valley Junction plays host to an annual arts festival, large Independence Day parade, car show, and farmer’s market during the summer months.
Another popular part of town is Raccoon River Park in the southeastern portion of the city. This 632-acre network of green spaces includes a lake for non-motorized boating and fishing, soccer and softball fields, a dog park and a 3.2 mile walking path.
Across town from Raccoon River Park is the Jordan Creek area, where many residential communities and shopping centers are located. This part of town is home to the highly-rated Des Moines Golf and Country Club and bustling Jordan Creek Town Center mall.
Though many residents make their way into Des Moines proper for work, West Des Moines isn’t without its fair share of employment opportunities. Hy-Vee Supermarkets has its headquarters here and Wells Fargo has a corporate office; both are among the city’s top employers.
The West Des Moines Community School District serves students in West Des Moines and the surrounding suburbs, including parts of Clive, Urbandale and Windsor Heights. The district is made up of nine elementary schools, two junior high schools and one traditional high school, in addition to a high school for freshmen only and an alternative high school.
Students in the far west reaches of West Des Moines attend schools in the Waukee School District.
In 2015, the West Des Moines Community School District became the first in the state to offer ‘New Tech’ schools--schools where all students are assigned a personal device and learning is done via collaborative projects with real-world applications. Valley High School was ranked among the top five high schools in the state by U.S. News & World Report, which assess schools based on standardized test scores and college preparation.
The district places a high emphasis on global language skills, with all students beginning Spanish classes in grade four. Incoming kindergartners may choose to enroll in the Dual Language Spanish Immersion program, where teaching is done in a 50/50 mix of English and Spanish.
Des Moines University recently announced plans to build a new campus in West Des Moines, and the University of Iowa is under two hours away by car.
West Des Moines boasts a well-educated population on the whole; 96% of residents have a high school diploma and 55% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Shopping & Eating
Shoppers in West Des Moines have a wide selection of retail outlets to choose from.
The two million square foot Jordan Creek Town Center houses upscale fashion and lifestyle retailers as well as an amphitheatre, hotel, movie theater and waterfront boardwalk with several dining options.
At Valley West Mall, you’ll find anchor stores Von Maur and JC Penney along with fashion favorites like American Eagle Outfitters, Express and Victoria’s Secret. The Des Moines Children’s Museum also has a location here.
If you’re looking for a departure from the traditional shopping mall experience, try West Glen Town Center, a walkable, open-air collection of boutiques, wine shops, beauty retailers and a Super Target.
In the dining department, West Des Moines has more than 200 establishments to choose from, running the gamut from cheap eats to fine dining. Some of the most popular spots to grab a bite include the Waterfront Seafood Market for the daily catch, Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano for Italian favorites and Cooper’s on 5th for pub grub.
West Des Moines has slightly higher violent crime and property crime rates than its smaller suburban neighbors, with 2.1 violent crimes and 31.8 property crimes per 1,000 people. The violent crime rate is about 28% lower than Iowa as a whole, while the property crime rate is 49% higher.
When it comes to commute times, West Des Moines residents have it better than those in nearly any other city in the country. The average commute time is just 17 minutes, with the trip from the center of West Des Moines into the heart of Des Moines taking just ten minutes.
The city has earned high marks among neighborhood ranking websites for offering a desirable balance between the small-town feel of the suburbs and the accessibility, culture and job opportunities of a big city. Des Moines is home to more than 80 companies in the insurance field alone, with manufacturing, logistics and technology making up other key sectors.
Median rent here is $964, about a two-thirds of the median rent nationwide. Projected job growth is a steady 3.22%.