A Des Moines Custom Home Builder Blog

Build Your Custom Home in Johnston

Posted by Don Brill on April 13, 2016

Although it’s been settled for 170 years, since the first pioneers came to Iowa, the town of Johnston was only incorporated in 1969. Since then, however, it has blossomed quickly. In 2015, it was named for the second time to Money Magazine’s top places to live list – at an impressive #16! Its school district is one of the best in the country. If you’re looking at building a Des Moines custom home, turn your gaze a few miles northwest to Johnston.

Johnston Iowa welcome_sign.jpg 

This article belongs to the Construction Process Series 

According to a scientific survey conducted by the city in November 2015 of 539 households, 92% of Johnston residents report being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the overall quality of life in Johnston. The city also asked residents to provide positive and critical feedback on a variety of areas within city government, including police, fire, parks, library, public works, communication and community development, and reported that its city departments consistently rank among the best in the country.[1] It’s 17,278 residents agree: Johnston is the place to be.

Award-winning Schools

Johnston’s schools are its crown jewel. It has some of the highest levels of student proficiency and high school graduation in Iowa. In 2010, President Obama’s National Teacher of the Year was a Johnston Senior High School English teacher. The community puts a strong emphasis on education at all levels: 48.6% of Johnson’s adults have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Historic Roots

The community was named for John F. Johnston, one of the station agents for the Interurban Railroad. The Interurban was an electric train (established in 1907) that provided commuter and freight service from Carlisle to Perry, through Des Moines and Johnston. Johnston Station was a stop-off on the railroad and the home of Camp Dodge, a military training site since 1908. (The camp, now home to the Iowa National Guard, sits on 4,500 acres in the northern part of Johnston.)

Pioneering Economy

In the late 1920’s, Henry B. Wallace conducted experiments with hybridizing corn and founded the Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company. Mr. Wallace went on to become the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, and the Vice-President of the United States (under President Franklin Roosevelt). Pioneer boomed, becoming the leading seed corn producer in the world and attracting residents and workers to Johnston. The company, now called DuPont Pioneer, continues to thrive, employing more than 2,000 people in the Johnston area. Johnston is also the headquarters of Iowa Public Radio.

Its future projected job growth over the next ten years is an impressive 44%. Unemployment is only 4% (compared to the national average of 6.3%).[2]

Low Cost of High-Quality Living

Along with a robust economy, the cost of living, and building, in Johnston is low, while the median household income remains high. The median income for a Johnston family is $89,453, and the median home price for 2015 was $218,563. Its low crime rate ranks it safer than 76% of other U.S. cities.

Abundant Natural Beauty

Family_walking_in_park.jpgThe city is bordered on the east by the Des Moines River, bisected by Beaver Creek, and includes part of Saylorville Reservoir. It also boasts an abundance of green space and tree-lined streets, as well as 35 miles of trails. Johnston is committed to bicyclist and pedestrian improvements, emphasizing safe and comprehensive commuter and recreational corridors.

Residents can camp, picnic, and ride bikes along the Saylorville Dam. The city has also recently begun the $5.4 million development of a new local park—to include an 8-acre fishing lake and pier, playgrounds, and a concert lawn.

Johnston also boasts beautiful historic homes, including the Paul J. and Ida Trier House, a private residence designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Fun & Convenient Community

During the summer, Johnston hosts an annual kite festival and weekly farmers’ markets, as well as Green Days, a three-day summer festival outside the local library. Jazz in July and local football are other fun community activities.

Johnson is only a few miles away from the conveniences of Des Moines and its western suburbs. Although it’s a seventeen-minute commute to Des Moines, on average, it feels like a world away. With family-friendly amenities, excellent schools, a close community and a relaxed pace, Johnston is an excellent place to build your family's dream home.

Homes by Brill home builders in Des Moines can help you find land in Johnston, Waukee, or other community in the Des Moines metro area, obtain financing, and design and build the perfect home for your family. Contact us today to get started!


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[1] www.cityofjohnston.com/survey

[2] http://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/iowa/johnston

Topics: Home Construction Process