A Des Moines Custom Home Builder Blog

Why You Should Build Your Custom Home in Ankeny, Iowa

Posted by Don Brill on April 19, 2016

At the beginning of the 20th century, Ankeny was in its early days as a small coal-mining town. A lot has changed since then, and the town continues to grow. The 2010 census reported a population of over 45,000 – 68% higher than in 2000. Now a booming suburb just north of Des Moines, Ankeny has become a highly desirable place to call home, especially for families. The community boasts a high employment rate and median income, outstanding schools, safe neighborhoods, plenty of access to nature, and public cultural programs.

This article belongs to the Construction Process Series 


Employment and Earning

Ankeny residents enjoy a very high rate of employment, reporting unemployment of only 3.1% (compared to a nationwide rate of 5% and statewide 3.8% unemployment). Per capita income in Ankeny is about 23% higher than in the rest of Iowa and 16% higher than the rest of the U.S., while poverty here less than half as frequently than across Iowa as a whole.



Ankeny’s crime rate is quite low. According to AreaVibes, Ankeny is safer than 71% of U.S. cities, and crime is decreasing year over year. The city police department even offers a “transaction safe place” in its parking lot to increase the safety of buying and selling items on sites such as Craigslist. The lot is under 24-hour surveillance and well lit in the evening.



Ankeny offers valuable educational opportunities for children and adults. It is the home of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), which serves recent high school graduates beginning their college careers, adults seeking continuing education, and high school students who are looking to for an alternative setting to earn their diploma or wanting to get head start on preparing for college. DMACC offers free tutoring to all of its students as well, giving every student the best possible chance at success. For those continuing to university-level study, ISU is less than 30 minutes away.

Ankeny schools have demonstrated academic excellence. The city’s high school students graduate at a rate 13% higher than the national average and 4% higher than the Des Moines metro area average. Additionally, Ankeny K-12 students demonstrate a higher average reading and math proficiency than students across the state or in other Des Moines-area schools.


Getting Outdoors

Ankeny is situated at the northeast end of the High Trestle Trail, a superb place for hiking or biking through Central Iowa. The trail stretches 25 miles from Ankeny to Woodward, where you reach the gorgeous High Trestle Trail Bridge, one of the largest in the country at 13 stories high and ½ mile long. The bridge was named one of “eight amazing footbridges” in a 2015 article in the BBC Culture section and recognized by the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Network in its 2012 Year in Review. The columns that form the entrance to the bridge and the rotating steel cribs that surround it pay homage to the area’s coal-mining past. (Check out this cool YouTube video that covers the entire trail in under 2 minutes!)

Southern Ankeny is home to Carney Marsh, a 40-acre wildlife habitat that is home to herons, muskrats, Canada geese, hawks, and many other species. A trail runnin through the marsh from north to south gives lots of opportunity for wildlife watching. Ankeny is also just minutes from Saylorville Lake and all of its fishing, boating, camping, swimming, hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation opportunities.


Arts Opportunities

Ankeny offers many ways for kids and adults to get directly involved in the arts. Exhibits at the Ankeny Art Center are free and open to the public. The Center offers classes for adults and children, including summer camps. The Ankeny Community Band is a place where amateurs who loved playing music in high school or college can continue to enjoy playing in a band. The Ankeny Community Theatre offers drama camps for young actors and puts on several plays each year. All of these local groups, as well as the Ankeny Community Chorus, perform regularly at the Ankeny Bandshell in Wagner Park. And in the summer, Ankeny Unplugged brings a variety of musicians, artists, and vendors to the bandshell for the city’s annual festival of music, arts, and food.


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


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Topics: Home Construction Process