Nearest big city: Des Moines
If you want to get a feel for how Midwestern rural life has changed over time, head to Urbandale’s 500-acre interactive museum called Living History Farms. Guests can visit three working farm sites that each represent different eras of Iowans transforming prairies into productive farmland, from the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm with corn and squash to the 1900s Horse-Powered Farm.
While the farms allow you to take a step back through history, the current Urbandale has a lot to offer. The city launched the Urban Loop in 2017, where many businesses have opened, relocated or expanded thanks to the network of accessible, interconnected traffic routes. For example, Casey's, a general store and pizza chain, opened a store in the loop in 2019. The city has a projected job growth of 7.7% for the next five years, a jump from the 4.7% it has seen since 2015.
The suburb is ideal for new families, with an affordable median home price of $266,000 and an easy commute. State capital Des Moines is just 10 miles away. –– Mallika Mitra