Life in Ankeny: Housing, road construction, and cost

Beth Lee

Ankeny, Iowa is the “biggest small town” in Iowa. I’ve lived here all my life in the same house. I was the first graduating class from Ankeny Centennial high school. Since I’ve been here, the population has hit one of the top in the state. Back in 2000 there were just 27,000 people. In 2010 it grew at a rate of 68 percent with a population of 45,000. Seven years later, I don’t want to even imagine how many people are here.

They’ve had to split the school system into two different sections due to the population growth; Centennial and Ankeny. Since I’ve been here they’ve built seven schools. Centennial Jaguars and the Ankeny Hawks were great friends until the year after I graduated, meaning they had a friendship that lasted a year.

Now they hate each other.

Ankeny seems to have always thought they were top-notch people. They’re seemingly a higher class of Iowan. This is shown by how little we respect local businesses by buying into huge franchises and chain restaurants.  Citizens tend to shop at the big businesses and forget we even have the small businesses

The cost of living in Ankeny is also insane. Back in the 70s when my parents moved here it seemed reasonable.  My parents’ house cost around $49,000 which is about the same as a new Chevy Silverado.  Our house is now worth around $136,000. Nowadays, you can’t miss the property taxes that are ridiculous and overpriced apartments. Regular houses go for around $500,000 now and the good apartments cost at least $50,000. They continue to build houses that most people can’t afford and those that can afford them are usually in huge debt.

I suppose that could be why we have so many stores and gas stations in this town. People have to work to pay off their crippling debt from their homes.  Ankeny is home of Casey’s General Store.  I swear every corner in Ankeny has one. I’ve counted, and we have at least six Casey’s, which is almost a rival to how many Subways we have in this town.  Don’t get me wrong, Casey’s is nice but I honestly am not a huge fan of their pizza, which is their big thing.

We also have not one but two Hy-Vee stores. The south one on Oralabor is the newer one and has a “fancy factor” about it. Of course it also has higher prices than our beloved north Hy-Vee on Ankeny Blvd. There really isn’t too much of a difference between the two unless you count the snob factor about going to the “new” Hy-Vee.

I think my biggest complaint about Ankeny would be the road construction. In this town we apparently have two seasons, which are summer and road construction. The best part is how they seem to always start road construction on important roads right when school starts for all of us. This causes heavy traffic. They do a great job of mucking things up that could have been fixed the first time they did it but they always have to do a road at least three times before they get it right.

Despite Ankeny’s flaws it can be a nice town. However, would I recommend living here? No. You can hardly afford to live here and frankly, there are just too many people.


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