Best Places to Live

Ames, IA

Population: 62,815
LIV
SCORE
629
Photo Courtesy of Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

A charming midwestern college town located 30 miles north of Des Moines, Ames is an artsy, educated and welcoming town to call home — whether you’re a student at Iowa State University or well past your graduation date.

Ames is on the Top 100 Best Places to Live list this year because of its commitment to health, and was even named the healthiest city in the country in 2015. The city’s clean bill of health is due to its low percentage of smokers and its low uninsured rate — with only 4.9% of citizens in Ames reporting to be uninsured (compared to a 12.2% national uninsured rate). Ames is also well connected by the Ames Trail System, a 55-mile trail that’s made up of bike lanes on the street and shared use paths.

Looking for a job? Ames has got you covered. With amazing opportunities in many fields, but especially the growing tech sector, Ames clocked in at #2 on Livability’s list of the Best Cities for Job Seekers.

Local Obsession: On college football Saturdays, you can find Ames residents at Jack Trice Stadium, cheering on their beloved Iowa State Cyclones.

Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Rarely hot — keep a snowsuit handy.

Top Industries and Employers: The top industries are education, healthcare and agriculture. The top employers in Ames are Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Local Dream Job: Assistant professor at the College of Design at Iowa State — one of the only comprehensive design schools that offers courses in art, architecture, graphic design, community planning and interior design.

Quintessential Meal: The bloody brilliant bangers and mash at The Mucky Duck Pub (a British style pub).

Favorite Weekend Activity: Perusing one of the campus museums like the Brunnier Art Museum, Christian Petersen Art Museum or the Farm House Museum — a grand 19th century building that Iowa State presidents used to call home.   

After-Work Meetup Spot: Grab some tacos and a beer at Es Tas Bar and Grill, a friendly (if sometimes rowdy) local hangout.

Best Local Beer: Want a truly local beer? Alluvial Brewing beer comes from plants from their very own farm in Franklin township.

Free Way to Have Fun: Nestled behind historic Morrill Hall on the Iowa State campus and situated on a 22-acre greenspace is the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden — a perfect way to kill time between classes, or visit on the weekends when campus is empty.

Truly Hidden Gem: Grant Wood (of American Gothic fame) painted murals in the Iowa State Library, which was part of a New Deal project to employ artists who had been out of work, and the results are stunning and iconic.

- Jamie Birdwell-Branson

Read More:

Why Ames is a Top 100 Best Place to Live

Why Ames is an Up-and-Coming Tech Hotspot

Moving to Ames? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

"Ames is a well-kept secret. I have multiple favorite spots, but probably the place my family frequents the most is Café Diem.  As a graduate student, it was my go-to place to hide and write my dissertation. Now, my children and I often go there to grab a cup of tea or a smoothie in between evening lessons. It’s also a great place for an off-campus chat with a colleague."

 

Professor Amanda Fales-Williams, DVM, PhD., inaugural holder of the Tyrone D. Artz, MD
Chair for Teaching Excellence in Veterinary Medicine

Ames, IA Ranking Data

Civic
65
Demographics
45
Economy
60
Education
66
Health
72
Housing
66
Infrastructure
71