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Old 07-11-2012, 08:11 PM
 
7 posts, read 11,264 times
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Hello,

First thing I want to apologize if this thread is not in the proper spot! I didn't know if it should have been under DM or not.

My husband is in the process of changing jobs. His job will move us from MN to IA. We are looking into where to place our family and I have started doing the research. Two places have stuck out as a possibility. Pella or Altoona. These seem like nice small towns, which is what we are accustomed to. (However we are within 45 min of the twin cities and so have many different options available to us while keeping the small town vibe for our young family!)

I have lived in MN my whole life and so have no idea what to expect when moving to IA. I have a positive outlook and know that we will find new friends wherever we settle down. I am concerned with finding a great school and also a safe area. I happened to type in crime rates for these two places and was concerned with the results. I know that those types of reports can look alarming when it really isn't that bad, so I wanted to get the perspective of people who actually live around the area. The other thing that was of great concern to me was the amount of registered sex offenders that live in Iowa. Either Iowa does a much better job of reporting than Minnesota does (which is my hope!) or Iowa is a mecca for these types of offenders. The report I saw said that there are 333 that live in DM. I checked minneapolis just to compare and it said that there are 24 living there. That is a big difference. The small town that my husband will be working in has 27. This gave me pause. I am hoping that someone can put my mind at ease so that I don't feel like I can't let my kids out of my sight once we move!

Thanks in advance for any advice that you have. I can't even begin to articulate how much I appreciate the feedback.

Trying to stay positive!
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:55 PM
 
9,411 posts, read 10,371,262 times
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It depends on what you want and how much of a commute your husband wants. Pella is about 30-45 minutes away from Des Moines, while Altoona is more of a suburb/attached to Des Moines with a 10 minute drive to downtown.
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:03 PM
 
221 posts, read 1,082,738 times
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I don't live in either, but go to Pella frequently and go through Altoona often.

To me, Altoona feels more like a bedroom community for DM, while Pella is definitely a self-sufficient small town. There are two big employers in town (Pella Corp. and Vermeer) and tourism is a huge source of local income.

Altoona has some ugly modern development, while Pella very much controls development to maintain the "Dutch" image for tourism purposes.

Pella is pretty, I really like it. However, I have met some older people who retired there recently and they say that to them it seems expensive and stand-offish. You should really be aware that for the most part, Pella is still dominated by the Dutch Reformed church.

One of my employees recently moved to Pella and here's a story she told me. First I should be clear that this young woman is married and a conservative Christian. Anyway, she said that one Sunday afternoon she was outside doing yard work in her front yard. Her neighbors, an elderly couple, came over and told her that they were being kind to her by telling her that if she or her husband continued to do any outside work on Sundays the rest of the neighbors would shun them. This young woman agreed to stop, and from then on she told me she's been afraid to go outside on Sunday afternoons. The Dutch Reformed frown on any non-church activities on Sundays.

I don't know anything about crime in Altoona, but Pella always seems very safe to me.

Altoona has a really great quilt shop!

Last edited by Lily0fthevalley; 07-11-2012 at 10:07 PM.. Reason: clarity
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:47 AM
 
9,411 posts, read 10,371,262 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily0fthevalley View Post
I don't live in either, but go to Pella frequently and go through Altoona often.

To me, Altoona feels more like a bedroom community for DM, while Pella is definitely a self-sufficient small town. There are two big employers in town (Pella Corp. and Vermeer) and tourism is a huge source of local income.

Altoona has some ugly modern development, while Pella very much controls development to maintain the "Dutch" image for tourism purposes.

Pella is pretty, I really like it. However, I have met some older people who retired there recently and they say that to them it seems expensive and stand-offish. You should really be aware that for the most part, Pella is still dominated by the Dutch Reformed church.

One of my employees recently moved to Pella and here's a story she told me. First I should be clear that this young woman is married and a conservative Christian. Anyway, she said that one Sundaes afternoon she was outside doing yard work in her front yard. Her neighbors, an elderly couple, came over and told her that they were being kind to her by telling her that if she or her husband continued to do any outside work on Sundays the rest of the neighbors would shun them. This young woman agreed to stop, and from then on she told me she's been afraid to go outside on Sunday afternoons. The Dutch Reformed frown on any non-church activities on Sundays.

I don't know anything about crime in Altoona, but Pella always seems very safe to me.

Altoona has a really great quilt shop!
Wow. I never knew that about Pella. I've been there a handful of times. Its a very quiet, pretty town. A friend of mine loves to go there on a Saturday just to shop or relax in a park. Or go to Jaarsma Bakery of course.

I can't imagine crime being so bad either place. I don't understand the number of sex offenders. Maybe there is a difference between how they are classified here? Its not like the state is crawling with perverts.

I buzz through Altoona because I spend a lot of time at the water park in Adventureland. Gas is often 11 cents a gallon or more cheaper there!
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
2,401 posts, read 3,848,422 times
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I"m more of an urban guy, but if I was going to live in a small town in Iowa, Pella would be high on my list. What Pella loses to Altoona in terms of distance from Des Moines & thus proximity to amenties, it gains in uniqueness & character.

Both have good schools, but would give Pella the advantage if put head-to-head. (Note: there are website that compare schools districts in Iowa...I'd hunt that down for concrete comparisons).

Yes, Pella is conservative and has strong religious ties to the community, but there can be advantages to that....especially regarding the environment for raising children.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
9,258 posts, read 17,893,656 times
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Being more of a small-town guy myself, I'd lean toward Pella. It's big enough to offer everything one should need on a day-to-day basis, but close enough to Des Moines that frequent trips to the metro for additional shopping and social and cultural activities are not a problem.

As has been mentioned, fitting in in Pella can be a little bit of a problem. It will probably be easier for a family than a young single person.

My wife went to Central College and got a job in town after graduation. She really struggled, but part of her problem was that she really wanted to be part of the "in" crowd; to really be part of that crowd one really has to have a surname like Van Von Der Sloosteen. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but basically it's a Dutch town and the city leaders really want to keep it that way.

On the other hand, a former pastor of mine accepted a pulpit at a Baptist church in Pella and feels right at home. The Dutch influence isn't quite so strong in that denomination and he and his family belong to a nice social circle.

To somewhat correct what another poster said, the Dutch Reformed folks don't frown on all non-church activities on Sunday - for instance, they certainly like to go out to eat - but they do stringently observe Sunday as the Sabbath and discourage activities that might interfere with another person's rest and relaxation on that day. I believe there is an ordinance against lawn mowing on Sundays. And most businesses are closed on Sunday (other than restaurants); I'm not sure if they have blue laws that require this or if it's just an agreement between the business owners.

I've got nothing against Altoona, as far as that goes. It's got good schools, and for the most part is pretty clean. It's just not as clean as Pella.

As to the number of registered sex offenders, I think Iowa does a pretty good job of keeping the registry up-to-date which probably boosts the number. I also think that they consider a lot of things "sex crimes" that other states don't. For instance, a local man got into an altercation with a woman that became physical. He wasn't beating her up, they were just pushing and shoving each other. She pressed charges, and because her shirt was torn in the process he was charged with sexual abuse despite the fact that there was nothing sexual about it. The guy is a turd that I don't have much use for, but I wouldn't have any qualms about leaving my daughter alone in a room with him aside from some of the language she would probably hear. He's not a predator by any means, but because of the charge he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Measured equally, I'm not buying that Minneapolis only has 27 registered sex offenders vs. 333 for Des Moines. I'd say that Minnesota is probably much more lenient. Or Iowa is more stringent, however you want to look at it. The Iowa sex offender registry is here, you can search by county and town to see where the offenders are located in each area. It doesn't give details about the crime, but does give the gender and age range of the victim(s).

I feel like I've rambled a little bit, sorry.
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
1,704 posts, read 2,939,434 times
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Pella is much more charming, but Altoona has easier access to Des Moines if you need it.

You can think of Pella the same way you think of Northfield. Pella is a bit smaller, but both cities have a heavy European influence (Dutch in Pella and Norwegian in Northfield) and big private college presence (Central in Pella and Carlton and St. Olaf in Northfield).

Altoona is more similar to Shakopee. They're both moderately far-flung suburbs of major metros (Des Moines and Minneapolis, obviously), and they both have both a big horse racetrack and an amusement park (Prairie Meadows and Adventureland in Altoona and Canterbury Park and Valleyfair in Shakopee).
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:50 PM
 
Location: Des Moines
586 posts, read 2,008,980 times
Reputation: 379
^
Good comparisons, I agree.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:59 PM
 
450 posts, read 2,048,582 times
Reputation: 381
Quote:
Originally Posted by MN2IA View Post
Hello,

First thing I want to apologize if this thread is not in the proper spot! I didn't know if it should have been under DM or not.

My husband is in the process of changing jobs. His job will move us from MN to IA. We are looking into where to place our family and I have started doing the research. Two places have stuck out as a possibility. Pella or Altoona. These seem like nice small towns, which is what we are accustomed to. (However we are within 45 min of the twin cities and so have many different options available to us while keeping the small town vibe for our young family!)

I have lived in MN my whole life and so have no idea what to expect when moving to IA. I have a positive outlook and know that we will find new friends wherever we settle down. I am concerned with finding a great school and also a safe area. I happened to type in crime rates for these two places and was concerned with the results. I know that those types of reports can look alarming when it really isn't that bad, so I wanted to get the perspective of people who actually live around the area. The other thing that was of great concern to me was the amount of registered sex offenders that live in Iowa. Either Iowa does a much better job of reporting than Minnesota does (which is my hope!) or Iowa is a mecca for these types of offenders. The report I saw said that there are 333 that live in DM. I checked minneapolis just to compare and it said that there are 24 living there. That is a big difference. The small town that my husband will be working in has 27. This gave me pause. I am hoping that someone can put my mind at ease so that I don't feel like I can't let my kids out of my sight once we move!

Thanks in advance for any advice that you have. I can't even begin to articulate how much I appreciate the feedback.

Trying to stay positive!
Which town outside of the Twin Cites are you currently living? I've lived in both the Twin Cities and Des Moines so perhaps I can give you a Central Iowa town that would be similar.

Schools will not be an issue. Most any shcool district in Iowa is outstanding.

Minnesota clearly identifies sex offenders much differently than Iowa. No way, no how only 27 registered offenders live in Minneapolis.
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:14 AM
 
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
2,401 posts, read 3,848,422 times
Reputation: 1444
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMRyan View Post
^
Good comparisons, I agree.
Agreed. Nice work.
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