I moved to Ankeny from Southern CA in June, 2005. My immediate and lasting impression is the incredible home values here, the relatively low population density, and the lovely countryside. This is a four season climate, and Winter can be brutal, but bitter cold lasts only a day or so, and soon the sun will shine. Summers are warm but not oppressive. Ankeny is above the high-water mark, so it largely escaped the 2008 flood.
Ankeny is perfectly situated: 10 mi. North of Des Moines, 20 mi. South of Ames. It is in the middle of everything, with Minneapolis, Omaha, Chicago, Kansas City easy drives.
Ankeny is family-oriented, definitely caters to kids, and is growing. New home developments are sprouting all over, including some fairly expensive, but beautiful, homes. Now under construction nearby is the Prairie Trail development, a 1,000 acre mixed-use development to which the City administration offices will move.
There are nearby several hiking/cycling trails of significant length (>20 mi.), and Ankeny residents can avail themselves of all a cosmopolitan metropolis can offer in nearby Des Moines, from theater to dining to great malls.
Des Moines has two universities and a medical school, while Ames has Iowa State University.
Downside? After CA, it's got to be property taxes. This page rates them at $15/$1000 -- I rate them at over $17/$1000 value. If I leave Ankeny, blame property taxes. Not the highest in the nation, for sure, but too high nonetheless (and I use both the Veteran's and Homestead exemptions).
All told, Ankeny is one of the better places a person can live. This CA native rates it higher than the Golden State -- except for property taxes.