In 1920, shortly after the city incorporated, Urbandale had 298 people. Its population in 1950 was 1,777, but the city grew rapidly after that along with the rest of Des Moines' suburbs. By 1970 Urbandale had 14,434 people, and in 2000 it had 29,072. Although most of the city's developed area is in Polk County, Urbandale has expanded westward into Dallas County in recent years.
While Urbandale is primarily a residential city, commercial and industrial development has increased in recent years, particularly in industrial parks along I-35/80. Urbandale also features 850 acres (3.4 km²) of parks and 33 miles (53 km) of recreational trails that connect to other trails in the Des Moines area.
Urbandale is also the home of Living History Farms, where Pope John Paul II spoke to a crowd estimated at 350,000 on October 4, 1979; Buccaneer Arena, home to the Des Moines Buccaneers hockey team; and the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which oversees operations for Powerball, Hot Lotto, and other multi-state games. (With Florida's entry into Powerball in January 2009, that game's drawings will eventually take place in Florida.)
In July 2005, Money magazine ranked Urbandale 53rd on its list of the "100 Best Places to Live" in the United States. The July 2006 Money Magazine list dropped the city from the list. Urbandale reappeared on the list in the July 2007 issue of Money Magazine as the 39th best place to live.
A September 2008 Business Week magazine survey ranks Urbandale 12th among the nation’s top 20 communities likely to face trouble ahead from the still-brewing Wall Street financial crises. Due to the large number of mortgage and banking based facilities in the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.7 square miles (53.7 km²), of which, 20.7 square miles (53.6 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.10%) is water.
There were 11,484 households out of which 35.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.7% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.3% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $59,744, and the median income for a family was $70,548. Males had a median income of $45,470 versus $32,631 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,021. About 2.5% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.7% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.