Best Places To Buy A House In Iowa For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which places in Iowa have seen home prices rising and people flocking over the past year.

Editor’s note: This is not investment advice and we are not financial advisers. Article updated for 2020.

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There's a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Iowa:

Should I buy a place or rent? Well, we aren't here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you'll do the right thing and a buy a place. And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Iowa, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Hawkeye State.

To do that we are going to look at places in Iowa that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the "deals". The best deal in Iowa at the moment? That would be Spirit Lake according to our analysis.

Here's a look at the top ten places to buy a home in iowa for 2020:

  1. Spirit Lake (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Osceola (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Manchester (Homes For Sale)
  4. Vinton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Iowa Falls (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Sheldon (Homes For Sale)
  7. Winterset (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Glenwood (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Clarinda (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Red Oak (Photos | Homes For Sale)

What's the best place to buy a home in Iowa for 2020? According to our analysis, would the the ideal place to buy a home looking into the future.

The methodology that wen't into this can be a bit complicated, so we'll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below. If you're not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in iowa and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in iowa.

For more Iowa reading, check out:

The 10 Best Cities To Buy A House In Iowa For 2020

Spirit Lake, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 5,021
Median Home Price: $148,200
Population Change: 1.1%
Home Price Change: 1.0%
More on Spirit Lake: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Osceola, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,021
Median Home Price: $89,300
Population Change: 0.5%
Home Price Change: 2.4%
More on Osceola: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Manchester, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,037
Median Home Price: $108,800
Population Change: -0.2%
Home Price Change: 0.8%
More on Manchester: Homes For Sale | Data

Manchester was founded in the 1850s. It was originally called Burrington after its founder, Levings Burrington, who settled there in 1852. The name was subsequently changed to Manchester.

Vinton, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,124
Median Home Price: $125,400
Population Change: -0.3%
Home Price Change: 10.8%
More on Vinton: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Vinton was founded in 1849. It was named for Hon. Plynn Vinton, a state legislator. The first railroad line was extended to Vinton in 1869, and it was incorporated as a city that same year.

Iowa Falls, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,124
Median Home Price: $87,400
Population Change: -0.2%
Home Price Change: -1.0%
More on Iowa Falls: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Iowa Falls was laid out and platted in 1856. It was named from the falls on the Iowa River.

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,132
Median Home Price: $140,300
Population Change: 1.4%
Home Price Change: -2.7%
More on Sheldon: Homes For Sale | Data

Winterset, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,203
Median Home Price: $145,000
Population Change: 0.9%
Home Price Change: 3.6%
More on Winterset: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Winterset was platted during a cool spell in the summer of 1849.

Glenwood, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,276
Median Home Price: $143,000
Population Change: 0.1%
Home Price Change: 4.2%
More on Glenwood: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Located in a hollow of the Loess Hills on the east side of the Missouri River, Glenwood was established by Mormons in 1848 as Coonsville. It prospered during the California Gold Rush largely due to the grain mill on Keg Creek. Coonsville was the scene of anti-Mormon mob violence, became the county seat of Mills County in 1851, and was renamed Glenwood after most of Mormons left for Utah in 1852. Glenwood is named for a Presbyterian minister, Glenn Wood. The community supported the creation of Nebraska Territory in 1854. Two Glenwood attorneys were elected to the Nebraska territorial legislature, and they were run out of town for accepting shares in Scriptown. At the end of the Civil War, an Iowa Veteran's Orphans Home was founded here. The evangelist Billy Sunday lived at the orphanage as a child.

Clarinda, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,398
Median Home Price: $90,400
Population Change: 0.4%
Home Price Change: 12.0%
More on Clarinda: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Clarinda was founded in 1851, and incorporated on December 8, 1866. Many stories are told of such notables as Jesse James frequently passing through.

Red Oak, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,434
Median Home Price: $80,800
Population Change: -0.7%
Home Price Change: 11.4%
More on Red Oak: PhotosHomes For Sale | Data

Red Oak derives its name from Red Oak Creek which flows through the community and was noted for the red oaks on its banks. The first settlers arrived there in the 1850s. In 1865 it became the official county seat of Montgomery County and the courthouse which had been in the middle of the county seven miles east in Frankfort, Iowa was towed to the community during a snow storm. That courthouse remained in place until the current Montgomery County Courthouse was built in 1891. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

How do you determine the best places to buy a home in iowa for 2020?

We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we've put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.

So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we'd approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Iowa. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Iowa with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.

To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2014-2018 and compared it to the previous vintage (2012-2016). Specifically, we used the following criteria:

  • Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
  • Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
  • Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It's still kinda cheap)

We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still "cheap" for Iowa with the following caveats:

So of the 0 cities and towns in Iowa, only 80 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.

We then ranked each place from 1 to 80 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a "best place to buy" index with the place having the lowest index being the best. You can download the data here.

Turns out that Spirit Lake is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Hawkeye State.

Read on for more on these places.

There You Have It - The Best Places To Purchase A House In iowa for 2020

There's our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Iowa. And, to be clear, we aren't necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.

In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 0 places in the state.

So if we'd could rent or buy in these cities, we'd definitely buy.

For more iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Iowa

City Rank Median Home Price Population Change Home Price Increase
Spirit Lake 1 $148,200 1.1% 1.0%
Osceola 2 $89,300 0.5% 2.4%
Manchester 3 $108,800 -0.2% 0.8%
Vinton 4 $125,400 -0.3% 10.8%
Iowa Falls 5 $87,400 -0.2% -1.0%
Sheldon 6 $140,300 1.4% -2.7%
Winterset 7 $145,000 0.9% 3.6%
Glenwood 8 $143,000 0.1% 4.2%
Clarinda 9 $90,400 0.4% 12.0%
Red Oak 10 $80,800 -0.7% 11.4%
Algona 11 $128,600 -0.6% -1.7%
Anamosa 12 $105,800 0.8% 12.7%
Asbury 13 $252,200 2.5% 4.9%
Centerville 14 $68,400 -0.3% -0.6%
Bondurant 15 $201,100 6.8% 11.4%
Estherville 16 $82,700 -1.2% -0.8%
Maquoketa 17 $87,800 1.2% 0.3%
Independence 18 $130,300 0.2% 8.5%
Oelwein 19 $74,300 -0.7% 9.4%
Orange City 20 $159,700 -0.1% 1.5%
Eldridge 21 $239,400 2.7% 10.7%
Atlantic 22 $105,200 -1.1% 10.5%
Nevada 23 $132,800 0.1% 3.5%
Knoxville 24 $92,600 -0.0% -1.1%
Hiawatha 25 $149,300 0.3% 6.0%
Washington 26 $113,300 -0.2% 3.0%
Charles City 27 $91,900 -0.2% 3.3%
Sioux Center 28 $208,000 0.7% 8.8%
Clear Lake 29 $157,500 0.4% 7.5%
Perry 30 $87,700 -1.0% -1.7%
Decorah 31 $178,700 -1.1% 7.8%
Webster City 32 $94,200 -0.7% 1.0%
Creston 33 $89,200 -0.4% 4.8%
Denison 34 $90,700 -0.0% -9.5%
Mount Pleasant 35 $108,800 0.7% -0.7%
Grinnell 36 $137,400 2.2% 2.7%
Pleasant Hill 37 $191,500 1.3% 1.2%
Le Mars 38 $152,400 0.3% 2.4%
Carroll 39 $144,800 -0.4% 3.9%
Waverly 40 $167,500 0.2% 2.1%
Fairfield 41 $101,900 0.9% -2.1%
Pella 42 $185,000 0.3% 1.7%
Keokuk 43 $70,400 -0.7% 4.5%
Norwalk 44 $189,500 3.8% 5.7%
Fort Madison 45 $79,500 -0.2% -1.1%
Storm Lake 46 $120,600 -0.6% 2.1%
Spencer 47 $125,100 -0.4% 1.1%
Oskaloosa 48 $96,700 -0.2% 1.6%
Grimes 49 $212,800 7.1% 6.6%
Boone 50 $109,500 -0.1% 0.4%
Newton 51 $104,400 0.5% 6.3%
Indianola 52 $156,900 1.1% 0.8%
Clive 53 $252,500 0.4% 3.8%
Altoona 54 $189,000 3.4% 8.2%
North Liberty 55 $207,600 3.6% 5.0%
Waukee 56 $221,500 7.6% 4.9%
Coralville 57 $224,300 2.0% 8.5%
Johnston 58 $249,200 2.9% 0.4%
Muscatine 59 $107,200 0.1% -1.5%
Fort Dodge 60 $91,000 -0.6% 0.6%
Ottumwa 61 $73,900 -0.1% 0.7%
Burlington 62 $90,100 -0.8% 0.0%
Clinton 63 $96,100 -1.0% 2.8%
Marshalltown 64 $95,900 -0.6% 0.5%
Mason City 65 $110,200 -0.5% 1.4%
Bettendorf 66 $204,700 1.4% 3.9%
Marion 67 $161,500 1.8% 1.4%
Cedar Falls 68 $181,900 0.1% 4.8%
Urbandale 69 $226,700 1.6% 4.9%
Dubuque 70 $138,400 -0.1% 1.9%
Ankeny 71 $210,100 5.2% 6.4%
Council Bluffs 72 $117,600 0.3% 1.6%
West Des Moines 73 $210,200 2.2% 3.4%
Ames 74 $196,400 1.4% 5.0%
Waterloo 75 $114,000 -0.0% 3.0%
Iowa City 76 $203,500 1.6% 0.6%
Sioux City 77 $110,300 -0.1% 6.7%
Davenport 78 $127,100 0.0% 2.3%
Cedar Rapids 79 $140,200 0.8% 1.2%
Des Moines 80 $127,200 0.5% 3.2%

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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