Where are the best places in the state of Iowa?
To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Hawkeye State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.
However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in Iowa.
There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.
After analyzing 76 places in Iowa, we came up with this list of the best places:
- Asbury (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- North Liberty (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Urbandale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sioux Center (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Algona (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Johnston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- West Des Moines (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Pella (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Carroll (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Ankeny (Photos | Homes For Sale)
Well, it looks like you should check out Asbury if you’re thinking of moving to Iowa — it’s the best the Hawkeye State has to offer according to the data.
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in Iowa.
For more Iowa reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Iowa
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Iowa
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Iowa
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Des Moines with a population of 212,859 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 76 cities, 213 towns, and 645 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Iowa
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Iowa across a number of criteria from one to 76, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Iowa”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Iowa? That would be Asbury.
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Iowa.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Asbury at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Things can’t get much better than in the town of Asbury. The crime is the 53rd lowest in the entire state, and the residents who live in Asbury make huge salaries, and almost all of them have great jobs.
The median home costs a cool $229,800 and households make $90,781 which is good for 2nd in Iowa.
In North Liberty, everyone loves to call North Liberty home! The median home value is the 11th highest in Iowa.
Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 2nd lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Hawkeye State.
Well, I guess technically 4.0% of Urbandale residents who want to have a job can’t find one, so not everyone has a job, but it’s the 34th closest of any city in Iowa.
You can tell they take business seriously as they have by far the coolest Chamber of Commerce website we came across in our research.
In addition to its incredibly low unemployment rate, Urbandale also ranked well for crime (20th) and median income ($81,862).
Sioux Center ranks 4th on our list of best places to live in Iowa thanks to its low unemployment and high adjusted median income.
Additionally, its crime rate ranks in the lowest 10% of all places in Iowa that we examined.
People have been flocking to Sioux Center over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.
The Town of Algona might be a bit of a surprise to some in terms of how well it ranks according to science.
The crime rate in Algona isn’t amazing, but it’s far below the state average. The homes are valued at $115,400 here, and the schools get some of the most funding in Iowa.
If Algona can get some more of their residents to work, things will look even rosier here. The unemployment rate (0.7% is the 2nd highest in the state.
At an unemployment rate of 3.8%, everyone who wants a job can get one in Johnston. And the residents command high salaries ($95,565 a year combined income), and live in big fancy homes ($237,600 each).
We’re not saying money is why these cities are the ‘best’ in Iowa. What we’re implying is that money means safety and peace of mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s two types of people who live in West Des Moines. Either the old hold outs who have lived there forever and are watching their home values skyrocket, or those d who can afford to buy a $195,500 home there.
Either way, you’re set. Your kids go to great schools, there’s a ton of things to do, and you earn a great salary. West Des Moines is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.
Pella is a cute little city where crime is far below the state average, and where it’s affordable. The schools are also solidly rated.
Home prices clock in at $175,300 and households earn a median salary of $60,568. One could get used to that.
With the unemployment rate being the 7th lowest in Iowa and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Carroll.
Plus, the crime rate is the 30th lowest in the state!
Ankeny has some of the most employed as well as the highest earning residents in the entire state of Iowa. Factor in a very low crime rate, and this Ankeny is a real gem.
With high incomes comes a high cost of living, which can been seen in the home prices. Additionally, the commute time for Ankeny residents to work is significantly higher than average.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Iowa
If you’re looking at areas in Iowa with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Asbury made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Iowa for 2019.
Best Towns To Live In Iowa
- Fairfax (Pop. 2,418)
- Walford (Pop. 1,428)
- Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,487)
- Robins (Pop. 3,434)
- Farley (Pop. 1,688)
- Atkins (Pop. 1,713)
- Dike (Pop. 1,309)
- Roland (Pop. 1,312)
- Ely (Pop. 2,133)
- Gilbert (Pop. 1,183)
Best Small Towns To Live In Iowa
- Westwood (Pop. 96)
- Halbur (Pop. 243)
- Lawton (Pop. 900)
- Swisher (Pop. 846)
- North Washington (Pop. 161)
- Long Grove (Pop. 952)
- Underwood (Pop. 808)
- Orleans (Pop. 459)
- Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
- Lambs Grove (Pop. 200)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa according to the data:
- Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)
- Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
- Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)
For more Iowa reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Iowa For 2018
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Iowa
- 10 Safest Places In Iowa
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Iowa
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In Iowa
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