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)
- North Liberty (Photos | Homes)
- Urbandale (Photos | Homes)
- Sioux Center (Photos | Homes)
- Algona (Photos | Homes)
- Johnston (Photos | Homes)
- West Des Moines (Photos | Homes)
- Pella (Photos | Homes)
- Carroll (Photos | Homes)
- Ankeny (Photos | Homes)
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:
- 10 Most Diverse Cities In Iowa
- These Are The 10 Fastest Growing Cities In Iowa
- 10 Cheapest 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 712 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 Place 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
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.
Population: 5,201Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $229,800 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
More on Asbury: Real Estate | Data
Asbury takes 1st place on our list of best places in Iowa for 2018 thanks to a strong showing in unemployment rate (4th overall) and things to do.
Asbury is no stranger to top ten lists, being named one of the best places to live in the country by multiple outlets over the past ten years.And that tends to happen when home prices hit $229,800 at the median.
2. North Liberty
Population: 16,984Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Values: $188,400 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on North Liberty: Real Estate | Data
North Liberty 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 $188,400 and households earn a median salary of $77,752. One could get used to that.
Population: 41,578Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $204,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (34th best)
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data
Known for its low unemployment rates and great education, Urbandale is a wonderful place to live in this state.
The relatively stable household incomes and below average crime rates don’t hurt either!
While it may not be as great as some other places on this list, Urbandale still holds its own in in Iowa.
4. Sioux Center
Population: 7,370Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Values: $186,000 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (1st best)
More on Sioux Center: Real Estate | Data
Sioux Center’s unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state and the median income is the 15th highest, making Sioux Center a great place to work and settle down if you’re look for a stable job with a stable income.
Additionally, Sioux Center has above average education and low crime, making this place a safe place to live.
Population: 5,496Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Home Values: $115,400 (41st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on Algona: Real Estate | Data
Taking its place as the 5th best place in Iowa is Algona. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of Iowa.
It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can’t be bored here.
An unemployment rate of only 0.7% helps thing too.
Population: 19,491Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $237,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (31st best)
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data
Johnston 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 Johnston is a real gem.
With high incomes comes a high cost of living, which can been seen in the home pricese. Additionally, the commute time for Johnston residents to work is significantly higher than average.
7. West Des Moines
Population: 61,624Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Home Values: $195,500 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (16th best)
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data
In West Des Moines, everyone loves to call West Des Moines home! The median home value is the 7th highest in Iowa.
Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 16th lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Hawkeye State.
West Des Moines should consider renaming to Paradise Valley in our humble opinion.
Population: 10,280Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $175,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (26th best)
More on Pella: Real Estate | Data
Pella is feeling the love as it ranks as the 8th best city to live in Iowa for 2015.
It ranked highly because of its high incomes (19th overall) and low crime (10th overall and one of the best in the top ten).
We think the city should probably change its motto at this point to something like “The Place To Be In Iowa”.
Population: 9,990Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $137,600 (31st best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (7th best)
More on Carroll: Real Estate | Data
You might be surprised to see the Town of Carroll so high on the list. Unless you live in Carroll.
The unemployment rate here is really low, and at 1.6%, Carroll residents are some of the hardest working in the state of Iowa. When you factor in high home prices, high incomes and low crime, Carroll is doing quite well.
Let’s be honest — Carroll is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.
Population: 53,413Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Home Values: $186,200 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (23rd best)
More on Ankeny: Real Estate | Data
Ankeny ranks 10th 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 Ankeny over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.
Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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 2018.
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)
- Corley (Pop. 29)
- North Washington (Pop. 161)
- Lawton (Pop. 900)
- Swisher (Pop. 846)
- Long Grove (Pop. 952)
- Underwood (Pop. 808)
- Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
- Orleans (Pop. 459)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa:
- Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)
- Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
- Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)
For more Iowa reading , check out:
- 10 Most Diverse Cities In Iowa
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Iowa
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Iowa
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In Iowa
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