These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2018


We analyzed over 80 places in Iowa to determine the cream of the crop.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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:

  1. Asbury
  2. North Liberty (Photos)
  3. Urbandale (Photos)
  4. Sioux Center (Photos)
  5. Algona (Photos)
  6. Johnston (Photos)
  7. West Des Moines (Photos)
  8. Pella (Photos)
  9. Carroll (Photos)
  10. Ankeny (Photos)

Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in Iowa.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

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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’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

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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
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data.

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.

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1. Asbury

Asbury, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,201
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $229,800 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
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

North Liberty, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,984
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Values: $188,400 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
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.

3. Urbandale

Urbandale, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 41,578
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $204,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (34th best)
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

Sioux Center, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,370
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Values: $186,000 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (1st best)
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.

5. Algona

Algona, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,496
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Home Values: $115,400 (41st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
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.

6. Johnston

Johnston, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 19,491
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $237,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (31st best)
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

West Des Moines, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 61,624
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Home Values: $195,500 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (16th best)
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.

8. Pella

Pella, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,280
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $175,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (26th best)
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”.

9. Carroll


Population: 9,990
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $137,600 (31st best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (7th best)
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 at1.6%, 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.

10. Ankeny

Ankeny, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 53,413
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Home Values: $186,200 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (23rd best)
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

  1. Fairfax (Pop. 2,418)
  2. Walford (Pop. 1,428)
  3. Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,487)
  4. Robins (Pop. 3,434)
  5. Farley (Pop. 1,688)
  6. Atkins (Pop. 1,713)
  7. Dike (Pop. 1,309)
  8. Roland (Pop. 1,312)
  9. Ely (Pop. 2,133)
  10. Gilbert (Pop. 1,183)

Best Small Towns To Live In Iowa

  1. Westwood (Pop. 96)
  2. Halbur (Pop. 243)
  3. Corley (Pop. 29)
  4. North Washington (Pop. 161)
  5. Lawton (Pop. 900)
  6. Swisher (Pop. 846)
  7. Long Grove (Pop. 952)
  8. Underwood (Pop. 808)
  9. Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
  10. Orleans (Pop. 459)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa:

  1. Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)
  2. Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
  3. Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)

For more Iowa reading , check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Cities In Iowa

City Rank Previous Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Asbury 1 2 5,201 1.0% $229,800
North Liberty 2 3 16,984 0.7% $188,400
Urbandale 3 1 41,578 4.0% $204,700
Sioux Center 4 6 7,370 0.4% $186,000
Algona 5 12 5,496 0.7% $115,400
Johnston 6 7 19,491 3.8% $237,600
West Des Moines 7 11 61,624 2.7% $195,500
Pella 8 8 10,280 3.3% $175,300
Carroll 9 10 9,990 1.6% $137,600
Ankeny 10 5 53,413 3.2% $186,200
Decorah 11 13 7,985 2.4% $160,500
Clive 12 15 17,022 3.3% $237,200
Marion 13 14 37,198 3.9% $154,900
Bettendorf 14 4 35,048 4.3% $194,800
Norwalk 15 18 9,944 5.4% $169,900
Eldridge 16 27 6,122 6.5% $205,000
Cedar Falls 17 9 40,828 4.7% $171,400
Waverly 18 22 10,049 3.3% $160,300
Altoona 19 21 16,692 4.7% $168,100
Sheldon 20 19 5,015 2.8% $142,200
Waukee 21 16 16,955 1.0% $191,900
Le Mars 22 29 9,826 3.8% $139,400
Coralville 23 23 20,078 2.9% $202,800
Hiawatha 24 17 7,160 4.5% $138,200
Grimes 25 26 10,422 3.2% $188,900
De Witt 26 24 5,264 4.7% $139,700
Ames 27 20 64,073 6.0% $176,500
Vinton 28 30 5,166 2.9% $115,000
Spencer 29 32 11,172 3.6% $119,700
Pleasant Hill 30 25 9,406 2.0% $186,400
Nevada 31 34 6,796 4.9% $123,400
Iowa Falls 32 37 5,176 4.8% $90,000
Cedar Rapids 33 33 129,537 4.7% $136,700
Bondurant 34 5,079 1.1% $170,700
Manchester 35 44 5,083 2.6% $102,700
Grinnell 36 28 9,112 4.1% $138,500
Independence 37 31 6,005 2.6% $118,900
Boone 38 35 12,609 4.7% $104,400
Glenwood 39 36 5,233 3.0% $134,600
Dubuque 40 38 58,535 5.0% $133,400
Knoxville 41 46 7,236 6.3% $93,800
Clear Lake 42 41 7,644 2.2% $135,800
Creston 43 40 7,877 3.4% $83,100
Mount Pleasant 44 39 8,491 2.8% $107,900
Indianola 45 45 15,343 7.5% $151,400
Fairfield 46 43 9,942 8.9% $100,900
Shenandoah 47 55 5,030 2.2% $85,200
Winterset 48 49 5,158 7.6% $139,500
Washington 49 42 7,368 6.7% $102,900
Muscatine 50 56 23,909 5.1% $109,000
Harlan 51 50 5,008 2.7% $95,200
Atlantic 52 53 6,817 1.9% $92,000
Newton 53 52 15,090 5.8% $98,100
Storm Lake 54 47 10,768 5.8% $111,700
Perry 55 60 7,876 2.4% $84,900
Oelwein 56 65 6,195 4.0% $67,300
Marshalltown 57 61 27,637 7.1% $98,800
Davenport 58 59 102,305 5.1% $122,700
Anamosa 59 48 5,459 8.5% $96,600
Council Bluffs 60 62 62,326 5.4% $113,500
Clarinda 61 56 5,431 5.2% $77,300
Oskaloosa 62 58 11,538 7.3% $95,800
Estherville 63 51 6,027 6.5% $81,200
Cherokee 64 54 5,113 3.6% $78,600
Des Moines 65 64 212,859 7.1% $119,800
Denison 66 63 8,326 6.2% $95,000
Fort Madison 67 73 10,769 8.2% $79,500
Burlington 68 66 25,492 6.9% $87,200
Fort Dodge 69 67 24,626 7.7% $84,700
Maquoketa 70 69 6,025 8.3% $87,800
Waterloo 71 71 68,357 8.3% $106,800
Clinton 72 68 26,148 5.6% $92,600
Ottumwa 73 70 24,709 7.4% $73,200
Red Oak 74 72 5,547 12.3% $72,500
Centerville 75 74 5,404 7.8% $66,000
Keokuk 76 75 10,628 10.3% $66,400

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